Written by 6:00 am Feature, Service Strategy

Can we empower our field engineers to be effective revenue generators?

Should we expect our engineers and technicians to sell? A number of experts eleborate on some key issues.

One of the perennial discussions in the field service sector is should we expect our engineers and technicians to sell?

On the one side of this discussion, our field staff in a digital age have more direct access to customers than anyone else within our organisation and are seen by the customer as a trusted advisor. These are compelling arguments as to why field service organisation should leverage their field service workers to generate revenue.  

The counter argument is simple, as soon as we encourage our field service workers to sell, we break their trusted advisor status which negates their impact as revenue generators hugely.  

But is there a middle road we can take as service organisations? Can technology allow us to empower our field service technician and engineers to be revenue generators within the parameters of service delivery?

A number of experts elaborate on the key issues further. 

How can we join the dots so our field service workers can drive revenue?   

Coen Jeukens, VP Global Customer Transformation at ServiceMax, “Most field service workers have chosen their job because they like to fix things. They’re good at that resulting in them being an ambassador for your company. That trust gives them access to information that drives customer loyalty and upsell opportunities. Instead of trying to convert technicians into sales-persona, it is key to make it easy for them to pass on leads and opportunities to service-sales. This process starts with giving technicians insight into the existing commercials and entitlements. Having those insights enables field service workers to avoid giving away service for free, to better deliver on expectations and to distinguish when something is a cross or upsell opportunity.”  

Ashok Karthom, Chief Product Officer, Syncron explains, “Field service workers can help drive revenue from service, maintenance, parts, accessories, and service contracts. Based on the assets a customer owns, the technician can present relevant options and recommendations to the customer. As a trusted advisor, the technician can help the customer reduce product downtime and optimize the product value. Field Service technicians represent the main and only contact point with customers for manufacturers after the sale of the product. Customer’s trust in their expertise and knowledge of the products make them an ideal channel to inform the customer and generate additional revenues.“  

Sidney Lara, Service Expert at Aquant, highlights“Field technicians have a unique opportunity to drive revenue and are in a position that enables them to be some of the best sales reps. Regularly meeting with customers and consistently solving their problems has helped techs establish a trusted relationship with customers and be that person that they turn to for reliable advice.   

Service leaders can empower their field technicians to not only repair equipment but also sell and drive revenue out in the field by equipping them with the right tools and technology to do so. Namely, technologies that they can bring with them on-site and that give them AI-powered insight into customer information, and provide recommendations on newer equipment that the sales reps would traditionally be responsible for selling. 

“By providing field technicians with this technology, they can follow the same process as the sales team; discover a need, create an opportunity, generate a quote, and close the deal. Because the technician is already seen as a trusted adviser, the likelihood that the need turns into a sale increases.  

Field techs can further optimize the sales process by closing the deal on-site using technology that can generate a quote, capture a signature, and take a credit card.” adds Lara.  

How can we improve the service-to-cash cycle through FSM technology?  

Jeukens discusses, “Improving service-to-cash starts with having insights into your service contract commitments. For each service activity you perform an entitlement check where you decide if the service request is billable or part of the installments of the service contract. The better the entitlement, the less quibble you will have for the invoices you will be sending. It is important to recognize that entitlement has two different ‘realities’.”

“An admin-reality when the service request is raised, and an execution-reality when the field service worker is in front of the actual product. We all know the situation that we send a technician on-site to fix issue A and while he/she is on the job, the customer ask to fix issue B as well. Or we create a service request based on presumed warranty where is reality it is customer induced damage. Asset & Contract visibility, tied together in the Entitlement process improve your leakage, revenue and invoice cycle times.” says Jeukens.

“Service contracts help companies get revenue upfront and provide predictable revenue streams. FSM technology can help increase service contract attach rates and renewals by presenting the right options to customers during the service lifecycle. FSM technology linked to a customer portal or an app can provide options for immediate and secure payment by customers reducing service to cash cycle time. FSM technology can also help with performing inspections, preparing service/part quotes, presenting customer action or recommendation plans, and offering service contract options. The additional higher-margin revenue benefits all stakeholders.” adds Kartham.

 Is data flow between different systems of record a barrier to growing service revenue and how do we overcome this?    

Jeukens explains, “People in the service domain predominantly have a service heart and to a lesser degree sales DNA. Service people want to help customers and fix issues. If you want service people to increase their sales savviness, you need to make it easy for them. Having data spread over multiple systems is not the definition of easy. Once you’ve decided to merge all relevant data into a single platform, the next steps of easy are visibility and empowerment: present the data in such a way that it supports desired behaviour. Top it up with contextual workflow to make sure the field service worker can act upon the data, whether the outcome is avoidance of leakage, revenue growth or increased CSAT. “ 

Kartham highlights, “Most companies have fragmented systems between parts, services, contracts, and install base management. Technicians spend a lot of time searching through the information or compiling what needs to be presented to the customer, which makes technicians less productive and also results in many missed revenue opportunities. Having a unified FSM application that enables and empowers technicians will help drive revenue.”