The future of field services relies on working smarter and an increased focus on employee experience.
The field services sector, like many others, is in the eye of a resignation storm. Companies are finding themselves in the precarious position of a workforce comprised of a significant portion nearing retirement age, many of whom have grown weary of rapid digital transformation. Is it possible to turn this ‘great resignation’ into a ‘great revival’? To do so, the industry needs to foster both a strategy and a culture that can simultaneously guide and upskill this remaining contingent adequately, while encouraging young talent to consider field service, long-term.
If this sounds like a tall order, it is. And the pressure on service-centric businesses to get it right – and get it right, quickly – is compounded by customer expectations. In many cases, today’s customers are no longer impressed by a seamless experience – they want outcomes in the form of guaranteed performance, peace of mind, and expert insights.
While there are many facets to overcoming the skills gap, when it comes to protecting CX along the way there are two factors companies should address – leveraging technology to ensure it is possible to meet customer needs with existing resources, and prioritizing EX knowing it ties to CX.
Work smarter, not harder
To protect the CX from the challenges of the skills gap, technology can play a major role in easing the burden of the workload. You may have heard (or lived) stories of incumbent workers being resistant to digital transformation, but the reality is that using technology to help solve the skills gap problem is a must – and such resistance can almost always be overcome with proper technology selection and strong change management.
When you think about working smarter, start with these key areas:
- Eliminating busy work. Does your organization still require a lot of manual effort from your frontline workforce? Are there aspects of their workflow that are cumbersome and grueling? Are there categories of work that could be automated? If we’re struggling for resources, we need to ensure those we do have are spending their time on value-add activities – and have tools in place that make their jobs easier to complete, not more taxing.
- Maximizing resource utilization. What opportunities exist to make sure your resources are used to their full abilities? This doesn’t mean putting unreasonable expectations on them, but rather making sure that their time isn’t wasted. For many companies, significant improvement in efficiency is gleaned from a dynamic scheduling and routing tool like IFS Planning & Scheduling Optimization (PSO). Considering how you train employees and speed their time to value is another area to reflect on. Putting a Remote Assistance tool in place to allow a more experienced technician to remotely “mentor” multiple new technicians in the field enables you to leverage an existing resource longer and bring newer resources up to speed faster.
- Modernizing service delivery. Do you have a remote service strategy? Many companies confuse remote-first with remote-only, but incorporating a remote step in the service delivery process doesn’t mean you don’t send technicians on site as needed, it just means you sent them only when needed – and when they do arrive on site, they are prepared. Remote monitoring and Remote Assistance tools make self-service and remote-service very attainable ways to modernize service delivery. Doing so takes pressure off your resources and protects the CX by increasing time to resolution and avoiding repeat visits.
Don’t overlook the criticality of EX
Now this is where many companies go wrong. They recognize the problem the skills gap presents, they introduce the technology to work smarter, and then they wonder why it isn’t having the intended impact.
Protecting your Moment of Service takes more than marrying modern technology with the work your employees do. You must recognize the importance of your employees as the face of your brand and understand the connection between EX and CX. As we move into the future of field service, this correlation will only become more apparent and more important.
There are many ways to improve EX, but the most common missteps are often overlooking the simplest things. Start by examining how well your company meets these needs:
- Empathy. Change is hard. Your employees and prospective employees are all human. How well can you and your company’s leadership empathize? Do your employees feel like individuals or resources?
- Personalization. Not every employee wants or needs the same thing. When it comes to change, you want to personalize the “why” so that an employee can understand how what’s changing impacts them specifically and what the expectations are. It’s also important to consider that for newer talent, one aspect that is often important is career progression. Do you offer options, and can those be personalized based on their objectives?
- Listening. This is one of the simplest, yet one of the most overlooked. Everyone wants to feel that their voice matters and wants to work in an environment where they don’t fear speaking up with concerns, ideas, or challenges. Your frontline workforce holds a treasure trove of valuable insights – listening not only helps them, it helps the organization overall.
- Recognition. Make sure your employees know that what they do matters and that they are appreciated! Remember, those CX goals you have? You cannot meet them without your frontline workforce – it’s important to treat them as such.
Often the skills gap conversation centers around how best to approach recruiting and hiring, but while that’s important you also must face the reality that in the meantime there are needs to be met. Thinking through how you can bolster the performance of your existing workforce both by better leveraging technology and by focusing on their engagement and experience will help protect your moments of service while we work toward that ‘great revival.’
IFS Singapore will be present at the Field Service Connect Asia 2022 Conference, held between November 15 – 16 at Equarius Hotel in Sentosa, Singapore. To learn more about IFS and their services, get in touch here: IFS Solutions | Service Management.