By Sarah Nicastro, publisher/editor in chief, Field Technologies
I spent last week in sunny Palm Springs soaking up knowledge on the latest field service trends at Field Service USA. Joined by hundreds of field service leaders and dozens of cutting-edge technology providers, the week was spent discussing the topics most relevant to the industry today. While there will be many articles coming along based on conversations I had at the event and lessons learned from sessions I attended, I wanted to quickly recap for you some of the major themes I witness during the event.
Service As A Strategy
The first major theme that resurfaced all week was how today’s leading service organizations are leveraging service for strategic advantage. Gone are the days of service viewed as a cost center — and here are the days where service isn’t just viewed as a function that can contribute to profits, but for many organizations act as the primary driver for profits. With that said, many service organizations are focusing a lot of time, energy, and resources on determining ways to equip the service operation to maximize strategic advantage. Much of this conversation revolves around optimizing the customer experience and making sure you’re giving your customers what they want as their demands increase. Putting a focus on ample customer service training is crucial, asking for customer feedback – and incorporating it to make improvements – is a must, and investing in technologies that help you to provide self-service and a better all-around experience isn’t a bad idea. I’ll be providing more insight on this topic in some of my follow-up articles.
Leveraging Augmented Reality
The second major theme I took note of at the event is some real excitement from service organizations around using AR (augmented reality) for training and support. While AR was most certainly a topic at the event last year, it seemed to be one that the technology providers versus the field service attendees were driving. The notable change this year was that there were numerous service organizations I spoke with that are rolling out AR to transform the way their organization trains employees and provides remote support. This excitement is understandable, because using AR in this way enables service organizations to maximize the use of experienced talent by allowing a veteran service tech in the back-office to provide training or support to multiple newer, less experienced techs in the field. I think this trend will continue to pick up seed as companies struggle with transferring knowledge from the aging workforce.
Conversations about and input on how to best manage millennials was a third major theme I noticed. If you think about the struggle many of today’s service organizations are facing with recruiting talent and replacing older workers, it only makes sense for this to be a hot topic. Not to mention, it is well documented that millennials require far different management, communication, and technology strategies. Determining how to best handle this workforce up front helps companies to avoid high turnover and the costs that go along with it. Some of the companies in attendance had some great tips for millennial management that I plan to share in a forthcoming article.
While these are three major themes that quickly came to mind, there are many others worth exploring. I will be working on sharing insight on these topics and others, along with some interviews I did with your peers on site. If you missed the event, check the website for information on the fall version of the event in Florida or save the date for next year’s Palm Springs session!