From The Editor | June 21, 2018

Ask The Board: The Biggest Challenges Facing Field Service Today

Sarah Nicastro

By Sarah Nicastro, publisher/editor in chief, Field Technologies
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The Biggest Challenges Facing Field Service Today

With the Field Technologies Editorial Board in place, I plan to do regular “Ask The Board” columns where I can share insight from members on an array of topics. To kick things off, I asked the members to share some perspective on the biggest challenges they are currently facing in their roles.

While the board reaches across various industries, their responses show some commonalities in the challenges they’re running into. The first major theme I noticed in their responses is around the struggles with attracting, recruiting, hiring, and retaining talent.

“The biggest challenge I’m currently facing is the fierce competition for talent. Dish is growing/expanding, so it’s more important than ever that our on-boarding, training, engagement, and compensation programs are effective,” says Robb Origer, VP of in-home services at Dish Network.

Roger O’Connor, VP of product support at Gosiger, echoes Origer’s thoughts. “Our biggest challenge today is finding, training, and retaining talented people. We are growing and it seems like everyone else is too, which makes finding the right people difficult,” he says.

Not only are field service organizations themselves growing and demanding more talent to support that growth, but in some cases the competition for talent is being compounded by companies outside of field services vying for the same talent. “Our biggest challenge is employee retention with the growing demand for field service across industries. Our employees are not only being picked by competitors but our customers are starting to in-source managed services and take our employees to fill the gaps as well,” says Roy Dockery, VP of customer care at Swisslog.

How To Fully Utilize Today’s Technologies 

Another theme that surfaced in the board members’ responses was the complexities of determining the most effective ways to leverage today’s technologies to transform service operations. “It’s incredibly challenging to establish the right ecosystem to constantly improve the customer service experience through a continuous up-scaling of service customer excellence,” says Jack Rijnenberg, director of global customer service, Markem-Imaje.

While a focus on customer experience is at the top of most field service organization’s strategic initiative lists at the moment, there’s no clear path or single answer on how to drive improvements and for many it’s a very overwhelming puzzle to sort through. “The biggest challenge I face in my current role is trying to maximize our use of technology in a way that optimizes the customer experience and the experience of our field technicians. There are so many variables in play and it can feel quite overwhelming. Partnerships with business leaders and a commitment to staying on top of industry developments is a key aspect in determining our path,” says Jeremy Jones, CIO of Comfort Systems.

For large field service organizations, the nimbleness and agility required to keep pace with how quickly technology advances today can be difficult. “Seeking new ways as a large company to be nimble and flex with changing technologies and customer expectations that have come with the digital age is challenging,” says Greg Parker, portfolio director, building services at Trane.

Add to these challenges the pressure to add revenue and improve profitability, and it’s clear that today’s field service leaders have their plates full. “My biggest challenge is finding additional revenue streams in order to become cost neutral and/or profitable in the coming years,” says Ryan Snellings, VP of operations at Fresenius Kabi.

Keep an eye out for more perspective from the board as we dive further into these challenges and other topics. Is there a question you’d like to “Ask The Board?” Email me at sarah.nicastro@fieldtechinfo.com.