For most people, 2019 goals and objectives have been set. For service leaders, this typically means:
- Do more with less (increased productivity at a lower cost)
- Contribute to revenue (service revenue and product up-sell)
- Focus on the customer experience
The employees on the front lines are typically those who bear the burden of executing on the service leader’s ambitions. Therefore, it is vital that field service leaders invest in the needs of these front-line personnel and ensure their representation in the development of strategic plans to achieve 2019 objectives. (To learn more, read Daniel Brabec’s “Top 3 Service Organization Trends for 2019” post.)
Here are three critical areas that field service leaders should focus on in 2019:
Gallup estimates that a staggering 87 percent of employees worldwide are not engaged. In field service, the impact of disengagement can be significant as these employees are actively in front of customers. Engaged employees typically lead to engaged and satisfied customers (the service profit chain).
Organizations must extend their employee engagement programs to their field personnel. “Voice of the Employee” surveys are a good resource to capture employee feedback, but managers, supervisors, mentors, and senior technicians must be empowered to have open discussions with their teams to capture the pulse of front-line employees. Too often, these conversations only focus on performance and miss an opportunity to discuss the technician’s role as a team member and a central part of the company’s vision.
Technicians and engineers are now being asked to do more on customer sites. They’re not just responsible for solving the service issue, but they’re also responsible for solving the customer. This requires technicians to have a broader understanding of the customer’s needs and subsequently applying a proactive approach to solving problems and issues. As a result, technicians are also measured on the leads they generate and the experience they deliver to their customers. These are powerful initiatives and can yield significant results, but can place a heavy burden on the shoulders of field technicians.
Before adding more to the technician’s plate, organizations should work to eliminate non-productive tasks from a technician’s workday. We often find that technicians hold on to their paperwork and administrative tasks until the end of their workday, when they’re supposed to be with their families. An investment in tools to increase family time can go a long way in garnering technician support and buy in. Similarly, technicians might be spending a great deal of effort in chasing after recorded opportunities or subsequent payouts. Reducing the effort associated with such tasks can lead to improved adoption of lead generation and similar programs. I’ve often advocated for the measurement of a technician effort score (similar to a customer effort score), which formalizes the voice of the employee and enables the creation of a priority list for field service leadership to address. That said, any leadership structure that is focused on listening to their employees should be well aware of changes that can be made that make life easier for its technicians.
Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. — Antoine de Saint-Expupéry, French writer.
In engaging with field service technicians and engineers about their day-to-day work, it’s worth asking the following three questions:
- What would the perfect field service visit look like? (It’s a question worth asking your customers…)
- What do we need to eliminate to support the perfect field service visit?
- What do we need to add to support the perfect field service visit?
The definition of a perfect visit might require more than the organization is able to support at the current state. Yet, there might be low-hanging opportunities that can be addressed right away, which will not only get the organization closer to its goals, but also show the engineers that their feedback is being acted on.
Organizations are always looking to prioritize investments in technology to support field service objectives. Features and tools that can be linked to the elimination of effort will generate front-line buy in and additional support for future empowerment initiatives focused on customer experience or service revenue. Empowerment typically comes from improved access to information at the technician’s fingertips. This information includes:
- Customer and service history
- Installed base information
- Resolution information
- Customer value opportunities
Ready access to this information can put the organization’s technicians in a better position to support their customers, thereby accelerating progress to the achievement of field service goals.
How are you looking to empower your workforce in 2019? Share your ideas with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. ServiceMax is discussing workforce empowerment and reach in an upcoming webinar with its premier partner SightCall. Interested? Click here to register.