John Cameron, general manager, Trimble Field Service Management (FSM) looks at the trend in field service work.
The field service industry has, in previous years, been a subject of concern for having an ageing workforce and the implications this has as those with such great knowledge and experience reach retirement age.
However, as the industry continues to evolve, a major trend has been the emergence of young, tech-savvy and collaborative workers. Indeed, according to Aberdeen Group’s latest report, ‘Emerging Workforce in the field: Tech-savvy to technician’, approximately one-fifth of the current workforce is under 30, with the average age of a field service technician being 32 years old.
Field service organisations must therefore recognise what the needs and motivations of this new, up and coming workforce are, in order to keep them for the long haul as well as to attract the next pool of young talent.
A major characteristic that the emerging field service workforce encompasses is the ability to be collaborative, and this is a trait that will help transform service and the relationship with the customer. Organisations must therefore capitalise on this by developing the collaborative tools needed to help the workforce perform as experts in the field and resolve customer needs as quickly as possible.
Collaborative tools, such as smartphones, tablets and laptops offer users the chance to take advantage of mobile apps. There are a number of bespoke mobile apps on the market today that are tailored to help manage a field service operation and simplify business processes.
Indeed, mobile apps offer technicians the ability to share, store and view job data while out in the field, providing them with a virtual link to the back office. Critical information such as daily tasks, customer histories and billing can be accessed on demand. Furthermore, locations of nearby teammates can be retrieved on a mobile device and a real-time connection provided through social networking, enabling them to seek assistance or help resolving a problem, if needed.
According to the Aberdeen Group, the next generation of workers will be different and when it comes to the evolution of excellent service, they may just be what is needed to wow future customers.
It is now widely regarded that customers of today are much more demanding, expecting a quick fix on the first visit and a valued experience as standard. For the field service technician, who is often the only contact a customer will have with the business, there role is therefore more than one of just operational necessity; it is a role of strategic significance. Ultimately, it is they who are regarded as being the hero when job resolution is reached.
These top organisations achieve this by capturing as much knowledge from seasoned workers before they retire so that they can pass it on to the up and coming youths of the industry. Indeed, 70 per cent of top performing field service organisations are more likely to provide technicians with a knowledgebase of recorded training videos and images. Furthermore, they understand what values/skill sets are required to be a great service technician. 50 per cent have competency profiles in place for service worker categories most impacted by retirement in order to improve the future recruitment and training of the next wave of field service workers.