August 19 - 21, 2019
The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island, FL
Research Brief: Preparing an Evolving Workforce for the New Service Paradigm
brought to you by WBR Insights
The role of the service technician is evolving, adding to the complexity of training new and existing teams. Facing additional gaps in the recruitment of skilled tradespeople, field service organizations are hard pressed to standardize effective training programs on a national or global scale.
Even as aging field service techs retire, organizations are calling upon their teams to do more business-driven activities in the field. This includes selling to customers, where one managing director claims "an ideal field service technician 12 months from now should be trained enough to increase sales revenues of the company." According to another director, "companies will be looking to recruit field service technicians that are personable and possess the amount of people skills ideally expected from a salesman."
These responses come from our recent Universal Training survey, conducted in partnership between WBR Insights and the Field Service event series. In our upcoming report, we'll use the data to benchmark organizational progress in addressing a new transformation of the technician's role--where selling, new technology adoption, and knowledge management between generations directly affects greater profitability.
Adapting Organizational Practices
Our study featured a large sample of field service organizations and a range of company sizes. 60% of field service organizations represented in the study are global, intercontinental, or international. Meanwhile, almost one-quarter (23%) are regional or statewide. Respondents consisted of leaders from management to VP levels of their organizations.
Despite ambitions to turn field service operations into revenue centers, organizations face a steep hill stemming from barriers to proper training, growth, and knowledge transfer. The results show that in each case, almost half of organizations struggle to improve or expand their technician training programs because of knowledge retention issues (44%), difficulty scaling globally (44%), or a lack of training opportunities in certain parts of the organization (46%). (For the purpose of this article, five additional results from the study are not shown in the chart.)
Central to proper training is knowledge management and dissemination. Among field service organizations prioritizing knowledge management as an aging workforce retires, 80% do so to preserve critical service insights.
But organizations are in a race against time to expand and invest further in training programs. 66% consider retaining the insights of retirees essential to preparing new recruits as those aging experts will not be available to train them. Another 36% claim it is an important factor in teaching technicians to sell and drive profitability. (For the purpose of this article, three additional results from the study are not shown in the chart.)
Preparing a New Generation for an Evolving Role
Despite a broad emphasis on at least a "selling attitude," most field service organizations (59%) do not train field service technicians to sell products or additional services. Among those that do, sales training is an all-in investment. Most within this segment provide technicians with field training (70%), formal training (51%), and incentives for selling (57%). (Three additional results from the study are not shown in the chart.)
Above all, technicians' new roles depend on their adoption of the technicians themselves. The greater their expertise and sense of reward for involvement, the more likely dissemination of knowledge and future training will drive advancement in sales agendas.
The link between knowledge management and dissemination along with a broad desire to expand training programs is a clear priority as experts retire and the requirements of being a tech evolve. In our upcoming report, Universal Training in Field Service: Preparing an Evolving Workforce for the New Service Paradigm, discover the strategies and methods organizations are deploying to overcome these challenges and create the field service organizational model of the future.
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