By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service
With the industry awash in a sea of change, we often discuss the foundational imperatives of success: a strong pulse on customer demands, a cohesive business strategy, streamlining operations, incorporation of enabling technology, and ample change management. I’d argue that the latter is where the vast majority of companies go awry – we often fail to recognize that, at the end of the day, the ability to execute on the opportunity that service presents to an organization lies largely in the hands of your field service teams.
As such, I think it crucial to consider the psychology of field service excellence. Yes, each of the foundational elements I mentioned above are important. But as you strategize and plan and innovate, you cannot become so narrowly focused on execution that you overlook the emotional investment in your workforce that will make the difference from their compliance with the change to their championing your mission – which is ultimately the difference in your moderate success to your transformative evolution.
If you’ve mastered the art of evaluating the customer journey and taking the time to hear the voice of the customer, the process with your frontline workforce is largely the same. Considering the psychology of field service excellence means putting yourself in the shoes of your field technicians and thinking about what matters most to them – how will the change you’re introducing help them, and how can you make them feel they are as integral a part of your company’s success as they really are. Here are a few points for consideration:
- Do your frontline workers feel valued? As companies work to seize the opportunity of service, it becomes clear the important role field technicians play as the face of the brand. What steps are you taking to ensure your workforce knows how important a part they are of the company’s mission? Paying your workforce well is no longer enough – today’s workers want to feel valued and appreciated. Accomplishing this is critical in having your employees invested in the company’s mission versus simply “playing along.”
- Are you giving your employees a voice? No one wants to feel like change is happening to them; they want to feel they are a part of the change. Giving your employees a voice in your company’s strategy and initiatives is important not only in creating buy-in but because these workers often carry valuable insight that will help your project’s success. Remember, much of your opportunity to innovate – particularly when it comes to the customer experience – comes from the frontline. Ensuring you give these workers a voice to provide insight, feedback, and ideas helps them and you.
- Do your frontline workers feel empowered? Chances are, if you have highly experienced field technicians, they do not need you to micromanage them. On the flip side, if you have newer technicians, they do not want you to micromanage them. Hiring good employees and then trusting them to do the job you’ve hired them to do is important. Employees that feel empowered to make decisions and work with a bit of their own creativity and personality are happier, more engaged employees – and happier, more engaged employees are more supportive of the company’s mission.
- Are you setting clear expectations for your frontline workforce and aligning proper incentives? Employees thrive in an environment where they know what is expected of them. This doesn’t mean you need to be prescriptive in how they deliver on these expectations (see previous point) but it does mean that your service objectives, and their responsibility for delivering on them, are clear. Top-down clarity is essential and 1-1 support when needed is important. Your workforce should have KPIs they are consistently measured on, they should have clear communication from top leadership down to their line management, and they should be fairly incentivized to meet the expectations you’ve set. KPIs, both team and individual, should be reviewed often and celebrated when achieved.
- Do you show appreciation beyond compensation? Of course, financial incentives are important to your workers, but so is being recognized and appreciated for their contributions. This can be as simple as a short conversation or a bigger gesture like a gift card for a special dinner or something like that. It should feel personal, and it can be private or public. The point is just to consider whether you’re taking steps to show you appreciate your workforce’s contribution.
- Are you offering career development/advancement opportunities? If a worker is happy doing the same job for twenty years and that is in line with your objectives, that is great. But especially today, you will find many workers will become disengaged if there isn’t a path of progression for them within a company. If you haven’t already, you should be considering a more formalized progression plan for those workers who feel motivated by their own continual growth and improvement. This will keep employees engaged and give them a home within your organization instead of them looking for these opportunities elsewhere.
- Do your employees feel they are a part of something bigger? It’s human nature to want to feel you have a purpose and are making a difference. Is your work environment a collaborative one? Do you encourage teamwork and connection? Are you illustrating for your employees the impact they have on the customer, and therefore the impact they have on the business? Building a culture of connectedness can significantly improve employee satisfaction and protect field technicians, who often work alone, from feeling isolated or becoming disconnected.
What would you add to this list? I’d love to hear!