Talent, Service and Digital Transformation:  Benchmarking the Changing Face of Field Service

Apr 10, 2019 • FeaturesManagementCustomer ServiceFuture of FIeld ServiceWBRDigital TransformationField Service Events

Hot on the heels of its launch last year, Field Service Connect 2019 focuses on the UK field service industry and its challenges, bringing fresh insights and differing perspectives to this often under-appreciated sector.

Set against a backdrop of rolling Welsh countryside, this invitation only summit will see senior field service executives debate, discuss and divulge their successes and challenges in 2019.

Customer Service and Mindset
There can be no doubt that the traditional interpretation of Field Service is changing: a fundamental shift is being made to focus on service and its incorporation and development into existing, more product-centric, business models. Where once it was enough to rely on a stellar product, now competition is fierce and margins are being squeezed this is no longer the case. Where excellent service is being provided and taken for granted in everyday life, it makes sense that this is now being expected, if not demanded, within business transactions.

A new age is dawning and customers are continuing to ask how a product and company ‘adds value’. Engineers in the field have access to, and interactions with, potentially hundreds of contacts within a specific customer base. So it’s no surprise that those customers will come to associate a product’s ‘worth’ based on the dealings they have had with these field service representatives. As the American poet Maya Angelou is attributed to have said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.

By 2020 customer experience is slated to overtake price and product as a key brand differentiator

Women in Field Service and Brand
With this shift to customer centricity there must also be a shift in perception. Traditionally seen as male dominated, a career in field service has not attracted women. However, with service coming to the fore this situation is starting to change and the skills that women offer are becoming more vital than ever. The ‘soft skills’ required for customer service roles are often attributed to women, but it’s not a question of gender, the focus must be on what skills can be brought to the table as a whole and how these can be used to improve a company’s field service offering.

"Traditionally seen as male dominated, a career in field service has not attracted women..."

In order to ensure that quality talent is acquired and retained Field Service must also diversify so that the next generation of bright minds can see themselves working in this sector. If a certain demographic is only ever highlighted and portrayed then it is no wonder that it is presumed that this is all there is. As you would market a brand, the same must be done throughout Field Service. Why would you choose this career? What is there to offer? What is the long term career outlook?

In order to keep up with rising expectations it will require a massive change in mindset, starting at board level and moving downwards, to truly transform a company ethos. For some this will mean a transformation in culture that has formed over decades but must now be changed rapidly if they are not to be left behind by the competition. This will be easier said than done; as change is happening so fast it’s fundamentally hard to move quickly enough! However, as the old adage goes, ‘just because something is difficult, it doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing’.

Digital Transformation
Alongside the cultural shift needed to meet customer expectations, Field Service is also being driven by digital. Gartner defines digitalisation as ‘the use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities; it is the process of moving to a digital business.’ ‘Digitalisation’ and ‘digital transformation’ have become such buzz words in recent years that some have lost sight of not only what it means but what they are actually trying to do.

Digitalisation is a tool by which to achieve an end goal, not the goal itself. Gartner predicts that by 2020 10% of emergency field service work will be both triaged and scheduled by artificial intelligence. With AI assisting with everything from scheduling to predictive maintenance to using past data to make future plans.

The human element within Field Service is still very much relied on and future technologies and solutions will be there to support these interactions - to make life easier and more efficient, not to replace humans altogether.

People still want to do business with people and until the customer becomes more Terminator than terrestrial this will probably always be the case.

You can find out more more information about Field Service Connect UK 2019, including how to register here.