Guest Column | November 20, 2017

The Role Technology Plays In Your Recruitment And Retention Strategy

Field Service Recruitment And Retention

By Bruce Breeden, President of Field Service Resources, LLC

Last month I wrote about the cycle of field service recruitment and retention and discussed how to tell your field service story and highlight your “systems” technology capability. A discussion on technology is a meaningful method to improve the field service engineer (FSE) selection process, and accelerate the on-boarding process to productivity. The technologies used by today’s service organization represent a large financial investment, but also an investment in defining the optimal business process to impact the customer experience and to operate efficiently.

Normally recruitment starts with a review of the candidate’s technical qualifications for the job. However, with the significant impact of technology and the integration of products to technologies such as IoT, the role and skills of the FSE have been extremely impacted. Equal interview time should be dedicated specifically to understanding the fit of your FSE candidate and your specific company’s technologies.  Here are 5 key reasons to make this an integral part of your interview and on-boarding plan:

  1. Completing paperwork in the old days was a major focus area of FSEs and often a pain point to receive timely, accurate, and neat reports from the field to the service administration office. Today, technology has replaced paper for service reports, but also is used for immediate regulatory compliance, payroll, GPS location, inventory management, IoT/device management functions, and advanced scheduling. The FSE’s role in using technology is imperative to creating value for the customer and ensuring the service enterprise operates effectively and efficiently. The old style paperwork delay was certainly disruptive to management; systems usage is absolutely mandatory in today’s service business. 
  2. I just attended a field service software user conference and noted the increasing technology advancements that have been released in the past year. It was also eye opening to see how other service organizations are leveraging these features to improve the customer experience and service efficiency. In other words, using technology to gain market competitive advantage. Service organizations must stay ahead of the people, process, and technology curve and hiring FSEs that will adopt ever-changing, new technology is critical to doing so. Recently I connected with a fellow service leader from my old employer, and they are using their fourth large service management system in the last 15 years. Technology today is moving at a rapid pace and offers many benefits; it’s imperative that our FSE workforce (and line management) is eager and adaptive to new process and technology. 
  3. As mentioned in last month’s article, the quality of your service organization and systems technology should be attractive to a prospective FSE candidate. It should also be part of the interview discussion, in the sense of promoting your service organization’s innovation, as well as determining if the prospective new FSE is a good fit for your system and future plan. 
  4. Talking about technology is focusing on one of the major focus areas of today’s FSEs performance: technical skill. This skill impacts your products and applications; customer relations; service sales; safety; inventory management, and productivity through the use of systems technology. The latter is often overlooked. One of my recent experiences with onboarding is that the FSE’s indicated they wished they had more training and support on our systems technology both earlier in the on-boarding cycle and also from the right training source. Again, technology is not to be overlooked in the interview and selection process. As we hire younger generations, the need for social interaction, commitment to their development, and defined organizational purpose resonate loudly and technology combined with processes and people become viable methods to do address their needs and improve performance.
  5. Addressing the core focus areas of a FSE, your ongoing service organization development program should also feature systems technology to ensure your strategy and organization plans are understood and supported. Organizations should have a formal, annual development program in place to achieve challenging business goals and promote operating in an “inspired and adaptive mode.” Technology is no longer viewed as a necessary evil but rather a strategic driver of the business. Use it to showcase your effective development program during the interview process, and to engage the candidate about the new roles of the FSE.  

Bruce Breeden is the president of Field Service Resources, LLC and author of the Intentional Field Service Engineer book and on-line training program. He is also the creator of the Field Service7℠ field service development program.  Field Service Resources, LLC provides staffing and development support for field service organizations.