Three Change Management Projects Field Service Leaders Must Get Right

May 08, 2018 • FeaturesManagementAccentureAIArtificial intelligenceData AnalysticsKISS PrincipalMachine LearningMIllennialsClickSoftwareDevelopment Dimensions Internationalfield servicefield service managementInternet of ThingsIoTService TrainingTalent ManagementUberization of Service

Barrett Coakley, Product Marketing Manager, ClickSoftware offers some crucial advice in the complex and crucial area of change management...

Organisational change is hard but, given constantly shifting market conditions and the rate new technologies are released, dealing with transformation is now a requirement at most firms.

However, McKinsey reports that 70% of change programs fail to achieve their goals, largely due to employee resistance and lack of management support. With that type of failure rate, you might be wondering why even bother. Nonetheless, when done correctly, change management can have an enormous impact on employee engagement, operational efficiency and financial success.

There are three areas that are causing change within field service teams that leaders must address Field service organizations are being asked to address multiple reforms but there are three areas that should be high on your change management list; talent management issues, technology advances and new customer attitudes.

Here are some recommendations to help your field service group succeed on this change management journey.

Talent Management

According to The Service Council, 70% of service organizations report they’ll be facing a pinch as they lose workers to retirement in the coming years. The retirement of baby boomers has the potential to leave a vast knowledge and experience gap on many field service teams.

There is hope, however, as the 75 million large millennial generation has entered the workforce and they have the skills to fill these open positions.

However, field service managers must understand the drivers that motivate millennials and how they differ from the retiring baby boomers, including:

  • Tech savvy: The millennial generation grew up with all things digital. They embrace technology and expect the organizations that they work for to provide the most current technology for them to perform their job.
  • Mission: Millennials are looking from a deeper meaning from work. They want to feel that they are having an impact both on the company as well as greater society.
  • Retention: You might have some members on your field service team that have worked in the group for 10-20+ years. Millennials, however, tend to change jobs frequently. In fact, Gallup revealed that 21% of millennials report changing jobs within the last year, which is more than three times the number of non-millennials.

Here are some areas your field service team should focus on to facilitate the changes this generation will bring to your team.

Offer Incentives:

While you might think a raise would be sufficient for millennial retention, you should instead focus on benefits you could offer.

According to Gallup, millennials are more likely than any other generation to say they would change jobs for a particular benefit or perk. They especially appreciate perks that directly impact their lives and the lives of their family. It makes sense considering many millennials are starting families, have large student loans, and desire a work-life balance.

Popular benefits for Millennials include:

  • Paid paternal and maternity leave
  • Student loan reimbursement
  • Childcare reimbursement
  • Tuition reimbursement

So instead of just offering a pay raise next year, poll your workforce to determine what they truly value.

The responses might surprise you.

Development opportunities: The best way to attract millennials is by leveraging two of their biggest desires—development and purpose.

67% of millennials are engaged at work when they strongly agree that the mission or purpose of their company makes them feel their job is importantFor instance, Gallup reports that “rallying millennials around a mission and purpose dramatically increases their employee engagement: 67% of millennials are engaged at work when they strongly agree that the mission or purpose of their company makes them feel their job is important.”

Focus your attraction and retention strategies on delivering learning opportunities and career development. This way millennials are assured that their jobs provide plenty of opportunities for skill development and career advancement.

Keep in mind millennials may want to pursue independent project work, attend conferences, take classes, and join professional organizations.

Give them the flexibility and resources to do so, whether this means tuition reimbursement, or time off work to ensure they are fulfilled.

The Impact of New Technology

New technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and data analytics are having a huge impact on field service operations.

These new technologies are providing real-time insights into field assets that can be used to predict when a piece of equipment might fail, allowing for proactive maintenance. However, with all of this technology, there comes the need for change across your field team in order make sense of all this new information. Here are a few steps you can take to make sure your team is prepared for the impact of technology on your field service group.

Make a Plan:

First off, you will need a plan to prepare for the impact these technologies will have across your field service organization. For example, you will need to train field engineers on how to potentially service IoT-based equipment, build a roadmap for incorporating new devices, and identify which technician or dispatch behaviours will change based on this new technology.

Will customer issues be identified at a server level when equipment fails? What does this do to the dispatch workflow? Are you incorporating wearables at an employee level to improve communication or field-based efficiency? What software will you need to ensure these devices operate smoothly within your current frameworks and infrastructure?

Create a roadmap that accounts for the short, and long-term implications of devices, services, and technician needs.

KISS Principal:

Albert Einstein once stated, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” This is where the KISS principle comes into play during change management exercises. Stepping up to the challenges associated with all of these different technologies is difficult and complicated.

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simplerWith any digital transformation, the best possible course of action is to simplify by starting with small, simple changes. Select a small behaviour, or wearable device that your customers are using, and optimize around that. Then, scale what you have learned across more devices, customer behaviours, and internal processes. With a change this impactful it is best to keep it simple, sir.

Uberization of Service

As Amazon, Uber, Airbnb and other upstart organizations continue to heighten customer expectations, field service organizations have struggled to keep pace with these new demands.

Customers now expect transparency around service delivery such as the real-time location of the field technician responsible for the appointment as well as personalized communication preferences like text or email.

However, the delivery of exceptional service requires changes to the technician’s traditional role and skill set.

Here are few areas that should be looked at to change.

Product and Service Training:

Field service professionals understand the inner workings of the products they maintain but they might not be knowledgeable enough to upsell a new product or service to a customer.

To enable this ability, sales and marketing training should be provided to field service professionals so they understand the features and benefits of different services. Sales and marketing is a new type of training and skillset for most field service professionals but one that can really benefit the top line.

Increasing revenue is an important focus for many organizations but it is proving to be a difficult one as 76% of field service providers report they are struggling to achieve revenue growth, according to the TSIA. Sales and marketing training could be the support ticket that helps change this trend.

Soft Skill Training:

Field service professionals are now required to interact with clients in a way that elevates the customer experience, resulting in upsell opportunities and less customer churn.

64% of consumers have switched providers in at least one industry due to poor customer service.Preventing customer churn is especially important as Accenture reported that 64% of consumers have switched providers in at least one industry due to poor customer service.

To provide a higher level of personalized service requires better soft skills, something not every person has, but this ability is a key to this new service delivery model. In fact, study conducted by Development Dimensions International found that for every $1,100 invested in soft skills training, employers earned an average return of $4,000.

Training soft skills can help a technician provide more empathy towards the customer, improve communication and the ability to provide a more personalized experience.

Soft skill training is especially important for millennials as they often lack these abilities. An investment in soft skills training is worthwhile for any organization but can be particularly important in delivering a great customer experience.


The key to handling all of these changes is a commitment from all involved. In fact, McKinsey found that when people are truly invested in change it is 30 percent more likely to stick.

However, making the challenge even more daunting is that organizations no longer have the luxury of implementing changes over a 3-5 year period of time as in the past.

Change is no longer a periodic event, but one that is constant as the market and technology continue to evolve at faster and faster rates. Field service teams need to prepare now.

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