Industry Experts Share Lessons for Field Service Organizations from the Recession

Fine-tune your service operations now to boost revenue, employee satisfaction, and customer loyalty


Recessions happen. They’re just a part of the business cycle that companies need to learn to overcome, or risk closing their doors for good. And history proves that companies can come out of a recession in even better standing.

Take the 2008 recession for example. One thing we learned from this economic crisis was that companies in good shape before the crisis were able to invest during the downturn and come out of the recession even stronger.

Service companies struggling through the current recession can be proactive and prepare for the eventual return to profitability. But where should you focus your efforts now to get the highest return for your business? Use these three lessons from experts in the field service industry to achieve unprecedented levels of revenue and customer satisfaction.


Calibrate your customer experience

When business slows and you’re looking at making expense cuts, be careful when considering cuts that could negatively impact customer experience (also known as CX). A study of stock performance during the 2008 recession proved companies with higher quality customer experience came out the other end with even greater market share, while their competitors suffered major losses.


Stock performance during 2008 recession vs. customer experience 

In fact, companies that lagged behind in customer experience had a 57% drop in the total return of their stock, while customer experience leaders achieved a positive stock return of more than 6%. Bottom line: companies with high-quality customer experience are more likely to withstand a recession than those that don’t.

One way to achieve a great customer experience is consistent communication, even through challenging times. That’s the strategy facility service provider, ABM, uses to stay top-of-mind with their customers. “Communication is key for us,” says Rick Yelley, operations coordinator at ABM. “Staying in front of customers is going to open the door to more opportunities.”

Rick Yelley Operations at ABM


Invest in automation

In April, the U.S. unemployment rate spiked to 14.7% — the highest level since the Great Depression. Many companies are still weighing the need for more layoffs, even as the economy bounces back. 

It’s an unfortunate situation when companies have to make the tough decision to layoff employees. But you can make the best of a bad situation with strategic automation technology investments. that will improve the productivity of your entire service organization – regardless of the number of employees on staff. 

“If you have the liquidity and the capitalization, invest in automation right now,” says Jim Henderson, executive partner at Currie Management Consultants. “When hiring comes back, if you’ve automated, you’ll have to hire less, and you’ll be in a more profitable position.”

Jim Henderson Executive Partner at Currie Management Consultants

Take advantage of the opportunity to streamline your service operations with automation technology now, and you’ll hit the ground running as the economy grows.


Level up your technicians

Though some service organizations have had to lay off some field technicians, other companies are using the downtime to level up their technicians’ skills and educate them on how to best use technologies available to them. If you’ve been hesitant to implement a new system for your technicians, now might be the best time to put a new system in place. 

Jim Henderson explains why: “People resist adding new systems for techs because they don’t want to take techs out of productive work. If your productive work is down right now, it is the perfect time to get your techs trained on a new system because you don’t lose productive work and get the gains of a new system.”

Now during this lull period is the time to gear up your service organization to reach unprecedented levels of productivity. Ask yourself: which processes can be simplified or digitized to deliver services faster, cheaper, and better? And can you invest in technology and training that will improve technician performance quickly? With answers to these questions, you’re well on your way to boosting technician efficiency and improving the overall customer experience.



It can be hard to make decisions during a recession. But one investment that will always offer a great ROI regardless of the economic situation is improving the customer experience. Now is the time to stay in front of customers and make sure you’re meeting their changing needs. Make investments to streamline your field service operations to boost the customer experience. Provide education and training to your technicians so they’re better equipped to service customers when the economy rebounds.

Recessions come and go. But with these three lessons learned, your company can weather any storm.

For even more expert advice on maximizing your service revenue, watch the 60-minute webinar recording.


Webinar Recording: Maximize Your Service Revenue Through Major Disruptions

With input from dozens of field service organizations like yours, we’ve put together strategies and recommendations to support your service operations through this challenging time.

Watch the 60-minute webinar recording now to discover our best service revenue-generating ideas. 

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Maximize Your Service Revenue Through Major Disruptions Webinar from MSI