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February 28, 2020 | 4 Mins Read

Is it Time to Individualize the Act of Service Delivery?

February 28, 2020 | 4 Mins Read

Is it Time to Individualize the Act of Service Delivery?

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By Tom Paquin

If you happen to visit Walt Disney World in Florida, and happen to find yourself, having waited in line for 2 hours, sitting in the cool, dark, somewhat stinky boats-on-rails of the It’s a Small World ride, you may notice, as you depart the ride, a farewell addressed specifically to you. As I braced myself for reemergence into the blistering Orlando sun, “Goodbye, Tom” appeared on a screen, next to a small kewpie-looking boy wearing a red beret and striped shirt.

What’s happening is that a near-field communication device is sensing riders’ Magic Bands—colorful wristbands that are individualized for parkgoers. These function as hotel keys, as well as, conveniently enough, means of paying for things in every restaurant and gift shop in the park. They also contain profile information for the wearer, which is what’s specifically being broadcast on the screen at the end of the ride.

This isn’t a particularly sophisticated level of personalization, but it is a potent one, especially for children (and apparently adult marketers). It’s a (hollow as it is) reminder that you’re not just a line on a balance sheet for a massive media conglomerate—you’re a human being, with, if nothing else, a first name that they can put up on a screen. It's not much, but it's enough.

This is obviously a simple example of the power of personalization, but it is really only the tip of the iceberg. In service, there are dozens of personalization points, from appointment scheduling, to connected asset management, to form prepopulation, to knowing when a customer’s kid’s birthday is, and each have their own benefits, may they be operational, or in terms of customer retention. Below I’ll outline a few specific examples of how businesses are building personalization into their service journeys in an effort to save time, money, and relationships.

Before we get into it, as a baseline, the key here is have a profile of business conditions for each customer. This will manifest itself as the conditions of an SLA agreement, specific outcomes derived from within, or status of ancillary agreements or connected systems. We’ll explore a few small examples of these below.

Planning and Scheduling
There are a number of personalization stories that can be told at the planning and scheduling phase, but let’s specifically use this as an opportunity to think about scheduled maintenance. Setting a recurring cadence of appointments to service X number of assets is generally fine to put into the customers’ hands, but by managing that process yourself, not only are you ensuring consistent interaction, but also hopefully heading off challenges before they happen. There may not be that much divergence between customers, but if you work in an asset-intensive industry, there will be lifecycles to take into consideration, historical health, and environmental factors that make building a customer-by-customer cadence an imperative to success, here.

The other big piece of personalization that can happen at this stage is related to a tenet of outcomes-based service: guaranteed turnaround times. Not too long ago Sarah sat down with David Douglas from Scientific Games, whose company offers some customers a 90-minute guaranteed resolution times. To get that right, that information needs to be available the moment a ticket is pulled.

From a technology standpoint, these two examples, and dozens of others, speak to a necessity within planning and scheduling, which is that doing it alone is not enough. If, upon ticket generation, you just get a list of SLA requirements, that you have to take into consideration, that’s functionally useless. Having backoffice and/or a technician keep all that straight while trying to actually do their job is an impossibility. For personalization to work, the parameters of personalization need to be built into the way that the systems actually operate. So when a customer with a 90-minute guaranteed turnaround comes into the queue, they need to be automatically put at the top, and ideally, have routing, planning, and scheduling optimized for them in real-time.

Warranty Claims Management
Warranty management is another key area where personalization can make a substantial difference, and it derives itself from, first, having that information automatically populated into the service system, not tied to a device’s serial number, or some sort of customer account that they need to access. As soon as a claim is raised, it should be handled appropriately.

If you have tiered claims, as well, it’s important to make sure that the system reflects that in real-time. So—if a customer is guaranteed a loaner, that loaner should be immediately allocated when a claim is raised.

All of these examples speak to a broad truth that’s key in getting personalization right: the entirety of your service process, from beginning to end, needs to be logged, monitored, and managed in a system—or series of systems—that speak the same language, function with the same ruleset, and honor the same conditions. Personalization, at its heart starts with automation, and getting automation right means feeding the right data into your systems at every step of the process. It requires a significant amount of upfront work, but it’ll pay dividends in time saved and customer relationships improved.

February 26, 2020 | 1 Mins Read

The Commercialization of Digital Services

February 26, 2020 | 1 Mins Read

The Commercialization of Digital Services

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Rajat Kakar, who recently transitioned from Fujitsu to join the IBM team, talks with Sarah about what it takes for companies to commercialize digital service and remain competitive in today's world.

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February 24, 2020 | 6 Mins Read

Diversify or Die: Securing Your Future in Service

February 24, 2020 | 6 Mins Read

Diversify or Die: Securing Your Future in Service

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By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

I speak with companies often that have been faced with the reality that they need to evolve, but for a plethora of reasons are stuck standing still. In all fairness, I also talk with companies quite regularly that impress me with their abilities to steer, shift, and adapt in ways that are leading-edge, innovative, and – most importantly – meeting the needs of their customers in ways others simply haven’t thought of or acted fast enough on. And then there’s a wide range of companies that fall somewhere in between. Wherever you lie, and whether or not you’re ready to admit that truth to yourself, the reality is this – the service customers demand has changed, drastically. It’s still changing. And it will continue to change. Being a one-trick pony will no longer cut it, and for those that seek a solid future in service the path to that future is in diversifying your offerings and finding new and different ways to serve your customer base (or even serve a new customer base).

Based on my conversations with those leading the charge in finding ways to evolve and diversify service revenue streams, let me present to you four potential paths to consider:

1: Servitization

We talk about servitization most commonly when referring to manufacturers of products that know due to commoditization they need to begin to differentiate and protect revenue by providing service alongside their core product offerings. Tom Paquin covered an example recently in his blog about automakers offering car subscription services that not only included the traditional aspects of a lease but also bundled in guaranteed pricing, insurance, vehicle maintenance, and annual upgrades. This concept illustrates well what is at the heart of the goal of servitization – thinking of any and all ways to make the lives of your customers easier, more seamless, and essentially invisible around the product you have traditionally provided.

However, I think another example of servitization is for service-based businesses to focus on expansion of their offerings to include adjacent and complimentary services. Again, looking at your historical or current business model and value proposition and thinking about where you may be able to branch out. Oftentimes, this begins by simply forcing the process of thinking outside-in versus inside-out – meaning, companies inadvertently get stuck in an inside-out viewpoint and focus on their internal operations, struggles, or improvements without taking the time or effort to look at the outside perspective of their customers. When you begin to look outside-in, you start to notice pain points your customers have that either aren’t currently being solved or are currently being solved in ways or by providers where it would make their lives easier to be able to attain that service alongside what you’re already providing. I reconnected recently with a service leader doing this really well and will have a great example on this coming soon.

2: Service as a Service

With the talent-strapped struggle so many companies are facing today, we’ve come to recognize the value in contingent workers or the gig economy as a way to meet the needs of the demand we’re faced with. But if you are an organization that is fortunate to have a sizeable, skilled workforce and you’re looking for ways to diversify your revenue streams, have you thought about providing service as a service? Perhaps some of those companies in dire need of talent would be happy to pay you to leverage yours.

A great example of this is DISH’s introduction of OnTech Smart Services. DISH began its In-Home Services focus by partnering with some major brands to assist in installing and servicing their equipment. OnTech, the direct-to-consumer extension of this exists so that the company can “provide customers an unrivalled in-home experience with a full suite of convenient, start-to-finish solutions including professional installation of products from Google Nest, Ring, Linksys, Wemo, Roku®, Yale, Polk Audio and Klipsch Audio among others.” So, the company smartly and adeptly recognized the fact that there were additional ways to meet the needs of customers it is already serving and also that it could benefit from more extensive use of a very valuable resource it has – it’s field technician workforce.

3: Outcomes-Based Service

We can all agree that the days of break-fix service being an acceptable business model are behind us. Customers who’ve become accustomed to Amazon Prime same-day deliveries, Uber’s real-time insights, and DoorDash convenience will no longer tolerate you saying you’ll come within a four-to-eight-hour window to fix something they need now. Consistency, convenience, peace of mind, and a constant flow of information are in demand and you can either find ways to deliver those things or you can slowly disappear. Cubic Transportation is an example of a company that has successfully adopted an outcomes-based service model. They recognized the need to evolve, did the work to transform their company processes and culture in an effort to be able to do so, and adopted the technology necessary in to deliver on the outcomes their customers wanted. They’ve been able to deliver on guaranteed uptime and as such have grown and expanded their business. While in an example like Cubic outcomes may be more of an extension of your business – the necessary next generation – it does set the stage for revenue diversification as you become comfortable with and capable of delivering outcomes.

Tetra Pak, however, is an example of a company that has turned to outcomes-based service as a net-new way to augment its traditional packaging business by recognizing the expertise the company had accumulated in the art of maximizing efficiency and then mapping this to a common pain point among its customer base. This enabled the company to take its hard-earned knowledge and expertise and offer it up to customers in the form of delivering them the outcome of helping them maximize efficiency and productivity. Sasha Ilyukhin, Vice President, Services and Industry 4.0 Solutions at Tetra Pak further explains by saying, “We listened to our customers. They are under continuous pressure from changing consumer demands and increased market competition and as such need relentlessly increase productivity and reduce operational costs. We knew that Tetra Pak is uniquely positioned to help our customers make their business more efficient and profitable. We have more than 65 years of accumulated knowledge and know-how in the food and beverage industry. We also have vast experience and commendable achievements in the area of Total Productive Maintenance, where our own packaging material factories have received highest recognition from Japan Institute of Plant Maintenance. In addition, we have unparalleled presence in the field, where our service engineers are based near our customers. Combined with our growing appetite for digitalization technologies and risk-reward business models, all of the above enabled us to grow outcome-based agreements as the future foundation of our services business.”

4: Digital Services and Business Insights

The final area I’ll cover which I think holds mass potential for today’s service organizations looking to move beyond their traditional wheelhouse is to think long and hard about what data and insights you hold and who stands to benefit from making use of that information. There’s a whole world of data translated to business insights and digital services just waiting to be tapped. One example of a company well down the path of delivering on this promise is KONE. In this podcast, Jon Barr, Head of IT Americas, discusses how the company is embracing the world of digital services.

When I was with Field Technologies, I did an article with a leading beverage equipment manufacturer who was also diversifying its offerings by thinking outside the box about how data from its IoT-equipped products could be used by those interested in trends around peak use times, consumption of various flavors and formats, and equipment downtime. If you just allow yourself to think without constriction of “how you’ve always done it” or simply beyond how the data you have benefits you and you alone, you may quickly begin to see how you could further leverage today’s most powerful resource (data).

That’s really the key to all of this, as simple as it sounds but as hard as it is to do – get out of your own head. Look beyond the obvious. Think outside the box. Put yourself in the shoes of those you serve and think about what problems they have you can solve or what opportunities exist for you to deliver more value to them. Service businesses used to thrive or die on their ability to master the day-to-day, but in today’s landscape if all you’re doing is mastering the day-to-day you are sealing your fate.

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February 20, 2020 | 3 Mins Read

The Road to Service Excellence in Telecommunications

February 20, 2020 | 3 Mins Read

The Road to Service Excellence in Telecommunications

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By Tom Paquin

Companies that have traditionally maintained transactional relationships with their customer have spent the last decade or so espousing the importance of customer centricity. There have been a variety of permutations of this through different sectors, but it’s been particularly interesting to see the way that telecommunications providers have sought to position themselves in the eyes of their customers. On the product side, you can boil it down to three points of change: improving the actual product offering (whether it’s broadband, cable, telephone, cellular, or some combination), maximizing uptime, and, of course, massive consolidations.

Whether or not these strategies are winning in the eyes of telecommunications customers is up for debate, but all of these strategies center more or less on the product. The product is king, certainly, but for many of these firms, service is what keeps customers endeared to your business and evangelists for your products.

Why service? Well—let’s take the first two of the three points above. Quality of the product itself, and uptime of that product, requires high-quality equipment in the end-users’ hand, on their schedule, and it requires that any exceptions and outages, whether they be at a customer site or at a company tower, be fully managed in a timely fashion. This is almost always delivered through a service visit—a service visit that, for the consumer, at least, is often the only time that a customer puts a face to your business. For that very reason, getting scheduling, routing, and service delivery right is paramount to success for your business in the long run. Here are some thing to keep in mind:

Get your two worlds working on one system. Climbing a radio tower is not the same thing as threading a coaxial cable through a hole in the floor (though both can be very harrowing). These are two different types of technicians, working with two different sets of parts, for two very different stakeholders. They work with two different warehouses, are beholden to two different sets of regulations, and probably wear two different color shirts. The consumer and the corporate service systems do, however, form a symbiotic relationship, one that is now even more complicated if other companies are leasing your radio tower to power their own networks. For that reason, they need to be run in the same language. This is fundamental to providing a holistic, accurate view of operations at your company. Same field service management system, same routing, same parts management, and same resource planning. By combining those systems, you’ll be able to identify and eliminate redundancies and have a much more accurate picture of the health of your systems holistically.

Don’t fear the contingent worker. Maybe you don’t, but how are you managing them? This is a favorite topic of mine, and it’s one that Sarah just revisited this week. Here’s the important thing to remember: Any contingent labor that you bring in should be beholden to the same systems as any other employee for the exact same reason as above—consistency, accuracy, and proper representation of service. Contingent employees are a key benefit, especially during high volume times of year, but you have to remember that since they’re representing your brand, they need to be managed like any other brand asset.

Get your service systems thinking on their feet. Telcos in particular see some of the highest rates of appointment cancellation across all of service. That means to get service right, you need a system that doesn’t just optimize its scheduling, but optimizes in real time. The best systems not only can manage those on-the-fly changes, but can also predict how many of a technician’s appointments will cancel, and allocate the appropriate amount of flexibility.

These are a few of today’s advancements that are helping telecommunications companies bring their service business to the forefront, and it’s certainly far from an exhaustive list. Nevertheless, it’s healthy and smart to start thinking about telecommunications delivery not just as the deliverer of an important product, but also the management of an imperative system of service. With that in mind, even as telco expectations change, you'll be set up with a strong safety net of service.

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February 19, 2020 | 1 Mins Read

Mastering Engagement to Drive High-Performance Culture

February 19, 2020 | 1 Mins Read

Mastering Engagement to Drive High-Performance Culture

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Don Rheem, author of Thrive By Design: The Neuroscience that Drives High-Performance Cultures, TEDx Speaker, and CEO of E3 Solutions, shares some interesting and actionable insight with Sarah on how to use science to gain impactful traction with employee engagement.

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February 17, 2020 | 5 Mins Read

Tips for Success Leveraging a Contingent Workforce

February 17, 2020 | 5 Mins Read

Tips for Success Leveraging a Contingent Workforce

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Between continued talent shortage struggles, an evolution of what we’re requiring of field technicians, and continued pressure from customers to do more with less (and faster), more and more companies are turning to contingent workers to alleviate some of the burden of their service requirements. However, while we’ve come a long way in the acceptance of a contingent workforce as an option, there’s still some hesitation around relinquishing control, trusting “outsiders” to deliver your ideal customer experience, and properly managing the resources.

In 2019, I interviewed Charles Hughes, VP of technical services for Acuative, for the Future of Field Service podcast. Knowing not everyone of our listeners catch every episode, along with the substantial growth of our following since then, I wanted to revisit some of Charles’ valuable points about when and how it makes sense to turn to a contingent workforce. Charles has had a long career in field services and has experienced a variety of labor models including in-house only, outsourced-only, and hybrid labor models.

The Value of Contingent Labor

“If you take it down to the most basic components, leveraging a contingent workforce gives you flexibility, it gives you scalability and it gives you the ability to control the cost and still deliver high-quality levels of service,” says Hughes. For service organizations balancing the pressures of increased customer demands, more stringent SLA requirements, as well as an increasing shortage of talent, turning to a contingent workforce in some cases may be the only viable path to success.

That said, what Hughes recommends is thinking of the contingent workforce as a sliding scale – it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing option. "People approach this as a binary option. Ether all in or I'm all out. But if you take a closer look, you’ll find that often a hybrid approach is best,” says Hughes. “You can start with lower-complexity tasks and using a hybrid labor model to support those. It is very low risk. If I need three techs on a job, I can send one of my tenured W2 techs, then a couple of texts from the hybrid labor model to support and that helps lower the cost and it also helps me build confidence in the 1099s that I'm using as well.”

The combinations are nearly limitless, and what’s needed will not only vary from company to company but even from function to function within a company. “Even within the same organization, there can be different flavors. You may have some markets where your technician utilization is low, so you would rarely use a 1099 because you have the bandwidth. Then we have those markets that are very high utilization that will use a lot more of it, so even within the same group you might have different usage levels,” explains Hughes. “It's really understanding how to make it work in your organization. But to start, you have to quit thinking of all the ways it won't work, find one or two ways it might work, try it, and see how it grows from there."

Whatever your individual mix, you need to keep all employees engaged to promote optimal productivity. “You have to make sure that you're keeping all the employees productive. They like to be challenged. Field technicians thrive under pressure and they like the challenging tasks and they like you to push them, so you have to keep them engaged,” says Hughes. “I take my W2s then and layer them over the contractors and partner vendors that we use to provide oversight, do quality audits, but they're doing roles that if I need to pull them for maintenance, I can still meet my SLA and still keep the project going forward, and that's one of our primary focuses. The second area that we look at is where we have some untapped markets. The sales teams out there, they find a customer that's not in a spot that were heavily populated with technicians. The scale is not there to go out and hire the team to support that market. I can still do the work to bring the customer onboard, using my hybrid model until we grow that critical mass. Then start putting my W2s in place. Being able to get into those markets at a lower cost point and lowest entry level is a big opportunity for us.”

Overcoming the Challenges of Managing a Contingent Workforce

Despite the value proposition a contingent workforce offers most service organizations, many still hold on to some hesitation and concerns. One of the biggest is the lack of control, or perceived lack of control, over contingent workers. To this end, Hughes’ advice is to set clear expectations, stay engaged, and leverage technology to maintain visibility of performance. “From a technology standpoint, make sure you have real-time visibility into the work that's going on on-site. You must be very good at delivering quality runbooks and instructions, what has to go on with the site. You must be very good at checking deliverables and you have to have the ability for the technician on-site to reach out to a lifeline or support,” he says.

Again, thinking of a more hybrid approach alleviates some of this concern because you can rely on your W2 employees to provide a level of oversight. “Anytime it's possible their first few jobs, I have a 1099 go alongside with one of my W2s to see firsthand our expectations. This sets them up for success, which keeps them engaged and makes them want to do more work for you. One of the key differences between the 1099 and the W2, the 1099's next job depends on how well he does this job. If you're making it hard for him to succeed, he's going to go to the person who's making it easy to be successful,” explains Hughes.

Another common concern is the potential negative impact contingent workers could have on the customer experience. The fear is that having someone that is less knowledgeable than your own employee base or less committed to the company mission than your own employee base will sacrifice the customer experience you’re committed to delivering. “This is a common concern and it is a valid one,” says Hughes. “When you start down this path, you need to have a solid vetting process in place. While you don’t always have the luxury of fully vetting and developing a robust labor cloud that you know the techs extremely well, you need to do your best. I use a third-party tool that gives me access to different 1099s and gives me tools to manage and understand what they can do, track their performance, provides ratings that other companies have given them. The first step is no different than screening somebody's resume. You go through here and you see their work history and you see that they have the right skill sets and experiences that you need.”

Then Hughes loops in his tenured team for their viewpoints. “The second thing we do is we have them vetted by our field service management team. Our regional managers interview these technicians the same as they would interview someone they were going to hire, and they make the decision. Then we make sure to set clear expectations and rely on our technology to maintain visibility into performance,” says Hughes.

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February 14, 2020 | 4 Mins Read

The Biggest Obstacle to Outcomes-Based Service

February 14, 2020 | 4 Mins Read

The Biggest Obstacle to Outcomes-Based Service

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By Tom Paquin

Arguably the most high-profile trend in service management today has been the transition from traditional break-fix models towards outcomes-based contracts. This means that rather than treating service like an insurance plan, or charging for parts and labor only after service has been delivered, organizations are building contracts based on things like uptime, output, and time to resolution.

The benefits of this new approach are obvious—you’re creating contractual revenue, providing a value-add to your customer, and you’re turning service into an engine for business growth rather than a tabulation of expenses. You’re also benchmarking technician performance against the business, which means higher technician utilization, faster turnaround, increased predictive outcomes, and so on. That’s better than a win-win. It’s a win-win-win-win-win.

So why are only 28% of organizations currently employing outcomes-based service? According to research recently completed by Strategies for Growth for IFS, while only 28% of organizations have some variation of outcomes-based service today, an additional 32% plan to employ outcomes in their business models soon. Those 32% of firms are at some point of the journey, which for many, might be a surprisingly long road. What might be holding them up?

That same research gives us a picture of some of the challenges, and what was #1 on that list, cited by over a quarter of respondents? The lack of managerial will.

I’ll note that usually when I’ve asked about the biggest obstacle to any new initiative, #1 is always cost, which makes the fact that managerial buy-in is #1 even more significant (cost was a close #2). It makes sense, though, as businesses that lack a service-oriented mindset are quick to say, “Why would I upend my entire product catalog? Why can’t service be left where it is, as a necessary nuisance?”

Those questions ignore the powerful impact that service is having on the economy, which is worthy of a library of articles of its own. No matter what, though, the challenge remains the same—There is a disconnect between upper management and the evolving needs of the service business. So what do we need to do to bridge that gap?

I don’t presume to know all about the political, economic, and shareholder-fueled machinations of the modern enterprise, certainly, and your mileage will no doubt vary, but the question invariably becomes—How do you sell service?

Selling Service

You’re here, reading an article on our service website, so I’m not sure that I need to sell service to you, but perhaps you need to sell it to someone at your organization. The way I started when selling businesses on service was to show the average profit margin of a manufacturer that only offered products versus one that offered both products and services. Usually that gets someone to sit up straight.

Service is a no-brainer today. It’s saving brick and mortar retail, technology and mobility have put the barriers to entry in the basement, and straight down the line it improves business outcomes. If you have service today, an outcomes-based model simply puts it at the center of your business. So how do you pitch it to a management team, or a sales team, or even technicians, who are resistant to change?

The importance, of course, is emphasizing the cross-functional business gains. Sure, outcomes-based service might add a bunch of new SKUs and change the architecture of a sales conversation, but it’ll also add recurring revenue. It might emphasize specific service functions that may not have been priority before, like speed of repair, but in doing so it should actually improve your service business. You can sell outcomes-based service as a way of structure your business around a system that incentivizes better service performance. It’s as simple as that.

The last piece, as always, is the technology. Outcomes makes accurate, bias-free reporting a necessity. It’s the only way that you can offer accurate benchmarks to your customer in the first place. It may sound crass, but you need to dictate the terms of your ouctcomes, and own the system that reports them. The best companies put their own data right in their customers’ hands.

Outcomes-based service fundamentally shifts the nature of what constitutes a product, and this can really frighten a business leader, who is used to seeing something work one way for their whole career. Getting them on board is not necessarily a one-and-done task, but if handled correctly, it has the potential to take your business to new heights.

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February 12, 2020 | 1 Mins Read

Getting Change Management Right

February 12, 2020 | 1 Mins Read

Getting Change Management Right

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KONE’s Head of Service Transformation Change Management, Henrietta Haavisto, talks with Sarah about where companies commonly fall down with change management, how change management needs have changes as service has evolved, and provides tips for successful execution of change.

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February 10, 2020 | 3 Mins Read

The Employee Engagement Myths Holding You Back from Optimal Performance and Retention

February 10, 2020 | 3 Mins Read

The Employee Engagement Myths Holding You Back from Optimal Performance and Retention

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By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

I had the pleasure of interviewing Don Rheem, author of Thrive By Design: The Neuroscience that Drives High-Performance Cultures, TEDx Speaker, and CEO of E3 Solutions, this week for the Future of Field Service podcast. He was filled with knowledge, passion, excitement, and thought-provoking points that I can’t wait for you to listen to when the episode is released. In the meantime, I wanted to recap some of Don’s points that really got me thinking. I promise, I’m not giving away the gold of the podcast episode – this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what we covered.

Don started by sharing some of the science he explains in his book, which is fascinating. He revealed that focusing on employee satisfaction is a waste, because it is a byproduct of employee engagement. Similarly, a focus on having a good company culture is all for naught if the individual employees aren’t engaged. Don revealed that employees feel engaged when they are provided an environment and relationships that offer a sense of security and the ability for connection. Regardless of age, personality type, or demeanor, at a base level we as humans have commonalities in what we need from an employer to be engaged. We cover all of this in detail in the podcast, but I asked Don a question in closing around where companies commonly miss the mark when it comes to employee engagement and that’s what I want to share with you here. So here are four myths around employee engagement that could be holding you back from the optimal performance from and retention of your employees:

#1: You Know How Engaged Your Employees Are (Or Aren’t)

“Senior leadership tends to think that they have a pulse on the status of employee engagement within their company, and therefore they don’t need to take the time or invest the money in actually measuring engagement,” says Don. This is a big mistake, because you simply don’t know what you don’t measure – regardless of how tuned in you feel. Don says that measuring employee engagement doesn’t have to be expensive but is a crucial investment in beginning the process of understanding your baseline and determining if, where, and how you need to improve.

#2: Employee Engagement is an HR Issue

Another common problem is that leadership pushes the project of employee engagement measurement and improvement off on HR. “Of course, it’s important to partner with HR on a project like this,” says Don, “but pushing it off to HR altogether sends the message that senior leadership doesn’t care enough to be involved personally in something as important as employee engagement.”

#3: Our Employees Will Become More Engaged If We…

According to Don, one of the biggest employee engagement missteps is not understanding that it pivots around individual managers. The old saying, “employees start companies; they quit managers” is absolutely true when it comes to employee engagement. “Companies make the mistake of focusing on improvements at the employee level, but what is important to understand is that managers play the most important role. When we survey for engagement levels, we see huge swings among teams. It’s the same company, the same culture, and the same pay scale – the variance is almost always caused by managers,” says Don. Therefore, it is critical to focus your efforts on equipping your managers to provide an environment and relationships that foster engagement.

#4: Lack of Engagement Is an Easy Fix

Don says that undertaking an initiative to improve employee engagement isn’t at all worthwhile if you won’t commit to the work needed to make an impact. “This isn’t a passive project, it takes real effort. You have to commit to transparency – you need to release the results of your findings to everyone. Then you need to identify three things you found in the data that you know you need to do work on – tell your employees what you learned and acknowledge your responsibility in making improvements. Finally, you must act in those three areas and show how you’ve made progress. If your employees don’t see you actively taking effort, you’ll get nowhere,” says Don.

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February 6, 2020 | 3 Mins Read

Benchmark Your Mobile Field Service Maturity

February 6, 2020 | 3 Mins Read

Benchmark Your Mobile Field Service Maturity

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By Tom Paquin

I remember the first time that I saw an iPhone. Having never owned any sort of palm or blackberry, it was like I was encountering an advanced alien technology. The power of its two-megapixel camera, its ability to provide wi-fi enabled geotagging (though no GPS), and its incredible ability to show more than one text message on a single screen was almost beyond comprehension. Staring into the inky blackness of that tiny monolithic square, I felt like I was getting a small window into the Rodenberry-inspired future that awaited us all.

Thirteen years later, smartphones are now boring. They’ve reached a design plateau (in spite of some attempts to mix things up), a steady annual stream of iterative improvements, and the market has been heavily consolidated into two operating systems, and a handful of hardware manufacturers gobbling up the market share. There is no mystique, no awe; we now have internet-enabled shoes and water bottles.

That boring-ness has derived itself from the relative ubiquity of smart devices. Mobility is cheap, accessible, and heavily-proliferated in both the developed and developing world. An obvious effect of that is that businesses have spent over a decade empowering their employees through this new channel.

If you benchmark service firms—even down to small businesses—on the maturity of their mobility solutions, you’ll see that more than half are already at a point where their solutions could be defined as an highly mature mobile field service solution.

Mobility is the norm, and that doesn’t just mean GPS and appointment starting and stopping. There’s a wealth of criteria that goes into mobility today, and not everyone is taking full advantage of what’s available. Do you know how you stack up?

When thinking about how you’re leveraging mobile, there are a few standouts that will help you along the path to maturity. Below are some things to keep in mind.

(One quick note—we’re focusing here on consumer-grade mobile utilities, rather than rugged devices, AR headsets, and so on. Expect more on those other device categories in the future.)

Use every part of the animal. Mobile devices are optimized from toe to tip for their form factor. From their dual cameras to the neural chips embedded in them to process augmented reality, every piece of a mobile device. A web app isn’t going to cut it when it comes to taking advantage of all of these pieces, either. You need something that’s calibrated to tap into the hardware potential of devices in the field. To that end, though, you also need to maintain some degree of consistency in the make and models of devices leveraged by technicians. In a BYOD-powered world that can be tricky, but good mobile device management will help you see what you have, and where the holes are.

Pave the way for a 1:1 solution. For a variety of reasons, the cloud might not be your FSM endgame, and that’s absolutely fine. But—you need to ensure that technicians don’t have to wait until they’re sitting in front of a workstation to get a job done. The service firm of the future is already on a path to dramatically minimize the footprint of the back office. Your technicians need to be able to manage parts, make schedule changes, and put down notes wherever they are.

Oversight, oversight oversight. You can’t just give your technicians an app to download. You need oversight into the historical data of a technicians’ device. This means not just mobile device management, but also tying the device data into your central systems to evaluate in aggregate job performance, metrics, location data, time on task and so on. The best systems aggregate that data and use it as the tool to power predictive activities, planning and scheduling, and route management. You need to have any device you work with managed remotely, and you need that remote information to exist centrally. This can be done whether or not you’re a BYOD house.

These are a few small tips. But will put you on the road to mobile excellence, and prepare you with the right foundations for the next disruptive technology.

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