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January 25, 2023 | 28 Mins Read

5 Common Issues that Sabotage Digital Transformation Success

January 25, 2023 | 28 Mins Read

5 Common Issues that Sabotage Digital Transformation Success

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Rudy Goedhart, Head of Digital Transformation at Spencer Technologies, talks with Sarah about the complexities that can derail organizations from seeing their digital visions realized. 

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service Podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today, we're going to be talking about five common issues that sabotage digital transformation success. I'm excited to be joined today by Rudy Goedhart, who heads digital transformation for Spencer Technologies. Rudy, welcome back to the Future of Field Service Podcast.

Rudy Goedhart: Thank you for having me again.

Sarah Nicastro: Yes. So, Rudy was a guest on episode 18 of the podcast. So, we've come a long way, my friend. Here we are back, better than ever. Rudy has a new role compared to what he did in episode 18, which is related to digital transformation, the topic for today. If you're not familiar, Spencer Technologies, Rudy, you can correct me if I'm wrong, is responsible for installing infrastructure, and managing infrastructure in retail environments. So, across different sectors of retail, everything technology related in a store, your teams would go in, put in place, set up, if a store moves, they go, and move all of that technology over for them, et cetera. So, your customers are retail organizations.

Rudy Goedhart: Correct.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Okay, good. All right. So, you're responsible for managing technology for your customers. And obviously to do that well, you have to have a good handle on how you're using technology, yourselves. So, Rudy, and I have had numerous, countless conversations about service transformation, digital transformation, all of those types of things. And I think the five issues we're going to talk about today are issues that not only has Rudy had to encounter, and overcome in his role heading digital transformation, but they are ones that I think almost all of you that are listening would agree that you have encountered as well. So, these are things that very commonly get in the way of digital transformation success. I've recited statistics before, I don't have them in front of me, but I know IDC for instance, there's some humongous percentage of digital transformation initiatives fail, and there's these common reasons why. And so today we're going to talk about some of those. So, up first we're going to talk about legacy thinking. So Rudy, what are your thoughts on how legacy thinking can get in the way of digital transformation success?

Rudy Goedhart: Yeah, so that's a good one, Sarah. The legacy thinking we've struggled with quite a bit both within our own organization as well as with others that we've partnered with. So, what we find, and whenever you talk about change management transformation, the very common things that come up very frequently are simple statements such as, "This is how we've always done it, this is how we did it before. Why do we need to change?" I've got a giant pile of cheese right next to my house. Why do I need to go find more cheese? Who moved my cheese reference there. But so legacy thinking is a big problem. Change is very important. Transformation's very important for an organization to stay relevant, and to become more relevant to grow the business. And one of the biggest challenges is communicating that across all of the stakeholders, making sure that everybody understands why we're changing, not just what we're doing, but why we're doing it.

And I'm pretty sure in the past, I've referenced it before, if you tell somebody to press a button, they're going to try to do a best effort to press that button anytime that you tell them to. But they're not going to keep it up. They're not going to stick with it simply because they don't understand the reason why. So legacy thinking has been quite the challenge, and it falls almost in the second category that you haven't initiated yet. But the alignment part, the organization does need to be aligned for change in order to get that legacy thinking problem to go away as well. If everybody knows where we're going, why we're going there, what we're looking for, what we're looking to become, you can get people to be part of that transformation culture that ultimately we're trying to get to. But it's nonetheless a challenge.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I think this is such a emotional, psychological response, right? I mean, it's a very human thing of "No, no, no, I would rather stay in my comfort zone." Well no, this is working. Like we're doing fine. The company's doing fine, so why should we go mess that all up to do something different? There's this idea that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. And I think the way this presents itself in different businesses is super interesting, because when you have issues with legacy thinking among the frontline, you're really talking about change management. It's a leader's role to communicate the reason for the change to get them bought into the change. But what can be really, really challenging for organizations is when the legacy thinking sits at the very top of the business, because that prohibits a lot of forward motion.

If the people making decisions are the ones that are risk averse, that are complacent, that don't want to rock the boat, then it makes it really hard for anyone in the ranks to really have enough initiative to push that forward. So, I think people get there one way or another, but it's, I think, very frustrating for employees when there's kind of some outdated mentalities in top leadership. Because when you have anyone who is driven, or innovative, or creative, it really squanders that. So, yeah, I don't know what your thoughts are on that.

Rudy Goedhart: No, I think you're dead on that it comes top down. So, anything change definitely goes top down. So, last time we talked, I was just responsible for business intelligence, so it was really data analytical driven, and I said my pieces on that. Since then, rolling into digital transformation, which, so a little bit backstory there. So, we started in systems development, then went to business intelligence, then went to digital transformation. So, in the digital transformation world, I've gotten much more involvement with the people portion where systems development is super systems focused. I don't want to say it's easy, because nobody will say it's easy, but all you're responsible for is delivering the solution that people are asking for, and you deliver it, your portion is almost done with that. Business intelligence, you're responsible to making sense of all the data, looking at it, finding the problems.

But again, in the transformation world, it's the people that played the very biggest role because not only are you responsible for getting the technology to do what it needs to do to grow the business, and to make the people more efficient, and just overall increase the customer, and employee experience, you've got to roll that out, and sell it as well. So, I've taken much more of a sales position there, and I have encountered situations where seemingly everybody's on board, everybody's part of this change champion list, but then internally it goes something a like, "Hey, we got to change this system. It's not going to work, but let's give it our best effort anyways." So, even if everybody on the surface is on board, the message that gets relayed outside of the very controlled meetings is super important. So you don't just need the public, you need the actual buy-in.

You need to make sure people understand what they're doing, that they're excited about it. Legacy thinking is a fear of change. And you know mentioned it change is hard, and there's so many articles on it. Change is pain, change registers to the human brain as pain. You've got this valley of despair area in change management. There's so many references. Change is hard, change is difficult, change is pain, but change is exciting, too. And that's really something that I like to relate to people. Look, for whatever reason, we're doing things today, but if we can do this, here's what you get out of it. Here's what we can do with it. You start listing all these people, you start getting the people excited about the change, but that needs to come top down. And that is so important to get [inaudible 00:09:02] on board.

Sarah Nicastro: And I think, as someone leading digital transformation, bringing that enthusiasm to the table is a really important part of the role. But moving on to the next topic, so is alignment. I was saying when we were chatting, your role is a lot like herding cats, because there's all of the functions of the business. They have different opinions, different objectives, different needs for the technology, different visions of where they want to go. And somehow you have to figure out how to get everyone on the same page, and to take all of those silo functional visions within Spencer, and make them a Spencer vision, one vision, and then prioritize how that all happens. So, it sounds pretty easy. And how's that going?

Rudy Goedhart: Oh, man. So, alignment is absolutely the very biggest struggle that I've faced for probably the better part of a decade right now. And it's something that I'm not super excited about to talk about, because there's been some real struggles, and some real pains in this. So having sat in several areas of the organization in Spencer, we've always had a lot of things to do. Being in technology, providing organization where we support multi-site corporations such as recently onboarded Lego, super proud, and super excited for that.

Sarah Nicastro: My kids would love that.

Rudy Goedhart: I love it. I can't lie about that. So, someday I'll go to the headquarters, and that's kind of on my bucket list now. But anyways, so we are onboarding these technology companies. We're always moving. We cannot stand still. We cannot be stagnant in what we offer, or how we do because ultimately we're tying into all of our vendors' software systems. And with that comes the need for us to have a system that is super strong, and then be on top of that. So, the alignment to make sure that technology is important, that we have the right technology in place, that we have the right people in place, the right priorities has become very important. What we faced before is that all of these priorities, all of these needs got mangled where each officer in the organization had, for example, their priority one, two, three, four, five. To me, that translates as five priority ones, five priority twos, five priority threes, and all of the small asks that came on top of it.

As a result, we were not as effective as I wanted to be. And it really wasn't until we launched an operational excellence initiative within the organization, which we called Project Phoenix, because rise from the ashes kind of story, not that Spencer was in ashes, but we're really proud about this. We're really proud about rising. And the Phoenix is now proudly presented within our office on our templates, and sometimes an email signatures. It's a gorgeous image, and the messages just as well. We are aligned now. We went through this operational excellence initiative, and we started from a very customer-centric point of view. We had all of the functional leaders, and stakeholders of the organization in one room, and we asked one simple question per workflow.

We mapped out the whole organization's workflow that had to do with service delivery. We asked, "What do you think our customers want from us?" So, everybody put post-it notes on the board stating, "Well, here's what I believe during this step of our process, here's what the customers want from us, what they would like to receive, what would make them happy, happier." And then we went over all of these post-its by Workflow, and we said, "Okay, what needs to change within our organization to get to that point?" So, we've identified what do we think our customers want from us. Now, we're at this point, how do we get there? So, now we've got... It's hard not to swear for me, but now we've got a whole lot of sticky notes on the wall, and a whole lot of topics, and a whole lot of solutions. So, then we said, okay, "Everybody gets five points. Put them where you feel that change is best implemented within the organization."

So, we marked the right items, the ones that we believe are most impactful to our customers. And of those, we now separate them into sprints from an agile implementation strategy, let's mark out which ones we want. And there were some very clear winners. So, we can all agree that the company now agrees on what's most important to improve our service delivery, client delivery, to the clients. And with that comes that alignment. The whole company agrees, we need to work on, let's say reverse logistics. There's a pain point, because it gets complicated. And next time somebody comes to my office, and says, "Rudy, I really need to change this." My question becomes, "Okay, how does that fall into the alignment? How does that fall into the item that we deem most important for the organization to fix?" Which gives me sufficient fuel to really push back on initiatives that may help a couple people here and there.

But it's still hard, right? Alignment, stays hard. I'm very happy to announce that Spencer Technologies is aligned on where it feels that the change needs to happen to best the organization, and the customer experience with a focus on that. There's still the day to day, and that's where, personally, I struggle because it's hard to say no when you know something takes maybe an hour out of my day, somebody says, "Look, Rudy, this takes me eight hours every day. I know I can fix it in one." It's really hard to say no to that. But sticking to that alignment, making sure that you use your own resources, including your own time right to stick with that alignment is absolutely crucial.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, I think that's such good advice. And if I'm not mistaken, prior to you taking on the digital transformation role in Spencer, that wasn't a role before. It was handled by committee, or within other functions, but it wasn't a dedicated role in the organization. Is that accurate?

Rudy Goedhart: Yeah, it was a wild west. Quite frankly, it wasn't even that well controlled. It was literally the greasy wheel. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Yeah, it was hard.

Sarah Nicastro: And that's the point I wanted to make is going back to the IDC research that I didn't even appropriately quote early on though, but the number one barrier to digital transformation success is silos within the organization. And that's exactly what we're talking about here. And I think it's why companies who have not put a specific function for digital transformation, or innovation, or however you want to word it in place, are really struggling because it's function battling function. It's silo battle, battling silo. It's squeaky wheel gets the grease. There isn't someone responsible for bringing that view together. And the second thing I wanted to comment on that is so, so important that you said, and kudos to you guys for getting this right, is the way you prioritized was based on customer desires, experience, and value, and that is the way it should be done.

So, you're absolutely right, it gives you that framework to go back to of we made these decisions together based on what has the biggest best impact for our customers. So, here's what we're sticking to. Not every company takes that outside in objective when they're looking at how to prioritize those different needs, wants, wishlist, vision, et cetera. So, I think that's really good advice as well.

Rudy Goedhart: Yeah. And it comes with a little tale too, because arguably customer experience is important, but I can, in all honesty say I've never had a good customer experience with an employee that wasn't happy. If somebody's miserable, grumpy, disgruntled, bitter, that's not going to give you the customer experience that you're looking for no matter what the situation is. So, employee experience plays into that, but that's why it's a tale, and not a segue completely. As an employee, everybody wants to do the right thing. I've learned that over a long time. Nobody wants to fail, nobody wants to do a bad job. So, if they know that they have the tools to deliver the best customer experience, that tend to play into their happiness as well.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, absolutely. So, the third area we're going to talk about is technology debt. And I know that compared to many organizations, Spencer is in a really good place as far as this goes. You have some scenarios where organizations have invested in a technology that just really is not serving them, but they struggle with when do you admit defeat, and start over, and just eat that cost knowing that it's not serving you. And that is really hard for sure, but luckily you're not in that position. But there is this other idea of even when you have a core system that's working really, really well for you, digital is ever changing, so you always have to be looking for ways to continually improve, ways to evolve your platform with the needs of the business, and the value that you need to provide. So, can you talk a little bit about how you handle that?

Rudy Goedhart: Yeah, and it's an interesting topic, and it's so logical, so simple, at the same time, it's so not easy. So, I consider the software, and especially when you're talking about an ERP, about the system of record to come, the software that runs your organization, or the packages that run your organization, consider that a foundation. If you have cracks in your foundation, are you going to build the rest of the house, or are you going to fix that first? And frankly, if you're a foundation, didn't have the right consistency to put it in construction terms, you stop, you break it out, and you start over. Technology is no different. It sucks to take the loss. And we've certainly been there in the past, and I've seen it with some of the organizations that we acquired before. They've tried for years to implement the solution and it didn't stick, it didn't grab it, didn't quite get to the right place.

And they push, and they push, and it really caused disgruntlement amongst the employees because it didn't do what it needed to do, yet they held onto it. Technology, I mean the same similarities exist across all aspects. Whether we're building something, whether we're talking about employees, sometimes, you do the best you can, and you do what's right, but if something isn't working, something isn't working, and not to make that human centric, because that could be negative, but you do need the right software. For Spencer, that has been a struggle, and probably will continue to be a topic of conversation, but not a struggle at the time.

IFS, as an example is funny in that we chose it when it was recently acquired by IFS when it was just metrics, but it was such a strong product. So, in the last six years, when we see you leading the Gartner charts for service solutions, we cheer, right? I've mentioned it before, we actually sell that to our clients. It's part of our deck to our clients because we not only want to be very proud of the solutions that we have, we also want our customers to believe that the infrastructure that we deliver our business with is stable, stays up with that. Now, on the service side, we don't have that problem of course, but financially we did struggle there. As Spencer has growing to become a global service provider, we were on a finance application, which I shall not name, but it looks like a visual basics application built in the nineties.

We've all meddled with it. And it couldn't do multi-currency, you can't have more than six characters in your place, there's all of these limitations to stop us, and we could invest a lot of money, we could try to get it right, get it to the latest version, but frankly we needed a better solution. So, we started out with an RFP for a better finance system, and we got a glimpse of modern technologies between IFS cloud, and some other organizations with finance solutions. And it actually blew us away. I let our accounts receivable, accounts payable, and our financial accounting analysts see the package, and they're so excited, because they're looking at the system, they go, "Oh, my gosh, I don't have to look up taxes every state's individual website anymore, every week? What?" Right? Stuff like that. So, you get the right technology and to really help grow your company, but if something doesn't work for you, cut your losses, move on. Identify that it can, or cannot meet the bill.

And that's okay. And you know, have talked about this before, I don't mind taking a step back. Failure is often perceived as a really bad thing. Failure's okay. It's okay to start over. We all do it in our daily lives left, and right. It doesn't always work the first time, and that's okay. Sucks that you have to present it to a board of directors, and you go, "Hey, yeah, that project that costed us a lot of money, it really isn't going where it needs to go", but it means lying to yourself, and lying to your investors, and your stakeholders, because you lose the buy-in back to that whole, making sure that the people are positive about things. Being true to yourself, being true to the people about the ability to succeed with the technology that you're picking, or have currently implemented in your organization is very important to that.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, it's unrealistic to think you're always going to get it right, but are you learning from those missteps I think is the most important thing. I think the other point I just wanted to close on as far as technology debt goes is the other thing I see companies do that's really unfortunate is they invest in a platform that may be working really well, but it goes back to that natural tendency to complacency. They invest, it's solving the need they have, it's working well, but there may be all of these other things they can do with that platform that they just don't take the time to learn, or explore, or incorporate, which is another factor of this idea of continual improvement. And if you're leading digital transformation, making sure that you're getting the most out of all of your technology investments, and you're leveraging them to their potential.

So, you mentioned earlier the employee experience and I think that's really important as well. And I know that you understand the importance of change management, but when we were chatting about this interview, we were talking about the fact that even when you acknowledge how important change management is, and you have the best laid plans, there are a lot of variables that will change. And sometimes all it takes is one change in variable to throw a company completely off course on its change management strategy, and then things kind of unravel. So, how have you handled change, keeping your eye on the prize as far as focusing on the employee experience, making sure you're bringing employees along on the journey?

Rudy Goedhart: Yeah. And that's as possibly the hardest question you're going to ask me today. Because people are people and nobody's the same. We're all one of a kind, in one way or another, we're all one of a kind. And how we perceive change, and how we get to the goal is very much part of that one of a kind thing. So, the hardest thing, so I'll start a little bit with that in what makes change management fail. Again, I've had too much experience with that, but probably not enough at the same time, because to your point earlier, from your failures, that's where you learn, and that's something that is that mindset when you fail, you can frown about it, and you can be unhappy about it, and that's okay, but take something away from it. Take something away, take a look at why you fail. Do that root cause analysis, find out what happens, and do better.

Do better is not always perceived as a positive statement, but nonetheless. So, some of the things that we've faced internally is lack of direction, very much to the alignment portion, lack of direction's a big deal. Too many critical needs. If everything is a high priority, frankly nothing's a high priority, and that's a hard message to relay because if everybody says that their priority is the highest, then nothing is. Can't all have the same priority. Lack of resources. If you're going to pursue change management transformation of your organization, make sure you have the right resources in place to do that. I alluded to that in a little cartoony fire pit video that I made not too long ago. If I am trying to build a fire, and I'm trying to keep that going, but I got to rush between different campfires all the time, then ultimately one will burn out because I'm either using up the sticks that I needed to keep it going, or I'm not paying attention to it.

You cannot be in three places at once, but you could hire three people to tend to three fires at the same time. But resources come back to the right number of resources, both from an employee point of view as well as from a monetary point of view, technology point of view, everywhere. Impatience. If somebody wants a type of change that simply, and they're pushing a deadline on you that is too aggressive, which I would like to reference. I've heard people purposely put an aggressive deadline on something with the explanation if I set the deadline too far forward, then you're more motivated to work really hard on it and sure, hopefully meet the actual deadline that could be met. Even though the expectation was never the original deadline. That's demotivating. If you know you're going to fail from the start, where's the drive to get there?

If you set a realistic deadline, you're actually more likely to get people on board, because everybody wants to be successful. But yeah, realistic deadlines, making sure that people understand change is not instant. One of my previous leaders once told me, right now doesn't exist. You can get it right, or you can get it now, but right now is not a thing. I'm teaching my kids that, too. At age three that's hard. But wrong conditions, even if you have all the resources, and all of the right intentions in place, sometimes the conditions aren't good. If I try to change something large in my organization when I'm in the middle of peak season, it's not going to happen. People don't have the right time for it. They don't have the right mindset for change at that time. They're too busy running the company. Change in leadership comes back to that change in vision, change in direction.

When leadership changes, sometimes we find that the old plan either doesn't get the right buy-in anymore, or the sponsorship support stops, and executive sponsors a heck of a lot more than a name in a field there. There's a lot more to that. Poor transitions. If you do change, and you don't transition right into the new thing, or you don't stick with it, that's a problem. And that's something I've actually learned the hard way in change management. Once you get people on board, everybody's happy, everybody wants to change, but then once you deliver it, you walk away, the chance of it actually being a successful change does not depend on your deployment success. Deploying change is relatively easy. Making sure that it sticks is really the hardest thing.

Making sure that people stick with it, they understand why they're doing it, making sure that it doesn't get lost in the daily shuffle and ultimately it undoes the change, but people change management and people, all of those things, and then so, so, so many more. It is by far the hardest topic, but I think that communication is key. Getting the right people motivated, getting them on board, keeping communication straights so that you don't get people wondering where you are on the status of things. Making sure you stick with us both throughout the development as well as post deployments, provide the right people, the right tools, and that may roll into our next topic, but you give people the right tools to be successful with the change processes.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, no, that makes sense. And I agree. It is the most complex of all of the challenges for sure. All right, so the fifth, and final one we're going to talk about today is companies that struggle to turn data into intelligence. So, everyone is on this digital journey, recognizes the importance of data, puts tools in place to gather data, gather data, gather data, gather data, and then sometimes organizations are just left saying, "Uh oh, now what?" Right? Now what do we do with all of this? And so this lends itself to what our first podcast discussion in episode 18 was all about, really, was this leveraging this powerful resource that is data. But for the sake of today's conversation, I guess, when you think about the ability to leverage data, internally, to help make intelligent decisions drive business performance, and then the ability to leverage data externally with your customers as a source of value, what are your thoughts on where companies struggle to really take the data, and convert it into intelligence? And how have you done that?

Rudy Goedhart: Those are two interesting questions. Yes. So, data is powerful, and especially in the earlier conversation that we had three years, or so ago, I've made a couple statements that I've since then regret making. But in general, data is very powerful. Data can protect you, and data can be weaponized at the same time. And sometimes it turns into this data war where you get all these reports being thrown back, and forth. It's this way, no, it's this way, no. Here's what it is. So, data is very important to get right. But since then, one of the things that is most important I think is the actionability of your reports, but not just the fact that a report has to be actionable, because I've also seen that term heavily weaponized. Again, "Rudy, your report's not actionable." Okay, well what do I do to make it actionable?

Well, I don't know, but it's not actionable the way it is. Okay, well what are you trying to do? And that really comes back to what are you trying to accomplish, or what are you using the data for? Whether we're talking internally, or to our customers, when you build a report, what function does it serve? If a report is a report to look at, or dashboard, if I have power BI dashboard that is nice to look at, and it always shows green, or red, or yellow, but nobody is using that to drive any type of actions, then why are we looking at it? If it doesn't have people looking at it and making decisions, then why are we looking at it? Sometimes data is simply for decision making. If I'm talking about profitability forecasting reports, there may not be direct actions, but indirectly there of course are, because my forecast report shows that I am growing the business much faster than I anticipated. If I'm expecting, I don't know, 15 million worth of work in March, then I should staff up for that. So, it becomes actionable.

I think that actually is one of the biggest things to our customers. And here's the statement that I used to regret. I'll start actually customer facing, and I'll talk more. With customer facing, I used to state, "Take control of the narrative. Create standard reports, canned reports, provide them to the customer." And the example I used back then is you don't ask your partner, what do you want for dinner when you go out? Because the answer will be, I don't know, what do you want? You come back into this whole war of where do we go to eat, ultimately. Whereas if I ask the partner, let's go to Olive Garden, what do you want from their menu? You're going to get a straight answer, or a direction in which the answer can be given such as, "Hey, but that has a Longhorn steak", and I forgot the name of the whole place, but a Longhorn Steakhouse next door, pick me up something there, because I know you're already in their parking lot.

So, it's set to control of the narrative. But the thing that I regret is you do want to listen to your customers. Having a standard set of reports is very nice, but listening to your customers need is important, too, because ultimately being selected as a vendor for them, they have an intention for that too. They have expectations, and you want to make sure that your standard reports meet that expectation, or you enhance your standard reports by listening to them. So, what are the problems they're trying to solve? How could we help them? We have the experience of supporting tons, and tons of vendors, and corporations in the field. We kind of know what they want, but there are intricacies to each organization, and listening to them trying to find out how we can help them is big. One of the examples is a very simple asset management survey. So, data being used properly. When we go to your store, we're going to service any technology that you ask us to service, but we weren't always necessary the ones to install it.

But whilst we're there, we may as well take a quick inventory, take a look, send some pictures, and record what assets you have in your store because now you know, a simple survey after, and it's very common. It's certainly not Spencer unique there, but having that data collection capability for the clients, and then being able to report back, "Hey, here's all the devices in your store", from a very selfish point of view, could then roll into more work for us, because, "Oh, they didn't know they still had those old registers there, would we upgrade them for them?" Right. Of course, we will. But yeah, intelligence in general, I mean, it's kind of in there. Intelligence isn't intelligence if you can't do anything with it, those are just useless facts, not intelligence, and useless facts are fun, but they're certainly not always useful, and unless you're trying to break the ice, but we don't have break the ice kind of meetings with our customers that often.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, it makes me honestly think of the process you spoke about when we talked about alignment, and how you took all of the different stakeholders, and had them prioritize based on impact to customers. It's similar in the sense of what are the objectives you're trying to drive, whether those are internal objectives, or external in terms of customer objectives that you can provide value around, and what data do you need to work toward those goals that you can measure, and then derive those actions from? So, in a lot of ways, it's almost like working backwards from what's the end goal? If you, as a business, want to grow X percent, improve productivity, Y percent, whatever it is, what sources of data do you have that are giving you insight on how you're performing that are related to that objective? And then what actions can you derive from there?

For a customer, if they want to know X, Y, and Z, then that's where you start, and you provide those insights, and you look for ways to your point to take the intelligence you have as a business that could be helpful to them and to you, and then put it into a format that makes sense to both parties. Yeah, I mean know it's one of your great loves data, but it's just an area I think a lot of companies really struggle to get a handle on in a way that is as bolted down as it needs to be.

Rudy Goedhart: Right. And as complicated as it gets, it's also not that complicated, because you're telling a story. I mean storytelling is it's another common buzzword these days, but buzzword haven't... Same with actionability, and business intelligence. They're all good buzzwords, but at the same time, there's a lot of power behind them when used properly. And that storytelling data is storytelling all day long. And when you're having a report that instead of a story, it's more like a phone book than make sure that that report is only used when people need to find a phone number for something, don't have it displayed on a big dashboard in your building because there's no point to it, there's no actionability to it. It's a tool for assistance, and that's what really strikes the difference between actionable reporting, and just tools. Intelligence tool.

I do have a decent example, recently, where the data intelligence, the really plays into your processes as well, and the meaning of it. So in really onboarding a lot of help desk organizations lately, the two terms that come up a lot are first call fix, and time to resolution, right? Because they're not the same, but often are considered the same. So with that comes a whole lot of explanation because if I'm a help desk agent, and I'm answering a call, but I was unable to resolve the issue, because the resolution doesn't reside in our organization, and let's say I need to ticket to Granite Telecommunications to get a new phone number activated, the first call fix applies because yes, we did do everything we needed to. There's nothing else for us to do, and we're closing out our request. At the same time, the time to resolution at that point wouldn't quite be accurate for me to say, that's the ticket time, because I did not right actually resolve the issue.

I just did everything that I needed to do, and hung up so that... We're working with our help desk leadership right now. Let's define time to resolution because it cannot be different for every client, because then how do agents know how to transact within the system. And then what's your purpose of it? Are you trying to figure out how long our team spent on each ticket, Spencer's responsibility? Or are you trying to measure how long the company, the customer of ours, is in which way affected by the problem? Those are two complete different timeframes. So, define what you're trying to solve. Once you define what you're trying to solve, the business intelligence portion will come with it. And sometimes you find that you have to update a process, update your technology to make sure that you can capture what you need to. But I mean, there's tools galore these days.

You can as much as measure every mouse click, and keystroke on your employees' laptop if you chose to do that. Until measuring performance, making sure that you measure every time that they're actively looking at a ticket. So, the technology these days really supports a lot of intelligence. Arguably too much.

Sarah Nicastro: That's what I was thinking.

Rudy Goedhart: So, yeah, keep it simple. Make sure that your goals align with the data that you're displaying, and make sure that if you have actionable dashboards, that action is actually taken on it. Because if you're looking at the same report every week just to show that you're still yellow, it needs to come with action items.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, that makes sense. All right. Very good points, Rudy. Thank you for sharing your experiences, and your knowledge with us. I greatly appreciate it.

Rudy Goedhart: Thank you for having me. It's an honor to be here two times.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, I look forward to the third. We'll see how things progress, and yes, but I appreciate it. I appreciate you. So thank you for being with me today.

Rudy Goedhart: Thank you.

Sarah Nicastro: If you would like to listen to Rudy's first episode, episode 18, you can find that, and much, much more by visiting us at futureoffieldservice.com. You can also find us on LinkedIn. The Future of Field Service Podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more@IFS.com. As always, thank you for listening.

January 18, 2023 | 31 Mins Read

Service Transformation: Perception is Reality

January 18, 2023 | 31 Mins Read

Service Transformation: Perception is Reality

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Adam Gloss, VP and GM of Service at McKinstry, joins Sarah to discuss how he pushes beyond some of today’s biggest challenges to see and capture the opportunity – and how he motivates his teams to do the same. 

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today we're going to be talking about how in so much of service transformation, perception is reality. I'm excited to be joined today by Adam Gloss, who is the VP and GM for services at McKinstry. Adam, welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast.

Adam Gloss: Thank you, Sarah. Nice to be here.

Sarah Nicastro: Yes, thank you for being here. All right. Adam and I had the pleasure of meeting last fall, and when we connected to chat about doing a podcast together, I was really, really taken with your passion and excitement for not only what you do, but the potential that exists in services as a whole. I probably was taken with that because I am also very passionate and excited about the potential that exists. But we started sort of reflecting on how you perceive different things dictates so much of the path taken, the outcome, et cetera. So that's kind of what we're going to talk about today. But before we do that, tell our listeners a little bit more about yourself, your role, anything you would like to share.

Adam Gloss: Yeah, that sounds like a softball question, which is a great way to kick things off.

Sarah Nicastro: A warmup.

Adam Gloss: Yeah, yeah. My answer is probably a little complicated, but I think it will tell you a lot about me. So humor me. I'm the Vice President of Service for McKinstry and we work in the built environment. We are a national design, build, operate, and maintain company that specializes in critical and complex buildings and facilities for infrastructure. Ultimately, I'm tasked with leading our field service organization and developing solutions for the problems our customers face, and frankly, the society at large faces around the cost of the built environment and maintaining it, the wellbeing of its occupants, its energy and carbon impact, and the equity impacts all that exacerbates. So it's a small job.

Strangely, when you think about what I do, I actually started my career in advertising and marketing. Completely left field, right? And then spent 15 years in healthcare, first in sales and marketing and then in operations, and moved into field service about 17 years ago. When I talk to people about my background, those threads seem very disparate. They all look at me kind of like, what? And I have to explain to them. But I see a lot of congruity, a lot that ties those things together. Both of them are really focused on outcomes where helping others is critical and the work matters, and that's important to me. That gets me up and going every day. Both are environments that are talking about healthcare and thinking about facilities. Both are very dynamic. They're very fast paced. There's a lot of change, a lot of challenges. I think that gets back to attitude. I find joy in that, not frustration. And then both are very labor intensive. They're very people focused, and there's incredible challenges and opportunities around that. And I love the people aspect of that.

For me, what I do now kind of ties all of that together and it gives me an opportunity to make an impact in a very big way and to have a meeting in my work. And then I'm also really, really fortunate to work with some amazing people. That actually brings a lot of joy to me. And any success we have, I think is largely because of the quality of people in our organization, their dedication to the work that we do, and their excitement about the impact that we get to make. That excitement becomes contagious.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. That makes sense. And I think that's a really good way to say it. Excitement becomes contagious. So does negativity or boo hoo attitude as well. So we'll talk a little bit about that. You have been in field service, you said 17 years. I've been in this space about 15. I think maybe some of our excitement around what's going on in this space today is because of the entry point of time into it. I know for me, I've said this a lot on this podcast, when I started in this space, it was pretty segment in some ways. And it was a little bit, I say boring from the context of covering the space. All of the conversations were sort of centered around how do we maximize productivity, minimize cost. Service was a cost center. There wasn't a lot of super exciting technology advancements being adopted yet, et cetera.

I feel like what kept me interested over the last decade and a half is that I started to see that progression unfold. Those conversations started to shift and the recognition of service as a profit center on a differentiator happened and the way work is done and the way we focus on customer experience evolved largely due to digital transformation. So there's been a lot of things that have happened that have really, really flipped that impression of 15 years ago around. You've probably witnessed something similar. And here you are saying, "I love change. Everything that's going on in service is so exciting." And other people can find it daunting or exhausting or frustrating. So we're going to talk about some of the areas of change and your perception on them, but just related to change overall, what is it that you like about change? Why do you feel like you have the perspective that you do?

Adam Gloss: It's not change per se. For me, it really is about solving problems. I get a lot of satisfaction from making things work better or from finding novel solutions to a problem. And I really enjoy the creative process in that. The byproduct of that is change, but it's not looking at change for change's sake. It's, "Well hey, here's a problem, here's something that we could have an impact on. Is this worth doing? If it is, let's figure out how to do it." And that's the exciting part to me, is seeing that impact that you're having on a client or customer on a segment of the market, on your own team members or employees, on the world around you. Being able to wake up one day and look at something and go, "Wow, I helped do that." That's really exciting and engaging.

Sarah Nicastro: I want to unpack this a little bit only because I'm trying to think about the psychology of this a little bit because I understand what you just said, but what I heard is you saying, "What I really get excited about is having an impact." I think even more so than solving problems. The reason I say that is there are people that enjoy solving problems, but once they've figured out the solution, they wouldn't necessarily be energized by the thought of evolving that solution as the problem shifts. Maybe sometimes in minute ways. Do you know what I mean?

Adam Gloss: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: So I think you can like problem solving but still kind of be in a place where constantly having to reengage in that process can seem daunting. But I think what you're saying is what really drives you to embrace change is having an impact. And if you're focused on having an impact, what it takes to do that is going to continue to evolve.

Adam Gloss: It will.

Sarah Nicastro: Does that make sense?

Adam Gloss: It does. Yes. Yes. So you're right. And there are people who know me who will tell you that I get bored easily. I'm not a stagnant person. I have trouble with that. I know people who have been doing the same job for 20 or 30 years and God bless them. We need those people. I think even in those roles, you still though have incremental growth and change. You can think about somebody in my world, let's talk about a service plumber or mechanic or a refrigeration technician or a boiler technician or whatever they are. You can be a really, really good chiller mechanic. And it takes years, by the way, to become one. You're talking about a decade of work to really get competent and they will tell you that, well, the machinery changes on them or the customer change and they can't be stagnant either. I think to excel at anything that you do, you have to recognize there's going to be a need for growth or incremental change along the way.

I would struggle, frankly, with people who don't want to ever change what they are doing, who don't see that just to keep meeting the needs of society or customers or clients or to keep working on emerging technology or whatever, you have to be able to change and adapt. Now, I think there's fatigue that comes with that at some point, right? I can talk about how to manage that difference, that there are people who can become more tired of change more quickly than I do, and how do I recognize that and stay attuned to that and manage through that? That's a whole separate challenge. But I would say that anybody who is not willing to think about continuous improvement it’s a better way to talk about this. They're not going to be comfortable working on one of my teams. They're just not.

Sarah Nicastro: Right. Yeah.

Adam Gloss: But I think it gets back to that same thing you talked about earlier, which is about owning your attitude. Sayings around owning your attitude are overworn, but they are for a reason. You made the comment that if you are frustrated, that colors how you see the problem. You see it as a problem if you approach something. Because I'm already frustrated by this, it's terrible, it's horrible. Now I'm focused on the problem. If I can get myself past that and think, "Okay, this is what it is. How do I deal with it?" Now I can focus on an outcome, now I can focus on a solution. If you approach it with a different energy, that becomes self-fulfilling.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. So let's talk about a couple topic areas because I want to kind of illustrate for people what we're talking about when we're talking about perception. So we're talking really about challenge versus opportunity. So when you think of a topic that's relevant to service today, do you see challenge? Do you see opportunity? And what is that distinction? So we had talked about a couple examples when we were preparing for this, and maybe we'll just touch on a few, but one is the topic of labor. So maybe kind of summarize for folks your attitude and we can talk about how that may differ from someone who is focused on the challenge versus the opportunity.

Adam Gloss: Yeah, I think this is the perfect illustration. Labor is by far the biggest challenge that we face in my organization. And as I talk to people who lead field service organizations and other companies and other industries, it's single biggest challenge that they face. So it's universal. My own viewpoint is that it's especially acute in the skill trades. Because like I mentioned, it takes years to actually become competent at what it is you're doing. Most of our apprenticeships are four to five years before someone's actually able to work independently. I could get hung up and other people do get hung up and oh my gosh, there's not enough people in the skilled trades. All these baby boomers are getting ready to retire. We have this massive brain drain that's happening. There's not enough people going into trade schools or entering union apprenticeships. And you can get spun up on the crisis that this really is.

We are, some people say on the edge of the cliff, some people say going over the cliff. Either way it's bad. So you can get hung up on that and panic. We see people trying to buy their way out of that and offering insane sign-on bonuses or trying to steal other people's employees. "Well, I'll pay them more." Okay, where's that end? Right? Because they're going to make up a buck or two an hour more somewhere else until they go there. That's a panic mode response. If you approach it with that same attitude we were just talking about and think, "Okay, is there an opportunity in this?" This actually gets really exciting to me. So when I think about that gap in skilled trades people, and I think about the cost crisis that I mentioned at the outset, the cost to operate buildings is too high, and most of that frankly is driven by labor costs, which is supply and demand equation. Not enough people, too much demand. Wages are escalating much more quickly than they normally would.

The labor crisis you mentioned, and I mentioned the equity crisis, that there are people who are underrepresented in our labor pool. There are people who are shut out of those opportunities. There are people who are more directly impacted by the climate crisis, by the cost crisis, and they're suffering the most from this. I see a confluence. I see an opportunity to solve multiple problems in the same stroke, but I have to think about it a little bit differently and say, "Okay, if I thought about these." And said, "Okay, there are underserved populations, how do we get them into the trades? How do I maybe address the labor gap by being more inclusive, by bringing in underrepresented people?" So that's actually part of our solution. We are working on developing pathways to those marginalized or underrepresented groups to bring them into the trade, working with community partners and community organizations that work with women, people of color, veterans transitioning out of the military, people making mid-career changes or life changes like single mothers coming back into the workforce and talking to them about opportunities in field service.

Because the reality is that most of them have no exposure to it. They don't know it's an opportunity. Even if they did, they wouldn't know how to get into it. That becomes daunting. Then we're partnering with trade schools and with our local unions and talking about, "Okay, now let's create a pathway to get them the training." And then we can provide the employment on the back end and make sure that there are now living wage jobs for people with great career opportunities, that we are helping to increase that labor pool, which addresses that supply and demand balance. We manage cost escalations better as a result of that. That is not a panacea, it's not an overnight solution. It's going to be a long-term project.

But I'll tell you that between in the last two years in 2020 and 2022, we tripled the number of new hires into our field service organization and tripled the representation by women and people of color. And it was just because of thinking about that problem a little bit differently and all of a sudden we're solving two or three at the same time. So flipping that mindset and think, "Okay, I'm not going to get hung up in the problem and my frustration with it." Taking a step back, changing your energy a little bit and thinking about, "Okay, what are all these problems? How can I start to leverage this?" Now you may still have an immediate problem, you need to figure how to solve that a little bit differently, but that long-term perspective, thinking holistically, thinking constructively changes [inaudible 00:18:36].

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. That's what I was kind of thinking as you were walking through that. It made me want to clarify for listeners, when we talk about perception, it isn't about rose colored glasses. It isn't about ignoring the complexity or the difficulty that is in each of these different areas very real. It's more about pushing past that. I think that's what I'm thinking about is maybe the difference is people getting stuck there, getting stuck in the problem to not get past it mentally to see the potential. I was reflecting as you were speaking on, you mentioned that you view yourself as a creative person. And I wonder if that's also psychologically another distinguishing factor. Because people who are creative and want to have an outlet for that creativity are the people who may be more inclined to see the problem but then want to push through to, "Okay, this, this and this are fact. Let's remove the emotion. Now let's brainstorm what this means in terms of potential." And obviously we've already talked about the fact that in most cases, that means change.

So it's just interesting. I mean I'm probably getting too deep for some people, but it's interesting to me to dig into... I think a lot of people would say, "I like to solve problems," but that doesn't necessarily mean a lot of people are default to that more excited approach to it versus frustration. Then as you dig into a specific topic area, I think it would be foolish to say, "It's all about perception. You just need to see opportunities." That's not what you're saying. You're saying, "Yes, these are real challenges." And we can acknowledge that, but if you just get stuck in the difficulty, you can't push past that to see the opportunity. So it's perception. It's also kind of perseverance. Don't get mired down in the hard because that will prohibit you from being able to go on and make these changes.

Adam Gloss: Yeah. We could do a whole separate conversation and a whole separate podcast about leadership, but I think that's a real aspect of leadership, right? That as a leader, you need to balance confidence and vulnerability. I can talk to my people about something being hard and challenging and acknowledge the reality of it, but I still have to be incredibly positive about the outcome we're working towards. Even when there's failures along the way, which there are. We never have an idea that works exactly the way that we thought it would by the time we get to the end. It's an iterative process back and forth. Sometimes it's one step forward and two steps back and sometimes it's two forward and one back. But getting yourself and your people through that to me is kind of the whole point of leadership. It is okay, as the leader, I need to be the one that carries the vision. I don't need to create the vision solely by myself.

That's the other thing that you mentioned. I do think of myself as a creative person that does give me energy, it does help. And then maybe people listening to this or watching this who don't think of themselves that way, but have other characteristics that make them very powerful leaders and who are leading service organizations. Great. Lean into your strengths. If your strength is around team building or it's around communication or it's around consensus building, leverage that. If you are a very strong organization, there are people in your organization who are creative and frankly the best ideas are almost never mine. They're a combination of lots of people's ideas and a lot of them come from the people closest to the work. So if you're not spending your time with the people doing the work, listening to the people doing the work, making sure that they feel heard and that they know that their voice is incorporated into what you're doing, it won't work either, right? So there's lots of things to unpack here and I'm spitting a lot out at once. I'm sorry.

Sarah Nicastro: No, it makes sense. When I was talking about creativity, I didn't mean that you own that, like you are the creative one. It's more that as a creative, you are energized by the process of pushing everyone to sort of the, "Okay, so here's the problem. Great. Let's set that aside. Let's problem solve." So it isn't about it being your ideas, it's just about finding the energy in that process to be able to motivate people to want to do that part. Yeah.

Adam Gloss: But if you work to your strengths, you'll find that energy in something else, right? Change is still going to happen and you have to kind of live with the idea that, okay, progress requires change to happen. And there are going to be people who get frustrated by that or upset by that. There are people who become resistant to it, but your job as a leader is to manage them through that to come out the other side with an outcome worth the pain of that change.

Sarah Nicastro: Yep. So if we look at just maybe one or two other examples, I think people understand the complexity or the difficulty, but let's just talk about the opportunity part, right? Okay. So let's talk about the market shift. So really talking about the evolution of services from more of a transaction to more of delivering outcomes. So it's a big evolution and it has different layers of complexity, but how do you view the opportunity in that?

Adam Gloss: It is one of the things that we are working most hard on at this point that we are doing in small incremental steps because it is such a massive undertaking and because there's so many components to it. There's market conditioning we need to do and shifting conversations with customers and how they talk and procure and understand. There's changes we need to do with our people in the field about how they deliver. There's technology changes that are required, contracting changes, billing changes there. There's nothing that we're not having to touch as part of this. And it is incredibly daunting. If you put the whole thing in, map it all out, you look at it, you could just throw your hands up and go, "Forget it. My customers are still willing to buy this way. We're just going to keep doing it until we don't have to."

But to me, it is incredibly exciting because of that idea of solving problems that I got back to earlier. If I'm really going to help a customer, I need to understand their problems. That's just selling all in one. But you take that a step further, if I'm really going to help them solve that problem, I can't look at old metrics or KPIs or ways of procuring and say, "Okay, this is how we're going to do it." I need to align my solution to that problem and I need my KPIs or my measurements to align to theirs. Because they're thinking about... I can go as high as you want, but let's talk about something really high level that actually we do get to impact. We can talk about carbon impact. There are hundreds or thousands of companies making carbon pledges at this point and environmental pledges that are very lofty. "We're going to be carbon free by 2030 or 2040 or 2050." And as an insider in the industry, I'll tell you that none of them have any idea about how they're going to do it. Just no idea.

That's where companies like ours come in. We can actually help guide them to solutions for this. But if I just went and approached them and said, "Okay, here's your time and material rates. Here's your markups, here's your cost for servicing this kind of equipment." That conversation does not move them towards reducing carbon impact. But instead of I say, "Okay, let's talk about how we would provide our services in a way that aligns with reducing energy consumption and carbon." Whether that's tail pipe the emissions or smokestack emissions or utility emissions or whatever it is, we can actually develop a plan to do that. That to me is really exciting. That's about solving a problem at the very, very highest level.

The challenges along the way are immense. So we're unpacking this one little thing at a time and we're celebrating small victories along the way and we have a roadmap that we're working that we can look at say, "Okay, here's generally where we're going and there's technologies we're testing that work great we're excited about and others that we think are going to that don't." There's customers who get excited about the idea and then they're up against pressures internally in their own organizations around cost, especially right now. "Well, we were going to do this, but can we put this off for another year?" I mean, you have all these things and you have to take the long view and you have to celebrate the small victories along the way and I think keep your people focused on that ultimate outcome and why it is worth doing. That why becomes the driver for everybody. I don't know if I gave you the answer you were looking for.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. No, for sure. Let's do one more only because I know it's a very important one right now, and you brought it up, which is the economy. Again, this is something that everyone realizes is in a very challenging spot, but what is your take on how you, again, work through the emotions to the problem itself to get to brainstorming around, "Okay, so this is the reality," but how do we shift that into what's the potential?

Adam Gloss: Yeah, so I think I have the benefit like you of having been in this industry for a few economic cycles now. It's not my first downturn, it's not my first rodeo. The solution for me every time has been the same approach. Not the same solution, but the same approach. And it really is about connection. So the marching orders that we give our account managers and our sales team is go get close to our clients. Talk to them about the view from where they live. You need to see their side of this. And then work to solve. Because the reality is that people cannot stop maintaining building infrastructure. Bad things happen when you do that.

But that doesn't mean there isn't a reality that they have to reduce costs. They may be under a mandate from their governance boards or their executives, "Okay, it's 10% cost reduction and that's what your budget is." I can't go to that customer and say, "Well, that's nice, but you can't stop servicing your chillers and boilers and your ventilation systems and your air filtration systems and your plumbing." If you stop servicing your water systems and your sewer systems, that becomes a real problem. You can't just tell them no. But we talk about, "What can we do?" And I think it's that same thing we talked about, that mindset or the attitude of understand what the problem is, detach yourself, it's not personal.

And if we focus on the long term, I'd rather keep that customer and have that customer know that we worked with them through their problem. And when we come out the other side of this, they see us as a partner and now we can talk about reinvestment and what do we need to do? And in some cases, there are solutions that come from this that are very different and very creative. We can talk about changing the service model. We can talk about moving to an as a service model and then thinking about how control or ownership of infrastructure may change. This can be taken very, very far, but in the simplest conversation sometimes it's just, "Hey, help me cut 10% for my budget for the year." At the end of the day, can we do that? Yeah, we can probably figure out how to do that.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I was just thinking there's also an element of acceptance that I think maybe it's some of these different areas of change, there's fear associated with the problem that we have to push past and realizing that. So in this situation, I think the closeness with customers is important, but what you're also saying is there's certain realities to some of these big challenges that we just have to accept. Because the harder you try and fight the reality, the more time, energy, resource, money you waste on efforts that are really futile. So whether that means, in this example, you have to look at the long view and realize that if we accept the reality, we work with the client to reduce their investment over a period of time, but maintain the relationship. Then when things shift, we have the relationship to evolve. Or whether that's we accept the reality and then we work to create new-

Adam Gloss: A different solution.

Sarah Nicastro: Or different offerings to offset what may be going on in that arena. There could be multiple solutions. But if you stay in, "No, we're not doing that," you have to... It's really being focused on your own outcomes versus the customer's outcomes. You kind of get stuck in protecting, and that sometimes means ignoring or avoiding the reality, which prevents you from really getting to the brainstorming part.

Adam Gloss: The brainstorming part is critical, and you are absolutely right. Sometimes you actually come up with new offerings. If you think about that outcome-based solutions, we are piloting some of that now with clients where part of what their goal is cost reduction. Now, I don't need to think about... I'm getting a little in the weeds here. It may be that what they need to think about is an operating cost reduction, but there's also capital costs. When you start thinking about those two together, you can re-engineer or reimagine solutions in a very different way that you couldn't.

Sarah Nicastro: A mutually beneficial way.

Adam Gloss: Correct.

Sarah Nicastro: Right. I mean that's the thing about outcomes as a service. I mean, when it's done well, it benefits both parties. It just goes back to the whole topic of this discussion. It requires a significant amount of change. A company cannot shift to that model without really digging in and making some foundational changes. I always say when you talk about outcomes based service urbanization, that is not a service transformation, it's a business transformation. So you cannot do it within service as a function. It's a whole foundational shift in how a business operates and that's why it's complex. But there's also a ton of potential for those that are willing to take that on.

Adam Gloss: Let me give you one more example of this. It's very, very specific, but I think it's very illustrative. So we have that issue. Customers are coming to us, it's very real. "Hey, I need to cut 10%, 15% from my operating budget." We can have those conversations about capital and outcomes and things like that, but none of our customers are ready to have that conversation, none of our customers wants to have that conversation, none of our customers have the power to have that conversation. Part of what we did and are doing is going to our vendors and going, "Okay, what solutions are there? Here's where some of our cost centers are? Let's put the emotion aside. Let's analyze what our actual costs are, what our cost centers are providing this service."

One of our biggest ones is changing filters and air handling equipment. Same thing you do in a filter in your house. You got to change the air filter. Buildings need that, but you're not doing a filter. We have semi trucks filled with filters. There's a lot of them. The material and labor cost is incredibly high. And that filter is typically in there for three months. It's taken out and it goes in a landfill. For a large building, it could be tens of thousands of dollars every single time we do a filter change. We went to our filter vendor and said, "How do we solve this?" They came to us with an extended life filter that we can use for six to 12 months, depending on conditions. We go to our customers, "Okay, if you really want to reduce costs, here's a way to do it. We can eliminate an entire filter change. We can save you." Or we can eliminate two filter changes. We can do 25-30%. Not 10, not 15, we're saying 25 or 30."

Now people are listening and thinking, "Oh wait a minute, but you just cut your revenue dramatically." Well what you're forgetting is I have a labor crisis. If I can take that labor and apply it to better use now and service more customers and grow my market share because I'm not doing the lowest common denominator work that I was doing, it solves a big problem for me or helps solve a big problem for me. It's a win-win, right? But we're doing this every day, right? And it's not that those extended life filters are not available to other companies. We don't make them. We didn't design them. We don't have a patent on them. Any mechanical contractor can go and buy them. They just didn't think to ask the question. They just didn't rethink how they're approaching the problem.

And at the end of the day, the customer's still getting the same result that they were getting and they're saving 25% and they look like a hero to their boss and we have a much tighter relationship with that client because we are the ones that thought creatively about how approach that problem. Oh, and by the way, I just cut my labor need on that account by 25% and I can go sell another account and I can actually grow our business. When Covid hit, we grew our business 25% that year. Not for this solution, but because we thought about other things to do, just to your point.

Sarah Nicastro: Right. Yeah. No, that makes sense. Okay. I want to go back to one of the points we touched on, which is as a leader, the role you play in setting the tone around this is huge. And you are someone who has a probably better than average amount of enthusiasm around the potential that exists, how to be creative about overcoming problems to seize that potential, et cetera. But you have to balance that enthusiasm with empathy, for one, and that recognition that, as you said, sometimes people become a bit tired of change. I think the way I put this to you when we talked to prepare for this is I think it's really exciting that you love what you do so much. I can see how some people that don't feel so positive about change may find it annoying. You know what I mean?

So as a leader, you're playing to different people's emotions and strengths, so you're kind of figuring out the best ways to leverage your enthusiasm to motivate others. How do you strike that balance between sharing your enthusiasm with the people on your teams that feel similarly or are motivated by it versus switching to empathy a bit more with some of the people that are not as excited about change or a bit tired because it's just been a lot at once? How do you navigate that?

Adam Gloss: Carefully. It's a great question. I remind myself of a few things. The first is that I am in the role I am in because of who I am and how I am built, but not everybody and maybe very few people are like me. And I'm not saying that as an ego. I'm saying that just because if everyone was, everybody would be a leader. I told you earlier, thank God there's people that want to do the same job for 20 or 30 years. I'm not one of them. I know that they're not like me and I'm not like them. So recognizing that difference I think is the first thing. And recognizing that full strength Adam can be a little bit much sometimes. When I need to dial that back for people. And being audience appropriate. So there's a way I communicate with my leadership team. There's a way that we communicate down to managers. There's a way we communicate down to frontline. And the messaging, it will change.

The other thing is culture of this company. McKinstry, there's an African proverb that, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." We didn't make it up. But it is spoken about regularly here and it is cultural here. Now for me, I can sometimes be frustrated that change doesn't happen fast enough or things were more challenging than I think that they should have been, or I didn't quite get the outcome or result that I wanted. And I have to again remind myself it's not about me. It's about us. It's about getting there together and it's about the outcome. So those two things I try and remind myself while keeping myself in check.

The next thing gets back to what I talked about earlier, and that's listening. It is incumbent on me to be connected to my frontline, not distanced from it. And to be out in the field with my people, to be walking around the office with my people, to be having really engaged conversations and checking mood and checking attitude and asking how people are doing and really listening and measuring my own pace against some of that sometimes. So that empathy that you talked about, that's kind of how I exercise that.

I think the last thing for me is vulnerability. And I mentioned that earlier, but it's really important to me to own my mistakes. And I think it's important for my people to see me do that. I promise them actually that I'll do that  it's one of the few things I promise people. I will screw up, but when I do, I'll own it. I'll work to make it right. That develops a level of trust that I think is critical in this process.

Sarah Nicastro: It also shows them you will screw up and when you do, I will support you.

Adam Gloss: Oh, yes. It's mutual.

Sarah Nicastro: It normalizes that. Right. Like you said, you're not going to make the progress you want to make without failing. But there's a difference between a leader saying that and how people feel and a leader showing that by putting themself out there and going out on a limb and publicizing their own missteps in a way that makes people believe, okay, it really is for us to try things and not get it right the first time, and we know that because he's doing the same thing.

Adam Gloss: Yeah. And I think the last thing is celebrating with them success. And I'm actually really bad at this, by the way. I accomplish something and I'm immediately thinking about the next thing.

Sarah Nicastro: There's so much of what you're saying that I am laughing at because it reminds me so much of myself. And you said, "Sometimes change doesn't happen fast enough for me." And I'm like, "Uh-huh." And then that's the other one. I am really, really bad at it.

Adam Gloss: I know that's a weakness. I have people around me and people on my team who are better at it, and I rely heavily on them. You guys put the celebration together. Remind me that we need to pause and celebrate. "Adam, cool your jets for a couple days." Let us celebrate this and take a breath. Again, it's listening. It's listening to my leaders, my managers, my frontline people, but then also realize I can't be good at everything. I'm just not. Nobody is. So surrounding myself with people who compliment me is also really important.

Sarah Nicastro: For sure. Yeah. I think too, I mean a lot of what you're saying reminds me of you talking about closeness in relation to customers and also the long game view. You're working to have the same closeness you want your team to have with customers with them, because ultimately they are also internal customers. And I think you recognize kind of the investment you need to make in people for them to get good at this process of seeing potential and solving problems over time, which sometimes means applying more patience than you might want to, or understanding that they need to better understand the why or whatever that looks like. It's meeting them where they are instead of expecting them all to get on the Adam level. Yeah. That's really good.

Okay, so one more question, which is, in your 17 years of leadership within field service, what would you say is your biggest lesson learned?

Adam Gloss: It's to shut up and listen and really listen. Actively engaged listening. Again, I can't be an expert in everything. The people who are the most expert, the people who are closest to my customers, the people who are most expert in the work are on my front line. And if I'm not out with them, if I'm not rolling up my sleeves with them, if I'm not listening to what they tell me and taking that as expert opinion, I do that at my own peril. Early in my career, i let my own ego and love of my own ideas get in my way and they failed flamingly and spectacularly because I didn't do this. And once I learned this, things were much easier.

That doesn't mean that I'm not going to have people who are naysayers or people who can be Eeyores that you have to deal with. I think we talk about how we manage through that concept constructively. We talk about the why, if we educate, if we inform, if we give people an opportunity to feel that they would really listened to and they had input, then we all go together. And we might not agree along the way. There's going to be bumps in the road, but we all do get there together. So listening is the number one thing.

And if I had to have a caveat or a second thing, it really is about alignment, that people in our organization understand not just where we're going, but why we are going there and why it matters and why it's important and that they're invested in it. Everyone here cares deeply about what it is we are doing. And if they didn't, we couldn't be successful. The people who don't care deeply about it and who aren't invested, frankly, they don't last. They leave. They want to do something else, which is fine. But yeah, listening is number one.

Sarah Nicastro: Well, I give you kudos for, I guess, growing enough on your own to recognize... What did you refer to them as? Flaming failures.

Adam Gloss: Flaming, spectacular failures.

Sarah Nicastro: Because to be honest, I mean the reality is there are a whole lot of people in leadership positions today that have let their ego get in the way all along and never taken the time to reflect or change their path. So good for you for owning it.

Adam Gloss: I'm not saying it's still not a challenge.

Sarah Nicastro: And growing and evolving. Yeah. But the awareness is the most important thing in terms of owning it, right?

Adam Gloss: A work in progress.

Sarah Nicastro: Yes, always. All right, Adam, well thank you so much for coming on and sharing today. I really appreciate it.

Adam Gloss: Yeah. If I can just close with a thank you to you. I think what you are doing to share industry voices and ideas is really appreciated, it can be frustrating to look at the challenges we face every day, but it's comforting to know that everybody's facing the same ones and that together we can find solutions for them. I think you're building a community and a platform that helps to do that and helps shape the perception that problems are actually opportunities if we look at them right. And I'm excited about being a part of this with you and glad you're doing it.

Sarah Nicastro: Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate that. Like I said, when I started all those years ago, I didn't see myself building a career in field service. But here we are and I love the community and like you, I think I get so excited about the potential, but it's potential that is hard to see when you're in the day-to-day struggle. And if we can help inspire each other and brainstorm together, it makes everybody's journey a bit easier. I'm honored to do the work and thank you for the feedback. I appreciate it.

Adam Gloss: You're very welcome. Thank you.

Sarah Nicastro: You can find more by visiting us at futureoffieldservice.com. You can also find us on LinkedIn as well as Twitter. The Future of Field Service podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more at ifs.com. As always, thank you for listening.

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January 11, 2023 | 13 Mins Read

5 Service Predictions for 2023

January 11, 2023 | 13 Mins Read

5 Service Predictions for 2023

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Sarah shares her thoughts on what she expects we’ll see unfold in service in 2023.

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service Podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. For those of you that tune in regularly, you may wonder why I'm doing yet another solo podcast. And I promise there are interviews coming soon, but I'm asked every year to share my predictions for the year around what will happen in the service space. I don't love the term predictions because I think it puts a lot of pressure on anticipating a future that none of us can really do, but in 2022, I did have the opportunity once again to travel and have a lot of different discussions with service leaders across industries and different geographies. And so, I'm happy to share my perspective on some of the things I think we will see an increased focus on this year based on what was going on last year, what's going on in our world, et cetera. 

Prediction #1: So, in today's episode, I'm going to share those thoughts with you and you can do with them what you may. So the first prediction, for lack of a better term, is that I think we will see companies selectively increase cost reduction measures. So this prediction is interesting in the sense of when I started in this space, it was early 2008, and the way service and particularly field service was viewed within an organization was very, very different from how it is viewed today. Almost every conversation I had in my early days in this space was around cost cutting. Everything was really, really focused on squeezing every last ounce of productivity and efficiency, reducing cost in any way possible. And that was because at that point, service was primarily viewed as a cost center within the business. And that perception shifted. I think it's entirely shifted. And today, we recognize service not only as a profit center in most cases, but as a really important strategic area of growth and differentiation. 

So I want to make that distinction because when I say selectively, what I mean is not that we will look to cut cost regardless of the impact or what it might affect. I think that at this point we know that service is critically important to the business, and we'll see organizations be a lot more careful about how and where they look to reduce costs. That being said, obviously, we're facing economic pressures and we do need to look at how we can be as efficient as possible and really work smarter. 

And the good news is, I think that technologically there are a lot of opportunities for organizations to use existing technologies they have in place better and/or invest in new technologies that have a relatively low acquisition cost to be able to really make some cost reduction impact within the organization. So if you think about a couple of examples, one of the biggest is around better utilization of the workforce and making sure that you have technology in place that truly optimizes planning and scheduling of your workers so that they are not wasting time on traveling out of the way, which not only increases your labor costs, but also increases your fuel costs and make sure that they're not running into situations where you're having repeat visits, those sorts of things. 

So that whole area of maximizing the utilization of your workforce, increasing first time fix rates, eliminating unnecessary travel, those are areas that I would say some companies have truly, truly optimized, but a lot have not. And so that's a very easy starting point to reduce some cost for the organization without really affecting the value that customers will receive or the experience of the employees, et cetera. 

The same can be said in industries that are leveraging a lot of assets. The same argument for utilization can be said from those assets as well. So the same way you could look at how well are we leveraging our workforce? What is their utilization rate? Where is the unnecessary downtime or travel time? How often are we doing repeat visits? You can look at how to write size asset utilization as well. So that's another area to explore. When you think about workforce utilization and asset management, you also want to think about parts planning and management because you can have a system in place for truly optimizing the planning and scheduling of your workforce. But if you know the inventory they will need to do the work they need to do is not considered as well, that can be all for naught. And then a couple other really big areas I think are around looking at how do we increase self-service, and what that looks like in each particular business and what the customer's threshold is for participating in self-service. 

That term really can have a lot of different definitions depending on the extent to which it applies in your business. So that could be looking at reducing call volume, it can be self-scheduling, it can be validating appointments. There's a lot of things outside of true self-service in terms of resolution, excuse me, that you can consider. Another area though, is around the use of remote assistance and remote service. Now, this can have an impact from the perspective of workforce utilization in the sense of being used within a company, from employee to employee, and giving your workforce access to expertise if they get stuck, if they need assistance to again, eliminate that repeat visit, increase first time fix rate. It can also allow you to bring on new talent and get them to a point of revenue recognition faster if they are supported in a "hands-on" way by an expert remotely. 

But there is of course, an opportunity to use that technology with customers and either find some resolution remotely or make sure that you have a very detailed view of what is needed when onsite work is scheduled so that again, your technicians are showing up, knowing what they're going to run into, fully prepared for that first time resolution. So I think there's a lot of ways that technology can be leveraged to reduce cost within service delivery. 

And finally, I think knowledge management is another big area to look at. So again, you can get the technician where he or she needs to be with the inventory they need, but do they have access to the insights that can really empower them to do whatever it is they come across on that job? So I think those are just a handful of areas that give some insight into what I mean when I say that I'm referring to selective cost reduction. 

So not things that are going to detract from the customer experience and ideally not things that are going to detract from the employee experience as well, right? Because we've recognized how critically important it is to focus on the employee experience to achieve our customer satisfaction objectives. So we really want to look for ways that we can promote working smarter and reducing the unnecessary aspects that are incredibly time consuming that likely field technicians don't enjoy doing anyway, that ideally if resolved, not only don't detract from, but improve the customer experience. So that is my first prediction for what we will see in 2023. 

Prediction #2: Tied to that, the second prediction is sort of zeroing in on one of the things I mentioned there, which is, I do believe we will see wider adoption and acceptance of remote service. I think there's far too much value to come from leveraging remote service or its use not to grow and expand. I know that there are challenges for sure. Change management is one that gets brought up a lot, adoption. I think really one of the conversations that companies struggle with the most when we talk about remote service in the sense of actually changing service delivery. By that I mean not use technician-to-technician to simply help one another, but really implementing a remote first service approach and using that as your first wave of resolution with customers. 

I think really one of the biggest barriers is that companies who are still providing transactional service, are struggling with how to present remote service to their customers because those relationships are still based on those transactions rather than the conversation being value focused and value centered. So when we think about the overall transition away from transactional service to more outcomes based service, advanced services, that's the point where remote service makes a lot more sense because your customers are choosing to work with you based on the value you are providing to their organization, not based on the amount of time that you are spending on site. 

So I really think that's one of the biggest barriers is where within that service evolution, an organization can realistically implement and adopt remote service as a service delivery approach. So I hope that makes sense. I do think that that evolution is continuing. We know that customers today are less interested in cool products and helpful services and more interested in the overall value that it brings to them and the outcomes that it allows them to achieve. 

And so as we evolve further with that reality in mind, I think we will find greater opportunity to put remote service in place. It simply solves a lot of challenges for service organizations in the sense of not only improving efficiency and productivity and reducing unnecessary trips and wasted time, but offering customers faster resolution and giving companies far more options for how to navigate talent gaps and challenges. Allowing them to really better utilize internal expertise globally rather than flying people around. It's impact on the environment is significant when we can look at transitioning even a portion of service that is currently done on site to remote service. I think it also fits very well with how the role of the field technician is going to evolve. So that is my second prediction. 

Prediction #3: Prediction number three is that the talent focus will shift from new talent to nurturing talent. Now, this is not to say that companies are going to stop thinking about how to recruit new technicians. That's not the case. I think though we've almost too narrowly focused on that new talent acquisition in the past couple of years and have maybe overlooked a bit the importance of really understanding and nurturing relationships with our existing talent and looking for ways for them to grow within our organizations to focus on retention, et cetera. So I think that we certainly need to continue to look for ways to not only find, but really farm that new talent. 

And we've talked a whole lot about that in the past couple of years. We've shared stories of how organizations are really getting creative about different partnerships to educate people about the opportunities that are available in service, new ways and different places to find groups of people that maybe don't have experience but are very well positioned to succeed in field service roles. So we've done a lot of talking about the new talent, and I think this year we will do a bit more exploring of how we nurture talent. So including new talent that we bring on, what happens once we have found, attracted and hired them? What is their experience like? What is our company culture like? How well are we equipping our leadership to give those employees a positive experience? Do we understand what they need and want from an employer? And are we able to provide that? 

Do they have a sense of purpose? Do we offer career pathing? Are we properly training and enabling them? Do they feel recognized and valued for their contributions? There's a lot of layers to that conversation, but I have seen over the course of my travels this year, a lot more thoughts popping up from service leaders about the importance of prioritizing our people and putting more effort into making sure that our employee experience is one that will help us to deliver the customer experience we're looking to deliver. So that's prediction number three. 

And I think just going back to the point I made at the end of remote service, if you look at how that ties in with the talent conversation, I think when we talk about moving to a more outcomes-based service delivery model and we incorporate more remote service, I think we're going to need to see an evolution of that frontline role. There will still be technical work that needs to be done. However, I think we're also going to see more of a customer success type role that will either be incorporated into what that frontline worker does or work alongside the more technical skillset. 

I think there's going to be a lot of considerations for how best to segment and tackle that work. And that may be something that ends up helping organizations navigate some of the changes in the talent pool if they can find skills that fit different bits rather than looking for an all-in-one approach. So that's on talent.  

Prediction #4: And okay, not lastly. Prediction number four is that I think we will see more service centered sustainability strategies take shape. So sustainability again is a topic that I see coming up more and more at industry events. There's more conversation about not only the regulatory pressures, but customer expectations and investment decisions, all of those types of things. 

Service is really a unique function of the business in terms of how it intersects with an organization, sustainability initiatives, because a lot of the things we talked about in the beginning related to reducing costs also have an impact on the environment. So if we can look at ways to minimize travel, whether that's through better utilization or whether that's through a remote first service approach that has an impact on the environment in a very positive way. There's also a whole conversation to be had around how the move towards servitization and offering things as a service ties very well with sustainability and really can honestly change the game in terms of how companies providing assets design and manufacture, service those assets in a way that provides the customer with the outcome they need, but does so in a sense that makes prioritizing environmental impact a lot easier to do. 

So I think we will see a lot more discussion about sustainability in 2023. I don't know that we'll get incredibly far or to the other side of the conversation. When I was at Field Service Connect in Austin in November, I led a round table on sustainability. And at least in the United States, there's some very practical questions that need to be sorted through and answered before significant strides will be able to be made. So if you take electric vehicles, for instance, yes, there's interest, but is the inventory available of electric vehicles that are of the requirements that a field service organization would need? 

And even if so, do they support the mileage that different service organizations technicians drive on a day-to-day basis? Are there enough charging stations available for use? Et cetera. So there's questions like that I think maybe won't be completely solved in 2023, but I think we'll make some progress. I think we'll have a lot more of those conversations. And it's going to be very interesting to see not only how the regulatory implications evolve, but also how customer demands shape organization strategies and how some of that infrastructure comes along in a way that making these changes a lot more practical. 

Prediction #5: And the last prediction is one that I've already alluded to, which is the march toward outcomes will continue. The journey from delivering transactional service to delivering outcomes is a really significant change. It's really an identity shift for most businesses. It impacts far more than just service. We often think of that topic as service transformation, but really it's a business transformation. And so yes, we've been talking about outcomes-based service, servitization, advanced services for quite a while, and we will continue to do so. There are companies who are truly leading the charge that have really made that change and are not only embracing, but succeeding at delivering outcomes, but there are a lot more companies that are working hard to get to that point. And so it's a conversation that will continue, a progression that companies will work through to sort out what the idea of delivering outcomes looks like for their customer base, for their company, what those layers of change are that need to take place for them to be able to work through the continuum to reach that goal. 

So I think what's very clear is that today's customers expect a whole lot more than just product and services. And I think that's a reality that is pretty widely understood. And we see organizations at varying degrees of the continuum toward really incrementally improving the transactional service that they provide and working toward that world of really delivering outcomes to their customers. So we'll continue to see progress there, and I think that is a really exciting opportunity for organizations, but certainly one that isn't recognized without a lot of hard work. So we're here to support you on that journey on all of these journeys, and we are happy to be able to do that. 

So if you have other thoughts on things that you expect to see more of this year or topics that you would like to see content on, please know that you can always reach out to me. I am happy to listen, to take feedback, ideas, and I'm here to really give insight and resources that our community needs. So if you have thoughts on that, please get in touch. Otherwise, you can find more by visiting us at futureoffieldservice.com. You can also find us on LinkedIn as well as Twitter. The Future of Field Service Podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more at ifs.com. As always, thank you for listening. 

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January 4, 2023 | 3 Mins Read

2023 Sneak Peek

January 4, 2023 | 3 Mins Read

2023 Sneak Peek

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Sarah starts the New Year by sharing an early look at some exciting news from Future of Field Service.

Happy New Year! 

2022 was an exciting year for Future of Field Service, and 2023 promises to be as well. I am going to share with you today a few sneak peeks of what we’ve been up to and what fun, new things you’ll see from us in the near term.

But first, in case you missed any of our end of year coverage there are some things that are worth revisiting – 

  • Top 10 of the Podcast (podcast 193 on December 14th)
  • YIR – key points:

Not only did 2022 bring our first-ever global Live Tour, but When we weren’t traveling, we kept the content flowing with more than 50 articles and 51 new podcasts. Here are some really cool stats according to Spotify’s “Wrapped” review for the Future of Field Service podcast:

  • 1,503 minutes of new content
  • 40% more listeners and 28% more followers in 2022
  • Listeners across 37 countries with the top five being the United States, Sweden, the Philippines, Germany, and Spain
  • Among the top 15% most followed podcasts
  • Among the top 15% most shared podcasts globally

This month is the fourth anniversary of the Future of Field Service platform – and it makes me really happy to reflect on how we’ve grown. I remember curating the content for the site launch, and we began with just ten pieces! We’ve since added the podcast, in person events, and so much more. 

As a result, one of the exciting things we have coming is a new website – one that better fits the increased volume of content we have and will allow our users to more easily peruse all that’s there. This is a project that has taken more work than I realized it would and the efforts of an entire team. I appreciate all of the hard work that’s gone into the new site and look forward to your feedback when it launches. 

Another project in the works is what we’re calling the Future of Field Service INSIDER – a newsletter-plus, if you will. The INSIDER will be bi-weekly and will not only ensure subscribers stay up to speed on the content we’re publishing, but will also provide access to exclusive content and community connections. You’ll be able to subscribe to the INSIDER very soon, so stay tuned for more! 

And finally, we’ve already been hard at work on the 2023 Future of Field Service Live Tour! Yes, we’re at it again this year. We received very positive feedback on the 2022 tour and for this year we are working hard to outdo ourselves. We have some plans for how to evolve the content approach that we think our community will really like and we are also visiting not only some new cities but a new CONTINENT! I’m so excited to meet even more of you in person this year and to see again how this community can bring people together across the globe to build collective knowledge that will truly transform service. The 2023 Tour schedule will be announced soon with registration to follow – so keep your eyes peeled and make it a point to join us! You won’t regret it. 

As we begin a fresh year, I want to thank you all for being a part of the Future of Field Service community – I appreciate you. Let’s head into 2023 with intention, renewed energy, and the knowing that we can all help one another along the way. 

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December 14, 2022 | 11 Mins Read

The Top 10 of 2022

December 14, 2022 | 11 Mins Read

The Top 10 of 2022

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After some agonizing, Sarah recaps the top ten podcast episodes of 2022 so you can be sure you hit all of the highlights.

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro.

Today's episode is our annual look back, if you will, our top 10 of 2022. This is an exercise that for me, gets increasingly harder as the years go on. Looking back through the podcast episodes that we've released over the course of the year makes me really proud of the content that we're creating, and the variety of topics that we're covering. I'm incredibly grateful for the guests that are willing to come on and share their stories, their perspective, and their insights. So selecting 10 of all of the episodes of the year is no easy feat. And this doesn't necessarily mean that these are the 10 best podcasts or my favorites, I couldn't pick favorites. But they are what I think is a really good representation of what Future of Field Service is about.

And for folks that haven't been following along for a while, often I hear them say, "I love your podcast, but I never know which episodes to go back and listen to, because there are so many." So my hope is that doing a top 10 gives people a starting point if they want to go back and listen to some of the episodes that we've put out this year. All of that being said, these are in no particular order. These are just what I would list as the top 10 episodes of 2022. Okay, so here we go.

The first one on the list is Episode 150, and it is featuring Shannon Tymosko, who shares her story about transitioning to the trades in a pretty significant career change. Shannon's story is really, really cool. She in her late 20s, decided to become an apprentice electrician, and she talks a lot about why and how she made that decision, what that journey has been like.

She talks about some of the aspects of having a career in the trades that she just loves, and some of the challenges that she faces as well. One of the things she talks about is battling self-doubt. And so I think that this episode is really enlightening for folks that are pondering how to get more women into service, into the trades, to really listen to Shannon share her firsthand experiences and think about what some of the appeal is for women in a trade career. But also some of the challenges that are very real.

The next episode on the list is Episode 170. This episode is Why and How Service Should be Prioritizing Sustainability, Now, with Rainer Karcher who is formerly the global director of IT Sustainability at Siemens. Rainer actually joined me at the Frankfurt stop of the Future of Field Service Live Tour. And we had a chat there on this topic, but then later recorded a episode specifically as well.

I like this episode a lot because sustainability is a topic that we know is very important, that we need to be continuing to push ourselves to take action on. I've had some people ask questions about exactly what does service have to do with that? How does service factor into the sustainability discussion? And what are some of the ways that making changes in service operations can have an impact on a company's sustainability initiatives?

In this episode, Rainer and I talk about some of those different ways, and we also talk about some different motivations for putting more emphasis on sustainability. He is someone who is deeply, deeply passionate about the topic. And of course, hopes that many others are, for no reason other than caring about the world in which we live.

But we also talk about some of the other aspects, some of the other drivers of a focus on sustainability, which includes things like customer decision-making, and importance to customers who decide which brands to work with based on those companies sustainability goals and actions.

We talk about investment criteria, and how sustainability is becoming a bigger criteria in investors and which companies they decide to work with, and a number of other things. So it's a really good episode to reflect on, not only the importance of sustainability and creating better strategy, and taking more action in 2023, but also some of the examples of how service has an impact.

The next episode is actually a two-part episode, so this is cheating a little bit. It's episodes 149 and 151 on, Meeting the Demands of Modern Leadership with James Mylett, who is the SVP for U.S. Digital Buildings at Schneider Electric.

James is someone I've known for a number of years. He is someone who when you meet folks that work for or with him, you know he is genuinely and authentically a very good leader, and you get that sense from him. I was really interested to have this conversation with James about what it is that he feels makes a strong leader in today's world, and what are the things that he practices that he works on, that he prioritizes, et cetera? It became a two-part episode because the conversation was so good that I didn't want to cut it short, and luckily he was able to spend the time talking with me and sharing with me. So we made it a two-part episode.

We tackle a lot of different things in the two episodes, everything from empathy and authenticity. One of the points that James brings up that I really, really appreciated is his focus on root cause analysis. We had a conversation about how a lot of leaders, particularly in today's business climate feel a sense of urgency to make decisions quickly, and to react fast, and to follow their gut. There's nothing wrong with that, but James talks about some of the really important learnings that can be missed when you react so quickly that you don't first really understand what it is that you're reacting to, or making a decision on. So really great conversation on leadership. I definitely recommend taking a listen to both of those episodes.

Next on the list is Episode 155. This is on, The Fine Art of Problem Solving, with New York Times bestselling author, Amy Herman. I loved this conversation. It was different, and that is why it's on the list. Amy is an author and thought leader who works with clients to use art to help them solve problems, to think more creatively, to think outside of the box, to look at things differently, and understand different points and perspectives in a new and unique way.

I love this conversation because it is different. I think part of my job is to make sure that we're not sharing the same information over and over, telling the same stories. So I like being able to bring in different concepts like this to discuss. But I also think field service is at a point right now where generally speaking, we do really need to get a little bit more creative and think differently. There's a lot of change happening, and I think the companies that are reacting best to that change are forcing themselves to not stay tied to legacy thinking, legacy behaviors. And they're really getting comfortable being uncomfortable. And so this conversation with Amy is really interesting one, and one that I think could benefit a lot of organizations in broadening their minds on how to innovate and how to solve problems in a new way.

The next episode on the list is Episode 167 on Husky's Move to Predictive Service. This episode is with Tony Black, who is the president of Service for Husky Injection Molding Systems. This is also a really interesting conversation and one that I was impressed with, because the evolution that Tony talks about in this episode is one that quite frankly, a lot of companies are struggling to execute on. It is theoretically what many, many organizations are working towards. But in reality, a lot of companies, I think are struggling to see the progress that Husky has, and to make some of the organizational and fundamental changes that the business has made that have allowed it to really transition.

Tony talks a lot about why this move was necessary, but then the how? How has Husky evolved? What technologies have they put in place? What new skills are required? What does it change with how they work with customers? There's a lot of really valuable insights in this episode for organizations that are looking to evolve to a more predictive or outcomes based service model. I definitely recommend having a listen.

The next episode on the list is Episode 172. This is on Scaling Innovation to Drive Business Impact with Top 10 Global Thought leader Frank Mattes. Frank also joined me at the Frankfurt Future of Field Service Live Tour, and then we recorded this podcast after his session at the event. And the points that he makes in this podcast discussion are so incredibly helpful in really thinking about how organizations need to structure themselves, and operate to meet the demands of the day-to-day business, but also ensure they are putting enough emphasis on innovation.

There are some points that Frank brings up that I think break some common myths around what it takes to innovate as an organization. There are some analogies he uses that really just make the concepts very easy to understand, and think about really good insights that I think could help a lot of organizations, that again, are knowing they need to evolve, but really struggling to figure out how to get the wheels in motion.

The next episode on the list is Episode 186 on DELL Eliminates Siloes for an End-to-End Service Approach. This episode is with Bob Feiner, who is the senior vice president of Dell Technologies Services. This is a conversation about how Dell Technologies has restructured its services organization to be commonly aligned around the customer experience, and around customer satisfaction. In doing so, there was the elimination of silos, and really the reduction of risk of an individual function within service doing extremely well. But ultimately a negative customer experience because another function or the handoff in between those functions wasn't cohesive and consistent. So again, this is an issue that a lot of companies face, which is restructuring the business to embrace customer centricity truly. And to ensure that from a service perspective, the customer is having a very unified and cohesive experience with the business, which means setting common goals around what that looks like, making sure that insights are shared, and readily available across teams and functions. Again, there's some really good practical insights within this conversation for organizations that need to work on eliminating those silos and creating a more cohesive customer approach.

The next episode on the list is Episode 181. This is on, 6 Ways to Address Employee Burnout with Darcy Gruttadaro, former director of the Center for Workplace Mental Health.

So Darcy came on to speak about burnout specifically because it is an area that the Center for Workplace Mental Health is focusing a lot on. It's obviously something we see in here in the news, it's something that our team's may be struggling with, something that we as individuals may be struggling with. It's something that is universally challenging at the moment. I appreciated her coming to this episode, not just to talk about the topic theoretically, but to provide these six very practical ways that companies can dig in and make a positive impact. We talk a lot about how some of the focus on mental health that needs to happen. It doesn't need to be these ornate programs, or these costly initiatives. It can be things that are quite simple, that have a really big impact.

Those of you that listen to this podcast regularly know that mental health is a conversation that I think is very, very important. I selected this episode because it is one that focuses on a specific area, burnout, and gives some really, really tactical advice for companies to go away and make changes that will have a positive impact. So, have a listen and also keep in mind that the Center for Workplace Mental Health has a lot of resources that are free for organizations and individual leaders to use, and those are resources that everyone should be taking advantage of. You can find all of those workplacementalhealth.org.

The next episode on the list is Episode 184. This episode is on Koolmill's Cool As-a-Service Story, probably the corniest headline that I wrote all year, but I just couldn't resist. This episode is with Alec Anderson, who is the managing director of Koolmill, founded the company. And this is such a neat story on so many levels. So first of all, I admire Alec's passion about what he does, so, so much.

Koolmill is a piece of equipment for rice milling that is unique and differentiated in its industry. Not just on the machine itself, but also the business model which is, As-a-Service. I never thought that I would find rice milling such an interesting topic. But Alec’s passion for what they do and how to overcome some of the challenges in the industry, it's just super cool.

Now, what makes this episode interesting though isn't just Alec’s passion. There are some really valid points to this story about the benefits of an As-a-Service model. Some of the challenges in going to market that way especially in industries that traditionally have been very CapEx focused, some of the benefits that As-a-Service brings in terms of making innovation more accessible to customers, and a positive environmental impact. And also one of the things that we get into in this episode is really the democratization of innovation, that choosing to leverage this business model allows Koolmill to take part in. So very, very interesting episode and a lot of really good insights to glean related to advanced services and As-a-Service models.

And last but not least, rounding out the top 10 is Episode 173 which is on, Why the Future of Service Depends on Putting People First. This is an episode from the Paris Live Tour with Jean de Kergorlay, who is the digital buildings service director for Europe at Schneider Electric.

Jean has been with Schneider, I think over 30 years, and in services, I think all of if not the majority of that time. I love that being in a digital business, and having a lot of experience in the industry, he will summarize his thoughts on where we need to go next, related to making sure we continue to put people first. I think that's a really important reminder. He gives some really good specific examples on why that is and how he's looking at that.

But a really good reminder for everyone that digital is important. Technology is an incredible enabler. But at the end of the day, service is a people business and we need to keep that in mind and make sure that we are prioritizing the humanity and the human centricity in this space. That's the top 10. I hope you will go back and have a listen to any that you missed.

A huge thank you to not just these 10 guests, but all of the guests that have been a part of the Future Field Service podcast this year and been willing to share their stories. I genuinely appreciate each and every one of you. And also a big thank you to you, the listeners for joining us and taking part in our community. We appreciate you as well.

You can find any of these episodes by visiting us at futureoffieldservice.com, or on your favorite podcast platform. As always, the Future of Field Service podcast is published in partnership with IFS, and you can learn more at ifs.com. Thank you for listening.

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December 7, 2022 | 10 Mins Read

Insights from Field Service Europe 2022

December 7, 2022 | 10 Mins Read

Insights from Field Service Europe 2022

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Sarah reports in from Amsterdam to share some of the insightful conversations that took place last week at Field Service Europe 2022.

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. I am recording this episode in the beautiful city of Amsterdam where I was this week, last week once you're hearing this, for Field Service Europe. It was a great week, a great event. This is an event put on by WBR, so the same conference organization that puts on Field Service, Palm Springs, Field Service East, which some of you may be familiar with. So this version of the event, Field Service Europe, hasn't happened since fall of 2019, and it was really heartwarming to see the energy at the event and how happy people were to be back together here in person. So I had the privilege of being at the 2019 event. That was my first time speaking at Field Service Europe, and I think people were just very, very glad to be back in this setting, engaging face to face, talking to one another, learning from one another, so it was really nice to see that happen.

There was a lot of great content. It was spread over two days, and I'm going to recap here for you all, some of the key points. So I wrote an article which we'll publish or did publish on Monday, talking about the opening keynote presentation that Jean-Claude Jobard from Marmon gave. I know Jean-Claude. He spoke at the Paris Future Field Service Live Tour event, and I absolutely admire his passion for service. He really, really loves this space and loves what he does, and those of you that know me know that that's something I can really resonate with. So he gave the opening presentation, and I don't want to say too much because you should read the article, but one of his key messages was that right now, service really has no limits. It's just up to your willingness to drive change, and I really, really liked his message.

It set the stage very well for the content that followed over the next two days, and if you want to hear more what he spoke about, go back and take a look at the article from Monday. So I'm going to go through some of the key points and talk a little bit about some of the sessions that I was either a part of or sat in on and some of the things that were brought up that I think are worth sharing here with you all. So one of the topics of course that was discussed quite a bit throughout the event is around talent and resourcing. There was a panel discussion featuring Louise Morton from Baxi, Xavier Bertrand from Boston Scientific and Sven Müller from SMA. It was a great discussion and I thought they did a really good job of reinforcing some of the points we all already know are important, but also bringing up some new food for thought.

One of the points that Lou from Baxi shared that I thought was really, really good is that the skills and capabilities we're going to need from talent, even in three years’ time, is significantly different than what we are actively looking for today, and we need to make sure that we are thinking about and strategizing around and planning for that now so that we don't find ourselves even further behind by focusing only on the historical types of talent that we've been looking for. So that obviously ties into the discussion around how the role of the field technician is changing, which ties into the conversation around remote service and self-service and advanced services. So there's some interconnectedness among some of these themes, but I think that is a really important point to be getting a bit ahead of what the talent is that you are going to be needing, not just right this moment, but in the years to come.

She also spoke about how she's seeing a really big focus on work life balance. So I think someone had asked about salary and how big of an issue that is, how competitive it's become, et cetera, and obviously the panelists all acknowledge that it is indeed important. But she mentioned that, for her, it is important, but the work life balance topic is equally important. So part of what they're doing is looking at how they can really expand their employee value proposition in that area. One of the things that Xavier said that I really liked is that he said, "I only see opportunity here because service has never held so much value." I love that point. I share that perspective, although I also realize that I am not the one in the role of having to find talent right now today.

So totally acknowledge that, but I think it is a very true point, and that goes back to the ways that service is evolving and what that means in terms of the potential that there is to really change the skillsets that we're looking for to really cast a wider net and be able to include a lot more types of folks, types of skillsets than we have before. And then Sven made a very good point, I think, around leveraging third party technicians or outsourcing some of your field service work and saying that we shouldn't be thinking about it as outsourcing. We should be thinking about it as a partnership. So I think that is a really good point as well. And part of the panel discussion was also around making sure that, and we've talked about this a bit in our content on future of field service as well, making sure that we aren't focused so heavily on recruiting and attracting new talent that we aren't focusing amply or equally on retaining talent. So that was a really great conversation.

There was a couple different panels on that topic and a lot of good discussion. Lou from Baxi moderated a round table, and there was a lot of conversation there about how to improve diversity and how to really become more creative in what and how things are being done so that we can solve some of these challenges. The second big topic, again, not a surprise, is around servitization and advanced services. There was a really good session with Ravichandra Kshirasagar, I'm sure I'm not doing that justice, Ravi, I'm sorry, from Schneider Electric, Claire Keelan from Johnson Controls and Rajat Kakar from Quickwork. And in that conversation, Claire actually brought up the fact that at Johnson Controls, they're three years into the advanced services journey, and she said it is still a conversation around culture and mindset every single day. So I think that's a very important point to emphasize. There's a couple discussions we had. I had a fireside chat with Perry Leijten from Andritz also around servitization, and we talked about how significant of a mindset shift, almost a company identity shift, that is.

So I think Claire's point is that isn't a point that you acknowledge and sort of grapple with one time. You need to do so continually along the journey, and she also brought up the point of seeking your evangelists and being willing to recognize the people who really just will not come along on the journey with you. So I thought those were some really, really good points. Ravi talked about the need to achieve clarity around your intangible value. Such a good point because again, most of the companies that are on the servitization journey are coming from a legacy, a deep rich legacy often, of being a product provider, a seller of things, and it is just a really big change from selling things to being able to articulate well and resonate that intangible value. And he also made the point of, "Not all of your customers are going to be ready for advanced services when you are ready to start introducing them, so start with the customers who are and build momentum that way."

Just looking at my notes. And then in my session with Perry from Andritz, we talked a lot about some of those same things, the mindset shift. We really talked about how the idea of delivering outcomes, it's based on trust and trust starts with making sure that you are consistently executing on the basics before you start to expand your value proposition, and I think that is an incredibly important point as well. And then another really good point that Perry brought up is, "Data is not a differentiator. What you do with the data is what can be a differentiator," so I think that's a really good point as well. Another big topic, again, no surprises here, was around remote service. So I actually moderated a panel with Marc Robitzkat from Ecolab, Jonathan Zur from Xerox, Nicolas Teyssot from Fives and Jörgen Remmelg from XM Reality. Really good discussion. One of the things that I really liked is that each panelist is using augmented reality, merge reality type technology in really different ways.

And so it was a good way to illustrate for the audience the different use cases, business cases, for the technology and what those look like in the real world today. So Nicolas spoke about how Fives is using augmented reality for training to speed the time to value of its new hires and to make sure that even when they go out into the field, they have access to that internal expertise and internal support. Jonathan talked about how Xerox is using the technology to really increase customer self-service to reduce travel. Jörgen talked about how they have a lot of customers who are using the technology for pre-installation or pre-service inspections so that those clients can maximize their first time fix rates, and Marc spoke about how Ecolab perceives remote service as part of its overall shift in customer value and business model. So really good different examples of how the technology is being leveraged.

There was some discussion around, "What should the dialogue with customers be when you're introducing remote service? How do you manage change?" and I think a general agreement that there is still yet a lot of potential in the realm of remote service to achieve a lot more with the technology. The fourth major topic I wanted to recap for you was a great conversation on the industrial metaverse. This was a session posted by Rajat Kakar featuring Ivo Siebers from TKE, Erik Lapre from VMI, Martin Fischer from Zeiss and Zoltan Gal from ABB. And the three technologies or things that they spoke about in this session were first, the metaverse, which I think there was a general agreement among not only the panelists but the event attendees that it's come up in conversation. It's something that folks are beginning to think about but not yet taking action on, so I think this is a topic that we will see more conversation around in the months and years to come.

The reason the thinking and the starting to factor how this fits is important is obviously because they talked about how embedded it is for the younger generations and needing to get our arms around that. The second point that was discussed was around AI, and so there was a point made that, I can't remember which panelist, one said, "We're making exponential investments in AI but still evaluating where it actually drives real value," and I think a lot of companies could agree with that statement. Rajat actually brought up the point that he feels we've barely touched the iceberg of potential in terms of AI because the instances that are being leveraged or do exist are single environment use, single company use, and there's really this interconnectedness of data and intelligence that could completely expand the impact of the potential of the technology. Excuse me.

And then there was a conversation as well around digital twins and determining the best way to leverage that technology to different companies' advantage. I think one of the good points that was brought up there was to really work closely with R&D and provide some specific direction on what you want to learn and how you want them to investigate, but really kind of relying on that function to do some of that work. So those were some of the key topics that we talked about at Field Service Europe. Again, it was a great event. There just seemed to be really an overall sense of, honestly, excitement about the potential that exists in service right now, and I think a real sense of positivity around some of the change, which sometimes, we tend to resist change. We talked about that a lot or we feel burdened by it and it was really refreshing to be in a group of, I believe, there were between 250 and 300 attendees that were really just very excited about the things going on in this space despite the fact that there are some real challenges at the moment.

So that was really nice and it was a great week. It was great to be here and excellent to connect with some of the folks that I was able to meet and build relationships with since the last Field Service Europe and throughout the Future of Field Service Live Tour this year. So really good stuff. Again, take a look at the article that ran Monday on Jean-Claude's opening keynote. He had a lot of really good perspective that he shared that I tried my best to summarize. And be sure to check out the website for more, futurefieldservice.com. Stay tuned on LinkedIn. We will soon be announcing the dates for the 2023 Live Tour and some other exciting things are coming. So stay posted and as always, appreciate you all tuning in. The Future of Field Service podcast is of course sponsored by IFS. You can learn more at ifs.com. As always, thank you for listening.

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November 30, 2022 | 27 Mins Read

Prioritizing Human Centricity in Service

November 30, 2022 | 27 Mins Read

Prioritizing Human Centricity in Service

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In a session from the Future of Field Service Live Tour in Austin, Sasha Ilyukhin, SVP of Customer Service Operations at Tetra Pak talks with Sarah about why and how the company is putting more emphasis on human centricity in its service operations.

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service Podcast. I’m your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today’s podcast is a session from the Austin stop of the Future of Field Service Live Tour. It features Sasha Ilyukin who is the senior vice president of customer service operations at Tetra Pak and we are talking about the need for more human centricity in service. Sasha talks about how he came to recognize as a leader that he and Tetra Pak needed to focus more on human centricity, and also how he and the company is doing so, some of the initiatives that they have underway to put more focus on their people and their people’s experiences as part of Tetra Pak and delivering services to Tetra Pak customers. I hope you enjoy.

So, we’re going to talk about prioritizing human centricity.

Sasha Ilyukhin: Yes.

Sarah Nicastro:  I’m really excited for this session. I think it’s a very important topic. And before we get into that though, tell everyone a little bit about yourself, your role, touchbacks business, and the scope of what you are responsible for.

Sasha Ilyukhin: And before I even get into that, I wanted to thank you so much for bringing up this topic because I think it’s so important. It rarely gets brought up in these conferences for field service or any of these sort of digital transformation conferences, et cetera. And I think it’s extremely important because all of us are probably struggling in one way or another with human centricity, putting the humans first before the business. So thank you very, very much for bringing up the incredible topic.

So a few words about me, I have a background in food science and food engineering. Have my master’s degree from Purdue University. I joined Tetra Pak 21-plus years ago in field service. So I was with toolbox in hand and traveling around fixing stuff. And then had a bunch of leadership jobs here in the States, in Europe, and now back to the States. So now I run our service operations business in America, so North Central, South America.

Tetra Pak, for those that may not be familiar with us, we are big in food and beverage. We’re a privately owned company, almost 70 years old. And we make equipment to make food. We make packaging material that runs on that equipment. And then we have service business that wraps around the equipment and the packaging material that we have. So I work for the service end of the business.

Sarah Nicastro: Excellent. I think we talked about this a bit at our Frankfurt event. So if any of you are not aware, this is the last in a series of live tour events that we’ve done. And so, what we talked about is the fact that I think we’re in a bit of a reckoning right now related to this topic because… So when I started in this space, all of the conversations centered around cost cutting, cost cutting, cost cutting, right? And I’m not saying that that’s still not an important thing to keep track of, but obviously, there was a shift of perceiving service as a profit center versus a cost center. And then following that became a hyper-focus on the customer experience, which makes sense.

So how do our customers feel about us and what’s their experience, what’s their impression, what’s their satisfaction level, et cetera. And while we were so hyper-focused on that, I think we overlooked the connection of employee engagement and employee experience to an extent and the direct impact that has on our customer satisfaction objectives.

So now I feel like we’re almost taking a step back as… I’m generalizing as an industry and saying, “Okay, so customer satisfaction is still incredibly important.” But now we realize that for us to have the biggest impact there we can, we need to take into account how do our employees feel in a variety of different ways, which is what we’re going to talk about today.

So I agree, it’s a topic that isn’t talked about enough, but I have a feeling it’s going to be more and more so because it’s just something that people have to dig back into and address.

So let’s start by talking a bit about company culture because I think it’s a very important part of this, but something that can be really hard to bolt down because no one’s going to say, we don’t have a great company culture. Everyone’s going to check that box. So, how would you describe Tetra Pak’s culture and how are you taking that and working on reinforcing it or representing it in the service organization?

Sasha Ilyukhin: So yeah, no, culture is extremely important. And as we all know, Peter Drucker said once that culture eats strategy for lunch. We have a decent start at Tetra Pak because we come from a Swedish heritage, so we have a lot of Swedish culture ingrained in the company. And Swedish culture is sort of high work ethic, but also very, very high focus on family, on wellness, and the balancing the time. So it’s American with that flavor of family time.

And it’s very typical for us to see, like when we go to Sweden, it’s almost like you see the bats here at sunset, you would see employees there at 5:00 PM. So at 5:00 PM at Tetra Pak, the doors open and just everyone floods out. Now, it doesn’t mean that people don’t connect later and so on, but it’s still, it’s very important to have that balance. So that’s a good start.

I mean, we don’t pretend that we know how to really run the best company in terms of human centricity, but we try our best. We have a brand promise that focuses on food, people, and planet. And so, people is really one of the three big legs that we say, “Okay, we as a company, we want to protect food, protect people, and protect the planet.” So that’s the starting point.

Now, when we look at how the culture is transforming, I just came across recently, there was an article by BCG Henderson, it was called Beautiful Management, I actually shared on LinkedIn. And I thought it was a brilliant article in a sense that where the industry is changing from the standard Fred Taylor’s scientific management, where we look at KPIs, balanced score cards and how we do, to how do we drive empathy, how do we drive engagement, how do we drive innovation related to that?

And Max talked about entrepreneurs. How do we drive that entrepreneurial spirit within the company to drive innovation? How do we drive that people collaborate to each other and drive change in the business? So to make it the full circle, that links to business resilience because business… I’ll make it a case here, that business resilience, you cannot achieve that without actually focusing and achieving human centricity. So your business will never be resilient because at the end of the day, it’s a service business that I run and service business is all about people. So it’s people talking to other people.

That’s what I tell my leadership team as well. I tell them that we’re not Tetra Pak working with Coca-Cola, we’re Sarah working with Sasha, or we’re Mike working with Fred, and so on and so forth. So it’s all about people interactions. We need to keep our people happy in order for our customers to be happy.

Sarah Nicastro: So, when did your current focus of prioritizing and reviewing, focusing on human centricity kick in and why? So what are some of the catalysts?

Sasha Ilyukhin: So, we ran a normal company for a while and we started to realize that all of a sudden we have, for example, our turnover rates are becoming higher. So we’re losing something in our company, we’re losing somehow the attractiveness for the people because all of a sudden… I mean, our turnover is still in single digits, but it doubled in the past three, four years.

So that was kind of a wake-up call for us and we’re like, “Okay, we need to do something different and not just continue to be a normal, above average company. We need to do something special here to retain people, to attract talent.” That was the wake-up call.

Sarah Nicastro: And I commend you for that because I think a lot of people could look at that doubling and just say, “Well, it’s because of the pandemic and the surrounding issues.” And sort of almost take a defeatist stance of, “Well, it is what it is, so what are we going to do about it?” And instead, you’re taking a more proactive approach of, “Okay, so these are the facts, and regardless of what external factors are weighing in, we need to sort out how to do better.”

So let’s talk about the fact that this isn’t a concept. I think one of the reasons you said at the beginning, this doesn’t get talked about a lot. I think one of the reasons for that is that people view it as sort of this woo-woo, touchy-feely, human-centricity type thing. But that’s really not the case. I mean, it is proven that companies that have better employee engagement and employee satisfaction have better results.

And so, what are your thoughts on how you balance this focus? Because I know you as a leader genuinely care, but also with the realities of how it will help the business.

Sasha Ilyukhin: I think it’s well proven to your point. And it’s proven with actually a peer-reviewed research. So I came across, there’s a research by Brown and Lamb in 2008, which is quoted everywhere. But that research established a very, very strong correlation between employee engagement and customer satisfaction. So there’s a direct correlation, unquestionable.

What’s interesting in that research is that there is no correlation backwards. So you can have very satisfied customers, but very disengaged employees. And that I find very, very interesting because you can drive customer satisfaction different ways. I mean, with price promotions, with supply chain, service levels, whatnot, but our focus is how do we keep our people engaged? I want my team to be happy with the jobs that they do. And I actually, I don’t mind if people actually leave the company because they’re not happy. So if they want to go and do something different, we had a couple of people, one left to study, another left to run a personal business, a family business, which is great.

I mean, if that’s what their calling is, I don’t want them to stay. I want them to do what they want to do. It also comes back to the types of leaders that we have because that was actually another interesting piece in that research. They had something that they called moderating variable. So what is the highest moderating variable in that ES to CX relationship? And the moderating variable was supervisory support. So it’s one on ones, it’s having basically good leaders.

So what we’re doing there is we have a mandate in my team. So on every person that we hire… Max talked about character. Character, I totally agree, 100%, it’s extremely important. Every single service tech or service engineer that we hire, I have the director for that unit sitting on that final interview. That’s mandatory. We don’t proceed forward if that doesn’t happen. I sit on every single interview for every leadership job in my team. So all the service delivery manager, I don’t care what that level is and of the leadership, every single leadership job, I sit on the interview and I’ll make time for it.

Also, we do the same for exit interviews. So we want to make sure if someone’s leaving, we want to make sure to understand why they’re leaving, because that’s a good learning for us. We can put some actions in place to say, “Okay, maybe we missed it in this case, and let’s do it better next time.” So these are some of the actions that we’re taking to try to drive that engagement.

Sarah Nicastro: I think it’s a really good point because oftentimes when senior leaders decide to put a focus on human centricity, company culture, employee engagement, any of these types of things, they rightfully want to understand how the frontline employees feel and how they can improve that.

But sometimes, the middle management layer gets overlooked and to the detriment of the mission because you can be very committed to wanting to improve that frontline experience but if you have middle management that is disengaged, unsatisfied themselves, or not competent in the ways that you need to deliver the experience you’re intending, that mission is sort for not. So I think it’s a really key point that you’re focusing efforts there as well.

All right, so how have you prioritized which areas to focus on?

Sasha Ilyukhin: So, when we started to go beyond what I would call it a normal company or wanting to be just a normal standard company out there with benefits, and medical, and dental, and all this other stuff, we started to look at… Of course, we had some consultants helping us and we started to look at things like… We’ve implemented, for example, parental leave, for example, for both parents, including adoptive parents. We implemented flex hours and we wanted to implement flex hours for the field service as well. So because typically, if you implement flex hours in the office, then the field service people start to complain like, “Yeah, these guys in the office, I mean, they get to do everything.” I mean-

Sarah Nicastro: Now, can I interject and ask how you did that?

Sasha Ilyukhin: Yeah. So-

Sarah Nicastro: Like what that looks like. Because I think it would be good for people to hear a real example because this is an area, just as an example that comes up when you start talking about employee engagement and human centricity. In field service specifically, you run into a lot of people that say, “Well, that’s just not possible because of the nature of the operations or the work and we need to get creative in looking for solutions.”

Sasha Ilyukhin: That’s exactly the point. So what we’ve done is we looked at the types of contracts that we have and luckily, a lot of the service contracts that we have… Actually, have people at customer sites for a fairly prolonged period of time, whether that’s installation, or doing services, or doing production support, and so on. So we’re not the type of business where our service tech would come for a couple of hours and just leave. So we’re typically there for longer time.

So we started to promote these kind of flexible contracts, meaning that you agree with your customer, how you want to support their operation, and I don’t really care if you come morning, evening, weekend, no weekend… I mean, the service techs actually plan it themselves. We don’t even look at that. I mean, we just leave it for them and their customers to figure this out.

Then we look looked at also travel. Travel is a big thing in service, and I think it’s the highest waste. Also, I mentioned we’re big in sustainability of service as well, and that’s the whole different big topic to cover. But travel is one of the biggest offenders in sustainability, meaning CO2 profile and so on. But travel is also the biggest waste of time and our customers need to pay for that. They don’t like to pay for that. So then it becomes of like, “How do we minimize travel?”

And we minimize travel by proactively relocating people, by establishing regional hubs. So we continuously analyze like, “Where are the jobs are?” And we put the techs with the right capability there in that area. We proactively relocate them, we pay for that relocation, and we find ways basically to bring people to specific areas where the travel is very, very minimal. Then they can plan their own time. So that gives them flexibility.

So it just takes a little bit of that type of creativity, but it takes a lot of effort. I mean, it’s simple to explain, but I have 542 service engineers, it’s complicated in terms of how we plan all that. I mean, in terms of how do we plan all of that, right? But when we put the effort there, it actually pays off quite a bit. And customers appreciate that as well because I’ve heard from a lot of my customers like, “Hey, I don’t have to pay for travel anymore. That’s perfect.”

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. All right. So I interrupted you, but we were talking about areas of focus and flexibility, and then… Okay.

Sasha Ilyukhin: Okay, so then other diversity and inclusion, a big thing. So we now started also a big program. We call it “Speak Up for Inclusion.” I have a problem in my team and the problem is actually male-female distribution. So in my leadership team, it’s 45-55. So I have 45% female, 55% male. One level below that, it’s 82-18. So I have 82 male, 18 female. One level below that I have almost 96-4. So 96% male, 4% female, huge problem.

It’s a huge problem because when the teams are not diverse, and even in that sense it just becomes a very alpha male type of culture, it’s more difficult to drive things like empathy, it’s more difficult to drive things like innovation. So we see it firsthand that the teams that are more diverse, we see much more engagement, significantly higher levels of engagement, and we were putting a lot of effort to actually build that pipeline. But it’s difficult in field service, extremely, extremely difficult.

So that’s another big area. Then mental wellness also. Right before COVID, I don’t know who had that idea, but this was a corporate program, but right before COVID, we started with this program that’s called, “It’s Okay Not To Be Okay.” And first, it was seen as a formality, like every company has some sort of a mental wellness hotline and whatnot, but we didn’t believe when we looked at the statistics of that and the types of help that people were getting, and we just realized, “Wow.” I mean, that’s extremely important as well, and meditation, Max mentioned meditation.

We also have things like these sort of what we call detox videos. It’s an interesting practice that was introduced to us by Arianna Huffington. She spoke at one of our events, and it’s a two-minute video that… I mean, all of these Gen Zs and Gen Xs, I mean, they can create it in five minutes, and you just put together a bunch of pictures of things that you really like. So maybe your family or places that you like and so on. You put it against the music background that you really like and you make it two minutes long.

And when you’re stressed out or you have three, four meetings in a row and then you just need to relax or in field service, when you’re in a tough job, the customer is just on you all the time, step out, take five minutes and look at that video, breathe in, meditate. It helps a lot. So that’s another thing that we put together.

Safety, safety also is another big priority for us. And we operate in the cultures sometimes where… And I’m not talking necessarily US, but when I visited Guatemala, man, I mean, the type of things that I saw there in terms of safety, you wouldn’t believe, right? I mean, people are running completely unsafe production and with open machinery, all kinds of bypass, safety, et cetera. And our field service engineers were always complaining to us, what can we do? How can we influence this? So we told them, we said… I mean, beyond the normal stuff, take two minutes for safety and so on, we said, “You don’t have to work like this, so please stop and demand the conditions, and then we’ll raise it up, escalate it to your leadership. We’ll make sure that the conditions are safe.” And actually, slowly but surely, things are starting to change, which is encouraging.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. All right. So let’s dig into a couple of these in a little bit more detail. So when we think about engagement and really recognition, I know you have a firsthand perspective because you were a technician at one point yourself. So what are some of the things that you’re doing related to making sure that those employees feel valued and recognized and that sort of thing?

Sasha Ilyukhin: So, I’ll start with recognition is the best is what we find as when it comes from peers, customers, from the line manager. So it’s people-to-people recognition. I mean, we have formal programs, we have on-the-spot awards, we have annual awards.

We actually have a very nice program that we put in place called “Field Service Excellence Award.” And what that is, is that we select a bunch of people from every region. So we have 12 people participating in that. We send them to our headquarters every year, and then one of these teams wins a trophy. And that trophy is like a mobile trophy. So it comes in its own suitcase. And the commitment that we take is that this trophy then travels around all of the regional offices that we have, and people get to actually speak to their peers, to their friends, they can actually take it home. We don’t mind. I mean, they can take all kinds of selfies with it and promote it, do whatever you want. And it’s a fairly sizable, it’s a big trophy. We get to keep it for almost a year and then we have to send it back. So when one region wins, it’s a big thing for us.

So recognition is very important. The other type of… There’s non-standard recognition. So continuous education and learning is… People don’t see that as recognition, but I think it’s one of the instruments that we can recognize people with. And then just giving them access, an opportunity to get another degree, to learn. So we started with things like LinkedIn Learning with EdCast, and so that’s actually also an interesting learning right there. When we opened up these programs to our employees, we saw the engagement going up very quickly, and then it just sort of tapered off because people get exhausted.

And I mean, you’re all familiar with LinkedIn Learning, I mean, you go there and it’s like drinking from a fire hydrant. I mean, it’s, “Where do I go?” For every keyword, there’s 1.5 million trainings. So what we decided to do is we decided to curate and we decided to put together these what we call learning journeys. And in the learning journeys, we curate basically for specific jobs, specific positions that we have in the company. And so, if I’m a service engineer and I want to be a project manager, there’s a learning journey for me. I can go on my own pace, and I can basically do that. And it’s not only LinkedIn learning, but it’s also I get a chance to maybe spend some time with a project manager. I get more engaged with installations and projects all of a sudden. So I get to practically do things that I want to do in the future and get a feel for it.

And we don’t mind if they try it and they don’t like it and they say, “Well, that’s probably not something for me,” that’s actually the best kind of thing that we… So instead of putting them in that position and hoping that this is going to work, I mean, we can try it in this coaching mode and see if that works. And if it doesn’t, they can go back to the field and do what they want to do.

Sarah Nicastro: So, I think a lot of times when we talk about human centricity, people kind of separate it from digital transformation and technology, but really technology can play a big role in human centricity because if you think about the fact that it’s either helping or it’s typically a point of dissatisfaction, so it’s rarely somewhere in between. So, how does technology factor into your overall strategy?

Sasha Ilyukhin: We all learned the hard way during COVID, and you can get really exhausted with technology. Zoom, and WebEx, and Teams, and whatnot, I mean, you can get really exhausted with that, but it comes down, I think to employee experience. So we see technology as how do we enhance the employee’s experience. And when we implement different types of apps… So we have apps for field service, IFS, right? I mean, we have apps for safety, we have apps for learning, et cetera, et cetera. When we look at that, we look at does it really enhance the employee experience? Does it make their life easier or is it just another thing that we’re implementing?

I have a case here, I have a story where on the HR side, we had a case where we almost ended up with two apps for reporting hours. And that was not a good thing, but because one part of it comes from invoicing for customers, another part of it comes from internal processing hours, et cetera, and we stopped that. So we stopped that, we said, “No, no, no, no, no, we can’t do that. Yeah, it’s convenient, it works nice, it fits with our systems, it integrates, but we can’t do it like that.”

So this is one of the examples where we really need to curate technology as well. But technology certainly helps. I mean, it certainly helps. And EdCast, I mentioned EdCast for these personal journeys where we have these go-to’s and people can look at it from… We have this 70-20-10 principle, so 10% formal learning, 20% coaching, 70% on the job. In the classical, in the olden days, it used to be like you take the training 10% and then that’s it. You go on the job, you do your 70%. However you do it, it’s your thing, okay?

We want to make sure that people are actually going through that journey at their own pace. That’s one of the biggest learnings for us as a team, as a company. And one of the biggest learnings for me is one person can get a skill very quickly, another person, it takes them a little bit longer time, and again, we don’t mind. So they take the learning, they go into the coaching mode, and in the coaching mode they may realize, “Well, I don’t know this as well as I should.” So they go back to learning, they retake it again, go back again into the coaching mode. And these are the types of non-linear learning journeys that we want to promote. That’s a good recognition as well, because we give them the time to do this, we recognize that they need to take that time to learn.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Now, I think it’s important to think about the impact of technology because if you put yourself in the shoes of the field technician, one of the things that’s going to make them automatically unhappy in their job is to arrive to do what they need to do and not have the information they need, the help they need, or to have some technology that is incredibly cumbersome and distracts them from the work they’re there to do. So it does, I think, have an important correlation.

I think the other thing is, I know Tetra Pak is in the midst of a service transformation. So focusing on human centricity in parallel or even in advance of makes change management a bit easier, rather than what companies often do is dig into change management as a result of that transformation, then find themselves in a human centricity conundrum because they start to uncover some of the issues.

So if you’re being more proactive about it can make whatever change you encounter, whether it’s technology-related or otherwise a bit easier because you have some of that foundation. So what is the feedback been from your teams so far? Have you heard any gratitude? Has there been any skepticism? What have you experienced?

Sasha Ilyukhin: We’ve heard all kinds of things and you can’t make everyone happy, but we want to make their life as easy as possible and make sure that our team is engaged. I just talked here this morning just over coffee about returning to the office. So we now have this program of returning to the office. We did the survey and the team split exactly 50-50. It’s not even 49-51, it’s 50-50. So some people are ready and eager to come back, some people are not, so we have to accommodate for all of these needs and find these interesting compromises with flex time and so on and so forth. Same goes for the field service.

What I would say is formal programs result in formal response, and it all comes down again to the leaders, to the types of leaders that we have, what they do. They need to be in the field, be with their people. I mean, I’m doing a lot of traveling, just visiting with customers and service engineers. We have road shows coming up, I will be in every single road show there. I think it’s important. It’s important to listen, and it’s important to act on what we hear from the field and how to make the life easier for our service engineers.

So again, it comes back to listening and empathy as well. There is research that I’ve seen that 80% of people would switch jobs if they don’t feel empathy from their leader. And when it comes to Gen X, it’s more like 90-plus percent would switch jobs. They don’t care about the pay, they don’t care about the benefits, they want relationship, and that I think is the key to it all.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, Sasha and I were talking with a group of other folks on a virtual focus group that we had on this topic, and that point came up about the balance between process and formal programs, which are important. You need to set some structure and you need to be thinking about how to scale certain things that are working, et cetera but also personal touch.

I think if you’re focused… If a company wants to improve human centricity by only focusing on the formal process, you’re really lacking a super important piece of the puzzle. So I think that’s a really good point. I also think it’s a good point about… You said you need to always be listening. And I think that’s the other thing is this isn’t a focus that you dig into, you make improvements, and then you move on. It’s something that needs to just become a course of continual improvement and adjustment.

So that’s where I think the process is helpful is the process of engaging and listening so that you have that insight into, “Okay, how are people feeling? What are they liking? What are they not liking?” To your point, you cannot make everyone happy, but I think there’s a lot of lift that comes from just being authentically engaged and being willing to listen even if you cannot and will not address every piece of feedback. So I think that’s really important as well. Any insights or lessons learned since you started this that you think those here today would benefit from hearing?

Sasha Ilyukhin: So, some of the lessons learned, I think Max told also about this is, again, I come back to the types of leaders that we hire and making sure that you don’t have any sort of toxicity in the team. So when the person becomes disengaged, you better catch it early before it actually happens and either fix it or get rid of them. If they become toxic, I mean, they talk to customers, they talk to peers, they talk to their families, it’s not good. It’s not good for them, not good for the company, not good for customers. So that’s one thing that we’re working really hard on is to make sure that… Is that we have the kind of engagement across the team.

Second is you don’t look at the averages because we were so blinded by looking at average utilization, average overtime, average travel. And when we benchmarked all of that, it’s like, “No, everything is fine.” And then when you look at an individual level, so all of a sudden, that average 80% utilization becomes… For someone, it’s 98%, so they’re totally overworked and burning out. For another person is 60% or 50%, and they’re sitting at home some days and probably also feeling bad because they’re like, “Why am I not needed? Why don’t I know things that are required for the company?”

Over-communicating, so during COVID, we’ve learned that skill very well. I don’t know how many one-on-ones, I have hundreds one-on-ones literally during COVID time, I don’t want to count them. But it’s important to over-communicate, it’s important to also… Anonymity, it’s okay. So when we have our events, what we call “Let’s Talk”, which are like town hall type events. We use Slido and we actually say, “Yeah, anonymity is fine, because that’s how you get the genuine feedback.” We never filter anything. So it’s like, you can put your name there, you don’t want to put your name there, that’s okay. And that’s how we get the most feedback.

And of course, being out there in the field as well, and in some ways easy to just sit in the office and trying to be this mastermind, but it doesn’t work. So being in the field, doing the Gemba for those that are in TPM as well. Go Gemba is a very, very nice principle there. It’s seeing something firsthand. And I would say also driving personal accountability is very important. That is something that we are now as a company also transforming into. We are a, again, Swedish heritage, and Swedish heritage is very collaborative culture. So we used to have everything is by consensus, so all the decisions are by consensus. So we could discuss something to death until we get to consensus. So now it’s like, “No, we want to drive quick decisions. You may disagree but commit.” Okay, we do the Amazon thing, but we take personal accountability.

So if you take a decision, you’re accountable for it. That people actually find very rewarding because all of a sudden, it’s not like, “No, it’s because of him or because of that, et cetera.” No, you take it, you run with it. And if you’re successful, great. If you’re not, we take it as a learning, learn from it, and do things better next time.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. What’s next?

Sasha Ilyukhin: What’s next is what I just mentioned. I mean, we have this entire program, we call it “Amplify, Simplify, Empower, and Adapt.” So these are the simple behaviors that we want to actually add to our culture. A lot of it is around empowerment, delegation, personal accountability, and so on and so forth. And a lot of that comes back then to resilience, business resilience, and how do we become more adaptive as a business, more nimble, faster, we listen, we act as fast as we can.

We just had a very nice presentation from a professor from IMD School of Management. His name is Arturo Bris. And he talked about that the times are changing, so he called it the era of ignorance. And his point was that before, we all used to have these, what we would call black swan events. So everything is normal and for five years, and then all of a sudden comes the black swan, or what we would call it a tipping point or disruptive innovation, and all of a sudden, you need to be prepared for it and so on.

And he said, now, he calls it Heffalumps and Woozles. So for those of you familiar with Winnie the Pooh, these were the fictional characters that came to Winnie the Pooh every night in his nightmares. And he said, “Now, is the time of Heffalumps and Woozles, because they come to us every day.” So we had COVID and then after COVID, we have this terrible war with Russia invading Ukraine, and now we have supply chain issues, and now we have Monkeypox. And it’s like every day you wake up and then there’s a couple of other things, just add them, okay?

So the point is we need to be resilient, nimble, move fast, take accountability, and all of that comes down to human centricity because we all rely on each other as a team. If we don’t have good people around us, good, engaged people around us, then the business is doomed.

Sarah Nicastro: I love that point, because you’re right, resilience depends on connectedness, not just as a business but as people, right?

Sasha Ilyukhin: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: Thank you for listening. I hope enjoyed the session with Sasha from the Austin stop of the Future of Field Service Live Tour. We will soon be announcing information on what the 2023 Future of Field Service Live Tour will look like. So, be sure to stay tuned at www.futureoffieldservice.com for more. You can also find us on LinkedIn as well as Twitter….

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November 23, 2022 | 25 Mins Read

5 Elements of Exceptional CX

November 23, 2022 | 25 Mins Read

5 Elements of Exceptional CX

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Elizabeth Dixon, who previously led Strategy, Hospitality, and Service Design at Chic-fil-A Corporate and recently authored the book The Power of Customer Experience: Five Elements to Make an Impact, joins Sarah to talk about what exactly it is about those companies who are known for their standout customer service.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. Welcome to the Future, of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today we're going to be talking about five elements of exceptional customer experience. We know customer experience and customer satisfaction are top of mind for every service organization. And I'm excited to be joined today by Elizabeth Dixon. Elizabeth spent 20 years in leadership at Chick-fil-A and is now the executive director of the Trilith Foundation. She's also recently published a book and I found her doing one of her keynote speeches at the Service Council Symposium in Chicago in September. Elizabeth, welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast.

Elizabeth Dixon: Thank you. I'm so glad to be here, Sarah. Thanks for having me.

Sarah Nicastro: Absolutely. I'm excited to have you. So before we get into some of the elements of customer experience, tell our listeners a little bit about yourself, your background, your journey, anything you would like to share.

Elizabeth Dixon: Well, I'd love to. My favorite things in life to talk about and the people to spend time with are my best friend and husband, John. And then we have two little kiddos, seven and nine. And so they are so much fun and full of life and energy and so that takes a lot of our time and our hearts right now. And then when it comes to me and my gifts and what I love to do, I love to create new value. So a lot of times that's entrepreneurship. It's creating unique businesses and then a lot of times it's been intrapreneurship, it's creating new things, it's refining processes within broader organizations.

And so I love doing anything that's going to impact people's lives and make a difference. And like you said, I got to be at Chick-fil-A for about 20 years and then just a few months ago, our chairman, Dan Cathy called and said, Hey, I want you to come and work for me on some new projects. So it's been an absolute blast to use those gifts of creating new value and doing it in a totally different context in a creative and film industry. So it's been a total blast.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, very cool. And I think that creating new value is a really good way to frame what service organizations need to be thinking about today. So when we think about the customer experience, we often think about expectations we need to live up to, but we really should reframe that to thinking about new ways to create value and look at it as an exciting opportunity instead of something that everyone is tasked with. So you were the principal lead for strategy, hospitality, and service design at Chick-fil-A. And I'm sure in that role you had a lot of experience, like you said, creating not only new value but refining things that were existing within the business and always looking for ways to do better. You're passionate enough about customer experience that you wrote your book, which is titled The Power of Customer Experience: Five Elements to Make an Impact. I'm curious, what inspired you to write the book?

Elizabeth Dixon: So, I had a lot of great resources. I was surrounded by incredible mentors. There are incredible books to read when you're thinking about the actual design and the strategy behind customer experience. But one thing that I found there was a need for was being able to have a book for the frontline employees, not necessarily just knowing what to do because that can change based on the industry, but truly understanding the impact that they could make, that there was purpose and a paycheck within their job.

And I found that when brands were able to make sure that the frontline employee understood that there was meaning in the moments that they were creating, that they actually had the power to cause customers to love or hate a brand, those were the companies that won. And I thought, man, what if we could have a resource that would help the frontline employee make that connection for themselves and then ultimately help the brand do well? Because you can design a great customer experience, but if it's not brought to life on the front lines the way that it needs to be, nobody wins. So that was the hard part of it was like, what if we could do that? And what if we could help the front lines recognize the impact that they could have? Not only would brands win, not only would they win because they would be more fulfilled within their jobs, but also the customers would win and we'd be able to have a culture that's a whole lot nicer.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, I love that. And that was one of my favorite things about your presentation in Chicago was really reinforcing that message that whether you are working for an organization that changes people's lives or whether you are a leader in a different type of business or whether you are a frontline employee, we all have the power as human beings and individuals to make a difference and make an impact on people. And I think that's a really good message to reinforce. I know for myself, when I was in grad school, I had plans or intentions to get into non-profit work. That was kind of what I saw myself doing. And then life took me in a bit of a different direction and for a while I had to reconcile this feeling of if I went into the corporate world, I was missing that opportunity to do something philanthropic or to have make a difference in that way.

And then I realized, no, first of all, your career doesn't define all of you. It's a part of you. Secondly, so I do volunteer work on the side, so that's one way I can kind of scratch that itch. But what I've also learned over time is I have an opportunity every single day to make a positive impact on people's lives. Whether that's colleagues, customers, people in the industry, we all have that power no matter what our role or title or industry is. And so I really, really loved that message. So thank you. All right, so I don't want to spend too much time on the five elements because I want people to go ahead and find you and find the book and read the book. But if you can just run through them for us at a high level just so people kind of understand the things that you're touching on in the book.

Elizabeth Dixon: Absolutely. So there are five really principles and each of them have a definition and stories and application for how they show up. But these are the five. The first one is to choose your mindset. The mindset above all things is where we have to start because our mindset determines what we get. The second is to create our culture. The customer experience is simply an overflow of the employee experience. So we have to focus on what is the employee culture that is going to then overflow onto the customers. The third is we have to know our customer. We have to know so much about them, what they want, what they value, what they want next, what role we play in their lives in order to bring those experiences to life. The fourth one, we have to define our differentiator. What's going to set us apart as an industry, as a business, as an organization?

And then we have to make sure that we are staying fresh and on the cutting edge of how that's going to evolve into the fifth principle, which is to pursue innovation. So the book is really written for that frontline employee, for these five elements to come to life. And actually I'm working right now on the sequel that compare with it that will be for the leader around how do you truly accelerate your customer experience in the seat that you hold as the leader? And when you pair those together, when that leader is looking into the future, there's a great quote. "When your memories exceed your dreams, the end is near."

We have to constantly be thinking about what's next and not let our memories exceeding our dreams for what's next. When the leader is thinking about how to accelerate and grow and become better so that you can become bigger and have the frontline employee recognizing the role they play and how their mindset, the way they impact culture, the way they understand the customer, that they bring to life that differentiation and then the way that they're pursuing innovation on the front lines is critically important for us to be successful and win in the customer experience space.

Sarah Nicastro: I love that. And it definitely takes both sides. I think that there's sort of a transformation going on in leadership and in company culture that is really a recognition of the need to be less possessive and more collaborative. I mean, there's kind of like this old school leadership mentality where it's a lot of taking credit for success and just a very individualistic type of role. And I think that's really changing because there's a recognition that there's so much knowledge and capability within the entire organization that needs to be harnessed. So there was a number of points you made during your presentation or of anecdotes and stories you shared that really struck me. And this is where for me, I've been doing what I do for quite a long time and I've been at conferences like the one we were at so many times. And there are obviously themes that are consistent.

So customer experience is a theme that someone's always talking about, right? Because we know it's important. So to me, it's often the stories that stand out because that's what makes a presentation like yours unique and memorable. Okay. So the first thing is the point you made that I just think is such an important point to park on for a moment, which is the fact that companies need to remember that their customer experience is the overflow of their employee experience. So let's talk a little bit about this and how you sort identified that fact in your own work in your career.

Elizabeth Dixon: The first part that really caught my attention, it was actually Horst Schulze, the founder of the Ritz Carlton, I was very blessed to be mentored by him consistently for a year. And I admire and respect him and his wife Sherry so much, and they've remained friends. But during that mentorship, there was a season where I was talking to him about leading and lagging indicators, pre and post kind of indicators around customer experience. And one of the things that I love about him, and he has an incredible book, Excellence Wins. He has this ability to take very complex, sometimes overwhelming elements and make them very, very simple. And it was in a conversation we were having where I said, all right, well Horst, what is it that I need to look at that's going to be a measure that I'm going to see drop before our customer experience is going to drop?

Because nobody wants to get to where the customer experience measures are dropping because you've lost it. It's too late. It's really hard to pull it back, especially when you're a really big organization. And we've seen those organizations that whether it was a leadership change, whether they got to the top and were number one and were exhausted by that, and they kind of pulled back a bit. When their experience started to drop, a competitor swooped right in and took over. I said, so what is it? What is that leading indicator I should look at? And he said, "It's the happiness of your people.  Simply."

And this light bulb went on for me of whoa. So often we talk about the lag, we talk about that thing that actually is just that overflow because you're doing something else really well. And that's not to say that we don't have to be prescriptive and detailed and super intentional about the design of the customer experience. We do.

But if we're only doing that, we'll never get to where we want to be because all of that is the overflow of healthy, happy, contented employees who are in a great working environment. So that was the moment where it was a light bulb for me of, man, we spend so much time talking about this, but if we're not focusing on the cultural elements of what's happening in our organization, those are the leading indicators that when we start to see scores going down that I'm not satisfied in my job. I don't feel cared about by my boss. I don't feel like I'm able to bring my whole self to work. I don't see that I'm able to accomplish my purpose in life here in my job.

And some people might be listening and they're like, oh, all that sounds so fluffy. But to the individual, it's not. They will be fully harnessed when they're able to bring their full self to work and they wake up to go fulfill a purpose. People don't jump out of bed just for a paycheck, they jump out of bed because there's a purpose, there's a clear path for growth and development. And they got to be paid too. So those were the light bulb moments for me of these are the leading indicators. And if we don't obsess about the leading indicators, we're never going to have the lagging scores that we talk about and want and will ultimately help us get to where we want to be as an organization.

Sarah Nicastro: So, here's interesting about this to me, and I think you'll find this interesting too, how it relates to the audience of this podcast. So, Ritz Carlton is known for exceptional customer experience, Chick-Fil-A as well, to be honest, I mean that's one of the reasons people love Chick-fil-A. My pleasure. That pleasant, good vibes you leave with when you go through the drive through. So those are both though customer service centric industries, so consumer-centric industries. And so when you compare that with some of the other types of organizations that would be listening to this podcast that are in sort of traditional field service industries.

So whether that's commercial service or even residential service, but you would think of a appliance repair person or a home security installation or utilities, whatever that is, they are often organizations that traditionally haven't had that expectation of really focusing on customer experience. So what I've recognized in my we'll say 15 years in this space is when I first started in this career, every conversation you had with a field service organization was around driving cost reduction because that was the focus. Field service was seen as a cost center. So it was all about just maximize efficiency, productivity.

Then the world of consumer experience including brands like Ritz Carlton, Chick-Fil-A, but also things like Amazon and Uber. All of these different things that have happened in our personal lives over the last 15, 20 years started to creep into the expectations customers have of all types of service organizations, even those that traditionally haven't really been that customer-centric, customer experience type situation. So what I think is that, or what I've seen, is that companies recognized now we see field service as a potential profit center if we focus more on the customer experience, we look at how to create more value and not just have a break fix transaction, et cetera.

But I think many of them became so hyper focused on the customer experience that they never really connected that dot of the employee experience. So I think right now the industry as a whole is sort of taking a step back because that recognition is coming into play of wait, we can't really accomplish this customer experience, customer satisfaction objective we have without considering the experience and the emotional engagement of the frontline workers that we ultimately rely on to deliver whatever brand promise we are trying to create.

And so where that acknowledgement in a company like Ritz Carlton came a long time ago, I think in field service it's really just begun. So companies are having to dig back in and reflect on how do we evolve our culture, our leadership style, our processes, our technology use, our soft skill building, our training and development, our career path-ing so that our employees are happy and bought into the mission that we are trying to achieve. So it's really interesting that point you're making that you were helped to recognize by your mentor I think is a point that in our space a lot of people are just coming to and kind of thinking, oh shit, okay, if we need to accomplish this, we really need to look at what is happening inside because we can't just force it. What are your thoughts on that?

Elizabeth Dixon: I think it's exciting. I think it's exciting because what it comes down to is humans and people treating each other well. And when we do, we love it. We talk about it to other people. I had some furniture cleaned. That's not an industry that you're like, when I get my furniture cleaned, I just feel like I'm treated like a queen. No, I mean, it's like ugh. People are having to come clean something that you didn't want to have had happened, whether that's a child sculpting something or a dog doing whatever. And so I had these chairs cleaned and this young man, Joel was amazing.

He was so thoughtful, he answered all my questions. He was very courteous for how he was going to bring the equipment into the house. I remember it. And you know what I did? I sent the link to a bunch of my girlfriends of, "Hey, if y'all need to get anything cleaned anytime soon, this company is amazing. Why is this company amazing? Yes, they got the stains out of my furniture. But Joel. Joel's the reason that it's amazing for me." And when we can have consistent Joel like experiences, and we can do that in industries that aren't expecting it, that is ripe opportunity. I mean, think about gas stations. Sarah, have you been to a Buckee's yet?

Sarah Nicastro: No.

Elizabeth Dixon: You got to go. I'm telling you. When you think about a road trip and you think about driving down the interstate, inevitably someone in the car at some point is going to have to use the restroom. And the last place that you probably want to stop is your typical gas station. I mean, I remember one time, I'm not even going to go there. You just don't want to stop. And so Buckee's heard that, and they've been around for a few decades, but have really recently super intentionally focused on the biggest pain points. You pull up to these. I mean these are plazas, they're like the shopping center of gas stations. They have so many pumps for you to pull up. They've said they wanted to design it so that everybody felt safe, which isn't always the feeling I have at a gas station, but I was in one a few months ago and I'm telling you these bathrooms are pristine.

They have staff that are constantly making sure the bathrooms are clean. They have art, like art for sale on the walls. I walked into one of the restrooms and there were two ladies that was in good old South Georgia and they're like, honey, I think that would look perfect in your baby's nursery. You should buy that. And I'm like, who buys art in a restroom of a gas station? At Buckee's, you do. And you walk out and they're like, "Bruce, get on the block." And they're chopping up fresh meat. Who would've thought when you can do something around the experience that causes people to be surprised and you're in an industry where people aren't expecting it, that is go time. That is so exciting because you can disrupt it. You can set the standard, you can be the standard for what it can be.

So when I hear you say that, I personally get really excited because it means that, one of the companies listening is going to go game on. We're going to accelerate this. We're going to win at this. And when you do, you get to be the Amazon, you get to be that name that people associate with being the best. And then once you are, you just got to keep pursuing innovation in a way to know what your customer wants next, just like Jeff Bezos has done to go got to stay scrappy, stay at that front lines of what's next and how can we deliver it more effectively than anybody else.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Now another point you made that I really liked is you were talking about differentiation and you made the point that if it isn't consistent, it isn't a differentiator. So do you have any advice for people on how to land on what is their opportunity for differentiation, but also something that they can achieve consistently?

Elizabeth Dixon: Yeah, absolutely. A lot of times I think the things that our organizations are really unique at or really good at, we can start to take for granted because we've either focused on it for a long time or it's come so naturally to us. I think we can do that sometimes as individuals too. The natural gifts that we have, we can kind of take them for granted a little bit, like I thought everyone could do that. So I think the first question to help is what is it that we uniquely can do better than our competition? What are those levers that we have that others don't? For Chick-fil-A, it was back in 2008 and there was a massive recession happening and one of the unique strengths that we had was our people. And it was in that season that Truitt and Dan Cathy decided let's really emphasize that.

Let's use what we uniquely have better than our competition and let's find a way to elevate that. So what is it that you uniquely can do better than the competition? And then what is it that uniquely can do that's going to add more value than your competition can? So often you referenced this earlier, it's really natural to, in our organization, start thinking about how do we reduce costs? I think where it gets dangerous, that's good. Where it gets dangerous is when we start extracting value from what the customer is going to receive. When we start removing services, when we start removing the quality of the products that we're offering in order to reduce those costs. Because ultimately we're extracting value from the customer. The more we can think about how do we be more efficient, more streamlined, how do we reduce costs by making things easier on the back end so that we can add more value to the customer. When we're thinking about how do we add value, and I don't necessarily mean it has to come at a cost.

When you think about some of the simple things that some brands do. At Nordstrom, they might walk around the counter to hand you your bag. At Chick-fil-A, they say “My pleasure.” That doesn't have to cost a lot to add more value, but there can be behaviors that are going to add value that your competition isn't as uniquely positioned to be able to do it. So those are the first two questions. And then the last would be around the moment, how do we define the moments that are creating our experiences? And in the book I outlined three major types of moments that I think are important to unpack. The first is signature moments. It's like the Nordstrom or the Chick-fil-A example. It's kind of like your signature of your company. It's unique to you. Everybody consistently does it, but it doesn't have to cost more.

The second are surprise moments, the ones that just catch people by surprise. And there's some fun examples in the book. And the last is solvable. When something happens, something goes wrong, whether you caused it or you didn't cause it, you just inherited the problem, what do you do with that? And a lot of individuals don't want to step into a problem with a person, but the great brands are going to be the ones that say, oh, I see your problem and I'm going to come alongside you, and I want to help you solve that. So what is it you uniquely can do? What is it you uniquely can do that's going to add value compared to your competitors? And then how do you break down those moments of signature surprise and solvable to be able to add that value to your customers?

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, I love that. So this next question, it might be maybe unfair way for me to ask for a little sneak peek into the next book, but you talked in your presentation about expanding curiosity. And so I think this is really important and I guess I sort of pair curiosity with creativity. And so if you think about some of the evolution within the folks that listen to this podcast, there are organizations that I spoke of, I think there hasn't been a lot of room traditionally for curiosity and creativity. It's just kind of been here's what we do, here's the process, follow it, be efficient, boom, we're done, right? And now we're entering this era of more creative thinking around how do we create more value? How do we evolve our value proposition? How do we change maybe how our brand is perceived or what our identity is, et cetera?

And so I know you said that the book we're discussing is more geared toward the frontline employee. I personally think that the frontline employees have plenty of creativity and curiosity. I just think they've stifled a lot of it because it hasn't been accepted or nurtured by leadership. So my question is, how do leaders within these organizations foster the ability to welcome more curiosity from their frontline employees?

Elizabeth Dixon: It's so good because when we can unlock that, it's unlimited potential for the future. And I think you're exactly right. I think it's very natural that creativity gets stifled. Number one, it gets stifled from when we're children and we're taught to color inside the lines and do it this way and sit and learn, et cetera. When we're young, the most curious person is a four year old girl asks the most questions imaginable. And I have a seven year old and sometimes my husband and I are like, seriously? Could there be more questions? But if we can lean into it and recognize that those individuals who are naturally curious help us be more curious. And here's the thing about curiosity and creativity, which is so exciting, is that creativity is the ability to understand what is. Acknowledge it, recognize it, and also to anticipate what could be and merge those things together to get to a meaningful result.

And I think when we are overwhelmed, when we are stressed, when we are at capacity, it's really hard just to accept and understand what is. And I think what can happen in a lot of our organizations, and I don't think it's intentional, is that we feel overloaded. And when Curious Carl comes along with, I've got an idea, we want to shut that thing down because we see it as a threat. We don't see it as an opportunity. We see it as a threat to the status quo. We see it as a threat to our full plates. What else? How can I handle something else? But what's amazing is that the frontline employees typically are going to be the ones who come up with the very best solutions and they can anticipate the problems faster than anybody else. Why? Because they're dealing with it. And they're the ones who are thinking you know how we could do this better?

And so if we can go ahead and in that moment when someone comes along and says, "I have an idea," and we want to be like, shut it down, the best thing as leaders we can do is to just say, tell me about it. Open up the space. Give enough oxygen in the room for people to share the ideas that they have. We don't have to act on it, but let's at least be able to talk about it. And once we can talk about it, if we can then move to the place where we can actually have a system and a process for collecting pain points and solutions and making those connections better, and finding those people who are great at identifying the pain points and finding the solutions and put them in positions to be able to do that more often, then that's the next level.

And then the third level is where we can overtly celebrate curiosity, where we can overtly celebrate finding problems that need solutions and where we can take risk. And risk means we're not going to nail it every time. We're going to fail. And being able to celebrate actually pursuing those risks, knowing that sometimes this is what is important. Sometimes what we thought could be the solution for a problem, it's not going to end up being the solution, but it could spawn 10 other ideas that could be game changing within our industry. So there has to be enough room and it starts with us at least just responding with tell me about it, instead of trying to shut curiosity down and push away an idea that ultimately could change our industry.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, I love that. Okay, so I mentioned at the beginning that one of the things that I really appreciated about your presentation is the reminder that we all have the power to make positive impact and leave an impression on people's hearts and make a difference. You shared a story about Jim and that was kind of what hit that message home for me. And I'm just hoping we could leave the audience with that gift of that perspective as well. So if you don't mind sharing that story, I would love it.

Elizabeth Dixon: I'd love to. So this story is a great applause to Starbucks. And I heard this story from the former president of Starbucks, Howard Behar, and it's a story about Jim. So Jim visited his local Starbucks daily. He went literally every afternoon and he ordered the same thing each time. It was a blueberry muffin and a coffee. And eventually the team at Starbucks, the baristas, they all got to know Jim and he'd come in the door and he would be greeted enthusiastically. And they even went out of their way to start writing notes on his coffee cup and on his muffin bag. And sometimes the muffins would go faster and they would set aside a blueberry muffin for him because they wanted to make sure when he came each afternoon that he would get his drip coffee and his muffin. And he lived across the street.

And so he would come over from the nursing home where he lived, and one day he didn't come in and they were perplexed like, where's Jim? It's afternoon, like he's supposed to be here. And so they said, "Hey, when it slows down a bit, let's go take his blueberry muffin and drip coffee over to him." And so a few of the team went over and they walked in and they said, "Hey, we're here to bring Jim his coffee and muffin." And they shared that with the receptionist. And the receptionist looked up and she had a tear streaming down her face and she said, "Jim died last night." And the team was like, what? They went back and poured out the coffee and threw away the muffin. And they were also disappointed because Jim had created a special culture within that team because of who he was.

We all have that space where we get to show up and make a difference in people's lives. And Jim did that for the team and they were bummed, like they lost Jim. And the next day, Jim's daughter came into Starbucks and she said, "Hey, I want to introduce myself. My dad came in here a lot in the afternoons." And they're like, "Jim, you're Jim's daughter." And she said, "Yeah." She said, "We're having a time for my dad, a funeral for my dad tomorrow. I'd really love it if you guys could come." And the manager figured out a way to organize the schedule so that that team in the afternoon could all go and honor Jim's life. And what's amazing is as much impact as Jim had on that team, they had no idea that when they walked into that funeral, there were three large round tables, like those large round tables that you sit at a banquet with eight or 10 other people.

And those three large round tables were filled with every bag and every cup that they'd written a note to Jim on. They had no idea that his afternoon time in gave him so much life because he got to interact with them and he knew how much they cared about him. And what's so powerful about making an impact on people's lives is its synergistic. And when we get to pour into somebody else, whether it's just a smile and I hope you have a great day, whether it's taking a moment to help somebody out, they feel better and we feel better. And it all starts to cycle around. And I think out of all the things going on in our country and our world, I think we could use a little bit more of that with each other where we just take the time to say, "Hey, you know what? You matter and I want to make sure that you know that by the way that I treat you today." And we get to do that in our jobs and it gets to make a really big difference in people's lives.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, I love that story and I think it's such a good reminder to us as individuals that the things we maybe do without thinking much of it can mean so much to someone else. And also it's a good reminder for leaders of looking for ways to empower your employees and give them the space to be themselves and make those connections because those are the things that make such a huge impact. So I love that story. Thank you for sharing it. I know we are out of time. Last question is just where can folks find the book?

Elizabeth Dixon: Oh, Amazon, the Power of Customer Experience right off Amazon. You can get the ebook version or hard back or soft back. And then on my website, ElizabethDixonSpeaks.com, there's a great video series that you can do with your teams to create a book club experience. There's a user guide and then seven videos that you can do to set up conversation. So everyone can read the book and then have seven segments where you have conversation. That's where the real power comes, is when you can start taking these principles and ideating together, what could this look like for us? What does our mindsets need to be? Where are our opportunities to improve our culture, et cetera, et cetera. So those can be found on the website, ElizabethDixonSpeaks.com.

Sarah Nicastro: Awesome. Everyone check it out. Elizabeth, thank you so much for being here. I appreciate it.

Elizabeth Dixon: Thanks for having me, Sarah.

Sarah Nicastro: You can learn more by visiting us at futureoffieldservice.com. You can also find us on LinkedIn as well as Twitter at the Future of FS. The Future of Field Service podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more at ifs.com. As always, thank you for listening.

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November 16, 2022 | 25 Mins Read

CNH Industrial’s Asset-Centric Service Strategy

November 16, 2022 | 25 Mins Read

CNH Industrial’s Asset-Centric Service Strategy

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Sarah talks with Danielle Waterworth, VP- NA Dealer & Customer Solutions and Global Maintenance & Service Development at CNH Industrial about how the company is segmenting and evolving its service offerings, what advice she has on leasing assets, how to add value to a dealer network, and more. 

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today we are going to be digging into some of the specific considerations and items that go into strategy when we are thinking about asset intensive or asset centric service. I'm excited to be joined today by Danielle Waterworth, who is the Vice President for North America Dealer and Customer Solutions, as well as for global maintenance and service development at CNH Industrial. Good grief. That was a mouthful. Danielle, welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast.

Danielle Waterworth: Thank you. Thank you. And it is a mouthful. I have to always remind myself of what it is every time that I'm talking to someone.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Yeah. Well, that was a lot to get out, but I think that might have been the hardest part for me of the whole podcast. So, all right. So Danielle, before we talk a little bit about some of the aspects that are top of mind for you in an asset centric service organization, just tell everyone a little bit about yourself, your role and what CNHI does.

Danielle Waterworth: Myself, I grew up in central Illinois on a corn and beans and livestock farm. And so I was the prototypical farm kid who was looking for her place in the industry. And with that went to the University of Illinois, majoring in Ag Finance, and eventually found myself at CNH Industrial. So CNH Industrial, I've been here for 19 years, almost 20. What we do is we are an ag and construction equipment manufacturer, but it goes beyond that. It's more than just being that original equipment manufacturer. It's a full suite of everything that you would need from a captive finance company to aftermarket parts and services. We operate through our dealer network globally, but we are there as a partnering role to support those agriculture and construction customers out in the industry.

Sarah Nicastro: Excellent. Okay. And so you mentioned being a farm kid, and I know when we spoke in preparation for this discussion, you mentioned that, that influences a lot of the passion and conviction you bring to what you did or what you do. So a lot of people from your family went into the industry from the context of actually farming, and you are still involved, but in a different way. So how do you think that influences or factors into what you do within your role day to day?

Danielle Waterworth: Well, growing up in it, I saw the struggles, I saw the passion, I saw the pride. The ag industry is a very proud industry with a lot of good people in it. Very, very early on, I was very engaged with everything within our family's business, but I slowly started figuring out that I was more interested in the global concepts of agriculture, the business side, and really took that to another level when I went for my degree and found there were so many more opportunities to give back into agriculture that wasn't necessarily in a production ag environment. That shapes me on a daily basis. And I say that for sure because on a daily basis I'm engaging with my family as they're experiencing agriculture from everything for what's going on with the markets and the commodities, the industry to the equipment that they run. So I get that whole protection of making sure that our customers are first always as a first and foremost, do what's right for that customer. And I take that farm kid mentality with me in my day to day job.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Well, it's interesting when... And I'm sure this can be reflected in other industries as well, but just thinking about the scenario you're in, your customer is your family members. And so a lot of people talk about customer centricity, but that drives that concept home in a totally different way. So, that's really interesting. Now, part of the reason that your title was such a tongue tire in the beginning is because you do have a dual role. So can you just briefly describe for folks what the two sides of your responsibilities are within the organization?

Danielle Waterworth: Absolutely. So within North America, the role that I hold is from an agriculture perspective for everything I would say back office dealer and customer support. So from a day to day traditional model, we're talking warranty, technical support, service training, maintenance. Those are the places where we cover from a service, and then you combine it in on the parts side with dealer, parts support, you get that holistic picture of just taking care of the normal day to day run. Where it gets fun is combining that very traditional model of operating and that annual basis, what are you going to combine with the global role, which is more a strategy play that goes into services and maintenance development of where are we going to go with our tools in the future of the aftermarket for parts and services?

And so with that connected and non-connected digital tools, we're talking about the utilization of remote assist, we're talking about the selling of non-connected services and the tools that enable that from extended warranties, maintenance inspections of our machines, all the way into the connected services team, which looks at how do we enable the activities that need to occur within our tools? Now that we do have these digitally connected machines, how do we utilize that information within our asset libraries on our machines, within incident management for our dealers and customers, and in the control rooms in which we're starting to really heavily invest for a better look at what's going on with our machines?

Sarah Nicastro: So it's really interesting because you have a foot in both the present and the future, and to some degree a lot of people do in the sense of they're responsible for maintaining today's business while also thinking about what's changing and evolving and how an organization should innovate. But I think with some of the conversations we are having around how service is changing, there can be a tremendous distance between that present foot and the future foot. So for CNH Industrial on both sides of your role, you're intimately involved in the way the traditional business is executed today, and you're also looking at how things are evolving and how service may be consumed or delivered or what customers ultimately need from the company in the future. So can you tell us a little bit about what you're observing and the trajectory that the company is on in that continuum of everything from traditional to what the future might look like?

Danielle Waterworth: Yeah, I think we come from a model that was very iron based. Go sell the machine, go sell another machine. And I think that our industry is evolving to understand that the true way you're going to continue to keep selling those machines and retain those customers is really on the service that you provide. It's a big piece of what we call uptime, but we need to take a look at it of not just from the quality of the machine that you're purchasing, but you're really trying to provide them with packages or options as a customer base that can give them an assurance, especially we will lean on my ag presence again, but in the ag industry, you're dealing with weather, you're dealing with situations that things are going to come up from a time perspective.

And it's really important that when they're in the field harvesting that they have that assurance that their machine is going to perform, or that they're people behind them that are going to enable that to occur. So we look at not just selling them an asset anymore, but the whole captive finance model, base warranty, extended warranty. How can we make sure that we're looking at you and your dealerships from a maintenance and inspection perspective before you go into a planting and harvesting season, which are their heavy times of use? So it's looking at that in that holistic picture, and that really starts defining how you go to market versus your competitors.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. And there's a lot of interesting elements here because on one hand you're talking about giving customers options and flexibility, and on the other hand, often customers want simplicity. We just need it to work when we need to use it sort of thing. So do you have a feel for where customers are at in terms of do they want more options and choice, or do they want more cohesiveness and simplicity in the overall offering?

Danielle Waterworth: I'm going to quote one of my favorite dealers who says, "We need to keep it simple, but we need to provide options." And so you start putting those two things together, it's like, okay, what does that mean? But I think what it is, it's that whole aspect of if they were going to design the perfect situation, what does it look like? Are they more comfortable providing their own set of service on their machines? If so, maybe they're just looking at, Hey, what can we do from a parts perspective? Then there's those other guys that are managing those larger fleets and they're like, I want somebody to provide that assurance that, you as a dealership can make sure that you're looking at my machines for me on a biannual basis. You want to lock it in.

And so we have to look at that perspective of it's up to the customer and what they're comfortable with and what they're looking for, but we have to enable those options when we're selling that machine. We have to provide them as an opportunity and explain to them what it is that they're buying. Where are you going to get the most value out of the different solutions that we provide?

Sarah Nicastro: And so you're saying explain more of that upfront.

Danielle Waterworth: Correct. I do think-.

Sarah Nicastro: And I think-.

Danielle Waterworth: ... front sell, yes.

Sarah Nicastro: I think that's part the, I don't want to say identity shift because that's not always the case, but you mentioned you're at a point where you're differentiating through service. So if we understand that as an organization, then we start to see the importance of having more of those conversations up front as part of the initial sale instead of as an afterthought of, okay guys, we sold them the equipment. Now somebody come in and tell them what we can do from an aftermarket perspective, or what happens if something breaks or if they want this assurance or that assurance and presenting it more as the overall value proposition instead of two separate value propositions

Danielle Waterworth: For sure.

Sarah Nicastro: Does that make sense?

Danielle Waterworth: We see it in the industries in which we buy stuff today, just in our consumer, you buy packages and then they're constantly reminding you of what it is that you actually purchased to get the most value out of the money that you're spending. And those are touch points as well. So it's very important from that, that the dealers keep that relationship with the customer. We work and we go to market through our dealer network. They keep that relationship that is the health of our industry and for us at CNH Industrial.

So we want them to have those touchpoints, those opportunities to engage with the customer. And that can come from those reminders of maintenance all the way to we're seeing something that's going on with your machine. We want to see if we can schedule some time to take a look at it just based on what we're seeing with the connected unit. So I think there's also a place with the used market too. As you're buying a machine, a trade in that you're taking from somebody else, there's a place in there from an assurance perspective of I want to make sure that this machine is being taken care of on a go forward basis. And giving them options is a good thing.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. So options is a good thing, but do you foresee a point where you would just be selling and delivering uptime?

Danielle Waterworth: I think there are some things that are going to be what I have started calling innate. They're just assumed to be a part of the machine sell. I don't know if the market has necessarily defined where all of those things lie today. So we're going through some of that as an evolution of what is included with the machine versus what is an upsell. I would say in the next three, four years, you're going to see a lot of change in our industry in that regard.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, it's interesting. I was just having a conversation yesterday to prepare for a panel discussion I'm moderating at a field service event in Europe at the end of the month, and it's around remote service capabilities. So like you mentioned, remote assist and tools that can be leveraged to reduce onsite service necessity to allow more customer self-service to even when onsite service is required, prepare a bit ahead of time so that the first time fixed rate is higher, et cetera. And one of the biggest discussions we had as a group is how does that fit with business model? Because in a traditional service business model, then a lot of organizations are being asked the question, Okay, well if you're saving money because you're not coming here as much, then my service should be cheaper versus when they're delivering the outcome or the uptime or whatever that looks like for the industry, that's the value the customer is paying for. So the how isn't as important as the what? Do you know what I mean?

And so it's an interesting conversation to think about in terms of how the technological capabilities that are helping organizations like yours and others evolve how service is delivered. How do we invest in those in a way where the organization isn't ultimately penalized because the customer just sees it as a cost savings, not an additional capability that's tied to the value proposition. Does that make sense?

Danielle Waterworth: Yeah. I'm just trying to relate it in our industry. And I think that the thing that is a little different within agricultural network is there's a very strong tie between that customer base and that dealer. They start to see something, their immediate call is that engagement with the dealer. I think that there are places where from a protection perspective, we want to be able to provide some information to a customer in regards to their utilization. If it's going to lead to a potential breakage, forewarning is a good thing. I think that there are places where we need to enable quicker service, and we can do that by providing better linkages between the customer to the dealer in what they're experiencing. And that is a different type of service call. So you're going to see some changes probably in our industry that may occur because of that.

But the biggest thing of whether it's the customer, the dealer, the dealer to us in providing some kind of an assurance of what's going on with their machine is we need to be there to provide the quickest response we can to a customer because it is so important that when they're using that machine, they're using it for some revenue producing purpose.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah.

Danielle Waterworth: So that ultimately has to drive a lot of the decisions that we make and find a way to weave in that whole customer dealer OEM model.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Yeah. I had a gentleman on the podcast a few weeks ago, I'm going to send you the link after, because I think you would find it really interesting. So they have introduced a product in the rice milling industry, and they are going to market with that exclusively as a service. So there's some uniqueness in what the machine itself does and how it's different from the existing technology in their space, but then also the go to market strategy is entirely different than the other organizations. And part of what he and I spoke about is how being the new entrant makes that a lot easier versus having any legacy as a company that you're always-.

Danielle Waterworth: Trying to figure out how it fits.

Sarah Nicastro: ... Having to balance what has been and what was versus what do we need going forward, and how do we get everyone's mindset on the same page? How do we change, even if it's revenue recognition or whatever that looks like, there's an existing system and process and infrastructure that has to change. And he's saying, I'm not saying it's easy, but I'm saying it's a lot easier than if we had to evolve here. We're just coming in and having the conversation. So it was an interesting perspective.

Okay. So I want to shift gears a bit, Danielle, because one of the things that, and I believe you tell me if this is part of your former role, I don't know if it's part of your current role, but we talked about the leasing and financing of the equipment. And I thought that was interesting because when we do talk with organizations that are considering or trying to go down a path of moving to that as a service, delivering uptime versus equipment scenario, that's one of the discussions that becomes interesting is moving from that CapEx to that OpEx model. And so in your experiences on the leasing side of the business, I'm just interested if you learned anything that could be good food for thought for folks who are thinking more about how to lease equipment to be able to roll that into a NASA service offering versus selling it outright?

Danielle Waterworth: Yeah, no, absolutely. I think one of the things that CNH Industrial does really well is cross-pollination. I mentioned, I'm an Ag finance major. I spent 15 and a half years with the captive finance company. And one of the last roles that I did have was in asset remarketing and leasing. And most definitely moving from there to the parts area to now to service. You take pieces of your prior roles and you're like, well, how does that fit in? And one of the biggest benefits that I could see from a leasing model is if you do start to lock in that whole maintenance plan, that extended warranty is yes, one good thing that we've always had. But if you start locking in maintenance and inspections, all of a sudden that asset, which is your company asset, that's going to come back to you at some point in time. Now you have a better understanding of what's going on with that asset, how it's performing. What's going to be the market value when it comes back, and I need to remarket it back through my dealer network?

It's just a way of making sure that you're retaining that value against that residual. And I think there's rewards to that too. If you are well maintaining a lease, reward culture needs to come into that. And it just provides that overall assurance, not just to the customer of what they're getting as far as when they're returning that lease, but then also to the captive finance company is what that machine looks like and what's going to be the potential value when they try to remarket it. Most definitely all of those things start aligning as far as how do they all work together.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Yeah. it's a really interesting piece of that overall conversation. Now you're also responsible for product support, and one of the things that you have put a big focus on is really maximizing the effectiveness and efficiency of managing incidents. So can you talk a little bit about that initiative?

Danielle Waterworth: Well, we're working on it. I will say we're working on it. From a North America perspective, it was one of the biggest challenges that we had coming in this year of really improving on the pain points that people were experiencing and the product support process. And that being from when the incident comes in from the customer to the dealer, dealer puts in an incident to us, and then eventually we're going to get them that solution back of how they're going to fix that machine. When we go through that process this year, we went and we utilized our business systems mentality. We started looking at it from a lean perspective and did a whole value stream mapping of what's going on in that experience and found clusters and clusters of pain points, pain points that could be addressed, but they just needed to put some effort and focus to them.

Whether it's simple things more that are more in the area of knowledge and quality, how we onboard new employees to support in that product support nature, continuous education, how we educate with our dealer network of how to build a better dealer incident coming in so that I can give you a quicker response out. So whether it was knowledge or priority or prediction, just search-ability of our tools, we're starting to attack the different clusters of pain points that we're having. And we're doing that through a kaizen mentality where we're just continuing to invest back into our culture of being accountable and changing things for the better, but then also for our dealer network and providing them a better experience.

And I think that this is going to be a long process, but it's a fun process because you come out of a week with change, immediate change of how you're going to do something differently or documentation of policy manuals of how you're going to now behave. So it's just been a fun experience for us to go through this year, and I look forward to bringing it into other teams that I have within that North America market.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Now, it makes me think, Danielle, that's one really specific example of taking an opportunity to improve that experience and ultimately relationship with your dealers, which then ultimately improves the customer experience, because you make it easier for the dealer, the dealer then is making that customer resolution simpler. Knowing that you go to market through the dealer network, and that at the end of the day, those customers who know your brand know that through your dealers and those relationships. Are there any other thoughts you have for listeners on how to make that relationship the best and most productive it can be when a company is going to market ultimately through that intermediary party?

Danielle Waterworth: I think we're all going through that right now in that the biggest thing that we really quite frankly, have to be thinking of all of us is that next generation of technician. We provide that support of that service and training once they've hired that service technician in providing those standards that we, hey, you want to achieve level one, level two master from a perspective of fixing our machines, being that technical expert. But the first step, quite frankly, is finding those next generation of employees. But it's little less than two years ago, we started an initiative called Top Tech. And while we're not out actively finding these kids, we're still working with our dealer network, CNH Industrial has taken a focused effort to say, we're going to help support that initiative by championing the whole aspect of these are good paying jobs, these are jobs that you can take back into the regions in which you want to live in. If you want to stay in your hometown, there's a dealer next door.

And trying to find and make those connections, give our dealers the tools that they need to go and help recruit those individuals, make those connections to those local vocational technical programs that maybe we have a stronger relationship with to grow that next generation of CNH Industrial dealer technician. But then just trying to make those ties and linkages also with youth programs that are out in the United States and within Canada that have a higher correlation to kids that want to work in ag and construction. And so we've really put a focused effort into top tech this year and the last in building this program and continuing to work with our dealers on what's next, what else could help you.

Sarah Nicastro: So part of that is helping create better awareness of the jobs in the industry. And you do that through, I think you said you speak right at schools and whatnot about some of those opportunities. So part of it is that sort of thing. Can you give any insight on what the tactics are that have worked in helping them identify and then attract new talent?

Danielle Waterworth: The earlier that you can get involved, the better. So if you have those opportunities to engage in those high school programs, it's better. If you get in there and you provide them those day to day sit in the life experiences, I think it starts to change their ideas of what these jobs are. They are not dirty jobs. These are air condition, climate controlled service technician jobs for the most part anymore of where our industry is going. And there's a lot of flexibility in that to just try to find those opportunities in our network because they are in such demand. So the more you provide that insight into what that job looks like, the more they can start to see, okay, this is something that I could be interested in. What does it take to go in this direction?

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Yeah. And I think your point about the earlier, the better. You also mentioned high schools themselves. You mentioned vo-tech, you mentioned community, just programs and extracurricular type things that are a fit. So also thinking about just really trying different avenues and see where you do get some interest or make some progress. But this is a really good area to consider in terms of a very specific lift for the dealers in an area of need, but ultimately something that also, again, impacts your customers because you can train and enable those technicians, but you need technicians to train and enable to provide the service.

Danielle Waterworth: Absolutely.

Sarah Nicastro: So that's a really, really good point. Now, Danielle, you mentioned to me when we spoke that you are very metrics and analytics focused, and that that plays a role in all that you do. Are there examples you can provide on how you apply this to your decision making and how you manage your teams to make sure that you are achieving the results that you want to achieve?

Danielle Waterworth: Yeah, absolutely. I think it goes into this whole lean mentality that we're trying to take on. But because you don't just live that first week in that kaizen and then it stops, you have to continuously assess where your metrics are going, find the next level of issues that you need to go and address. And that goes to the whole root cause problem solving. So we utilize our metrics a lot. We're starting now heavily into technical support to look at cycle times first response, just trends that we have going on with certain product areas during different times of the year or within different regions. And this allows us to have fact-based decisions in regards to where we need to invest

So we can start to see trends that are coming in and it'll allow us to make better decisions of, well, we're getting a lot of, I would call them struggling incident types for this certain product types. So where are we sitting at from a service technician perspective of how many people have been going through the higher level courses? And I think that, that's just allowing us to make smarter decisions as an organization of where we're going to invest our time and our money. And really helps us also promote to the dealerships, here's where we're investing, here's the results that we're starting to see. Because you want them to be believers in what you're doing as well. They have to be, otherwise they just think, Danielle's gone through the whole year, what has she done? So I think it just helps provide that value back to everyone, your employees, your dealers, which are your partners, and then hopefully your customers start feeling it as well. You actually start turning the tide through metrics.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, that makes sense. And I think when you talked about the work you're doing around incident management, I like how you said you're looking for those clusters because that's how you're identifying that first opportunity for attack or resolution. What will give the most lift? Where are the areas that are surfacing the biggest need so that we can have the biggest impact by solving those? And I think using that data driven approach is the best way to make sure that you are doing that in a way that will really help.

Danielle Waterworth: It takes-.

Sarah Nicastro: So I'm curious... Yeah, that's a good point. It's probably why I'm not that way. I very much lead with emotions and it has its benefits too, but you have to balance it all out.

Danielle Waterworth: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: I'm just personally curious about this. We didn't really talk about it, and I realize that's because this podcast obviously is more about service across a bunch of industries. It's not an agriculture or farming podcast, but as a farm kid, I am curious just what, going on within the world of agriculture, what is most interesting to you about trends in that space right now?

Danielle Waterworth: You can go on and on about the globalization and what's going on just within all of the countries and instability, but I think that for the most part, you're always going to have something like that, that you're going to be dealing with. You have globalization, you have mergers and acquisitions. Technology is starting to get rooted more and more and more. It's not just because I'm talking about connected services. We're talking about robots and machines, and the sustainability of agriculture. And so how do we.... Our methane tractors that we're producing now. We're trying to take what is best out of technology that's going on just in other industries and find ways of mixing it in to the ag and construction environment. And it's such a fast-paced activity, it's just exciting to just keep up with it, what's the next thing? What's the next thing? So I'd say that those are the biggest things that are going on right now that are just really driving a lot of change within agriculture.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, Now, I wanted to ask, we were talking about the connected service and the non-connected service and all of the things that are really a work in progress in terms of how does the modern value proposition work, what does that all look like, et cetera? And for an organization that is asset intensive and does have that need to protect your customer's ability to operate when they need to, which is their livelihood, et cetera. So much of your role is to really simplify a lot of complexity, a lot of complexity. And I think it's complexity that is almost multiplying by the minute when you think about digitalization and technology. And there's so much good to all of those things, but they do add a lot of layers of change and things to sort through, et cetera. So when you think about how best to simplify a complex asset intensive environment, what comes to mind in terms of how to navigate that?

Danielle Waterworth: What's the value? What's the value of the sell? At the end of the day, you can design the perfect widget and think that it's wonderful, and then if you haven't figure it out though, how it's actually going to be utilized and acquired into the market. That's the key point, that should drive everything that you do. How is this actually going to provide value back into your customer and dealer base? And if it's not, then you need to go back to the drawing board because it's probably not something that you need to spend your time in. It's not going to provide any additional value to them. It's probably not the right thing to be looking at.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I think there's something to your analytical practices in terms of, it seems like part of the key has to be constant prioritization of what will provide the greatest outcome. So with the customer in mind, but knowing that at any given moment, there's probably dozens of projects you could take on and help your team lead that would have a positive impact on the company, on the dealers, on the customers. But then how do you prioritize those? Because you can't do it all at once.

Danielle Waterworth: You live in an agile environment. I can tell you that.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Yeah.

Danielle Waterworth: Within the two streams that I have, I have basically 10 different functional areas, and you can sit down at the beginning of the year and you can plan these are going to be the things that we're going to do this year, they're going to make change. But if you don't touch that until the end of the year again, you've already failed. So you have to continue to adjust and readjust and get feedback back from your customer and your dealer base, your internals of what are they seeing? How, with what is going on to what you were saying before in the industry, how is that going to impact what we said we were going to go out and do? And you have to adjust numerous times.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Yeah. Because you never know when there's going to be a different need or a new need or a reprioritize need that needs to shake up your plans. That makes sense.

Danielle Waterworth: Yeah. Yep.

Sarah Nicastro: Good. I've enjoyed talking with you. Do you have any other thoughts or comments for the listeners?

Danielle Waterworth: No, not today. I have plenty. I love my job if you can't tell, so I could go on and on and on.

Sarah Nicastro: I love it. It makes me happy to see people that are passionate about what they do and enjoy the ways that they're able to make an impact. So I'm happy that you have that in your day to day life, and I'm happy that you were able to come and share a bit with us. So thank you.

Danielle Waterworth: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: All right. You all can learn more by visiting us at futureoffieldservice.com. You can also find us on LinkedIn as well as Twitter at the Future of FS. The Future of Field Service podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more at ifs.com. As always, thank you for listening. 

Most Recent

November 9, 2022 | 29 Mins Read

The Firsthand Perspective of the Field Service Contract Workforce

November 9, 2022 | 29 Mins Read

The Firsthand Perspective of the Field Service Contract Workforce

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Sarah talks with Tamika Fields, independent IT Services contract technician, about what she enjoys about being independent, what could make W2 roles more appealing to talent, and how companies can make their relationships with contract workers most effective to ensure positive CX.

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today, we're going to be getting an inside look at the perspective of the field service contract workforce. I'm joined today by Tamika Fields, who is an independent IT contract technician. We're going to get a little bit of perspective from Tamika on what is in the hearts and minds of the contract workforce and relate that back to some of the things we talk about here on this podcast in terms of leveraging contract workers, making sure that doing so allows you to still provide that positive customer experience, et cetera. We will dig into all of that, but Tamika, welcome to the podcast, and thanks for joining me.

Tamika Fields: Thank you for having me. Hello, everyone.

Sarah Nicastro: Before we dig in, tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey to becoming an independent contract technician.

Tamika Fields: Well, my name is Tamika Fields. I'm an Alabama native, southern born and raised. Honorably separated from the Air Force. I'm an artist, a curious, creative, spiritual being on a very human journey. I'm just the student of information technology and communications. I started before the Air Force, but then I transitioned. And then after that, I went straight into my career working W-2 work, that's what we call it now, now that I'm a contractor. I transitioned into the full-time contracting subsequently as things didn't necessarily work out the way that I would've thought as a professional at that juncture.

Sarah Nicastro: Mm-hmm. Okay. So how long were you doing W-2 work and what were some of the reasons that going that route was appealing to you?

Tamika Fields: If we just start with my full-time career in communications and information technology January 1999 when I joined the Air Force. I just continued working obviously from that job to other jobs, subcontracts, but I was still a W-2 within the contract. The very first contract that I got, ironically, I got two months after getting out of the military, and it fell through. And then that was the first inkling that in my mind I'd just come from this military contract and everything really is a contract, but I was still in the tether of what I call the matrix of the illusion of what W-2 work is considered for most people.

And from there, just fast forward to January 2016. I pretty much did what I consider W-2 work, but they were consistent contracts, because most of the work was range contract. It wasn't the direct high private sector work for this school until towards the end. I took an independent temporary role that was supposed to be flexible, that was supposed to be, "You are a contractor. We're subbing you. This is temporary. At will at any time we may not need you. We call you in part-time." The role was part-time as part of their temporary services, and I was still being treated like a W-2 employee with the restrictions that come with that, without the flexibility to do what I knew how to do, to make things more efficient, to scale and streamline what they needed because they were trying to upgrade all of their devices.

They were breaching many security policies and had things on the network that shouldn't have been. I was trying to help with that, and I was being treated like a W-2 employee with these restrictions that wouldn't allow me to really get them to where they needed to be, and for all intents and purposes, that the IT manager hired me to do. That was the first time that I was just like, "Hey, January 2016, I think something needs to change here. I've been doing the same thing somewhat expecting a different result, hoping that people see what services I provide." And I'm just like, "I just need to take the leap because this is me treading water in a temporary role but not having the flexibility."

And that was it after that. That ended about a year later, so six months I took a hiatus to reassess if I really want to continue in IT, because I'd already taken a break briefly before starting that role. And by May of 2018, I was full on, "I'm an independent contractor."

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. From your perspective, what are the benefits of being an independent contractor versus being a full-time employee with one organization?

Tamika Fields: Off the top, flexibility, autonomy, greater sense of purpose, and self-branding to represent what services you provide and the quality and standards that you provide that apply to all business needs, in my opinion and experience.

Sarah Nicastro: Mm-hmm. Okay. If you look at the flip side of the equation, I mean, is there anything that would make you reconsider being independent at this point and taking a full-time position with one organization?

Tamika Fields: Realistically, probably not.

But just thinking from the standpoint of I am the sum of my experiences, and I know there are some things that are beneficial when you have W-2 employment, the only thing that really would make me reconsider a full time employment role would be if I was in a position where the organization allowed me to have the exact same growth opportunities, flexibility, autonomy to get the job done with an efficient manner in the standard of the white glove service that I provide irrespective of office politics, which is virtually impossible. I've really only had that as an independent contractor.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. So highly unlikely.

Tamika Fields: Highly unlikely, but eightball says anything's possible.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Okay. Yeah, that's true. The reason I'm asking some of these questions is the organizations that listen to this podcast I think are really struggling with a couple fundamental questions of themselves, which is, number one, "We don't have enough talent, period, to do the volume of work we need to do. So whether that's looking at how we attract more people to the industry to hire as W-2 employees or whether we find sources of good 1099 or independent talent that we can leverage, it's a problem that needs to be solved."

I think companies tend to have different feelings about the use of contract workforce versus the idea of having a network of their own technicians. So I think it's interesting to look at this from the perspective of from the independent contractor perspective, what do people like about that role, whether it's understanding it so that you can build a good relationship and leverage talent like yours in a way that helps them deliver the brand experience they want to deliver. Or whether it's understanding what motivates you to be independent, to question themselves on are there things they can offer to make full-time employees make that role more attractive? To your point every time I've asked that question, you say flexibility. I always am urging organizations to think outside of the box in the sense of, yes, a lot of the industries we reach, service work, it needs done when it needs to be done. That leads people to believe, "We can't offer flexibility because we just need to service our customers when they need service." True, but that doesn't mean schedules need to be built the way they've always been built, right?

Tamika Fields: Correct.

Sarah Nicastro: If people are willing to get more creative and not just do what they've always done, then maybe you can do a rotation, maybe you can do a four-day workweek. I don't think any organization can hand you all of the benefits you have of being independent and poof. But I think we do need to ask ourselves more what are those things that are really drawing people to want to be independent and are there ways to adapt so that we're providing more of that, right.

Tamika Fields: True.

Sarah Nicastro: I just think this idea of, "Nope, it's this schedule, it's always been this schedule, it has to stay this schedule," I don't subscribe to that. I think if you really want to change the game and get more creative, then that's what you need to do. And if the problem becomes a big enough problem, people will be forced to start getting creative and thinking differently.

And so, that's where I think the perspective of you is helpful to really understand what are those motivators and either how do they begin to incorporate some of that into what their employee value proposition looks like or how do they consider those motivators so they can build relationships with someone like yourself that can help them be successful in their customer experience, right?

Tamika Fields: Absolutely.

Sarah Nicastro: So, if you think about that comment, are there aspects of your role as an independent contractor that you think it's possible for companies to provide more of to their full-time employees?

Tamika Fields: Absolutely. I don't think that cavern of absolutes in black and white separation exists personally. I think they make it exist because, like you said, they're dogmatically holding on to that. I don't think it has to be mutually inclusive. I feel like if full-time employment roles... For me, let's see, in terms of making it more appealing, what could be provided, I just feel like I find myself to be more proactive when I'm working 1099. I'm focused on the process and improvement. I do that anyway, but there's so many things that limit that because there's so many steps and approvals and people who don't see what's really happening and what really would change things and scale things to what they actually need. They see things on papers, it's abstracted, it's not tangible. They're not dealing with the forward-facing aspect of it, nor are they dealing with the actual infrastructure and what it is that they're doing or trying to do based on the industry that they're in.

And so, for me, that's all I'm focused on, efficiency. It's most challenging and rewarding for me to have that aspect that I always find in independent contract work. Ideally, that's the most nurturing environment. But I feel like just even with the very last W-2 role, the very last most longstanding W2 role that I had, I would say... I don't want to say a full-time temporary, but it was just the project based, but you're tethered to us. So even in that role as a W-2, "Yes, you're W-2, but you don't sit here 365 all days except for those holidays. You're here when we have these big projects. You're the first person we pull in. You might be the person that consults on this and also maybe you're the person that when it hits the fan, call that person first. Because if we know nothing else, we know based on the consistency with all these other projects, that they'll be able to put a fresh perspective set of eyes, give us some insight on what we can do to quickly to keep the ship from sinking and then give us time to go hire, say, the other person who would be the one that sits there and patches that hole when they go back to their respective independent corner."

But I know that's really creative, just even that thought and just that analogy to somebody in a corporate structured world. They'd be like, "What do you mean? You're just on retainer?" "In a way, but you don't have to pay me until I show up for work." So the retainer is the relationship.

Sarah Nicastro: And so, I want to get back to talking a little bit about the independent contract model, but I also think it's important to dig into this a little bit for the sake of people that listen and the way the industry is struggling with talent as a whole right now. There's a few things you said. You said flexibility. You said autonomy. And you don't like the corporate politics. Those are things that I think are representative of how the desires of the workforce are evolving. I don't think companies have a choice but to evolve with the workforce. I'm just bringing those points back up because I don't believe you are alone in desiring those things, and organizations have to start finding ways to deliver more of that.

Now, I also want to take it a layer deeper here, so bear with me. You said in the beginning you identify yourself as a creative. I think that's also part of what's happening here, is you have ideas and you want that autonomy to make suggestions and make changes and not be tied down by outdated policy and a very cumbersome process for introducing new concepts. I think it's a really important point because not everyone is like that, and that's fine. Everyone has different strengths. Some people are happy to just follow the rules and do what the process is, et cetera. But I think as we hear things in headlines of the importance of company culture and innovation and are we creating an environment where employees do feel that they can contribute to that innovation, what we really need to do is figure out how to make creatives like yourself feel more empowered and more involved in the process instead of a victim of whatever decisions are being made at the top.

I think that's a huge transformation underway, but again, I want to call out to the people listening that if they have talent within their ranks, like you, who is creative, who has ideas, who wants to problem solve, who wants to take issues and figure out what can change to make them go away, you really need to figure out how to harness that talent instead of having it get frustrated and leave that outdated dinosaur-like culture to just go-

Tamika Fields: Absolutely.

Sarah Nicastro: ... do their own thing.

That is not me saying, and I want to be clear, that is not me saying that folks like yourself shouldn't be independent contractors or companies should not leverage independent contractors. I'm just also stating that unless a company's strategy is to use all 1099 employees, these are some of the really hard questions they need to be asking themselves and grappling with. Because the realities are just that we know the frontline workforce, I say this all the time, holds so much power, because you are the person interacting with customers. You are ultimately the external arm of whatever brand or customer experience a company wants to provide.

You're also in a position where you see more challenge and more opportunity than many others in the organization. So if we're not listening and we're not involving and we're not leveraging that insight and perspective, we're doing ourselves a huge disservice while also making people that have the talents or the drive that you have feel that that environment is just not right for them. I'm really just urging people to hear what you're saying and think about how they start to make changes, however difficult that might be, to empower and encourage and involve and engage their workforce rather than just sticking to process/policy that has been around for a long, long time.

Tamika Fields: Absolutely.

Sarah Nicastro: Does that make sense?

Tamika Fields: It makes perfect sense, because we are the unintentional mascots for any organization. I've worked for hospitals, nonprofit schools, I mean, government agencies, contracts, subcontracts, security teams. You name it, I've done it. Yeah, you are the person they remember, you are the face, so whether you're the begrudged, curmudgeon stereotype or you're an open communicator who is adapted and emotionally, intellectually keen, you're still what they remember, irrespective of you showing up two minutes before because somebody got sick or you've been there for two years. You do have the insight that it's impossible for you to have if you're not on the ground. It's just impossible.

And not to get into war and politics, but the reason why people feel the way they feel about President Zelenskyy with regard to the Ukraine as the Ukrainian people, because he's there, he's in it, he's not like removed, he's not detached, he's right there putting everything on the line with everybody else. We're the conduit. We as the frontline IT people, whether we're there every day... Again because I've been W-2, and I did that for years with the same people, seeing the same people every day and navigating the politics. You don't want to just be the guy saying, "Where's my red stapler?" If you're saying, "Hey, this needs to be resolved, maybe we can work on this. I know you can't fix it in three months, but maybe we can start the action rolling so that in three months we can have tangible plans that are implemented by the end of six months."

Most IT people have a realistic background and understanding of that. But like you said, if we're screaming, "We are here, and this is what needs to be done, and you have creatives," I feel like it's actually more cost effective for you to leverage the person that's willing to stay that's already W-2. Like you, I'm not saying get rid of all 1099 contractors, don't have independent consultants. Absolutely both are needed. But if you have somebody who has the quality, the skill, the growth, and the expansive scalable mindset within your organization, you have brand loyalty by default. You don't have to train that, you don't have to adjust that, you don't have to have the little nuances that change when somebody's going from just having worked at a hospital to now working for DOD contractor to then working for some nonprofit art school. Because there are shifts that most people can't do, and that's why they always have the stereotype of the IT person, the flat asset, and this, that, and the other. But not to digress.

Sarah Nicastro: It's a good point. No, I've talked on this podcast before about, I think as the nature of field service evolves, we need to start thinking about maybe part of getting more creative is not just about how do we offer flexibility and how do we offer more autonomy, et cetera, but also maybe we somehow segment roles differently than we have in the past. Because there are different talents, and they have different value.

Tamika Fields: Absolutely.

Sarah Nicastro: So maybe you have a very technical talent that can repair X, Y, Z, but they don't have an interest in the customer experience or the relationship building. It doesn't mean that talent isn't a talent, it just means-

Tamika Fields: Agreed. 

Sarah Nicastro: ... there are other talents needed. I have some thoughts on how that might evolve, which is not the topic of this podcast, but I think it's another point for people to consider is you will have people that are willing to just show up and do the work, and then you will have people that have fresh ideas. They're both important. Don't stifle one and pander to another. Figure out how to harness both talents and skills.

Tamika Fields: You have to. It's practical.

Sarah Nicastro: Yep, for sure. I want to shift gears a little bit, Tamika, and talk about, as an independent contractor, so keeping in mind that our audience is companies that would potentially hire folks like you to either augment their full-time employee W-2 workforce or some companies are taking the strategy of using all independent technicians. I want to shift gears. We've talked a lot about what attracts you, what do you like and enjoy about being independent and thinking about that through the lens of how do we bring some of that to the full-time employee. I want to shift gears and talk about how do we take that into consideration for organizations to work successfully with contractors, okay?

Tamika Fields: Mm-hmm.

Sarah Nicastro: One of the biggest concerns, if not the biggest concern, that companies surface when they're unsure about how to leverage a contract workforce is that they fear that brand or customer experience will not be as strong as it will with someone who, like you said, is only working with customers in that sector, who understands the intricacies of that brand, et cetera. What are your thoughts on that concern and its validity? And then let's talk a little bit about what good relationships look like and how that can be offset a bit. Sorry, I always ask multiple questions at once, so first - what are your thoughts on that concern?

Tamika Fields: Well, okay, so it is a valid concern. I don't 100% disagree, but I largely disagree because I feel like, okay, if you have a professional who's adept and at a certain level in the industry, there's a level of embedded communication skills and decorum just by virtue of being in the industry at that level. So you have to think in terms of whoever the HR person is or whoever the temp employee services person is that are bringing these people on and onboarding them, you have to present to them what it is that's needed so that they source correctly for that role. If you do that, then that concern, it's mitigated just by working with your onboarding person or the HR person or the technical recruiter that's within your company or whether you outsource that. And so, as far as that, to me that resolves that.

But of course, nothing's cookie-cutter. The representation of an ideal vision of what a company would want to get the quick turnaround of the deliverables and have all the projects on task, perhaps someone who's not... You're worried about, I guess, people being complacent and just coming in there because the high dollar last hired consultant and they just come in and do the job. Again, even if it's hot tasking, we're behind, we're trying to catch up before we lose this contract, you still have 15 minutes to an hour to onboard somebody with the proper expectations of the contract. If you've got time for people to sign NDAs and to make sure that the routing number is correct, you've got time to have them sit down and even just have a meeting like this, like, "This is our company, this is our vision. We know this is a short project, short turnaround, but you represent us at all phases and this and this. These are our mission statements. This is what we bring to the table. Our customers are used to this expectation. This is our standard operating procedures."

If you don't have time to do that, then you're probably in bigger trouble. I kid you not, that's a 15 to 45 minute moment of communication. Bring everybody in, make space for that, lay it all out, have them repeat it back to you. If you've got nothing else but add another 30 minutes to role play, and then you're done. So what have you invested? 15 minutes to an hour and a half of somebody in HR and communications time to do that with a contractor. But most people don't think that way. So it's not even the fact that they don't have the skills and resources already available, they don't think about it. They're just like, "Well, we only want people who already know, who are already working here." You've got people working there 10, 15, 13, 5 years who don't even understand the vision and the brand of the company, who could care less. That's just a fact.

And then you have people who are just like, "Hey, I'm a chameleon. I'm here for you. You pay me for the service. Part of that service is me representing you in every aspect. And then you get all of the benefit of my years of experience from all of the other companies." But, of course, I'm pitching my identity, my experience because this is what I do.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, that's a really good point. Now, to take that a step further, okay, that's really good advice, are there relationships you have where you're getting feedback on performance and/or feeling appreciated or recognized when you are providing above-average performance as an independent contractor?

Tamika Fields: I do. I don't want to sound like hubristic, but every single job that I have taken since the one that I mentioned in January, they have within the first week, if not the first day, asked me to stay permanently.

Sarah Nicastro: I was going to say, "How many times are you... "

Tamika Fields: How do you say this without sounding arrogant? But I mean, I'm not…

Sarah Nicastro: No, no, honestly, I've thought that since the beginning of the conversation. Yeah, because that's the thing, and that's why naturally I started with thinking in my mind and talking about how do companies attract, bring on board, nurture, and retain talent like you, because it is what they all want. I mean, I can absolutely see how that would be the case. The challenge though is, what are you getting from the experience of not being tethered to a particular company, and what does that mean for the future of the workforce?

I also think there are aspects of this conversation, there's company or industries that have very seasonal work. There's industries that go through big ebbs and throughs, and they need to be able to scale up and scale down. It isn't all about just that they're not providing an experience that full-time employees necessarily want.

Tamika Fields: Absolutely.

Sarah Nicastro: There are a lot of aspects that can make the use of a contract workforce be a valid option. But, I was bringing some of those points up because I talked to so many business leaders and service leaders that are really struggling with talent, that I know it is part of the challenge. In terms of best practices though, so I'm thinking about advice you can give to companies who are looking to work with contractors, so investing the time, 15 minutes to an hour and a half to really set the stage and provide clear expectations sounds like something people would think to do anyway, but I'm not shocked that it doesn't always or often happen. What does the follow-up look like? Other than people trying to just hire you in full time, do you have any thoughts for companies on how would you like to see them deliver feedback and let you know either, "Hey, you did a great job." or "Hey, we set the stage for you, and you didn't really deliver what we were looking for." or "We'd like to not necessarily bring you in full time, but we want to continue to leverage your services and that sort of thing."

What I'm thinking about, Tamika, is I did a podcast quite a long time ago with company in Australia named Foxtel that only leverages contract technicians. What they've done is almost sort of Uberized their process. They have a scorecard... and it's a very simple scorecard. It's only four things so the stages set when people start. They work with a firm that helps them with this, but it's very clear to the contract worker, "Here's what we need you to execute on." They continually get ranked, and the people that are getting the highest scores in those clearly-defined areas get the best and most frequent jobs. It's essentially, the better work they do, the more they're able to stay independent but rely on that company for the best jobs and the highest volume of work to the degree they want to accept it. And then obviously at some threshold, the people that aren't doing a good job, they just go by the wayside.

Tamika Fields: Yeah, definitely sounds Darwinian, but yes, it works. I was going to allude to that, similar to what Field Nation uses and very, like you said, Uberized or Lyfted or if you want to use those brands to reference that. The scorecard system works so long as there is, of course, quality assurance and checks and balances in there, because we're human, we're dealing with human beings, and there's subjective biases that need to be addressed. But outside of that, to me that is the ideal way because you get immediate feedback, you have the clear and present expectation, and then you have the follow up. Like you stated, I have several companies that have worked with me last year, wanted to bring me back on for seasonal work. Some things they only need you seasonal to cover when their main IT people are out. Also asking me to come on board in a similar situation.

It's not always, like you said, just the fact that they don't want you or they don't have the model set up for that. But that company in Australia, what they're doing, I think if they could incorporate that within the model of the corporate umbrella, I think that would actually help. Because some people need, I wouldn't say daily, but some people need more immediate feedback and course correction. Even the people who like to just tunnel vision, "I'm in my cube, I'm doing my thing." And again, we need them. We need the analyzers, the data people, the people who are just going to sit there and, "This is the process. I follow the process. I came in at this time, I leave." There's a place for everybody because I'm inclusivity, not exclusivity. We need everybody. We need the people who don't want to lead, and we need the leaders. We need the visionaries, and we need the people who need everything to be painted out black and white, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

So yeah, that definitely would be the way. Like I said, I have organizations that just straight up said, "Hey, we only need independent contractors right now, but in the future if a position opens up, please... " They're very direct. Or, "This company changed their mind. We were going to hire you for this, but please go back to our website and look." A lot of companies that are IT contracting firms, they just directly say that because they also know it has to be reciprocated, and they also know what they really can't offer. "Oh yeah, we definitely want you, but we don't have the role available. At contract fell through, we don't have that." or "We want you to come back next year, but we only need you next year, 10 months from now," that type of thing. And with the understanding that, "Well, you do realize I can't just tread water for 10 months."

Sarah Nicastro: Right. Right.

Tamika Fields: "So if I'm not available at that time, it is what it is." But the relationship doesn't have to be lost because I have literally won one company three times, but I was already doing something else. But it's the same company that contracted me last year. And then they wanted me again for the actual thing that they contracted me for, but now at this point I'm already doing something else. But every single time we engage, we're solidifying the relationship. I still want to work with them. If the moon is in the southern sky and Jupiter's on its right, I will be there. But if it doesn't align, we don't have to burn that bridge just because it's not working out.

For some people having space for that to keep in their database those names and numbers, you never know, even if it's like five people, "But we really haven't worked with them and this many time years. And every time we try it doesn't work out." "Hey, but if you keep them and if they're alive and they're working and they're building their skill sets, when it does hit, you'll have them." As opposed to every single time we clear the database and forget about it. So that's just one aspect in addition to what you mentioned about the Australian company, in addition to the way field things and many other ranking systems work, but of course with the quality assurance built into it for negating inherent biases of our humanity.

Sarah Nicastro: Mm-hmm. That makes sense. Are there any other thoughts you have, advice for companies listening to this, how to create a positive working relationship with the contract workforce? Do you feel like we covered it, or is there anything else you would-

Tamika Fields: We've been pretty thorough because we hyper threaded our questions and our answers. Sorry to talk over you, but let me see. I'm reflecting, I'm reflecting on what we've said so as not to be redundant, but...

Just continue to keep an open mind as far as diversity. Talent matters based on what talent can do, not what talent looks like. In many cases, not even necessarily what they sound like. Obviously, you want to have the base level of communication. In this country, our language is English, I get it, but a lot of times people lose sight of presentation. When you're dealing with a technical industry, yes, okay, so this isn't a allocution or a... What's it called?... a finishing school. It's IT. So you got to think, at the end of the day, can this person route this network most efficiently? Can this person run these cables? Can this person actually recover this data and bring this up? If they can do that, you need to already have in place an understanding of, "We can groom and work on everything else." Because if they're spot on, if they're coachable, if they're honest, if they're timely, if they're respectable, don't let the biases of presentation take you away from hiring good talent.

That's the only thing that I could suggest. They're obviously inherent biases, but they're changing, but they're still not changing as much, because if there's 11 or 10 people in the room, there are three people who identify as female or present as female, because it wasn't like I asked, but I'm just saying. And then if you further get into the diversity beyond that, it might be me or one other person who's of the African diaspora, maybe an Asian woman, maybe a South Asian woman. I actually have to be honest, I've never worked with someone who identifies as part of the Latinx community.

Sarah Nicastro: No, that's a really good point.

Tamika Fields: Female, I mean. Sorry, I've worked with men.

Sarah Nicastro: Right. Yeah. I think that point is a really good point as well around diversity. You brought up Field Nation, so just quickly, you use the Field Nation platform.

Tamika Fields: I do.

Sarah Nicastro: How do you feel technology like theirs impacts the life of an independent contractor?

Tamika Fields: I feel like it's a game changer for people who haven't used it. I remember when I first found out about it in May of 2018, I was just like, "Wait, what?" It would've just been so helpful to know about it five years before that because that's when I came back into the IT industry after leaving because of burnout, because of lack of opportunity, because of feeling unseen and unvalued and just feeling like there's no room for me to grow because I just basically spent 20 years doing the same thing. And even the fact that I could just leave and step right back in proved that, you know what I'm saying?

Sarah Nicastro: Mm-hmm.

Tamika Fields: Because it wasn't like I did some certification course or changed anything. I just stopped and I just started back. So for me, Field Nation, it opened the door for me to offer all the skill sets that I'd already had, all the ones that I'd learned doing augmenting and doing other things in the interim when I left the field briefly, that weren't being utilized in full-time employment because you get stuck in these niche roles. It just gave me greater pride in my work because I knew that I was like, "You're getting rated in real time. These are the expectations that you got to deliver." You don't have till the end of the week or those things where people like, I don't want to say fudge, but they hide in the gaps of the corporate workweek. I was just like, "You're paying me while I'm here to do the job. If I get the job done in two hours, but you're paying me for six, I'm going to tell you that I'm done in two hours." Some people don't do that.

I'm just like, "I'm done. Now, what else is it that you need me to do? If not, I'm leaving because I don't need the money that way. I want to be efficient. I want to get it done. I want to show you that, yes, if you hire the right people, this job that you keep paying people eight to 10 hours to do, it really only takes four to six." But have the expectation because Murphy's Law is real, and that is the God that I serve, but outside of that, stop spinning your wheels and wasting money. To be able to say that and not feel like you're going to get a low rating or get shunned in the coffee break room or just even that freedom to say, "Hey, quality assurance points, things that you can improve, ways that you can save money," and not feel like you're going to get some type of repercussion after, that was enough for me. But it just gave me a greater way that I could leverage my assets, not get stuck in each position more than anything, and that is what the platform offered me.

Sarah Nicastro: I'll link to Field Nation in the comments or the show notes for this. For people that aren't aware, it is IT specific, but it's a platform that allows companies to hire contract workers, allows contract workers to find open jobs, and then also to your point, Tamika, provides that real time feedback. Last question, what are your thoughts on how the talent space and the working environment will change over the next one to three years?

Tamika Fields: Well, if we don't get stuck laughing at all of what we call soft quitting individuals and the people who are just starting their own companies, I encourage more people to do that because it will just create what I call the catalyst for change that the industry's plural need. Because to me, IT is ubiquitous, and it's a part of all industries as a collective global market of companies and organizations. That was part of one of the reasons why I took it as a creative because people always talk about artists and creatives having the feast or famine or starving in order to exist. I'm just like, "Or I could do something that I'm already naturally inclined at doing because of my functional, obsessive engineering monk-like mind and have something that is permanent. I don't have an electrician degree because they also are always going to be here until the grid goes down or World War III, God forbid.

But I just hope to see continued diversity, inclusion regarding the challenges of the landscape. I feel like in a modern world, in a modern information technology field, tech work is the way, but also you can have onboarded W-2s longstanding relationships with field technicians that are part of your organization. I feel like the available independent contracting opportunities in addition to the full time employment opportunities, they're going to continue. As you say, the need is there. It's just that if we keep open dialogue with the diverse sums of experience that are being leveraged, it allows capable talent and intelligent technicians to just contribute in a way that's more sustainable in the long run. It just allows individual contributors like myself to make a greater impact. And now, I think that'll just make us all stronger than any one individual part of the whole.

And even that, it just makes everything run more efficiently because you have all these resources from the contractors, from the longstanding workers, from the people that are floating in seasonally. Whether they're using a platform or not, it just makes the information technology sector stronger. It makes us scale and evolve more exponentially to where all of the different organizations that uses this technology and uses these resources can apply it more broadly to what needs to be done and make those changes that you talk about from the archaic dinosaur model to the... If you want people to stop soft quitting, if you want the burnout to end, if you want people to stop phoning it in and telling you that they're busy, but they're never really doing anything or stringing out a project that they literally could have done over their lunch break just to get... like, "Hey, I need this." You know how it goes. That's how you resolve that, in one of the many ways. Because be open to change. Be open to growth. Keep the dialogue flowing.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, very good input. Thank you, Tamika. I appreciate you coming. I really enjoyed speaking with you. I think your perspective is one that is really helpful for folks to understand and think more about. Thank you for giving me some of your time.

Tamika Fields: Thank you so much, Sarah. Thank everyone for listening. All the companies or organizations, keep an open in mind to all the human beings who believe in technology, who believe in science, who believe in communication. Stay curious, be proactive, and just be representative of what you uniquely bring to the table in every collaboration.

Sarah Nicastro: I love it. You can find more by visiting us at futureoffieldservice.com. You can also find us on LinkedIn and Twitter, @thefutureoffs. The Future of Field Service podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more at ifs.com. As always, thank you for listening.

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