How Midco Moved from Challenge to Opportunity with Zinier

Service Business FSM

Service innovation continues to be top of mind for service executives in 2024 and beyond, according to Service Council research. The 2024 Service Leader’s Agenda survey found that, not only is it the number one area of immediate focus for service leaders in 2024, but it is also their number one area of sustained focus over the next five years.

This begs the question: What are we solving for? For most organizations, innovation plans revolve around technology that can transform customer and employee experience. However, while service technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, many service leaders are still struggling to build a tech stack that fits their business’ nuanced requirements.  This is particularly evident in the realm of field service management (FSM) software, which has consistently remained in service leaders’ top 3 planned technology investments year-over-year.

Telecommunications Company Seeks to Innovate

This was a struggle that resonated for Midco, a regional telecommunications company that provides cable, internet and telephone services across several states throughout the midwestern United States. While they had been using the same FSM platform for nearly two decades, they still found that it left gaps that hindered their ability to innovate as a company.

Midco’s Vice President of Field Operations, Steve Mattern, recently sat down with Service Council’s CEO, John Carroll, and Zinier’s Head of Global Marketing, Carly Kroll, to discuss their journey to transform their FSM and how that has helped them future-proof their service business.

Midco is the 19th largest internet provider in the U.S. and their 700+ field agents service 500,000 customers across 400 communities. Their vision, says Steve, is to empower, inspire, and innovate their customers and team members. However, they realized that to do this, they also needed to innovate from within, starting with their service operations.

A Challenge Paves the Path for Opportunity

Midco knew this innovation needed to start with their field service management (FSM). In 2021, they learned that the FSM platform they had been using for nearly two decades was going to be sunset by the vendor. While this news would have been difficult for many organizations, particularly since they were already grappling with pandemic-related challenges, Steve realized that it was the perfect opportunity for Midco to trigger a complete rebuild of their FSM to improve business efficiency, employee experience, and customer satisfaction.

Midco’s top priorities for an FSM platform were (1) ease of integration, (2) capacity management functionality and features that would allow them to optimize scheduling, (3) dispatch and route planning. Additionally, Midco hires around 120 new technicians a year, so it was essential that their new FSM platform would be able to make the onboarding and training process as streamlined as possible and provide adequate support for new hires.

A key consideration that makes Midco’s context more challenging is the diversity of the locations that are serviced by their field technicians. Metro areas such as Grand Forks and Fargo have between 20-40 field technicians servicing these areas and allow for more flexibility when it comes to building schedules and routes. However, more rural communities will often have only one technician servicing several towns, which can make suboptimal routing and scheduling more disruptive to the intended outcomes.

Adding to this complexity is the fact that Midco provides their customers with 15-minute arrival time slots and strives to address all customer service issues within 24 hours. While Steve admits this is challenging, he says that it also helps set Midco apart from competitors. They can accomplish such exact windows by utilizing dispatch to dynamically monitor and reassign technicians as needed. Therefore, real-time visibility into technicians’ status and workload was an essential component of any future FSM.

A Fresh Take on Field Service Management

As Midco began reviewing FSM software vendors, they quickly decided that Zinier would be the best partner for them because they shared Midco’s innovative mindset. Zinier’s unique, workflow-based platform would also give Midco the freedom to build a truly customizable and integrated tech stack that would work for them. Due to their former FSM’s limited integration functionality, many other software programs they were using were either siloed or redundant. This made Zinier’s flexible integration capabilities particularly appealing as it also increased the value that could be extracted from those already existing tools.

For Carly, Zinier’s integration capabilities are what set them apart. “When it comes to FSMs, there is no such thing as one size fits all. Midco has some very unique use cases, and there wasn’t going to be an out-of-the-box solution that would support those use cases. Our low-code no-code applications give the freedom to build a platform with workflows and features that work for them.”

Midco launched Zinier throughout their organization in August of 2023 and Midco has already seen improvements around scheduling and routing, as well as a reduction in administrative burdens. Thanks in part to Zinier, Midco has been able to meet their goal of 15-minute time slots, maintain their 96% year-over-year achievement rate for on-time arrivals and a 24-hour issue resolution average across the company. Additionally, they were able to positively impact employee efficiency and experience by providing the ability to automate workflows around scheduling and dispatch based on availability, complexity, and technician skill set while factoring manually assigned jobs as well.

A Solution for Customers and Team Members Alike

When introducing new technology, first impressions are critical to company-wide adoption. According to Steve, the white glove experience that Zinier provided helped make the launch successful the first time. “Throughout the whole process of integrating Zinier into our ecosystem, I was impressed that Zinier matched our team’s level of discipline. There were going to be a whole lot of people who had used a different platform for two decades and were now going to have to get used to an entirely new platform. Therefore, it’s imperative that this change is as seamless as possible and that we get it right the first time. Zinier was very diligent and patient throughout the process, which led to a great team member and customer experience.”

Delivering an excellent team member experience is always a high priority for Midco. This is evidenced by the fact that they have been named America’s Best Mid-Sized Employer by Forbes for 3 years in a row. It is no surprise that they have also managed to maintain a high level of employee engagement, with 87% of team members reporting a strong sense of collaboration with their direct leader. This is a particularly impressive achievement, considering that Service Council’s 2023 Voice of the Field Service Engineer survey found that 41% of frontline agents don’t believe they have a role in innovation and 60% don’t believe their management listens or enacts their feedback on business improvements.

From Carly’s perspective, this is a company culture issue, and one she sees time and again. “This is something that I’ve heard a lot from folks when I’m on the floor at trade shows or when I’m visiting on site with customers. It’s the idea within the company that only those in research and development, or those higher up in leadership, are the ones who get to do innovation.”

Steve also credits Midco’s company culture for driving both innovation and employee satisfaction. “Businesses have to create opportunities for frontline team members to engage with leadership. It’s also up to leadership to create a culture that encourages new ideas and empowers everyone with a voice. Technology is a great way to do this.”

Team members have played a key role in the innovation of new technology by providing regular updates, ideas for enhancement and feedback into how they can make processes more efficient. With Zinier’s help, Midco was also able to build in a feedback mechanism that flows to the product developer to make that enhancement within the application.

In summary, the extent to which company culture could achieve Midco’s objectives was limited by its legacy FSM’s direct capabilities and limited integration. Similarly, the speed and level of impact that Zinier’s solution could achieve is capped by the organizational culture’s ability to adopt, adapt, and effectively leverage innovative tools.

Next on the Horizon

While Zinier has already helped Midco mitigate present challenges and move away from an archaic FSM system, the partnership has a bright future as well. Says Carly, “We’re already having conversations about new features and capabilities that will help them continue to evolve, scale, and innovate with their customers. It’s going to be a journey together, which was something that their previous solution wasn’t quite able to do. What they delivered is what they delivered, and that’s where it ended. At Zinier, we like to see it as a roadmap with our customers.”

Never one to rest on their laurels, Zinier already has several fresh innovations on the horizon. Their latest offering harnesses the power of Generative Artificial Intelligence (Gen AI) to help empower the back office, frontline, and customers alike. The intent is to elevate service efficiency across the board, whether it is a customer wishing to self-solve, technicians trying to drive faster fault resolution, or dispatchers in need of scheduling support.

Midco certainly shares Zinier’s growth mindset. While already a data-driven company, they are now looking at how they can leverage that data to uncover opportunities for preventative maintenance. Steve’s parting words of wisdom for service leaders that want to drive innovation within their organizations is to let go of the past. “Don’t hang on to old technology. If your current technology is not transforming your business needs, then find a new partner. In addition, invest in your frontline. Make sure they have the right tools, resources and support, and find a partner who can provide that.”

Carly echoes Steve’s comments, “First, don’t get enamored with technology. Focus on the value it will deliver. Second, make sure your frontline feels empowered and engaged. If you achieve that, they’ll positively impact your customers.”

If you are interested in learning more about how Midco is future-proofing their service business by partnering with Zinier, watch the on-demand webinar here.

Tags: Employee engagement, recruitment, RL People, Talent Crisis, Talent development, Workforce
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