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March 28, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

Women in Field Service: Be Intentional About Diversity

March 28, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

Women in Field Service: Be Intentional About Diversity

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By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

Emily Thomas Kendrick is the President and CEO of Atlanta-based Arrow Exterminators. Family owned and operated by the Thomas Family since 1964, Arrow is the sixth largest pest control company in the United States and the 2nd largest privately held, ranked by revenue with revenues exceeding $225 Million. Emily is a member of the Thomas Family’s 3rd generation and has been in the business for more than 20 years. Her family and her team have aggressive plans to grow the business to over $300 Million in the next 3.5 years and $500 Million in the next 9.5 years.

“Growing up” in the family business gives Emily a unique perspective on what it’s like to be a woman in field service. What strikes her is the ability to stand out. “Obviously, you stand out because of your gender but the great thing is that as a result, it creates an opportunity to stand out because of your ability. You earn respect when others see how capable you are and frankly they lose interest in your gender and only focus on your abilities,” she says.

As field service companies look to foster diversity, Emily explains that it’s a delicate balance because you want to first focus on hiring right person for the job – but at the same time, if you aren’t intentional about diversity it won’t just miraculously happen. “Always hire the best person for the position but be intentional as it relates to adding diverse perspectives to your team. If you create a diverse team, you will have the ability to understand all aspects of a situation. If everyone is coming at the solution from the same point of view, you are likely to miss out on a large spectrum of the industry and culture,” she says. “At Arrow there are many women in leadership positions not because they are women but because they were the best person for that role. Female team members can provide insight into our customers and those making buying decisions for their households, they can provide detailed work, can multi-task and can be extremely creative. I am excited to see more females getting involved with our industry and serving in all facets of the business."

As you work to incorporate varying experiences, perspectives, and opinions, you have to be sure you are creating an environment in which they can be useful. “Foster a culture that is inclusive in all aspects and respects the input of all team members. A safe environment that allows the team to express their thoughts and this allows every team member to thrive,” says Emily. “Once someone is hired and spends time in the pest control industry, they usually fall in love with it. Retaining top talent is key to every company’s success. We spend a lot of time as a company continually working on our employer value proposition (EVP). This is basically the balance of the rewards and benefits that are received by employees in return for their performance at the workplace. This should be part of every company’s strategic planning. At Arrow, for every idea we implement regarding our revenue and profit growth, we try and implement a benefit for our team members as well. Whether it is tweaking an insurance plan we offer, or changing PTO policies or starting a wellness initiative, making our talent a priority is imperative for retention.”

Consider The Opportunities

While the pest industry, and even other field service industries, may not be the career path some of us have envisioned since Kindergarten, the reality is that there are vast opportunities in these industries. “The pest industry is robust and growing and needs quality people. There is a real opportunity for top tier people to advance quickly and make a real and lasting impact on the company and the industry. There are many professional groups in the pest control industry that allow for professional development and mentoring. It truly is a wonderful industry to be a part of,” says Emily. “When I tell others I am in the pest control industry, I always tell them it might not seem glamorous to you but each day I get to make a difference in the lives of the people I work with by providing support for their professional development. Our team is providing uncompromised service to our customers in protecting their family’s health and largest investment, their properties. That’s pretty damn glamourous in my eyes! We have had numerous females come through our intern program including an intern this past summer who decided through her experience with Arrow to minor in Entomology, and another who changed her degree to Marketing and plans to come back after graduation and work in our industry.”

What advice would a woman that is a long-time member of a male-dominated service industry provide to a woman just entering the industry? “There is no substitute for hard work and the sky is the limit. Learn all you can about the operations of the company and make yourself an indispensable part. Be willing to take chances and learn from all opportunities. Be willing to fail and make mistakes. The old saying, ‘you learn more from your failures than your successes’ is absolutely true,” says Emily.

March 27, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

Knowing What – and How – to Upsell to Services to Your Customers

March 27, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

Knowing What – and How – to Upsell to Services to Your Customers

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By Bill Pollock

Every business has a portfolio of products and services that it markets, promotes, and sells to customers. In fact, most businesses make their product and service portfolio information available through a variety of means, including published product literature and general marketing collateral, service guides, company catalogs or brochures, and various other types of printed matter. In addition, most of the product and service information is also typically accessible via the Internet through company and/or dealer Websites, trade association or other industry clearinghouse Websites, online commercial buyers guides and/or directories, and others.

However, even your own company's brochures or Website may not be 100% complete – or completely up-to-date – with respect to the information it provides on its portfolio of products and services. In fact, in a competitive marketplace where new products and services are being introduced on a virtual daily basis, it is more than likely that some product and service information may be missing – and most likely, these will be the newest additions to the overall portfolio. Further, what the company may make available to the general marketplace, may not yet have landed on the desks – or the desktops – of your customers.

For this reason, your company will be depending largely on its field technicians to make sure that customers are always current, up-to-date, and well-informed on the various types of products and services it offers. In fact, if they are doing their jobs properly, they should have a more current, comprehensive, and accurate "read" on the company’s products and services than any other single document, brochure, web site, or other piece of marketing collateral.

After all, the technicians are the ones who are out in the field every day dealing with dozens of customers and all types of equipment – small, large, new, old, and everything in-between. They have probably already attended all of the most relevant training classes, or have seen a demo, for all of the new types of equipment well before the market base has even learned of their existence. They have probably even installed some of the newer products for which your company may not yet have released a formal brochure or product spec through its typical customer, dealer and/or media channels.

As a result, who better than your field technicians to know what products are available, why they may be better in some business applications than some of the company’s historical products, and which of their accounts may benefit from adding some of these new products to their own installed base of equipment? The answer is, of course, nobody else does – certainly, nobody else who deals directly with the company’s customer base on a day-to-day basis.

They should also already have a good understanding of what the specific needs and requirements of their customers are with respect to their existing products and services; and by keeping current with the new products and services that are continually being made available, they will find themselves in an excellent position to assist their customers in matching these new products and services to their evolving needs – or basically upselling them to a more efficient operating scenario.

By the nature of the word itself, “upselling" is different than "cross-selling". When you "cross-sell" a customer, you are typically selling them a companion piece of equipment or service to what they already have. For example, if one of your customers already has an extended warranty contract on one piece of installed equipment, but not on another, you may find it relatively easy to "cross-sell" them an extended warranty on the second unit as well. Or, if a customer is already receiving preventive maintenance support on two of their three units, you may be able to sell them a PM contract for their entire installed base. Basically, in these cases, "cross-selling" simply means selling the customer “more of the same”, or more variety for the same base of equipment.

However, upselling is more vertically-focused than cross-selling. By that, we mean that upselling goes beyond simply selling your customers "more of the same", typically involving the sale of upgraded, enhanced, new and/or upscaled products and services. For example, if a customer currently has three older units installed, but you believe that they can actually handle more throughput, at less expense, by upgrading to two of your company's newer units, this could conceivably lead to an upselling opportunity.

The best way to decide whether a customer sales opportunity would be better represented as a "cross-sell" or upsell situation is to first determine what the specific customer needs are. In situations where a customer’s business systems and services needs are fairly static, and the existing equipment appears to be meeting most of their requirements on a regular basis, you may still be able to "cross-sell" them additional units, or certain add-on coverages to an existing service level agreement (i.e., more frequent PMs, remote diagnostics, extended hours of coverage, etc.) as a means for making them somewhat more productive in the way they utilize their equipment (and the company’s services).

However, for customers whose businesses are continually growing or expanding, whose needs are becoming much more demanding (i.e., using new technical applications, increasing throughput quotas or expanding the number of daily shifts, etc.), or who are continually outgrowing their existing installed base, perhaps these represent situations where upgrading to an entirely new suite of business systems and services, or moving to a much more all-inclusive extended warranty agreement, would be a more logical solution.

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March 25, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

4 Key Metrics to Benchmark Service Excellence

March 25, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

4 Key Metrics to Benchmark Service Excellence

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By Tom Paquin

Go ahead and call me cynical, but when it comes to service success, I’ve only ever cared about the numbers. Organizations can trot out whatever new, flashy technology they want, but if you can’t point to some sort of tangible improvement derived from its adoption (Preferably one that can be directly tied to money saved or money earned), I really can’t be bothered to care.

Service organizations are no stranger to performance metrics, obviously. In a field where the product is your service, it’s impossible to measure success without them. Business drivers like revenue earned, customer satisfaction, and jobs completed have always been the measure of service success, but organizations that have moved towards more digital processes now have significantly more visibility into their organization’s operations, and with that comes the ability to both measure new success metrics, and make significant improvements to your own performance. Are you measuring the right metrics? How does your performance stack up? Let’s take a look at some of the things that service organizations are measuring today, how they measure it, and what their performance looks like.

First-time Fix Rate

We will define First-time fix rate as the total number of service tickets divided by the number of service tickets resolved upon first visit.

First-visit resolution has become the standard-bearer of metrics for field service organizations in recent years, and for good reason. It simultaneously gives a picture of operational efficiency in terms of knowledge management, inventory management, and understanding of the serviceable asset while indirectly measuring customer satisfaction at the same time. Unsurprisingly, then, this metric is measured by two thirds of service organizations, according to research from Service Strategies. My own research indicates that among all firms, the average first-time fix performance is around 60%.

There are obviously some caveats to these broad averages. Different industries servicing assets of varying complexity levels will have dramatically different performance. When asked what the most likely reason for a second visit is, for instance, my research has shown that the leading reason was the need to use the first visit for diagnostics. While a diagnostic visit may be the standard today, connected devices are beginning to eliminate that need altogether. In fact, if you benchmark organizations with IoT-enabled serviceable assets versus those without, the fist-time fix rates improve dramatically.

Mean time to repair

We can define this as the total time from ticket to invoice, though some firms look at this exclusively as time on the job site. I’d argue that time from ticket to invoice is more valuable for a variety of reasons that help measure scheduling and routing efficiency as well as workforce availability and fleet utilization.

Compared to first-time fix rate, this metric is studied by far fewer organizations. According to Service Strategies, it’s only 36% of firms that measure this at all. I was admittedly perplexed by this because I feel like this metric could be the standard-bearer for field service excellence. When I have a service need, whether it be installation of new equipment, repair of existing equipment, or scheduled maintenance, to say nothing of things like pest control or roof repairs, I want that service completed as quickly as possible. This, of course, differs dramatically from industry to industry, so in my research, I prefer to look at this in terms of annual improvement, which sits at an average of 12%. As organizations improve, this number naturally plateaus, but improvement should consistently be the goal.

Remote resolution rate

We can define this as the total number of service tickets divided by the number of service tickets that did not require dispatch. Firms currently measuring this metric are saying that on average, 1/3 of service calls can be resolved remotely.

Benchmarking remote resolution requires a reasonable understanding of how service is executed at your organization, from the call center, through dispatch, to the repair. Can call center technicians walk end users through repairs on the phone? Do they? Do they have a plan for when to escalate to a service visit? Are there augmented reality-powered guides that can show customers how to swap out parts and recalibrate certain pieces themselves? IoT can help take this a step further. Can a call center representative provide a power cycle, firmware update, or system reset remotely? Can they use internal sensors to identify which part might have failed, and direct users how to repair? As you can see, there are a great deal of ways that organizations can begin to maximize and benchmark remote resolution, and it doesn’t ostensibly require any additional technology spend. It does, however, benefit from utilization of some new tech.

Asset uptime

This is defined as total asset operating schedule divided by actual asset utilization, or, conversely, total asset operating schedule hours divided by asset downtime hours minus 1. According to Service Strategies, only 40% of firms with applicable assets are measuring this today, so this is a great metric to use, where appropriate, to improve your serviceable asset performance. The benefits of doing so are obvious; You’re proving the efficacy of your serviceable asset, managing your technician workforce, and ensuring that the customer’s assets are working as-intended at all times. Among those firms measuring this, the average performance is 85%. Improve upon that, and you’re in the elite.

With any measure of performance, there are of course two avenues of improvement: Improving what you’re doing, and improving what you’re measuring. New technology spend, training opportunities, and efficiency gains will help you improve both.

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March 22, 2019 | 5 Mins Read

Women in Field Service: Progress, Now Persistence

March 22, 2019 | 5 Mins Read

Women in Field Service: Progress, Now Persistence

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By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

For the next in our series of women in field service, I sat down with Deni Naumann, President of Copesan Services and Interim President of Terminix Commercial and Elizabeth Johnson, Director of Marketing for Copesan Services and Director of Marketing, National Accounts, at Terminix Commercial. Both Deni and Elizabeth have some history in the pest industry, and manufacturing before that – Deni has been with Copesan for over 12 years and was in manufacturing for 28 years before that, including 16 years at S.C. Johnson. Elizabeth has been at Copesan for nine years and was in the food manufacturing industry prior.

Both Deni and Elizabeth were quick to point out that being a woman in field service has its advantages. “I think being a female in the pest management industry has been an advantage, because you stand out,” says Deni. “So whether it was at S.C. Johnson where I was one of their first female salespeople being in a male-dominated industry manufacturing cleaners, finishes and polymers; or, in the (pest management) industry which is still predominantly male-oriented, you, of course, need to communicate well and have strong business skills; and, ultimately, I think that you stand out.” While Elizabeth adds that you may have to work a bit harder as a woman in a male-dominated industry, it brings about experiences that are valuable. “Coming from food and food processing, it is also very male-dominated. You have to ask more questions and work a little harder, but – you’re unexpected, and to Deni's point, that’s an advantage because it puts you in the perfect position to learn, to push for more answers, and to make sure that you're engaged and involved at a different level.”

While both Deni and Elizabeth’s experiences have been largely positive, there’s no denying that there is still work to be done for women and men to be on level playing ground in field service. “Particularly in the pest industry, you face stereotypes like ‘girls are afraid of bugs’ or ‘girls are creeped out by rats,’” explains Deni. “We have an opportunity to help this industry break down some of those barriers and stereotypes by having competent women in operational roles.”

An Evolution Is Underway

As Deni reflects on her time in the industry, it is clear that change has begun. “If I look at when I joined the industry 12 plus years ago versus now, there are many, many more women at industry events who are in leadership roles at companies, serving on committees and involved in the National Pest Management Association. Many of these association committees are being led by women. In fact,  the CEO of the National Pest Management Association is a female. There are more women in leadership roles that you will see not only at national or international companies, but local companies as well. Succession in a number of these independent privately-held companies is by daughters that are taking over the business for the family, which is awesome. This all shows progress,” she says.

To take this progress further, however, persistence is necessary. Deni and Elizabeth agree that one crucial step is for companies to take their blinders off. “I would say to any organization, you have to take your blinders off and look at your client base. If you are servicing the residential marketplace for pest management, as an example, over 85 percent of the decisions in a residential household for a pest management company are made by females. Mirror that! Look at your customers and see how you can reflect who your customers are,” Deni says. “Recognize the stereotypes that exist and open up your interviewing process to bring in candidates of all types. Not just females and males. Older candidates, younger candidates. People of color. Just think, ‘how can I make my organization better by bringing in smarter people, people that have diverse thought processes,who are of different ages?’ Let's face it, when you see a company that's all the same, it's typically because a person or the handful of people making those hiring decisions had blinders on.”

It’s important to consider how to start this evolution internally. “I think this process is a little bit contagious in a way,” says Elizabeth. “I think to attract top-performing women, you need to empower the ones you have. When I think back to 2010 when I interviewed at Copesan, one of the reasons I chose to come to work here was because half the people I met in leadership roles during the process were women.”

Organizations looking to embrace greater diversity have to understand that it takes action – it isn’t something you can passively achieve. “I recall from research I did a few years ago that while there’s a lot of lip service being paid to wanting to engage more women in the pest management industry, there isn’t much focused effort,” says Elizabeth. “You can’t just say it or wish for it and expect it to happen. You have to actually do something and put in place a strategic effort designed to attract women to your company.”

Immerse Yourself

If you’re a woman reading this who is beginning a career in field service, or really any industry, Deni and Elizabeth have some great advice for you. “Immerse yourself,” says Deni. “Absorb, absorb, absorb. Ask questions. Take every opportunity to learn what anyone offers you, even if it sounds a bit uncomfortable.” In fact, if it makes you uncomfortable, that may be a good sign. “We have all grown through experiences that first make us uncomfortable,” explains Elizabeth. “Don’t shy away from those experiences.”

Deni reflects on her own openness to experiences that led her to where she is today. “In my own career, being out in the field in Indiana as a salesperson, my gosh, what doors that has opened. Because of that experience, I feel like my appreciation for the client is of high sensitivity. I'm kind of client-obsessed, actually. Without that experience, I would never have had the opportunity to understand the initial stages of pest management or to get my Pesticide Applicator's license, without which I might have never had the opportunity to lead a fantastic organization like Copesan or to sell the company to a great company like ServiceMaster,” she says. And while it’s one thing to reflect back on successes and be glad you took opportunities, it’s the openness to new and different experiences that will help you attain that success. “You have to be open without knowing where you’re going to land,” says Elizabeth, “because when the opportunities are presented to you, there’s no way to guess the direction in which they’ll take you.” You also have to realize that you’ll have to make sacrifices. “Young career starters have to realize there will be sacrifices. You have to make choices – you can’t do everything. You might not have a perfect work/life balance,” says Deni. “You will face trade-offs at certain parts of your career, and that’s okay. Work/life integration is a more attainable goal than balance.”

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March 20, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

Take Control of Partner-Led Aftermarket Service Revenue

March 20, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

Take Control of Partner-Led Aftermarket Service Revenue

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By Annick Perry

Many manufacturing companies are stuck in the situation where they sell their product to other companies, which then re-sell the product to the end customer. In many cases, the aftersales service is performed by the re-seller, leaving the manufacturer with a limited potential for growth as they do not realize any of the service revenue. Manufacturing companies must make the right selection of partners and set up service agreements that allow them to create a win-win situation and aim for a prosperous future.

Finding the Right Partner

A manufacturer’s need for partnership can occur because of a skills gap, technology gap, geographical limitations, or other business reasons. When creating a partnership, a policy and a common strategy need to be defined so that the collaboration is effective. In addition, you as the manufacturer need to make sure that your sales and distribution strategy is in line with your service strategy, so that the two can support and complement each other. After you do this internally you have to also make sure that your partner shares your strategy and ensure the sales and service departments of both companies are working towards a common goal and are promoting your services.

Define Your Offer

In order to enter the service business and create new potential for profitable growth, you first have to know the customer needs. You need to figure out a way to add value to the end-user either directly, or through your partners, or a combination of the two. In a reseller situation, you may need to work through your partner to find out the needs of your customers.

For example, a major manufacturing company of the printing industry identified the following needs within their customers:

  • Managing the machines and offering 24-hour service and support (remotely or locally)
  • Managing the use of paper
  • Distributing printed material

Based on these needs they were able to develop and offer services to the end user that were highly valued, thus creating new potentials for profitable growth.

Such services can be promoted directly by the manufacturer to the end customer or through the partner. For example, if you choose to offer a remote monitoring system it can be offered directly to the end customer, or through the partner who will then offer services to the end customer.

However, to be able to use your partners effectively you need to make sure that your partners are willing to invest in their people, so that they are capable of providing these services. You should be prepared to share your knowledge and provide help and support to your partners. Such a cooperation must be part of an agreement that creates a situation where both parties have something to gain. For example, you might agree that the partner works on commission and as the sales of the services increase then your profits also increase. Or you can agree that you handle the big customers and the partner deals with the smaller ones. You need to find ways of incentivizing your partners to become better service providers and service sales people.

Be Important to Your Partners

To avoid losing partners or risk having them become your competitors, you need to make sure that you remain important to them. Help them continue to develop by offering them training and make sure that they keep making a profit from this business. If this is not achieved then you may lose them, as well as the time and money you invested in training them. You could even end up competing with them.

An example of a partnership going well is that of a major white goods manufacturer, which has service partners all over the world. The company keeps educating and training its partners so that they are capable of fixing its machines and also provide the end user with advice on how best to use the machine. The partners follow the same strategy and standards as the manufacturer and is so intertwined with the company and the brand that the end customer can’t tell the difference between a manufacturer’s employee and the partner’s employee.

The risk in using your partners to deliver services on behalf of you is that you are not creating a relationship with the end customer. So, if the partnership fails you may also lose the customers. Going back to the white goods manufacturer, the value of the brand is what customers are looking for and this is the driving force that keeps customers loyal. In other words, you need to have a differentiator, a competitive advantage in order to be the orchestrator of the partnership.

Manufacturing companies need to enter the service business if they want to stand a chance in achieving profitable and sustainable growth. Such an endeavour can be if it is well planned from a strategic point of view and if the right agreements are put into place. If successful, it can empower partnerships and benefit all parties involved.

Noventum Service Management provides best practices, training, guidance and inspiration through our Service Transformation Centre and our Service Transformation Projects. Visit our website www.noventum.eu or contact us via info@noventum.eu or +31 297 566 241 for more information.

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March 18, 2019 | 5 Mins Read

Driving Adoption of Valuable Software Applications

March 18, 2019 | 5 Mins Read

Driving Adoption of Valuable Software Applications

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By Greg Lush

If you’ve missed my earlier posts in this series on digital adoption, you can read here what we discussed about The Hierarchy of Digital Adoption, Building and Fortifying Your Digital Reputation, and How to Avoid Being Crippled by Choice.

There is no doubt that, in the business world, not all software applications are created equal. Take for instance your transactional systems, email, accounting, etc. These applications are designed, configured (sometimes customized), implemented, and deployed. Notice that adopted was not once mentioned. Transactional applications, or anything that is repeated with limited user-choices, once trained is quickly institutionalized. On the other hand, when you look at valuable applications, all the other software which is not transactional, the path to success is a bit different. All the steps discussed for the transactional system are the same with the addition of adoption at the end of the cycle. Some equate transactional systems to those required by the business, while the valuable applications are left as optional. And so, the struggle begins with prioritizing these valuable applications and inspiring folks to leverage their power.

Many schools of thought exist regarding how change occurs within an organization. Depending upon the company a top-down approach, grass roots movement, or frankly a combination of both will lead to success. There is one thing in common regardless of change management style: people need to believe in the mission. Belief is a tricky thing, you must have credibility and the trust of your community. Yet, it goes much deeper than that and falls back to that simple adage, “lead by example.” While many would agree that you yourself must be a practitioner, it is not always that simple. Imagine for a moment that you are a branch manager responsible for hundreds of employees and tens of thousands in annual revenue. Now you are presented with this vast landscape of a cloud platform. Down deep inside you know this is the direction you must travel; however, running a business and learning a new toolset is a tall order. Thus, like many things we reprioritize those which are the foggiest from our perspectives and hesitate to socialize these tools with any zeal. Not to mention, have you seen the breadth of most of the cloud platform offerings? A lot of choices and too many possibilities.

Deployment Vs. Adoption

So, we come back to that idea of deployment or adoption. If you are hell-bent on maintaining your approach as you did with transactional systems, save yourself some time and don’t worry about all the other cloud platform possibilities. Yet if you have gotten this far my guess is your interest is to see what’s beyond that digital horizon. I strongly believe that adoption is 80 percent resolve. Depending upon the individual, they may resolve to use a valuable application immediately or wait for others to go first, and both are totally acceptable. Your mission, if you accept it, is to get everyone to their “aha” moment as quickly as possible. Once individuals “get it” you will be amazed at how much faster your adoption efforts proceed. One of the tools that we have used to help reduce anxiety, as the result of the unknown, is named a transformation cycle.

Transformation cycles are loosely defined as a visualization of a business’s progress from the introduction of a valuable application to that software solution reaching the “plateau productivity.” This single page diagram is highly effective as it allows the organization’s leadership to dictate the path and visually see its progress. As an added benefit the transformation cycle diagrams are used to communicate direction and progress to all the employees. This process goes back to anything you have read regarding change management 101, it creates a mechanism allowing the leaders to be in the driver’s seat of their digital transformation. Odds are, as you stay within the digital reputation quadrant of the Lush’s hierarchy of digital adoption, your transformation cycles will be occupied mostly by valuable applications actual names. As you will discover when we discuss contextual computing, your transformation cycle will evolve from showing valuable applications to displaying transformation elements (business scenarios). The transformation cycle is made up of the following components:

Start with an X-Y axis diagram, where the X axis represents time and the Y axis represents expectations.

From left to right place five sections and one line of colors;

  1. innovation candidate (trigger): this is where additional items are added to the transformation cycle diagram.
  2. peak of engaged enthusiasm: during your adoption cycle this will be the highest energy point, unfortunately as you can see the time which you will spend in this cycle will be the shortest.
  3. leveraging leadership: I like to think of this as the first step in the trough of disillusionment. This is the point in the transformation cycle where your culture will lead the technology, not vice versa.
  4. on-ramp to mainstream: designed to make you think of an on-ramp to a freeway it’s time to kick it into gear as you begin to transition your community to form digital habits based on the solutions that you are driving through the transformation cycle.
  5. plateau of productivity: congratulations, if you are here you obviously cleared the trough of disillusionment, the combination of leveraging leadership and on-ramp to mainstream.  You should be proud as you have taken a valuable application or element and made an indelible mark on your organization. Be careful not to set your expectations too high as there is a stark difference between the time required to deploy and that to drive full adoption.
  6. colors at the bottom of the chart: when you meet with the organization’s leadership at some frequency (preferably more than once per quarter), that team will commit to you their timeline to move the transformation cycle circle across to the plateau of productivity. Sometimes the circle will move forward and sometimes will move backwards, either way the important aspect is the local leadership is driving the bus.

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March 14, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

Women in Field Service: Finding Our Voice

March 14, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

Women in Field Service: Finding Our Voice

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By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

According to Karen Johnson, president of W. F. Hann and Sons, she found her voice later in life. Karen is quick to say she puts family first and she was out of the workforce for quite a while to stay home with her five children. When her youngest child went into high school, she began looking for part-time work – not realizing that a career in field service was going to land in her lap.

Karen’s brother is one of the owners of W. F. Hann and he called Karen nine years ago to ask her to come on board as the company’s controller (her history prior to having children is in accounting). While it was more hours and responsibility than Karen had been seeking, she said yes – and nine years later has progressed from controller to COO to president of the company. In the nine years she’s been at W. F. Hann, Karen says she’s never had a female apply for a field service position – but she sees that changing in the next five years. “Women are finding their voice in this industry,” she says, “and it’s exciting to witness.”

If you look at the team page of the W. F. Hann website, it provides a great visual representation of the work that remains to make women more central in the workforce. After Karen’s headshot as president, you see only men until you reach the “office support” section. I asked Karen what she feels the biggest challenge is as a woman in field service, and she explains “I can say the same thing a man will say, but it is taken differently.” I think it’s safe to say that there are plenty of women that would agree with Karen and I think it is high time that changed.

Evangelizing the Field Service Opportunity

One of the first steps that needs to occur in an effort to bring more women – more diversity in general – into the field service industry is an effort to create greater awareness of the opportunity that exists within field service. “We have such a hard time finding field service workers,” says Karen. “Kids are taught they have to have a college degree, but the reality is that isn’t for everyone. Kids were driven away from technical schools, and as a result college debt in our nation is unbelievable. You can make a phenomenal living in field service, it is an incredible opportunity – we need to do a better job of making that known.” In Karen’s home town of Cleveland, OH, technical schools have been closed. W. F. Hann is in the same boat as many other field service organizations, in dire need of field service talent – all while kids with college degrees search fruitlessly for decent-paying jobs with which to pay back loans. This isn’t at all to say college is a bad choice, but to echo Karen’s point – it isn’t for everyone, and field service can be a great alternative.

Reward the Demanding Nature of Field Service

Another great point that Karen brought up is that to attract employees to the industry, we need to think about what we’re asking of them and reward them appropriately. As she points out, “service is a 24/7 job – it is a lot to ask of an employee. How can you give back to them?”

W.F. Hann has taken tactical steps to make its employees feel valued in relation to the efforts they are putting in. For example, the company has introduced 401K match and profit sharing options. When an employee is on-call, they are paid whether they end up with a service call or not – and paid time and a half if they do. Employees are paid holidays and if a layoff is necessary, major medical is covered for that employee for three months. The company has also implemented incentive programs, hired food trucks for the employees, and put on family events. “It’s vital to make your employees feel valued,” says Karen. “I have an open-door policy. Each employee knows that I am here to listen to them, and that anything they tell me remains confidential. They trust me, and that’s important to me.” Karen adds that in today’s technology-driven world, it can’t be overemphasized the importance of maintaining a personal touch.

Another area Karen feels is vital is training. “We focus heavily on training. I encourage it with all of my employees. Whether it’s customer service, technology, new products or changes in federal regulations, we constantly are learning. When you continue to learn, you will continue to grow,” she says.

By better communicating the potential in field service and treating its employees well, Karen is confident that in the next five years she’ll see many more women on her team. Her advice to any woman considering a career in field service is: “Don’t be afraid to enter a male-dominated environment. There’s a huge opportunity for more women to find their voice in field service; it’s time to seize it.”

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March 11, 2019 | 2 Mins Read

Tips for Effectively Tying Staff Performance to Customer Satisfaction

March 11, 2019 | 2 Mins Read

Tips for Effectively Tying Staff Performance to Customer Satisfaction

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By Greg Coleman

When looking at how companies measure employee performance, it’s clear that there is wide variation across the industry in terms of incorporating customer satisfaction into the mix. In past years, we have observed that companies were generally doing a poor job in linking employee performance to customer satisfaction. While improvements in this area have been seen recently, many companies are still struggling to enhance their process for linking performance to satisfaction. In a recent study conducted by Service Strategies, only 57 percent of companies say they tie staff performance directly to customer satisfaction, and even fewer link satisfaction to management compensation.

One of the key factors required to link satisfaction to employee performance is having sound methods to collect customer satisfaction data. Companies that have poor customer satisfaction measurement methods have trouble linking the results to performance since there is either not enough data or the data is suspect. Without a reliable foundation of results, employees will resist efforts to link their performance to customer satisfaction.

Companies that are successfully tying satisfaction to performance are doing so for several reasons. Consider the following suggestions when examining your customer satisfaction and performance management processes:

  • Collect enough customer satisfaction data to support evaluating individuals or teams. If there is not enough data to measure the individual, then setting goals and measuring performance at the team level is a viable and sometimes preferable alternative.
  • Set measurable goals for customer satisfaction rather than “soft” targets based on perception. Having weak references to customer satisfaction in a performance review does not focus employees on delivering higher levels of service.
  • Ensure that customer satisfaction is a highly weighted component of performance evaluations. The weighting should have a direct impact on compensation for the employees. If possible, put a bonus program in place to reward the staff for achievement of desired customer satisfaction results.
  • Tie performance objectives to employee controllable elements as well as overall satisfaction. These would include knowledge and expertise, professionalism, quality of solution, timeliness of status updates and other factors in an employee’s control.
  • Regularly review customer satisfaction results with the staff and include them on performance scorecards or other productivity reports. This will ensure they are aware of current performance and enable them to focus on areas that need improving.

Following these simple suggestions will have a positive impact on your overall customer satisfaction program and drive your staff towards delivering improved results on a consistent basis. Programs such as the Service Capability & Performance (SCP) Standards can help drive improvements in this area and will help set specific measurable targets for customer satisfaction.

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March 8, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

Women in Field Service: Harnessing the Untapped Potential

March 8, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

Women in Field Service: Harnessing the Untapped Potential

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By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

In honor of International Women’s Day on Friday, March 8th, I have set out this month to interview some amazing women in the service industries in an effort to learn more about their journeys and to get their take on what the future of field service holds for women.

I started my interview series off with Maria Pallotta, Chief of Staff at Canopy Lawn Care. In her role, she is responsible for executing the overall business plan and leading the execution of systems and processes that will enable growth and scalability. She also leads the recruiting, onboarding, training and employee empowerment initiatives at Canopy. Maria joined Canopy about six months ago after spending nearly eight years with an agency called Coalmarch Productions that catered to service industries. While speaking at a conference, Maria met Canopy’s CEO Hunt Davis, and was struck by his authentic desire to run an innovative and inclusive field service organization. “One of the things I really love about Canopy is that our leadership team is fresh and open-minded,” Maria says. “We don’t have a deep history holding us back – we just have the future pulling us forward.”

Maria explained to me that, like many, she didn’t seek out a career in field service but rather happened upon it (through her time at Coalmarch). She is passionate about the industry because of the potential that exists. “There is so much room for growth in this industry – so much untapped potential,” she says. “The concept of making a career in field service more appealing not only to women, but to anyone, is an effort that as an industry needs work. The more work we all do on this front, the greater the overall industry’s ability to capitalize on the potential that exists.” Here Maria provides her advice for how to start tapping into that potential.

Acknowledge the Challenges

If you don’t put effort into recognizing the challenges that do exist in getting and keeping women in the industry, then you can’t take any steps toward making improvements. “The reality is that the industry is male-dominated, and to move beyond that requires most organizations stepping outside of their comfort zones,” Maria says. “Think of something as simple as the job descriptions you’re using – are they off-putting to women? Wording like ‘must lift 50 pounds,’ or ‘will encounter harsh conditions’ will deter women from even applying. That’s not to say lie if there are certain non-negotiable requirements, but be cognizant of how you’re communicating the role and responsibilities to ensure you aren’t ostracizing candidates unnecessarily.”

To get more women to apply, think about what is appealing to them. Flexibility, for instance, is a big draw. You also want to think through the candidate and new employee experience to identify potential issues. “It took me five months to get one female interview candidate,” explains Maria. “In that case, you want to ensure the interview experience is going to make that candidate feel welcome and comfortable.” Thinking through aspects of the job that you perhaps haven’t before – like whether or not there are female uniforms – will help to put a candidate at ease.

You also have to consider what happens once you begin having success and bringing women into the workforce. Will all appropriate measures be taken to ensure their experience is positive? Will they have mentors? Are there visible examples to those new employees of women succeeding within your organization, or industry? Is the language you use in your resources, meetings, and interactions inclusive? As hard as it is to get female candidates, you want to ensure you do all you can to make it a successful fit for both parties.

Build a Culture of Inclusiveness

“The best way to focus on creating a company culture that women can thrive in is to focus on creating a culture that anyone will want to be a part of,” says Maria. “If you truly consider what will make your employees engaged and happy, you will end up with an environment where everyone can succeed. This starts with ensuring everyone has a voice, and that those voices are heard. Asking questions and voicing opinions should be welcome and embraced by all.”

A strong company culture also includes considering how you develop a career path for your employees, rather than it being just a “job.” Canopy has done this by introducing a progression of six levels of promotions that field employees can achieve even before reaching management level. “Today’s employees are growth-minded – they are going to seek growth, period. You’d rather they do that internally versus externally,” says Maria.

Maria acknowledges the fact that while these words sound both practical and simple, the process is challenging. “Making the foundational changes necessary to welcome more women into the world of field service is very, very hard,” she says. “It’s natural to want to stick with what’s easily attainable – but the organizations that push beyond that comfort zone and dig into some of this hard work are the ones that will reap the reward of all of the potential that exists.”

Fighting battles of exclusion and inequality herself only spurs Maria’s fire for working toward a more woman-inclusive industry. “When I go to industry events, I always feel I have to prove myself more than my male colleagues. I feel judged on my appearance instead of on my words or my actions. Women in this industry have to fight harder than men to earn their credibility, and that has to change. It will change, and I am honored to be a part of that transformation.”

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March 6, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

The 3 Technologies I’m Most Excited to Discuss at Field Service Palm Springs

March 6, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

The 3 Technologies I’m Most Excited to Discuss at Field Service Palm Springs

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By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

Are you gearing up for a trip to Field Service Palm Springs next month? I am working on some cool things that Future of Field Service will be doing at the event, and it had me thinking about what I’m most excited to discuss while there. The thing I love about this event is that it enables me, and all of the other attendees, to connect with so many people at once – there’s really nothing like it. The conversations I have at the event give me a really good sense year to year of how much progress the field service industry as a whole is making, and where it’s heading next.

Often, the conversations I have with attendees show the “real deal” on where service organizations are really at when it comes to adopting and integrating the technologies the industry is buzzing about. This year, the three technologies I’m most excited to discuss at the event are:

  • IoT – While we’ve seen some traction in IoT adoption, there’s plenty of room for growth with the technology that has been abuzz for a number of years now. Even the organizations that have begun to adopt IoT have a long way to go before they are fully leveraging the benefits the technology can bring. True IoT adoption goes far beyond connecting assets to the value derived and leveraged from the data collected from those assets. In this regard, I think we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg of what IoT can do in field service.
  • AI and Machine Learning – Taking the need to more intelligently analyze and use IoT data a step further brings us to AI and Machine Learning. These tools are critical in organization’s taking the wealth of data IoT provides and feeding it into programs that can feed true business transformation. IDC recently released an AI-Based Automation Evolution Framework that is worth checking out. AI can also play a larger role in customer experience than it is currently among field service organizations.
  • Augmented Reality – When you look at the challenge most field service organization are facing with recruitment, hiring, onboarding, and knowledge transfer, Augmented Reality becomes a very compelling solution. Last year the progress made with AR adoption from the year prior was noticeable, and I’m looking forward to seeing this year how even more field service organizations have adopted and are using AR.

The great thing about this event is having the opportunity to talk face-to-face with companies that are tackling challenges head on, embracing new tools, and working hard to improve their businesses. There is always wisdom and new perspective gained, and it’s an event I look forward to every year. To see what Field Service itself has to say about the topics I’ve discussed and more, check out their 2019 Transformation Report.

Are you attending the event? If so, let’s meet up! Future of Field Service will have its own space at the event, so please stop by. Also, IFS is hosting a cocktail hour Wednesday evening at 7:45 PM – email me, I’d love to buy you a drink! See you in sunny California.

If you’re a service executive that’s not yet registered for Field Service Palm Springs, you can use code FutureFS20 to save 20%. Click here to learn more.

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