what's in a name,field serviceThere’s seemingly no end to the kinds of titles that companies give their employees in the field, with variations on field service engineer, field service technician, and other standards.

Recently, new titles have begun to emerge that put the emphasis on the customer, rather than the field. But what does changing job titles say about modern field service — and do the names matter anyway?

“Quite a few companies and industries have created new and different names for employees that work directly with customers — some much better than others — yet field service does not seem to be one of them. At least not on any large scale. Yet,” wrote Jeremy Frank, director of content marketing at ServiceMax, in a SmartVan article about field service naming conventions.

What’s in a Name

Service organizations seem to be catching on, at least partly in response to industry shifts such as new business models that closely link success to service and the push to draw more revenue from service divisions.

Longtime field service expert Gary Jewett experienced this firsthand when Kodak Alaris changed employee job titles in his division from “field service engineer” to “customer experience specialist.”

“The new title encompasses more than just the break/fix work that people associate with field service,” Jewett told SmartVan. “Technicians’ roles have evolved to include more marketing duties, such as making sure advertising is out, media is stocked at the proper levels and that software is updated with current content. It’s more of a holistic approach to field service.”

Other companies have abandoned customer service-focused titles, only to re-adopt them.

Glenn Wisbey, a senior field service engineer at Abbott Diagnostics, a global medical device manufacturer, has experienced several job title changes during his career because of promotions and retitling. In the field service Engineer LinkedIn group, Wisbey says that he started as a customer support representative, was promoted (and eventually renamed) as a senior field service engineer, and, ultimately, renamed again as a customer support specialist.

“Everything that is old is new again,” Wisbey writes.

New Titles for New Roles

The titles make sense given field service employees’ expanded roles that include sales, marketing, and customer service. These responsibilities are part of the job — no matter what you call employees in the field.

Kevin Richbourg, the field service engineer at Low Country Biomedical, says in the field service Engineer LinkedIn Group group that early in his career he was called a customer support engineer. “I think the title is very descriptive of what we did,” he writes. “My first manager used to stress that our job was not just to fix the equipment but also to fix the customer.”

The reasoning behind title changes, whether a result of management’s push to draw more revenue from service or an acknowledgment that the field service profession is more complex than ever, depends on the company. But it’s clear that field service job titles, like the profession itself, are in flux.

What do you call your employees in the field — and why?