March 2018 - The Service Council

The Voice of the Field Service Engineer – Day 3

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | No Comments

In part 3 of our 5-part “Voice of the Engineer” blog series we ask engineers to rank the favorite and least favorite parts of their work day. Parts 1 and 2 can be found here and here.

Day 3: Let Me Get to Work

Field service engineers like the work that they do. They like fixing or resolving issues and ultimately resolving customer challenges. This hasn’t changed from our 2016 survey results, where the same two factors were highlighted as the best parts of the engineers’ day-to-day work. The top two also remain in the same order regardless of geographic presence, age, or size of company. Of note, more experienced field service engineers are more likely to enjoy interacting with customers and solving their problems, as seen by 61% of respondents. Only 38% (still the top factor) of those engineers 35 years or younger state that solving customer problems is the best part of the day. A near equal proportion claim that they are interested in the work, but are more drawn to the aspect of fixing or repairing things as opposed to dealing directly with customers. The younger engineers are much more likely to enjoy learning new skills or learning about new tools and technology. In part 1 of our blog series, we briefly alluded to the challenge that this raises as organizations look to use their field service resources to complete as many jobs as possible. There is an inherent enjoyment and pride that field engineers take in their craft, and service leaders must be cognizant of this when making investments to change the nature of field service.
Best Part of Engineers Day - 2018 Research

It also seems that there is ample opportunity for field service leaders to remove some of the obstacles that hinder field service engineers. The time spent in completing service related paperwork or administrative tasks is seen as the least favorite part of the field service engineer’s day. In the age of ubiquitous mobility, this continues to come as a surprise. The fact of the matter is that field service engineers spend nearly 20% of their day on paperwork. Not all of this can be done away with due to regulatory or other requirements, but 20% is a large number that can be whittled down. In impacting that number, I would also recommend that field service leaders and technologists address the time it takes field service engineers to locate the information that they need to get work done. As seen from our 2016 survey, the four major pieces of information and content that were desired by field engineers were:

  1. Access to service manuals and a knowledge base
  2. Visibility into spare parts inventory
  3. Ability to order spare parts in the field
  4. Access into customer history prior to onsite engagement

Worst Part of the Engineers Day - 2018 Research
This would begin to impact the “pressure to work faster” issue, which receives a higher level of disdain in this year’s survey when compared to 2016 results. Field engineers understand that there are revenue and cost benefits for service organizations when more tasks are completed by the same pool of labor. The rising expectations are viewed negatively when they

  • Aren’t supported with the appropriate resources
  • Impact the quality and professionalism of work
  • Compromise the safety of the field service professionals

In demanding more from their field engineers, service leaders must ensure that they are truly equipping them with resources and tools to get work done and that they are consistently engaging with engineers to collect and act on feedback and insight.

In our next piece we’ll look into the engineer’s level of satisfaction with various aspects of their work. If you are interested in getting to the end, and in accessing the entire deck of results, please visit us here. If you are a field service engineer, I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to add your comments or email me at sd@servicecouncil.com. If you are a field service leader, I’m happy to chat as well.

About the project

In 2016, we launched the first version of our field service engineer feedback research surveys involving 200 engineers and technicians. We were so pleased with the results that we decided to run a similar survey in 2018 which yielded participation from 550 engineers. You can access the summary results (and data tables) here. The intent of this survey, as it was for its predecessor in 2016, is to uncover the voice of the front lines. We often hear from service and field service leaders, but we rarely present the voices of the front-line field service engineers.

The Voice of the Field Service Engineer – Day 2

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | No Comments

Last week we covered why field service engineers chose the profession of field service. In part 2 of our 5-part ‘voice of the field service engineer’ blog series (part 1 can be found here) we ask engineers what has changed about their day-to-day work.

Day 2: The Transformation of Field Service Work

Most engineers agree that the knowledge required to service products has changed. As products have an increasing array of software and digital components, the diagnosis and resolution of service issues requires a newer skill set. It is worth noting that those engineers that have been in the field for longer are unanimous in their agreement that the knowledge requirements of today’s field service engineer are changing. This has broad implications in terms of learning and development investments that need to be made to ensure that engineers are consistently up to speed on the service work that has to be done. The changing knowledge profile also raises the discussion of specialization. It might not be feasible to keep everyone trained on all the service aspects of every service product. Therefore, it might make sense to develop teams of specialists who focus on specific service areas and products. These specialists can then be used to work in their areas of expertise or to assist and train generalists when they encounter more specific service issues and needs.
Change in Field Service Work

The two other major takeaways from the results involve:

  1. Increasing management demands and pressure around work.
    As field service leaders are faced with increasing pressure to churn out more work, that pressure rolls downhill and impacts those on the front-lines. This was a major theme of our 2018 study and was seen in greater frequency when compared to our 2016 survey. Field service engineers are being pushed to complete a greater number of tasks and increase productivity. In certain organizations, field service engineers are also being pressured to uncover and bring in new revenue opportunities. This constant pressure to do more can be a worrying trend, especially if engineers feel a lack of support and resources in getting additional work done.
  2. The Impact of Technology. Younger engineers express slightly higher favorability toward the impact of technology on their service work. For those with more experience, less than one half indicate that available tools actually make it easier for them to get their job done. In the era where organizations are spending a lot of time worrying about customer effort, it might make sense to spend some time in improving the effort with which engineers can acquire the information or resources that they need to get work done.

Changing Profile of Field Service Work - By Age
Tomorrow, we’ll publish results documenting the best and worst parts of the field service engineers’ work days. If you are interested in getting to the end, and in accessing the entire deck of results, please visit us here. If you are a field service engineer, I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to add your comments or email me at sd@servicecouncil.com. If you are a field service leader, I’m happy to chat as well.

About the ‘Voice of the field service engineer’ project:

In 2016, we launched the first version of our field service engineer feedback research surveys involving 200 engineers and technicians. We were so pleased with the results that we decided to run a similar survey in 2018 which yielded participation from 550 engineers. You can access the summary results (and data tables) here. The intent of this survey, as it was for its predecessor in 2016, is to uncover the voice of the front lines. We often hear from service and field service leaders, but we rarely present the voices of the front-line field service engineers.

The Voice of the Field Service Engineer – Day 1

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | No Comments

In 2016, we launched the first version of our field service engineer feedback research surveys involving 200 engineers and technicians (Note: hereinafter we’ll call them “engineers” collectively). We were so pleased with the results that we decided to run a similar survey in 2018. The participation from our community has been outstanding.

Over the next five days, I’ll be sharing some interesting charts from our recently conducted survey of approximately 550 field service engineers across the globe. You can access the summary results (and data tables) here. The intent of this survey, as it was for its predecessor in 2016 (report, webinar for North America, webinar for Europe), is to uncover the voice of the front lines. We often hear from service and field service leaders, but we rarely present the voices of the front-line field service engineers.

Day 1: Why Field Service?

It isn’t the most sought-after profession, especially when we consider the types of dreams and aspirations that children typically have. This in turn is part of the problem that the overall industry is facing when it states that there is a talent crisis in engineering or repair and maintenance-oriented disciplines. The brand of field service is poor and needs some work, and all of us – analysts, software providers, service companies, consultants, and educational institutions – are responsible to reshape the image of field service. While the lure of new technology might help in reshaping the profile of work being done, the core rebranding of field service has to be built around the financial security, the safety, and the opportunity to learn and grow that the profession provides to new entrants.
Reasons for Joining Field Service
The 2018 results are very similar to the 2016 results and they continue to bring an interesting discussion to the forefront. Many of the technology investments being made in field service are aimed at eliminating inefficiencies. These inefficiencies infect every part of the field service ecosystem, from call scheduling to appointment booking, and from dispatch to actual field service work completion. Field service engineers enjoy the process of figuring out a customer’s issue and deciphering the necessary steps that need to be taken to resolve the issue. It is part of the pride of being a field service engineer, and while some of this might retire with the current generation of workers, we doubt that this will completely go away. This is something that companies must consider as part of the change management thought process around new automation. If the field service engineer is only seen as a worker drone that needs to get the job done, then maybe pride has no future play, but if the field service engineer is seen as a customer asset, then the pathway adopted should be very different.

At the end of the day, field service engineers want to fix things to solve customer problems. Enabling them to do so in a professional manner is the key to improving their work. (More on this later.) Their work, and the interest in their craft, is what keeps them in the profession.
Reasons for Staying in Field Service
If you are interested in getting to the end, and accessing the entire deck of results, please visit us here. If you are a field service engineer, I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to add your comments or email me at sd@servicecouncil.com. If you are a field service leader, I’m happy to chat as well.

More soon…

On the Service Leader’s Mind for 2018: Service Revenue

By Sumair Dutta | Uncategorized | No Comments

We just published our 2018 Service Leader’s Agenda Report (Get it here). One of the key takeaways from this report was the refocus on Service Revenue as a metric of success in 2018 and our conclusion is that service leaders are finally putting the infrastructure in place to achieve revenue growth.
Top Metrics for Service Leaders in 2018

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to chat with several service leaders on the topic of revenue growth. These leaders reflected a range of industries from medical devices to facilities management and financial services. The key takeaways and actions being prioritized are:

Know Your Installed Base

In this date and time when every single movement and action can be tracked, one would assume that companies have a good handle on their installed base and the associated contract coverage. Getting insight into installed base status and coverage is a great way to identify near-term revenue opportunities.

Talk to Your Customers

What your customers will want 3-5 years from now is very different from what they expect and want today. That said, they are already envisioning what service should look like and what they will be willing to pay for. While we talk about the role of consumerized experiences in the enterprise world, the impact of true consumerization will be felt in a much more critical way in the coming years. Customers might be willing to accept that the equipment they hold today is outdated but will wonder why the next generation of available equipment is already outdated if it doesn’t come with connectivity and desired service and support resources. As one service leader put it, “Customers don’t want to have to tell us what’s wrong, they want us to tell them.” The equipment of tomorrow better be ready to enable and support changing service needs.

“Customers don’t want to have to tell us what’s wrong, they want us to tell them.”

Expand You Service Product Portfolio

While service contracts, time and material work, and service part sales, continue to be the revenue stalwarts for service organizations, there is an opportunity for the provision of new services. In instances where customers are beginning to self-maintain, there might be appetite for training, knowledge, and other information-based resources. In other industries, new service contract or agreement terms and types might address the needs of customers who interact with or use equipment in different ways.

Get Sales on Board

All the steps above can lay a strong foundation for service growth, but eventually someone needs to approach and talk to the customer. This is where the sales team’s comfort with and desire to sell service offerings becomes increasingly important. At a recent meeting with a large service company in the facilities management space, I was happy to note that the organization had finally tweaked its sales compensation models to align incentives with desired action around service products. In this, the company had put incentives in place for standard service products and services but had also put in incentives for getting customers connected. Incentives for service sales need to be paired with improved training, better service offering collateral, and dedicated resources to aid sales agents’ in their interactions with customers.

These are just a couple of the ideas discussed on the recent IdeaShare (see future events) around revenue growth. They also happened to be most foundational. Technician lead programs, self-service portals with ecommerce functionality, and multi-vendor services, were also discussed as arenas for untapped revenue.

We’re currently looking into the world of new services via a research survey (Link). The survey looks into the types of services that are being evaluated in support of service revenue growth. If interested, please do participate. We expect to share the results in the coming weeks. You can also access a copy of our Service Leader’s Trends report to learn about some of the key initiatives and focus areas for the coming 12 months.

Activate Your Service Connect™ Membership Learn More

Login