On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus) a pandemic. The result was damaging effects to health and businesses around the globe. Following this, the world economy was sent into a tailspin. According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), it is approximated that 600,000 US businesses permanently closed on an annual basis.
The 2020 Service Leader’s Agenda benchmark survey conducted by the Service Council revealed executives were turning their attention towards a preservation mentality and prioritized their focus on business continuity and operating cost reduction efforts. In our 2021 release of the identical survey, service leaders signaled their attention was turning to service revenue and growth focus following months of uncertain economic climate. Thirty-nine percent (39%) of responding executives indicated “Service Revenue” as their #1 priority.
It is not shocking that service organizations turned their attention towards growth, considering many are a key contributor to revenue and operate as a profit center. If you think of profit contribution as an equation, when you can’t decrease cost (the denominator) you must increase revenue (the numerator) to have a higher profit yield.
To support revenue and growth, service leaders began to focus on two initiatives:
- Capturing new market share
- Identifying cross-sell/up-sell with existing market share
Below are the traditional and emerging commercial service offerings referenced by service leaders as pathways to expand customer market share:
Beyond the commercial packaging of service offerings noted above, recent Service Council research reveals service, sales and operations leaders aligning their agendas to create a 360° view of the customer and a collaborative approach to account management.
Field Service Engineers (FSEs) = Revenue Driver?
I was recently able to sit down and discuss service revenue generation with Matt Leuschner (ML), President & Co-Founder of Wingmate; an innovative lead capture and CRM platform which has witnessed tremendous growth over the last several years.
JC: Welcome, Matt. Wingmate has taken an innovative approach to enable Field Service Engineers (FSEs) to be a function of revenue contribution. This approach is working well as Wingmate experienced 300% organic growth last year. Congratulations. Care to tell us about this innovative approach and what the genesis of Wingmate was?
ML: Thank you for having me, John. Wingmate’s growth over the past year is attributed to a couple of factors. First, We have a deep understanding of Wingmate customers, and all of our decisions are informed by them. The founders of Wingmate aimed to develop a product around what we identified as an unmet need in the field service industry. Commercial Service Companies either operated in spreadsheets/paper-based records or were stuck in overbuilt and complicated systems that were forced to fit with low adoption.
Second, while we don’t have the same resources as some of our larger competitors, the strength and intuitiveness of our product, combined with our dedicated customer support, shines through. I’m happy with Wingmate’s growth so far, but we’re just getting warmed up. We’ve managed to build a team of young innovative minds that stay true to our client’s needs.
JC: There has been a longstanding debate of whether FSEs should sell. The annual Voice of the Field Service Engineer (VoFSE) survey revealed the “pressure to sell” was inconsequential to the technician as only 11% of responding technicians indicated it was an undesirable aspect of their job. What are your thoughts? To Sell or not to sell? That is the question!
ML: Who knows your customers better than your technicians? They hear and see everything; client insights, interests, and even competitive intel. Your frontline employees (e.g., technicians, drivers, route service reps, etc.) often know what’s wrong in your company before you do. They can tell you why some customers buy more while others leave. Unfortunately, many companies don’t listen
To be candid, the debate around having technicians sell has been a common objection when explaining Wingmate to prospects. Many either don’t see Field Service Engineers (FSEs) has “sellers” or think they’ll get the engagement required for the program to work. Historically, FSEs either didn’t have the proper tools, lacked incentive or feedback, felt it was too complicated, or there was a disconnect between sales & operations (the list goes on).
FSEs, if leveraged correctly, are the number one customer-facing asset in your business. Unlike a salesman, which is often met with skepticism by prospects, the frontline service tech is the hero and trusted advisor, there to install a new exciting service or solve a problem. Their job is not to sell but rather to relay back the valuable insights they see and hear in real-time so that sales can sell! We often relate the FSE to the quarterback (American Football); they can gather intel, capture important information, and provide salespeople with the ammunition they need to make a successful pitch. Incentivizing and engaging your FSEs and keeping them in the loop (down to the minute) on how they’ve contributed can dramatically impact their engagement and overall performance.
JC: Recently, we completed a research effort on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) & Metrics which revealed workforce utilization as a top operating cost metric. Service leaders look at this metric in two ways: 1) How many jobs completed per technician, per day? And 2) What % of time is spent being productive? Will asking them to be a function of sales (whether selling or supplying lead generation to back-office) result in lower efficiency rates?
ML: When you think about adding sales as a responsibility to already busy techs, you assume it will make them less efficient. First, I wouldn’t look at it as “adding sales”. Rather, you’re giving them a quick & effective way to communicate insights.
With that being said, Wingmate customers consistently highlight a tremendous increase in efficiency and engagement from their frontline staff. Why? Because they are more eager to complete more jobs, capture new opportunities and reap the benefits of customer satisfaction
When you create goals, build an infrastructure for teamwork and collaboration, and reward for performance, the culture changes. It’s no longer a “clock-in & clock-out” attitude; there’s an incentive for both the company and the individual tech to earn substantial financial rewards for their performance. You’re essentially creating a win-win-win strategy for techs, salespeople, and management.
Having a connection between Sales and Operations creates a funnel of information from customer complaints, up-sell, cross-sell, and service deficiencies. Wingmate allows companies to capture revenue growth, mobilize their workforce as a team and analyze customer needs faster. It’s about getting the full picture of where growth and efficiency opportunities are without guessing through trial and error.
JC: Two customer experience trends we are tracking is the need to build agility and accessibility into your approach to support customers. Every customer touchpoint is a conversion opportunity (whether commercially or to deepen their loyalty). A commercial customer need is another example of a conversion opportunity (moment of truth), isn’t it?
ML: Couldn’t have said it better, John.
The old adage is “It’s 10x more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain a current one”. With Wingmate, we’ve built in this idea of up-sell & cross-sell to the forefront of our value proposition.
Imagine that your FSE is visiting a customer, and they mention the need for another service or a larger order. Using Wingmate, that FSE can report that information back to your salespeople within seconds and service that need. From an up-sell opportunity or even a service issue, that has no immediate financial value to your organization. You’re building loyalty, route density, and providing a competitive, unmatched service in real-time.
JC: Can you share Wingmate’s viewpoint on the major trends that will impact field service in 2022? We’re hearing a continued focus on removing friction and creating effortless employee and customer experiences (EX and CX).and We believe 2022 will witness a re-focus on quality. What are you hearing as you’re talking with customers and the broader market?
ML: As I’m sure everyone would agree. We’re looking forward to the end of the Covid era!
Many of our colleagues in the industry are looking for ways to increase revenue streams without the risk of a large added expense. Going into this year and next, a major industry trend will be to leverage field staff like FSEs and reps (essentially anyone not previously seen as a sales entity) as a vehicle of information. Technology applications which support this information exchange have become much more pervasive. Not only do they offer ease of adoption, but they’ve become more palatable from a budget and investment standpoint.
Referencing your point, CX will be at the forefront of priorities for every commercial service company due to how competitive the industry has become. Employee experience is directly correlated to achieving positive results with respect to CX. I strongly believe in the value behind rewarding your employees, making them feel like they’re part of the organization’s growth.
Going into this new era, I have a strong feeling that companies will start to implement teamwork between Sales & Operations to achieve common goals. The elimination of siloes between sales and service will begin to take effect. They will now view themselves as peers and see the reciprocal value they can provide to one another.
John, I really appreciate you taking the time to speak today! It’s a pleasure to be a part of the Service Council, and I can’t wait to see where this year takes us. Please feel free to reach out any time and continue our discussion on industry trends and how we can help organizations of all sizes achieve their growth goals.
I would encourage our readership to visit Wingmate’s website to learn more about their customer success and to watch a demo of their technology. The Service Council has identified Wingmate as a field service vendor to watch in 2022!