How to Prepare for the Field Service of 2025 | Future of Field Service
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How to Prepare for the Field Service of 2025

On today’s podcast, we’re sharing a session from the Paris Live Tour with Jean Claude Jobard, Vice President EMEA, Marmon Link at Marmon Foodservice Technologies. Well-versed on today’s landscape, Jean Claude’s focus is on the reality that the pace of change is only increasing, and leaders need to become more adept at anticipating what comes next. He shares his thoughts on the four major trends that will shape what field service will look like in three to five years and discusses what it will take to be not only prepared but ahead of the competition.

Sarah Nicastro: So, Jean Claude, tell everyone a little bit about yourself, and your role and your journey, and then we’ll get into our topic.

Jean Claude: Okay. So I’m background is mechanical engineering. I’ve been working in the packaging industry for 35 years, food packaging, cans initially. And then I moved to Tetra Pak and to Sidel. And over these 35 years, I spent more than 25 years developing service, service business, and organization. Different place of the world in France than Czech Republic or east Europe, South Africa, Italy, and then China and back to France. And I said, the first time we discussed, is service is what makes my heart beat. I’m really passionate about service and what we can do in term of development for our customers, but also for the company we are supporting.

Jean Claude: Now that was up to beginning of March and the beginning of March, I’ve moved to a different company, Marmon Food Service Technology that is not very well known. Well, actually, it’s not known at all. It’s part of Marmon group, which is a large corporation from, from US. And the Marmon Food Service Technology job is to manufacture premium commercial equipment for food and beverage. To be clear, if you go for lunch or dinner outside, most probably there will be an equipment for Marmon to prepare your food or your beverage, whether it is fast food, a canteen, or an institution or 3 star restaurant, we are providing equipment for these guys. And my job is to develop service for Europe, middle east, and Africa for, for Marmon Food Service Technology.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay, great. So we heard Roel’s story, and we talked a little bit about, you know, managing the needs of today’s business while also thinking a bit down the road, right? And we also talked a bit about how Munters was able to react adeptly to COVID with remote service and how that sets the stage going forward. When you and I first connected, Jean Claude, you said something that I really liked. So you said, “COVID has forced companies to change, but for some it’s action reaction for others, it’s become embedded.” So explain what you mean by that.

Jean Claude: Yeah. So probably I will start with a story. In my previous company in 2017, there was a big show for the beverage industry in Munich, Drink Tech, maybe somewhere, you know, and we presented a remote video assistance with, glasses, I mean, the old technology that was fantastic picture that was 2017. Now between September 2017 and March 2020, what happened? Nothing. We used for the show, for the C suite, maybe to show to the customers how good we can be using these glasses or this remote video assistant. But we did nothing. Not a single dollar, or euro always, we sell in services supported by remote video assistance. And then COVID, guess what? From one day to another, every everybody wanted remote video assistance, we all need it right now. And all this kind of connection, by the way, the problem of cybersecurity was not an issue anymore.

Jean Claude: We just need remote video assistance. And that was COVID, a reality that in some countries where traveling was really impossible, and that was mainly Africa and Asia. We have been developing a lot of services for remote video assistance. Surprisingly enough was not too much about troubleshooting, but that was for other kind of services, supporting installation and commissioning, upgrades, supporting volume change. This is how we support our customer during that time. And that was mainly in this region. In some other region, as FSCs, our FSCs were still able to travel. Actually, we didn’t use it so much. Now, we can travel again. And what’s happening? The use of remote video assistance is going down. I want to see a technician. That’s what some customers are telling us, but our cell force, our management, is not offering remote video assistance. And then we are back to normal.

Jean Claude: So what I meant with action reaction, this is what happened with many company. There is an issue, we react and then back to normal, we are back to normal. Why company have been implemented remote solutions far before, and some companies have really embedded this change in the way they’re delivering service. Now there is a link with the previous interview, I believe is we are not selling technology. We are not selling digital. I mean, but we should not. But actually this is what we try to do. The way we work today is our digital team telling us, you know what, this is what we have developed. Now you go and sell it, but this is not service. So what we want to sell is services supported by digital technology. I used to say, digitally announced services. This is where we really bring value to customers, not selling RVR, such is nothing is just a tool to deliver better service to our customers.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. So, you know, going back to the storylines that I put up at the beginning resilience was the first. And I think that, you know, this idea of sure, you know, the circumstances of the last couple years were things that we had never imagined. So, just surviving it is one level of resistance or resilience. But I think the companies that have done the best have realized not only that they need to embed certain changes in their business, but embed change itself into their business. Right? So they’re adopting a mindset that is different than before, which is we can’t just think short term quarter to quarter. Yes, we need to meet the needs of today’s business, but we need to be taking a longer view. We need to think about what the business of next year, 5 years will look like. And we need to be making change a part of the company culture. When you think about organizations that you know, are doing a good job of adapting, what sets them apart from those who struggle a bit more with that mindset?

Jean Claude: So I would say probably 2 key elements, and then I would add another one that is in a different category. But the first one for me is leadership. Leadership to set the vision. And I want to elaborate a bit on that one. And the second is courage, courage to implement the change because that is, it can be a bit working role and it’s not continuous improvement. It’s really a change. We will not work the same way than we did in the past. Setting the vision, we had a discussion with be actually quite some time ago about setting the vision. And I said, but you know what? Setting the vision. How can I imagine? I mean, you don’t know what you don’t know. So this is why I believe this kind of event are very interesting because some companies are far away in term of service development.

Jean Claude: And if in your company, you want to develop a service vision. You need to talk to other people that are far above of what you do. So leadership, this is about setting the vision and you need benchmarking. You need to talk to people to see what can be done. And then you do your own objective, your own vision for your company. Courage, because what we will do tomorrow is not what we do today. And they will be, there are a lot of resistances, the resistances of using digital tools, I’m going to lose my job. I mean, some FSCs are telling us I’m going to lose my job, or if they don’t lose their job, but I will stop traveling. And traveling is 30% of my revenues, what will happen to me? So, and then there are people at management level who do not believe that these kind of changes of remote tools can bring additional value to the service.

Jean Claude: So this is really courage in making this change happen, selling it to the customers, by the way. And there is a third point that I thought about is product management. As an equipment manufacturer, we are fantastic as product in product management for equipment. I would say the digital teams are usually extremely good as well as packaging or the product, the development. From service perspective. What is it that we want to sell? What is it that our customer needs? We really need to be much, much stronger in term of product management to respond customer request today and tomorrow.

Sarah Nicastro: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, I think the leadership point is so important because oftentimes the top level leadership, not oftentimes, but sometimes they are the deepest rooted in the legacy. And that is where I see people struggle. You know, people that are in service leadership roles that see the potential for this change, but they’re, you know, faced with leadership that doesn’t share that vision. And that is a really difficult position to be in.

Jean Claude: Yeah. One comment on that one. In many companies that have recognized that service can bring a lot, not only revenues, but margin is coming from service and only from service. You do not make any money with any more money with, with equipment. Everybody’s saying service first, service first, service first. Now over the last 2 years in a previous company, I mean on a quarterly basis, you have the presentation of results. And then a few presentation from other people. There was not one single presentation from service. We never listen to a field service engineers, not for sales guy selling services. So this is where management needs to walk the talk. I mean, if services first, services first, but at the end of the day, when you sell equipment where you talk about still about 10, less still about technology, not so much about service. So we really need to develop this. This part is despite really walking the talk.

Sarah Nicastro: Mm-hmm (affirmative).That’s why I said earlier, it’s a significant identity change, right? And so there has to be a willingness to change, but then there’s all these layers of the business that that identity is a part of that you have to start reflecting upon and changing. Okay. So Jean Claude, we’re going to talk about some of your sort of, I won’t say predictions, but areas of focus for service organizations in the coming years. So we have 4, the first is speed of reaction.

Jean Claude: Yeah. Well actually all this thinking process, start with a discussion with one of my colleagues and saying, well, we know how we deliver field service today. It’s what it is, it’s not fantastic, but how will it look like in the coming years, what are the customer needs? And then the first one is speed of reaction. Years back, 25 years back. One of my FSC told me, you know, that was great. I could really learn on the job, the equipment, I got expert learning by myself, learning by failing at customer. Because at that time, if you took a bit more time sorting an issue at customer, that was okay. Now when it’s summer season, when you have a beer production line that is stopped, I mean, you cannot wait one day. I mean, it does to start back now. So speed of action is in essence, absolutely.

Jean Claude: This is a clear need. And this is where we linked to remote support because in our business, there is no way you can have all the right resources, at the right place, at the right time. It’s just not possible. We’re covering the world, 500 technician. It doesn’t work like that. I’m talking with that’s my previous job, not the new one, it’s coming with other challenges. So it’s not possible, but mixing probably remote support and local resources that can be your resources or resource from an agent from another supplier, one not from another manufacturer. You can probably imagine irate solution that will bring a lot of value and will help you to support very, very quickly to have good time for reaction.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, so you’re talking very specifically about speed of reaction in service. I think the other aspect of this though, is speed of reaction as an organization to demand, right? So if we are in these cycles of, you know, I don’t want to say product development because we’re talking more about service, but development of new offerings, new value propositions, you know, those can’t take years, right? Because the needs of the customer evolve and we need to become more agile at meeting those needs and pivoting to meet different needs, etc. So speed of reaction is one. The second is cost pressures.

Jean Claude: Yeah.

Jean Claude: Well, cost pressure. Guess it’s a surprise for no one. I mean, customers are looking for cheapest option. And when you charge 1000 Euro for one day of FSC, you better bring value otherwise, and they will never call you back. So for sure they will want to reduce cost as well as we, as a service supplier will want to reduce cost. Now, if you think about our business model, as it was a customer is requesting FSC.

Jean Claude: So time of reaction, I mean, it will not lift today, anyway, probably will live only on set on Monday. Monday will be traveling and then you will start working at customer Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, maybe, and Friday will be traveling again. So the customer is paying one day traveling, which is not bringing any value. So we have to find ways to do that. And again, we will still need people to work on machine with banners, with screwdrivers. There is no doubt about that, but maybe if we can, again, combine local resources, I mean, average skills with high skills on the back office using a remote solution. I really believe we can have a winning solution to serve customer better and quicker and cheaper.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, it’s a good point. I mean, when we talked about Munters’ use of remote service, we talked a lot about the customer facing use of that technology. And, you know, there is a real value proposition to using remote assistance or remote tools to allow some of your experience talent to maybe they’re tired of traveling and they don’t want to be on the road anymore. You know, and maybe one of those, you know, older experienced technicians can work from home or work from an office and assist 5, you know, green, newer technicians that are in the field. So it is, I think, part of the solution to how we navigate the talent challenge. Now, Jean Claude, so cost pressures have always been an issue, what do you think will change between now and 2025?

Jean Claude: Well, for me, that’s two elements. One we touched on in the previous discussion that’s field service, engineers availability. I mean, it’s not very attracting as it is today. And if we start thinking about how will the future look like from field service perspective, the resource was a key element. And from resource perspective, we say, if you, if you hire a new FSC today, our experience is after 6 to 8 years, either will be FSC forever, or you will move to a different position. This is kind of trigger. But we need people that will stay, we need people with experience. And you know what, with all these digital tools for the guy that is out of university, I mean, working with computer, with screen, with smart glasses, that is life. So what if we could support customer remotely with all the tools we have today, I’m talking about this technology, but you can measure performance. You can monitor performance remotely, you can monitor energy consumption, you can monitor predictive or condition based alert. So there is a lot you can do with a screens and a guy in the office, that will drive intervention to customers. So we believe, if we really embed this technology in our way of working, that will be a way to attract new talent, different profile than in the past, but new talent, for sure.

Sarah Nicastro: Mm-hmm (affirmative). So that, yep. Go ahead.

Question from audience: Yes. You said also that frontline would be less used and our client and one distance remote would both things would be more attractiveness of our frontline people, which is again at stake. And it’s what we, because yes, we play more with digital things that we at the end of the day, and coming back to what Jean said first that they are old. They will leave us with all their right. We need, keep them as much as compliant and more and more with offline and all the sophist complex things that we are great to get. Not it’s great. Cause we down them.

Jean Claude: Yeah. I think one of the difficulty for FSCs is also traveling. I mean, if you have people traveling from Monday to Friday, every single week, you know, after 20 years, that more than 50% got divorced, they have difficult life, but they will never change the work. This is what they like to do. And yes, it’s difficult to find people. Now, if you look at proximity at any kind of place in the world, if you look at all the industries, there are probably many different companies, many different businesses that need the same type of skills. So what if we share resources with organization? Exactly. Either through field service, engineers, suppliers, they’re big company, supplying field service engineers, but why not sharing resources with other company? Because some basic stuff, mechanical stuff, guys can work on many, many equipment, electrical as well. Automation is another story. This is why we need the backend, but for basic maintenance, I’m pretty sure we can develop this model.

Sarah Nicastro: I think, you know, depending on the business too, there’s almost a segmentation that needs to happen with the work, right? The customer facing work. Because we’re talking about shared resources that can do the technical aspect of the job. But when you look at the other part that we’ve discussed, which is more of the trusted advisor role, that’s almost a different path of how to leverage the talent you have and what the relationship with the customer looks like. Right? So the next generation of field service engineers, anything else to comment on there? So we’re talking about potentially shared resources, what else?

Jean Claude: I think one more point is sustainability actually didn’t came to my mind actually, but then discussing with one of our field service engineers, external supplier, he said, you know what, customers start to talk about zero emission field service. What does that mean? The oil emission field service. And it means traveling. You forget it. I mean, because this is a key limit. We started a line in Japan, during the COVID period in a normal, it was a new technology for this country. So in a normal way, what we would have done, would’ve probably taken 10, 15 field service engineers from Europe flew them to Japan. Impossible. So what do we do? Remote support.

Jean Claude: Skills people, not with this technology, but we supported through remote tools during the installation, and it work well. So, I mean, from sustainability perspective, not even talking about cost perspective, the impact was a measure. So we need to think about all companies today have objective regarding sustainability. One day or another, field service will contribute. So we have to start thinking about it already.

So, and when you talk field service engineers, traveling is a big part. So if we can avoid flying, well, you contribute to a better world for sure. Then you will have resistance from FSC because I mean, going to some countries, it’s quite nice. Actually. They love traveling for some of them.

Sarah Nicastro: Someone asked earlier about as a service and migration to that model. And I did a podcast not too long ago with Kaer from Singapore and they’ve transitioned entirely to cooling as a service. And it was a really interesting conversation talking about the ways that, as a service model helps sustainability. So all of the kind of intersections of how transitioning to that model helps sustainability initiatives for the company and for the customers. So it’s a really interesting conversation. All right, so Jean Claude, you recently changed roles, as you mentioned, and it’s different and you were in your last role for quite some time. So what has struck you so far in terms of the differences or the similarities in, you know, what you’re going to be tasked with?

Jean Claude: Well, first of all, similarities, we talk about efficiency from customer perspective, efficiency, availability, and total cost of ownership. This is the same even so the players are completely different. What is very different is the level of maturity in term of service. I mean, in the past probably company, we’re doing 40 to 45% of the turnover on service, here we are less than 10% probably. So the level of maturity is not the same. We are rather taking spare parts order rather than selling spare parts and not saying it’s good to sell spare part by the way. But we are taking order rather than selling.

Jean Claude: And then the complexity is different because we move suddenly. Or I move suddenly from servicing multimillion euros packaging line to equipment that costs between 5 to 25,000 Euro. So you can imagine even a 10,000 Euro equipment, there is no way you will sell one hour of technician for 1000 Euro that doesn’t exist. We are out of market. So you have to find other ways to do that. And then the install base is not the same. On one side, you have an install base that is pretty much monitored. Well, you know where your equipment, you know, your customers. On the other side, you have thousand, hundred of thousand of equipment in various places that you don’t monitor very closely. So the challenge would be probably that one.

Sarah Nicastro: So despite the differences, what lesson did you learn in your time in your former role that you think will help you most in your new role?

Jean Claude: A few years back, one of the supply chain head of the company I worked for told us, during company meeting efficiency has no limit and externally believe this is applying to service as well. Service has no limit. And when you see the different level of maturity from one company to another, and even the one that are on top today, it’s not the end. It’s only the beginning. So it is so much we can do. And it’s not only it’s of course about making money. This is what we’re paid for, but this is also about delivering service to our customers. So if you listen to your customer properly, you really embed in your development. What they need in there is no limit. There is no limit. Definitely.

Sarah Nicastro: I like that a lot.