In the final feature in our series of our excerpts from a new and exclusive Field Service News Essential Guide published in partnership with ServicePower we ask can the blended workforce model work for a field service organisation in any vertical sector?
With the benefits of a blended workforce model becoming increasingly apparent, the case for broader adoption of the blended workforce in the field service sector seems to be becoming clear. But is it an approach that is suitable for all field service companies? Or is it better suited to specific industry verticals?
Across this series we have outlined the benefits of the blended workforce model, explored the challenges in bringing everything together into a cohesive whole and discussed the role technology can play in overcoming those challenges.
We have also heard from service leaders who represent the best-in-class when it comes to leveraging the blended workforce model, and each of these companies, Ericsson, Ideal Boilers and Electrolux, operate in very different industry sectors. However, as we saw when looking at the core drivers for each of these companies to embrace a blended workforce model, we also saw many similarities. Seasonality in particular was a common thread in all of the interviews we undertook when developing this guide and its accompanying documentary.
So perhaps the biggest question that remains is whether the blended workforce model is suitable for companies in all industry verticals?
“Variable demand is probably one of the key drivers to think about first,” states Adam Gordon, Head of Network Planning and Operations, Ericsson.
“After that, we can begin to consider where that variable element comes into play. Is it geographical where you need the support? Is it seasonality where you need the support? Is it utilization of the workforce? Do you have a higher cost than you need to?
“All of these questions are important, but for me, the trigger question remains do I have a variable demand? If the answer to this is yes, then the problem is where is that variable demand and that will then lead to thinking about the blended workforce model.
“At Ericsson, with all the multitude of skills that we need, the geographical locations, the seasonal impact, it is definitely a variable business. Our use of a blended workforce model allows us to manage that in a way where every penny we spend is basically is adding value.”
"Varying sectors will have different levels of pressure and I actually think that’s one of the key barriers and one of the reasons we’ve seen maturity within some industries rather than others." - Chris Jessop, Ideal Boilers
Ideal Boilers’ Customer Service's Director, Chris Jessop also feels that the blended workforce model could apply to most sectors.
“At a certain level the blended workforce model applies to most sectors,” he explains.
“Varying sectors will have different levels of pressure and I actually think that’s one of the key barriers and one of the reasons we’ve seen maturity within some industries rather than others. The white goods sector is probably leading the way with hybrid workforce models. As a concept, it is well established within that industry, and the reason why it’s been very successful is that the customer expectations with a white goods repair visit if it is done within a reasonable time-frame, is acceptable.
“Other industries, such as the heating industry, customers want their heating back on the same day. As a provider within this sector, we’ve got to make sure we have the processes in place to try and live up to those customer expectations. It is that level of customer expectation, which a lot of companies see as a barrier to adopting the blended workforce.”
This is echoed by Steve Zannos, Senior Director Service Delivery, Electrolux as he reflects on the suitability of a blended workforce model across other industry sectors beyond his own.
“For us at Electrolux, having a third-party network helps us balance help the peaks as well as helps us in some of the remote areas where maybe we’re not going to have a technician.,” he explains.
“Our goal is that the experience is the same whether it’s an independent service provider or factory service technician, and how we give them the tools to do that, whether that’s knowledge management, us being smarter from a triage perspective, and parts identification or improving our parts supply chain to get the right part to the right place at the right time.
“All those things I think, are doable, the technology is out there to do it. Ultimately, it’s how and what you need to do to leverage that network, but I certainly think blended network adoption is going to grow.”
Indeed, the blended workforce model, as we have seen in this series can deliver significant benefits to all companies with variable demand on their field workforce and while a complicated process to implement, with many moving parts, the technology is now available to overcome those challenges.
With a customer base that sits across a wide array of industries, perhaps no one is better placed to answer this question than Frank Gelbart, CEO ServicePower, whose team have probably more touch-points with companies effectively harnessing the blended workforce than any other organisation in the world.
“To take the plunge with a blended workforce model, what we’re seeing is that really the biggest impediment is that it requires dedicated resources within a company to recruit, train, certify and manage a third-party workforce,” Gelbart states.
“To me, this seems to be only real barrier to the blended workforce gaining even more traction than it already has.”
Many things are changing in the field service sector as we build a new normal in a post-pandemic word. The blended workforce is coming. Are you ready?
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