What’s in store for the future of Mr. Fix-it? According to the panel at this year’s 2013 Servicemax Maximize Summit, he’s about to get a lot friendlier. Thursday, Servicemax spoke with three industry leaders in field service: Sara Cerutti, field services and IT manager at GE Oil and Gas, Steve Nava, director of field service America at Luminex and Jamie Thelen, program manager for global services at Medtronic, and asked them, “Where is the future of field service headed?” Here are a few of their insights:

Driving Revenue

Field service is losing its reputation as a business cost and transitioning into a revenue-driving industry, Cerutti said. Techs “Are the eyes and ears to the customer and our leadership team is focused on getting their feedback to the company,” she continued.

For many technicians, this new customer service role means more accountability. “Field service is now accountable for revenue in addition to producing quality service,” said Nava. “Service can kill an account if it is managed wrong.”

Embracing Soft-skills

While field service techs are still primarily trained in technical skills, soft-skills are becoming more important. “Our current focus,” Nava explained, “is transitioning our field service team from techs who focus on fixes-only to customer service professionals who also fix things. Usually, within five seconds, a customer has decided whether the service tech she’s meeting is going to be the solution for her problem or not. We are trying to give our field service team the soft-skills that they need to be successful as the face of the company.”

Sharing Insights

Cloud technology has also been a major factor in forming the future of field service. Tools, like Chatter, an enterprise social media network, from Salesforce, explained Nava, have been effective at making customer insights available to the company internally. “Our field service team is leading the way on Chatter, sharing their customer-facing experiences and our sales teams appreciate the insight,” Nava said.