When Greek philosopher Heraclitus mused, “Nothing endures but change,” it’s safe to say he wasn’t referring to field service.
Yet this ancient observation couldn’t be more accurate to describe how the field service industry has evolved and grown over the past decade.
The size of the global field service market exploded in the late 2010s and has no signs of stopping. In 2016, the field service market reached $1.78 billion. But in 2022, it’s projected to expand to $4.45 billion. That means the field service market will more than double in just six years.
Some field service organizations admittedly struggle to keep up with this explosive growth. These struggling companies often lag behind on adopting new technology to automate manual processes. Despite the availability of field service management software, 52% of field service organizations still use manual methods for most field service tasks.
But many companies excel at managing all the moving parts of a successful field service business. And no matter which category a company falls under, there are several common characteristics of successful field service organizations.
Align your service business with these five common characteristics of successful field service companies:
- Identify, train, and nurture talent
- Determine and measure KPIs
- Trade suspect for respect
- Empower all stakeholders
- Take ownership and embrace the future
Identify, Train, and Nurture Talent
Now more than ever, talent management is essential as changes in the industry and growing demands place more importance and responsibility on front-line service personnel. In fact, 89% of service leaders agree mobile workers are a direct reflection of their brand. And four out of five consumers consider a company’s service to be as important as the company’s product.
It’s clear that your field technicians are more crucial than ever to keep your customers happy. Leading service organizations that follow a strategy to identify, train, and retrain are successful in building and maintaining top-flight teams.
Not every worker is great at every skill. A successful service business will identify each team member’s skill set, play to his or her strengths, and develop a clear strategy for improvement. They make a commitment to train each employee closing any gaps in specific skills, and then add talent to the team.
And it’s important to address the growing millennial demographic, too. Millennials now account for one third of the workforce. And by 2030, that figure is expected to rise to 75%. There are many things successful service businesses are doing right now to retain this growing workforce demographic. Moreover, ongoing training, transparency, and technological support will not only boost job satisfaction among millennials, but also will be appreciated by team members of all ages.
Determine And Measure KPIs
Field service organizations that do it right are proactive. Instead of having a “Let’s just go fix stuff” approach, they start with a metrics-driven strategy to establish and measure KPIs, focusing on the success of the service, rather than on the process of the service.
Successful service organizations often get the results they want by recognizing universal truths about customer service. Foundational KPIs for field service can include:
- Increased travel efficiencies that translate into faster customer wait times
- Lowest possible repair costs
- Qualified techs with necessary skills being assigned to tasks
- Having the parts and equipment to get the job done right the first time
Metrics-based strategies to set and measure KPIs help companies detect problem areas and troubleshoot solutions. They also provide qualified data to identify specific areas of success.
So, rather than a company assuming they’re doing well because they have a pile of work orders, they can isolate specific areas of strength, and pinpoint the reasons why they are succeeding.
Trade Suspect For Respect
In an occupation that allows a certain amount of freedom, some techs may not be very disciplined about time tracking. Others may even be tempted to “cheat” if left unchecked.
A study by the American Payroll Association (APA) reports that a whopping 43% of hourly workers exaggerate the time they actually work. The APA advises that time theft can rob companies of 7% of their gross annual payroll, and costs American businesses $400 billion in lost productivity every year.
Mobile technology offers a solution to this problem with continuous field visibility. Punch-clock software provides field techs a fool-proof way to be accurate and honest, while fostering a mutually respectful relationship between the field and back office.
In the past, an organization had only suspicions and no proof that an employee was inflating hours on a traditional timesheet. With field service management software, supervisors know where techs are at all times. And with a phone call, they can determine whether the tech is taking an extra long lunch or picking up a necessary part.
Field service companies must openly share their vision of the enterprise with their workforce, and the mechanisms that will help it thrive. Doing so ensures everyone has a stake in the business’s success. In a transparent environment like this, workers feel respected, and buy into the importance of using software that keeps business practices ethical and productive.
Empower All Stakeholders
All three stakeholders in a successful service operation – the back office, the technician, and the customer – benefit when they are supported and empowered.
The back office is empowered with visual scheduling software that allows them to make quick and accurate scheduling decisions based on real-time information they receive about location, tech skill sets, parts availability and more. The entire order process is streamlined from call-taking to quoting, to creating work orders, to dispatching. Older processes subject to transcription errors – such as keying handwritten notes from a tech, and filling out paperwork – are eliminated as well.
The field technician is empowered with tools and resources they need to be productive and efficient all day long, helping them get the job done quickly and fixed the first time. From GPS-enabled navigation, to instantaneous service and account history, to collaborating with the field workforce, to having access to manuals and instructional videos, to paperless transactions and more, successful service businesses keep their techs “turning wrenches” and not bogged down with outdated administrative tasks.
The customer is empowered by best in class service from both the field and the office. Field techs provide better and faster service, while the back office has the information they need to follow up with the customer, offering proactive maintenance, and options to save money with contracts and services.
Take Ownership And Embrace The Future
Successful field service organizations work on their businesses, not just in their businesses. They’re tirelessly committed to finding new methods and technologies to improve their operations to serve their customers better. And they make their businesses more successful in the process.
A hallmark of a truly successful company is to accept and embrace change as a constant in business, and not fight against it. Instead of being fearful of the future, they meet it head on, and go with the flow.