Article Published in Field Service USA – 2022
How are the industry leaders in medical, construction, industrial field services and more transforming their businesses in 2017?
It turns out, technology is only part of the conversation.
Millennials, Soft Skills, and Getting the Most Out of Your Customers
WBR Digital surveyed 100 industry leaders at its exclusive Field Service USA conference and found some unexpected truths about the direction of the industry. These five trends—from high technology to high fives—are not only interesting, but they are also surprisingly interconnected.
Yes, the Machines are Taking Over.
Smart connected products and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies will soon shoulder the brunt of diagnostic and other technical responsibilities. This has added new dimensions to industry competition as field service companies identify and adopt these technologies.
But companies are not only trying to improve operations; they’ve found that these technologies contribute to their efforts to increase the lifetime value of their customers. 81% of these companies believe that smart connected products and IoT technologies will be implemented in the next five-to-ten years.
Automation is the Greatest Driver of Revenue Growth.
According to almost half of field service companies, automation leads to the greatest revenue growth as part of a comparison of 10 critical business functions.
Automation enables service reps to be more efficient, to work more productively, and to drive revenue with instant access to key customer information and inventory data. Technologies like knowledge management automation enable service reps to provide more personal service, establish themselves as valuable resources to customers, and ultimately allow them to generate more revenue.
Automation drives down the amount of time technicians must spend searching, allowing them to identify customer needs and open up value-add selling opportunities. Field service agents needn’t spend over a quarter of their time trying to locate information critical to their work any longer.
Soft Skills are Critical to Your Technician’s Success—in the Field and in Sales.
Personalization calls for more than providing the right information and support. According to the experts, training technicians in soft skills—those personal skills that enable us to interact effectively with other people—rank as ahigh priority, if not the highest priority for 50% of field service companies. That’s because adopting training and management techniques that utilize soft skills leads to more revenue during customer interactions.
Now, these companies are investing in new management and training for a new generation of field service employees, whose skillsets lend themselves to the demands of an increasingly customer-centric business environment. Field service companies who utilize their unique qualities and motivators—striving to be conscientious, connected and desiring of meaningful work—will successfully utilize the best aspects of an evolving workforce.
Existing Customer Relationships Hold the Key to Your Financial Future.
For many companies, customer satisfaction is now their primary driver for profit and their greatest investment. Advanced organizations that identify a sales strategy for field agents and adopt the right technologies to accomplish those goals have the greatest chance of success in emerging markets.
These companies’ technicians are at the forefront of their operations and have the most interactions with customers. That’s why in many cases, technicians have the deepest understanding of customers’ needs. Technicians with knowledge of their history can identify which high-value service agreements fit their customers. And thanks to connectivity, access to existing customer data, and knowledge and familiarity through face-to-face interactions, many technicians can anticipate the future needs of their customers, and sell even more.
Millennials are the Next Generation of ‘Field Service Heroes’.
(This is the ‘high five’ part.) Like it or not, Millennials now make up the new field services employee base, and you need to figure out how you can take advantage of their skillsets. Our recommendation: put them in front of your customers.
Despite what anyone says, there is a great deal to like about the newest generation of field service experts. Far from lazy or apathetic, Millennials tend to be results- oriented, natural collaborators and leaders who appreciate meaningful work—sometimes over salary.
Naturally, these qualities lend themselves to improving the customer experience, as well as increasing the lifetime value of customers; and managers who utilize Millennial assets successfully will see real gains in up-selling, value ads, cost savings and efficiencies driven by connected technologies.
Remote and on-demand trainings are becoming a primary method of delivering technical training content for many companies. As digital natives, younger employees are more capable of utilizing these technologies and capitalizing on connected technologies while on a service visit or during a customer interaction.
As improving customer relationships, loyalty, and lifetime value grow in importance, it’s good to have the best and brightest out in front of your customers. But passing the baton to the next generation of field service heroes requires passing on skills and knowledge as well.
It’s not technologies but customers who are reshaping field services, demanding more from the companies and the technicians with whom they interact on a regular basis. In meeting these new demands, the best and brightest in the business will seize upon new opportunities to increase customer loyalty, retention, and revenue. Now, those companies need to invest in the right technologies and a new workforce that will be flexible and responsive enough to handle it.
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