Nunzio Bagnato, Director of Home Service & Advance Servicing At Foxtel, describes how the company has motivated its contract workers to be highly engaged, effective, and empowered to deliver the Foxtel brand experience.

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Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service Podcast. I’m your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today we’re going to be discussing a topic that comes up, conversation after conversation with opposing views and a lot of questions. I think we’re going to answer some of those here today, so we’re going to be talking about how Foxtel has mastered the contract workforce model.

Sarah Nicastro: I’m excited to be joined today by Nunzio Bagnato who is the Director of Home Service and Advanced Servicing for Foxtel. Nunzio, welcome to the Future of Field Service Podcast.

Nunzio Bagnato: Thank you.

Sarah Nicastro: Thank you for being here.

Nunzio Bagnato: How are you?

Sarah Nicastro: Good, good. Doing great. All right, so before we get into the contract workforce discussion, start by just telling our listeners a bit about yourself and your role and your background and anything you want to share related to Foxtel.

Nunzio Bagnato: Yeah, thank you. Look, as you said, I look after the home service part of our business as well as the advanced servicing. Advanced servicing is more to do with our case, technical case management and secondary activities that require some additional case management. But around 50% of my role, even 60% of my role is the home service, field service part of the business, and I oversee the field service part of that business as well as the contract relationship, all the field activities that involve installation, servicing the customer, upgrading the customer.

Nunzio Bagnato: I’ve been at Foxtel for 23 years, I’ve got 30 years experience in field service, originally started as a field technician at one of our first pay TV companies when I was about 20, and have been in the industry ever since and made my way up the ladder, and have now enjoy running a successful home service team here at Foxtel.

Sarah Nicastro: Awesome. Okay, so 23 years, that’s a heck of a tenure, and you have that first hand perspective of what the front line job is all about. So I think that’s really cool as well. I want to start by saying the audience of this podcast is a global audience and so we talked about the fact, Nunzio, when you and I connected previously, that the contract model is a more common model in Australia, and so I think that factors in to this discussion in the sense of maybe giving you a little bit more of a comfort level around it, but I think the practices that you have put in place at Foxtel for really mastering and optimizing this model, or something that is easily transferable or good food for thought for any company in any region looking to better leverage the value of a contingent workforce.

Sarah Nicastro: That being said, there does seem to be some debate around, is our contract workers the way to go, are they not the way to go? Are they the way to go, or are they not the way to go? In Australia, it’s more common. You had mention that when you talk with colleagues in the US, the number one issue seems to be concern over control. Why do you think is?

Nunzio Bagnato: Look, I understand that concern. For many, many years we had some of those challenges. We had a traditional contractor model. Very transactional, very volume based model and the field technician was probably single minded focusing on what they can get from the role. It was the way we shifted that model, moved up to a more service based model, less transactional. And transformed what the technician should do and what the contractor’s responsibility is in that contract.

Nunzio Bagnato: And it wasn’t until we actually shifted to the new model and changed the way we operate and the way we engage with our vendors or our contractors, that’s when we started to see the results of what we see today. We needed to change the culture. Traditionally a contractor model is transactional, it’s a master/servant sort of arrangement, and you’re going to get those type of results, you’re going to get that behavior, you’re going to get that culture.

Nunzio Bagnato: So, how do get a contracted workforce to feel and behave like your own field workforce without crossing any of those legal lines and having a strategic partnership where you have your contracting workforce or your contractors in the same building, side-by-side, part of your team, an extension of my structure and then have the field workforce change the way they interact with the customer, the way they actually present themselves. Shifting that model, introducing a score card model. And I know that every organization has score cards, but we didn’t want to introduce a score card that was just something that we look at and tick and flick, it really had to be a way of working. It was the Foxtel way, if you like.

Nunzio Bagnato: And it was the program of work that we married with the score card and the rankings, and I’ll talk a bit more about the score card. We did away with all those penalties in a traditional contracted model. In the past technicians will be penalized for not hitting KPIs or milestones. We did away with that. Our view was that we’re dealing with adults. We want to have adult conversations with our vendors, our technicians or our contracting leadership team and have meaningful collaborative conversations.

Nunzio Bagnato: If they’re an extension of my team, then we’re having the same operating with them. We have those weekly meetings, we have those strategic meetings that actually drives us to meet our strategic goals. So, they are the key areas that we changed. To colocation, the extension of our team, the score card and the culture, and by the way, it wasn’t like we just flicked it overnight. It was a journey, especially the culture phase. Shifting an entire workforce from a traditional contractor model to the model that we have today, we still have challenges today, but by large, we have been able to shift the workforce.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay, we’re going to dig into all of that a little bit more, but I think one of the key messages that I want to get across to listeners here is that not only would you say that the cost efficiency of the model outweigh some of those concerns, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a trade-off. There are steps you can take and measures you can put in place to circumvent and alleviate a lot of the concerns that I think prohibit people from taking a deeper look at this model. Would you agree with that?

Nunzio Bagnato: Yeah. I don’t disagree, no. You’re right.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay, so let’s talk then about some of those steps that Foxtel has taken to really shift things from that transactional more penalty based environment to one that’s more collaborative, and when you said that we’ve gotten away from penalties and we’ve shifted, I know what you’ve shifted to, so I have a little bit of a sneak peek, but it made me think of parenting. They say that when you can give positive reinforcement, it’s much more effective than punishment, punishment, punishment. So that seems to be a theme here as well.

Nunzio Bagnato: Well, it’s an interesting point you make there. That exact point was pretty much when it came to the score card and how we actually managed the score card and the conversation we have with our field technicians. We wanted to focus on the positives. Every conversation had to be around the positives. What are we doing really, really well? And how? First of all, how did you get there? Not by luck. Not by sheer luck. You got there because you did something, you followed a particular sequence or you followed the process, or whatever it may be.

Nunzio Bagnato: Understanding how you got there, so we can continue to do that or improve on that is critical, so positively reinforcement and then what else can we do to improve? What are some of the other areas we can improve on? That is definitely how we approach our conversations. And that is at all levels. What I do when talking to my direct reports, when they’re talking to the vendor or leadership team, we’re talking to the field leadership team, when we’re talking to the tech leadership team, it’s the same, same conversation.

Sarah Nicastro: Yes. And I think that another aspect here is, if you’re looking more for positive reinforcement, then how do you incentivize or reward these workers in a way that promotes those positive behaviors rather than simply penalizing them for a negative outcome. We’re going to dig into that. Before we do, you mentioned that the score card was one pillar of this overall journey. Walk us back through the different areas of this, and then we’ll dig into the score card specifically.

Nunzio Bagnato: We really needed to shift the way that the technician focused on the day. And prior to the score card or prior to our command center model being rolled out, our technicians focused on the traditional metrics like the completion rates, the misdeployment, blah, blah, blah. Really important, really important, but it was definitely drove a volume base behavior. Bang, bang, bang, bang, just get through the day as quick as I can, get the volumes through, because the more I do, the more I get paid.

Nunzio Bagnato: But that obviously impacted the way we actually serviced our customers, it impacted quality, it impacted safety, it impacted a number different areas of our business that we felt that needed to be addressed. And we lost the reason, we lost focus on why we’re here. We needed to realize, we needed to take a step back and really make sure that everyone in our business understands why we’re here. We’re here to provide a service to a customer. In my case, we’re providing entertainment to a customer.

Nunzio Bagnato: There was no focus on the customer when we’re out there, so let’s focus on the customer. We introduced the score card collectively with the leadership team, we introduced the score card that focused on four quadrants. And the first quadrant was all about the customer. It’s about customer surveys and arrival on time. That’s it. That’s all I want to know about. If we go out there and we get a really good survey and great verbatims to go with that, and we’ve met their expectations by arriving on time, we’ve done what we had to do in that particular quadrant.

Nunzio Bagnato: And then we have our cycle quadrant, which is your traditional metrics, which is your completion rates and that type of stuff. The other quadrant is finance, and we wanted to focus on the finance component of what the technician does, because we do have a free issue model in our business. There are things that we need to keep an eye on and the contractors are a sub-contractor, their own business. So they need to understand how they impact the financial component of the score card. Nothing major, just something small, just for them to keep an eye on, but it’s really important for us to keep track of our free issue and inventory.

Nunzio Bagnato: And then the last quadrant is quality and safety, of quality mainly. I’ll talk about safety a second. Safety doesn’t sit in the score card for us, safety is the qualifier, the gateway. If you fail any safety audits, then you are disqualified from your score card for the month. It’s irrelevant how good you are in your score card, you fail safety, then you fail the whole lot. So safety is a gateway into the score card.

Nunzio Bagnato: And in the quality quadrant we have revisit, so the amount of times a job needs to be returned within 30 days. And what’s important for us is having the set top box connected to the internet and the work involved in doing that. There isn’t a lot of KPIs and it was by design. We don’t want to have too many, but we’ve identified the key areas of our business that we want the technician to focus on. And each quadrant has a 25 point rating. So you can get a maximum of 25 and there are some thresholds.

Nunzio Bagnato: That score card is important to the field technician, because we lend idea from Uber and have a ranking, and the ranking, which is our bronze, our silver, gold and platinum, determines the priority of routing. So when it comes to routing, if you’re a platinum technician, and you’re been a platinum technician for that month, then for the next month you’re going to enjoy priority routing, so you’ll be the first technician to be routed. So all the platinum technicians get routed, all the gold guys next, all the silver guys and if there’s anything left, the bronze guys will get the rest.

Nunzio Bagnato: That’s really important for our business. Especially important for a contractor, a sub-contractor if you like, because this is their business. They have to ensure that they’ve got continuous work coming in so they can actually run their business. And for us, we’re driving a culture. We’re shifting the way the technician manages the customer. They sit down with the customer, they have that interaction with the customer, they service the customer, they really deliver what we want them to deliver and then they’re doing everything else on the job they need to do. Making sure they complete the job, making sure they do this, they do that, from a quality point of view.

Nunzio Bagnato: When we first started this journey, it was five years ago, and we launched the score card model, 70 odd percent of our field workforce were bronze technicians. And we’re really proud that right now, 70 odd percent of our field workforce is predominantly platinum and a little bit of gold. And that’s taken a lot of work from our leadership team as well as the contractor leadership team. It is a lot of side-by-side compensations to get that team, the field team to operate where they need to be today.

Nunzio Bagnato: The score card really is identifying those KPIs that you want to focus on as a group, and introducing that KPI that’s going to shift the way you operate, the way you service the customer and not put in any type of KPI, I mean, you can have a laundry list of KPIs, you can really get carried away, but we chose the eight. And we chose the eight for a reason, because we wanted to shift the way we operated, shift the way we serviced our customers, and we felt these KPIs did that.

Sarah Nicastro: There’s couple things that I think are really interesting. The first is this recognition that I think a lot of the hesitancy around the contractor model, when you look at why do people feel they need to maintain that control. At least in my conversations it’s primarily to protect the customer experience. Yet, when you’re running a volume based business, you’re working against that objective to some degree, just by incentivizing volume, volume, volume.

Sarah Nicastro: The incorporation of those customer focused metrics was an important step in helping your contract workforce understand, “Okay wait, we’ve realized the volume is not the only thing that’s important here, and we need to prioritize the customer experience a bit more.” I also think though there’s something to be said about the simplicity of what you’re choosing to track and how. So to your point, if you had a quadrant with eight KPIs in each square, it just becomes convoluted, it’s harder for people to understand, they might not be as engaged in paying attention to what their rank is, and really simplifying that.

Sarah Nicastro: Now, one of the things we talked about though, is that those KPIs, you like to focus on two per quadrant, so the quadrants are identified, you like to set two KPIs for a quadrant to keep things simple, but those KPIs can change based on what the business’ biggest priorities are. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Nunzio Bagnato: Absolutely, and it’s really important to know that this score card is, all the KPIs that make up the score card, is fluid. There are some KPIs that will not be removed. I mean, customer satisfaction is one of them, that is always, that’s cemented in, and that’s important that we understand that, that is a number one focus.

Nunzio Bagnato: But from the moment we raised or launched the score card to where we are now, we’ve replaced these KPIs. In the early days when we launched the model, that’s the command center model, and we introduced a new field service scheduling system, we needed the technicians to change the way they interacted with us and how they use the system, and I required them to follow a couple of different steps, click button here, click button there. And we just couldn’t get the field workforce to do that. So we included it in the score card. Button compliance was critical to our success. Especially when you’re working a workforce scheduling system that we share that depends on the technician clicking on-site and clicking off-site, so we can get accurate timings, get the data we need to be able to run an efficient business.

Nunzio Bagnato: So we had button compliance. We also had time on the job. We identified early on that technicians were doing seven minute service calls. And in a contract in the old world, that make sense, because you’re pumping through a lot of volume, but in our world now, it’s like, seven minutes, how do you actually knock on the customer’s door, rate the customer, diagnose the problem, fix the problem, explain the problem and then take the customer through the ending of the interaction in seven minutes? It’s not possible.

Nunzio Bagnato: So job timing were as important and trying to change, not asking the technician stop doing jobs quickly, it’s about can you explain to me how this seven minutes service call happened? Can you please explain to me how we can actually increase the time? Have you gone through each of the steps on the scope of work? And it’s just educating the technician on what we expect from them, and what our customers expect from them and what you should be doing in each of your jobs.

Nunzio Bagnato: And we’re not suggesting for a moment that every technician spend an hour, an hour and a half on every job, you’re going to have different technicians spending different times, but ruling out those little job times or those smaller job times, because you know we’re not offering the customer the level service we need, was important. So we introduced things that we needed to focus on, that we knew that needed to shift. Either shifted from a performance point of view or shift from a behavior slash culture point of view. And we continue to look at what kind of areas of our business do we need to now reintroduce.

Nunzio Bagnato: Now, we don’t do it as often as monthly, in actual fact, we went early days we did six months, now we’ve extended it out every year. So every year when we enter into our new financial year, we will review our score card and we will have a look at what we’re going to include this year, what is our focus, so what is our strategic focus this year, and how does the field actually contribute to that. Do we need to change our score card, or do we need to change the target, and do that.

Nunzio Bagnato: And by the way, we don’t just decide in this office and then roll it out, we have the conversation with our service provider or our contracting company, then we pressure test it with our field leaders and then we pressure test it with a focus group of technicians and we get feedback. And when they’re comfortable, we’re all on the same page and we got the right feedback and we’re going to achieve what we need to achieve, then we’ll formally roll it out as a change. In our model, we don’t just do things for the sake of doing it, or we don’t just change things and expect the rest of the business to fall in line. They’re the ones that actually going to be delivering this, so we need to understand, is it something we’re going to be able to successfully achieve?

Nunzio Bagnato: The score card is not only for the technicians. The score card is aggregated all the way up to me. So the score card the technicians look at, and we’ll talk about the other score cards in a second, that is how everyone’s measured. It’s not only for the field techs, the score card model is aggregated all the way up to me, so everyone’s got skin in the game here. I don’t have a different set of KPIs, we all got the same KPIs, we work off the one score card.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay, tell us about the other score cards.

Nunzio Bagnato: We’ve got a command center and planning team that’s co-located as I said to you earlier, and they have their own score cards. So the command center have their own score card and the planning team have their score card. There are shared measures or shared KPIs, things like customer satisfaction, completion rates, they are shared. They are things that we believe that everyone in this group has the ability to influence, and there’s a couple of other KPIs that are shared. And then there are KPIs that are specific to their role.

Nunzio Bagnato: The difference with that score card is, they’re employees of the contracting company, so they’re not sub-contractors, so they’re on salary. Their score card is linked to their bonus. For example this year, the target is gold. If they achieve a gold average throughout the year, they get a 100% of their bonus. If they don’t then they get a percentage of their bonus, and it’s really, again, same sort of operating rhythm, a weekly side-by-side conversation. Going through the score card, focusing on the positives, identifying the opportunities, having a look at other peers and bringing in those peer-to-peer conversations, the coaching, the mentoring to help that individual be successful.

Nunzio Bagnato: But the way it operates here, is that we have, an example be the Victorian Command Center Optimizer, we’d sit down with the Victorian Planner, we’d sit down with the Victorian Field Leadership Team in their weekly meeting and they would share their KPIs and work through their plan of attack for the week. Now, there is a focus, and then they go away and hopefully that plan they put in place is going to yield them the results they planned and then happy days. We keep moving and get better and better with it. So they work really closely together.

Nunzio Bagnato: And you’ve got a combination of contractor versus Foxtel employee in those conversations as well.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, that’s one of the things you said earlier about even when you’re making changes to the field score card, you’re asking for feedback, and I think that’s another good point, is just because you choose to leverage a contractor model, does it mean that you can’t value and treat those employees as a part of the business. I think there’s sometimes this perception that its internal or external and it sounds like you guys are doing a good job of making sure that you’re listening to that feedback, incorporating that feedback and prioritizing those employees’ voice in a similar sense of W2 employees.

Nunzio Bagnato: Well, we value the technicians, we value… My view is they have a voice. They have a very strong voice. They’re the only face-to-face contact we have.

Sarah Nicastro: Right.

Nunzio Bagnato: When you look at our business, every interaction the customer has, is going to be over the phone or via chat or online. The field technician is the only face-to-face they have. So they are prime to tell us exactly how we can improve the customer experience, they are in a perfect position to tell us how to improve our business, because they are doing what they need to do to get the jobs done at the standard that we expect from them. They’ve got a voice in our business. Our field and myself, my field leadership team, my leadership team, have always been front and center in toolbox meetings or any type of technician gathering. They’re out and about. We don’t just sit in an office and cut ourselves off from the world, because I think having those face-to-face relationships, not only are you getting the feedback from them, you’re helping them understand our strategy, the reasons why we make decisions.

Nunzio Bagnato: We are helping them with our message. We’re actually developing a really strong relationship at every level. We’re not hierarchical at all. I mean, I’ve had conversations with multiple technicians. I have technicians call me, text me, and I’m okay with that, because that is a window, that is a portal into their world that I need. So how do I improve my business if I don’t have the relationship with the guys and girls that are doing the hard yards every single day?

Nunzio Bagnato: And I was a technical as well, so I’ve got a soft spot for them as well.

Sarah Nicastro: Right, right. Now, we talked about the tiers of technicians and the prioritization of routes. So the platinum technicians get the best routes. Are there other incentives tied to their achieved tier or is that the primary, I guess, incentive for them to work toward platinum, gold, etc?

Nunzio Bagnato: Well, as soon as you’re a platinum technician, you’ve been given the opportunity to actually take on additional work or other types of work, for example, our VIPs and escalated customers are only serviced by platinum technicians. When we make a promise to our VIPs and we’re sending out a technician, we’re sending the best of the best, because they have a proven record. They’re excellent customer experienced, they’re excellent in every other KPI on the score card, but they’ve got a history of being a platinum technician.

Nunzio Bagnato: And any other type of additional event sort of work or any type of additional work that we need highly skilled technicians, they’ve been the first guys we go to. So there’s a benefit of being a platinum technician outside of just the usual work. We just recently introduced the platinum plus, and that is because we identified that there is a group of platinum technicians who have been platinum for a very long time and they go the extra mile, but it’s not captured in the score card. Like, they’ve always getting five out of five in their surveys and then another platinum technician is getting four point nine or four point eight, but they’re always achieving, so they are high achievers. And we felt there’s an opportunity for us to introduce platinum plus for those high achieving technicians. Allow those platinum guys to go the next level, to provide the next level of service. Really drive that customer interaction, really drive the way they service the customers and the way they operate, and recognize those guys that are continually hitting platinum. So we introduced platinum plus.

Nunzio Bagnato: From a routing perspective, it doesn’t change, but we’ve got other benefits. Benefits like tickets to premiers, tickets to the football, any of that type of additional benefit, we’re happy to provide to those platinum plus guys. And we’ve already got, we introduced this, what, in June? Sorry July, and we’ve already got close to 10% of our workforce sitting at platinum plus.

Sarah Nicastro: That’s great.

Nunzio Bagnato: Yes.

Sarah Nicastro: So talk a little bit more about the impact this journey, the score card has had on I guess A, service delivery and B, the contractor engagement.

Nunzio Bagnato: Well, from a service delivery perspective, I mean, we have achieved and we’re enjoying probably the best patch of our journey ever. Our KPIs, our performance, the way we operate from an efficiency point of view, the level of service we offer our internal customers here at Foxtel and external customers, is probably the best that it’s ever been. So when I just sweep through the KPIs in our business, we’re not just improved, we’ve blind them out of water in a lot of cases, but for me, what’s really important about that is sustaining that type of level of performance and keep the team striving for more.

Nunzio Bagnato: Our completion rates for example in the early days when we first launched this, now five years ago, we were kissing 87% completion rate, which means 38% of our customers were being not missed, but jobs waiting to get done. We’re enjoying now an average of 94, 95%. It’s not unusual for us to hit 95%. In actual fact, when we don’t hit 95%, we scratch it and say, “What went wrong?”. But that’s where we are right now. Customer satisfaction, we never used to measure that, we introduced that as part of the command center launch, but in the early days that was sitting at three out of five. We are now averaging four point nine and four point nine five. And the verbatims we’re getting from our customers is nothing but complementary about the level of service we provide our customers, the time we do, turning up on time, spending the time going through each of the scoping out of the job, providing the level of service that they expect from an organization like ours. And that’s what we want to see. But there are other opportunities for us to improve on that.

Nunzio Bagnato: We’re enjoying a patch right now that we’ve never experienced at Foxtel and we’re not done. We believe we can do a lot more, a lot more. This is an ever changing environment, especially pay TV, field services is becoming tougher and tougher every single day. There are pressures that every field service organization around the world is dealing with. And we believe there is another iteration of what we’ve got here. We call it the command center model, but we believe there’s another iteration that we want to tap into that is organic to where we need to go to.

Nunzio Bagnato: But from a partnership point of way, I think we’ve identified that the level of engagement we have with our field team, as well our contracting team, it’s the best it’s ever been. And that’s because we moved away from that master servant model, allowed them to be in the driver seat. Sit beside me, let’s work through this together, my KPI is your KPI, that type of stuff. But what’s more important is that they drive the program of work. They focus on, they provide the areas of focus. They’re the ones that are actually driving the change on our behalf, and we’re giving them that control in allowing our vendors or our contracting company to set the agenda, so they’re highly engaged.

Nunzio Bagnato: And that’s because they’re running this like their own business.

Sarah Nicastro: Now, when you decided to make this shift, the whole journey, part of that was a plaids word customer-centricity, and you talked about the fact that the technicians are the face of Foxtel, they’re the ones that are interfacing directly with the customers, and so part of this was moving from that transaction and volume based approach to having them present and interact in a way that was in line with Foxtel’s brand and persona and quality levels.

Sarah Nicastro: How did the score card method help in achieving that outcome?

Nunzio Bagnato: Well, we had to take a step back and we had to look at the Foxtel technician. What does a Foxtel technician look like? What is the future of the… What’s the Foxtel technician of the future look like? And at that point in time the Foxtel technician looked like a standard trainee. I mean, if you had a plumber stand beside one of our Foxtel technicians, you wouldn’t know the difference. They looked the same, they spoke the same and they serviced the customers the same way.

Nunzio Bagnato: And I’m not suggesting that plumbers don’t service customers, but I was trying to illustrate here is that the Foxtel technician felt and look like a trainee. And when you look at what we were delivering, we’re delivering entertainment. That’s what we do, and we’re providing a customer a form of entertainment. And does a Foxtel technician need to be in a trading uniform. Our old technician used to be in high V’s vest with, we call them silicone snot marks all over his uniform, scruffy looking dot dude, turn up to the customer’s house, grunt his wife through the job and get the hell out of there as quickly as he possibly can.

Nunzio Bagnato: That wasn’t in line with the product we were providing. It wasn’t in line with our brand. So we had a look at what does a Foxtel technician, what should it look like? And it needed to be somebody who was groomed, well groomed. Who presented himself really, really well in a standard Foxtel uniform who had really good soft skills. So we changed the way we recruited our technicians. We had technicians that were highly skilled when it came to installing Foxtel and servicing Foxtel, but when it came to the soft skills, there was an area of opportunity. So either we had to train up those guys in their soft skills, or when we were recruiting new technicians, they were really good with the soft skills stuff, really good with the customer experience, really good with the interaction stuff.

Nunzio Bagnato: And we can train them on the technical stuff. We’ve got a really good training program to get them right up to the standards we need to provide them that highly technical ability, but that soft skill stuff, that interaction, that was critical to us. So we made sure that our recruitment strategy shifted and we focused on those type of men and women. And that, together with the score card and the way we actually discussed the score card, a program of work with the score card, shifted the type of technician we had out there.

Sarah Nicastro: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Nunzio Bagnato: They are 100% focused on providing a service to a customer and they know that they need to turn up with their ID, with their uniform, well-groomed and interacting to follow the scope from A all the way through to Z, because that is what we expect from a Foxtel technician. That is what’s getting sure that they provide the level of service the customer expects from us. That is what helps them achieve a good score card. And if that all goes into plan, then they are almost guaranteed work.

Sarah Nicastro: It makes sense.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. So the other thing that you’ve mentioned that was key to all of this is the command center. The score card method and the command center work together to give the technicians the ability to focus more on that service experience. Talk about the command center’s role in allowing the technicians to focus as much as possible on that customer interaction.

Nunzio Bagnato: When we designed the command center, we designed the field component to empower the technician to have full control over it, his or her day. We wanted the technician to be able to do everything from their device, control their day. But we also said is that we want you to focus on the job that you have in front of you. The old technician would be doing the routing, the jeopardy management, the rescheduling, the whole lot. Your role, let’s define your role, your role is to go into a customer’s house and service them and do what you need to do, do whatever is on the work order, but when you’re at that house, you are 100% focused on that customer. You’re not worrying about your next job or your route or whatever, tomorrow’s route or whatever, 100% focused. But I’m giving you full control over that job.

Nunzio Bagnato: If a technician’s day goes to plan, the command center will never interact with the technician. And we have technicians that go through days where they’re not interacting with the command center. The command center only gets involved when the job or the route goes off path. And they only manage by exception. They’re there to provide them support, but they’re also there to take away all those admin type of tasks. If the day doesn’t go to plan, the command center will identify that before the technician knows that your day is going off track. A job or some jobs in the afternoon present themselves at risk. The command center will reach out, the technician validate that, that’s the case, because sometimes it’s not exactly, the technician may be finishing off a job and as soon as he finishes that job off, the day corrects itself. We just want to reach out and make sure, the technician confirms that he’s still on the job and may be out there for a while, and the command center will manage those jobs that are at risk, utilize or reroute them to another technician in the area to make that point of window.

Nunzio Bagnato: In most cases we will do that or bring another technician to the area to meet that time stop. In worst case scenarios that we’re not able to meet that time slot and the command center will manage the customer.

Nunzio Bagnato: But there also is a where’s my tech solution out there when the customer can self-service as well, so they can actually have a look the way the technician is and work out exactly when he or she is estimated to arrive and obviously job out their day to ensure that they, they do not have any inconvenience any way. So the command center really is there to provide them that support and level service and manage by exception. Again, if the day goes to plan, the technician would not speak to the command center. But there are scenarios where they have it.

Nunzio Bagnato: You’ve also got a planning team which is part of the command center and they are all part of the planning component leading into the day and they are highly important to the technician’s score card, arriving on time, it’s all about the planning, completing your job, it’s all about the planning. Planning team have weekly discussions with the field leadership team about improving the quality of routes, improving the capacity, utilization rates and all that type of stuff.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, I think what’s interesting to me is, you’ve recognized the need to enable your technicians to focus more on the customers, you’ve incentivized them to do that through the score card, but you’ve enabled them to do that by eliminating a lot of that administrative parts of the job so that they have the capacity to focus more on that interaction instead of those other manual or time consuming tasks.

Nunzio Bagnato: Yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Okay, all right, last question is, if someone’s listening who is thinking through how to begin to leverage or how to better leverage contract workers, can you first summarize the value. What is the reason that this model can work and work well for organizations?

Nunzio Bagnato: I think a contractor model and the reason why a lot of organizations go to a contractor model is because it’s not a fixed model from a cost perspective, and the attractive component of that is it becomes variable. And it depends on what kind of contractor arrangement you have, but most contractor models are variable and that’s the attractive component of it. But with that comes a lot of pain if you don’t manage it right. If you don’t have the right relationship, if you don’t have the right partner and you don’t treat them like a partner.

Nunzio Bagnato: If you treat them like a contractor, you’re going to get contractor results, guaranteed. So we’ve been able to take a trade-like sort of service and make it feel like a Foxtel service. But it’s not unique to us, I mean, we can take this model anywhere, because it’s not specific to Foxtel. What we’ve introduced, what we’ve built is transferable to any type of industry or any type of work I should say.

Nunzio Bagnato: If you treat your vendors like a contractor, you’re going to get contractor results. It’s about having a really strong strategical partner that can work with you and work side-by-side. And you’re going to have to be okay with being challenged. In actual fact, we get frustrated, because we know we don’t get challenged enough. We want to be challenged. I don’t have all the answers, but the contracting company that we’ve engaged to do this type of work, that’s what they specialize in, that’s what they do really, really well. So they need to bring that to the game. They need to bring that to the table and you need to allow them to do that. And it’s okay if they challenge you.

Sarah Nicastro: What’s your best advice for someone to get started with incorporating a model like this, a score card model? How can you begin that transition from, all right, we’re looking at this like a contractor thing, it’s a volume based thing. We realize we need more. What’s the best advice to begin that journey?

Nunzio Bagnato: For me it’s don’t try to do too much too soon. Understand exactly what is your desired end state. What is your desired outcome from that field workforce, and just keep it simple. Just really start off simple and then try to remove any of that complication. Allow your field, your leaders to understand exactly what you’re trying to achieve and then build on that. Just start off slow and build on that.

Nunzio Bagnato: Focus on what you want to do and be very clear with that message, and everybody involved, from you down, needs to be singing from the same hymn sheet, they need to be with the same messaging. And it’s okay to mess up, it’s okay to mess up. In actual fact, as long as you don’t break something, it’s okay to mess up. Go ahead, mess it up, because it will only get better by messing up. Got to give them the freedom, you’ve got to make sure that they feel safe in the environment to do what they need to do, but they’re not going to be losing their job over it.

Nunzio Bagnato: You can’t penalize somebody for having good intent. I’ll never remove a technician from the platform if his or her intent was to service the hell out of a customer and they’ve gone outside of the process. Processes are guidelines. I’m taking them as a guideline. As long as you’ve done what you needed to do to get the customer online, happy, enjoying Foxtel, it may not be the standard process, but I’m okay with that. That’s what we’re in the business to do.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, that’s another good point, is that empowerment, because empowering the technicians to deliver the customer experience in a good way, even if that isn’t picture perfect or whatever, it shows that you trust them and value them which goes back to that engagement and that buy in of what the mission is. But I like the point of keeping it simple. Again, the way that you’ve se the KPIs so that it’s a consumable amount of things to focus on at once and if you can prioritize, here is what’s most critical, then incorporate that, start there, and as you start to see progress and improve, then swap out some of those KPIs to get to that next wave.

Sarah Nicastro: You’re not set in stone, you just need to figure out where to start and get started.

Nunzio Bagnato: But then I need the KPIs and score card, it’s the processes or the way you’ve structured the team. I mean, start off small. Start off in a controlled environment and then keep adjusting. Don’t stand still, keep adjusting and then you’ll find your sweet spot. Once you found that sweet spot, bang, you’re off and running.

Sarah Nicastro: Good. All right, Nunzio, well thank you so much for joining and sharing, I really appreciate it.

Nunzio Bagnato: Pleasure. Thank you for the conversation.

Sarah Nicastro: Absolutely. You can learn more by visiting us at www.futureoffieldservice.com, you can also find us on LinkedIn as well as Twitter @TheFutureOfFS. The Future of Field Service Podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more by visiting www.ifs.com. As always, thank you for listening.