ServiceNow recently sponsored a webinar in conjunction with the Service Council, which featured Sajeel Hussain of Xerox Corporation as guest speaker. Sajeel is the Vice President of Strategic Alliances and Partnerships for Xerox. The webinar focused on the challenge of bridging Field Service technicians’ skills gap, and the technologies that help close that gap.
Many long-term, highly skilled technicians are leaving their jobs through retirement. In fact, Sajeel cited one statistic he had read saying that up to 70% of baby boomers are planning to retire soon, and that includes many valued Field Service technicians. But the loss of crucial talent is not just due to retirement, Service Council research reveals that nearly 60% of Field Service technicians younger than 40 say they either will abandon, or are thinking about abandoning Field Service as a career. Why is that?
Data from Service Council’s 2021“Voice of the Field Service Engineer” (VoFSE) survey provides some clues. Seven of ten technicians say products they service are much more complex today than when they started in Field Service. Roughly nine in ten say more technical knowledge is required to do their jobs today. Moreover, most technicians are unhappy with the volume of administrative tasks and paperwork they are required to complete.
Significant numbers also report being troubled by pressure from customers and management to work faster, which is further compounded by difficulty and frustration they report in finding the information they need to complete a job. On the other hand, a significant majority of Field Service technicians like their job otherwise; they like fixing things, solving problems, and working with customers.
These two factors, retirement and loss of talent due to career changes, foreshadow a worrisome skills gap for Field Service organizations across multiple industries. Field Service organizations cannot halt the flow of retirements. But they can take steps to lessen the resulting knowledge gap, and to stem the outflow of younger skilled workers. Finding ways to do both is vital to the future success of many Field Service organizations.
To address these challenges, Sajeel emphasized that Xerox’s service organization has two primary objectives:
- boost technician efficiencies using technologies that enable both remote support and problem resolution time,
- boost equipment uptime for Xerox customers’ as a result.
A new, comprehensive Field Service Management System was needed. One that would help Xerox achieve these two key goals, as well has mitigate the potential impact of a retirement induced skills shortage. Xerox sought a system that would:
- increase technician efficiency and minimize service times,
- route and schedule technicians with the right skills, to the right place, at the right time,
- provide technicians with the knowledge needed to fix problems the first try.
Moreover, it must:
- be flexible to configure to Xerox’s specific needs,
- be very scalable to accommodate Xerox’s approximately 10,000 technicians worldwide,
- generate analytics and reports detailing metrics and highlighting patterns and trends.
Most importantly, the system must be able to integrate with other problem-solving technologies, such as Augmented Reality (AR), allowing technicians to easily launch visual assist aids that can help guide them through problem identification and resolution.
Xerox Overarching Goals
Sajeel further explained that Xerox has three overall sustainability objectives: People, Profit, and Planet. The technology solutions Xerox deploys must support, enable, and expand improvements in all three areas. Technologies that help technicians identify and resolve problems more quickly payoff on many fronts. First visit fixes shrink repeat visits, which in turn boost equipment uptime and end user productivity.
These technologies often enable remote problem diagnosis and problem resolution, which reduces dispatches and truck rolls and increases uptime even more.
These and many other results fall right in line with Xerox’s overall sustainability goals. Rapid and accurate problem diagnosis and repair boosts profitability by strengthening customer satisfaction, which leads to improved customer retention and more customer spend. Fewer repeat visits and remote problem resolution trim service costs and reduce the company’s carbon footprint. Visual aids that help technicians, including new technicians, learn and expand their skill sets empower them to be more competent and proficient. And finally, tools that help technicians’ do their jobs more quickly and effectively, and that allow them to have more time with their families and enjoy a better work/life balance enhance employee satisfaction and sense of value. They’re then likely to represent Xerox more professionally, to stick around longer, to gain vital skills, and to become a respected customer partner and a valued company asset.
Advice for a Successful Implementation
Sajeel strongly suggests that executive support for a major technology deployment is crucial to a successful rollout. Without strong, consistent support from senior management, the project is prone to delays or failure. Technician involvement in decisions surrounding the evaluation, selection, and roll out of the solution are also important. They’re the people who will be using the technology most often and most directly, so their input is essential. Failure to do so is likely to lead to dissatisfaction, disagreement and reluctance to adopt. And finally, “don’t boil the ocean”. Implement and deploy in steps, if possible, learn more as you go, and publicize successes to encourage enthusiastic adoption at the next steps.
ServiceNow Fulfills All Needs
Xerox chose ServiceNow® Field Service Management. ServiceNow fulfills all the needs described, and many more. ServiceNow’s integration with Xerox’s CareAR Augmented Reality system provides all the visual assist and service delivery capabilities previously mentioned. It also maintains complete customer and equipment service history and an audit trail of all service events.
The ServiceNow deployment facilitates and supports Xerox’s journey toward the three sustainability goals: People, Profit, Planet.