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.
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:
- Access to service manuals and a knowledge base
- Visibility into spare parts inventory
- Ability to order spare parts in the field
- Access into customer history prior to onsite engagement
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.