The new field service worker is tech-savvy and collaborative

Monday, February 23, 2015 - 09:48
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John Cameron

Expert opinion: John Cameron, general manager of Trimble Field Service Management

In the latest article from Trimble Field Service Management, John Cameron gives an insight into the needs of an increasingly younger FSM workforce

The field service industry has, in previous years, been a subject of concern for having an ageing workforce. However, as the industry evolves, there has been an emergence of young, tech-savvy and collaborative workers. According to Aberdeen Group’s latest report, ‘Emerging Workforce in the field: Tech-savvy to technician’, one-fifth of the current workforce is under 30. Field service organisations must therefore recognise what the needs of this new workforce are in order to keep them for the long haul and to attract future talent.

Flexibility and Mobility

Technology is recognised as an aid to achieving key strategic objectives. Organisations must therefore understand how the influx of young workers use, process and engage with technology. Flexibility and mobility is key. Tech-savvy workers don’t want to be tied down by legacy technologies and want the freedom to utilise technologies they are used to in their personal lives.

BYOD has increased and Aberdeen Group’s report found that 62% of the top performing field service organisations have incorporated a BYOD strategy as a result of a more tech-savvy workforce and 43% are more likely to give technicians access to social media and collaborative tools to facilitate knowledge transfer.

Visibility and collaboration

The emerging field service workforce is collaborative and this is a trait that will help transform service and the relationship with the customer. Organisations must therefore develop the collaborative tools needed to help the workforce perform as experts in the field.
Smartphones, tablets and laptops offer users the chance to take advantage of mobile apps. Mobile apps offer technicians the ability to share, store and view job data while out in the field, providing them with a virtual link to the back office. Daily tasks, customer histories and billing can be accessed on demand. Furthermore, locations of nearby teammates can be retrieved on a mobile device and a real-time connection provided through social networking, enabling them to seek assistance to resolve a problem first-time.

By having the tools and capabilities to work collaboratively, and having access to real-time insight, empowers the workforce to make strategic decisions. Communication speed via social and mobile allow them to solve problems quickly and ensures resolution is not delayed because of lack of information.
Customer service excellence evolves with the emerging worker

Customers today are more demanding, expecting a quick fix on the first visit and a valued experience as standard. For the field service technician, who is often the only contact a customer will have with the business, there role is more than an operational necessity; it is a role of strategic significance.

Field service organisations therefore seek field workers who have desirable attitudes and attributes for customer service. There is a strong focus on emotional intelligence as an enabler to deal with the variety of changing customer service relationships. Aberdeen Group found that the top performing field service organisations outperform their peers in regard to retaining the field heroes that they have, but they are also able to find, hire and train the next field service heroes.

They achieve this by capturing as much knowledge from seasoned workers before they retire so that they can pass it on to the up and coming youths of the industry. 70% of top performing field service organisations are more likely to provide technicians with a knowledgebase of recorded training videos and images.

As part of Trimble’s ongoing spotlight on mobile worker empowerment, it recently commissioned a paper for the Aberdeen Group titled, ‘Emerging workforce in the field: Tech-savvy to technician’. To download a copy of the paper, click here

John Cameron is general manager of Trimble Field Service Management (FSM), where he is responsible for worldwide operations and development.

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