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August 23, 2023 | 10 Mins Read

Field Service Hilton Head 2023 Recap

August 23, 2023 | 10 Mins Read

Field Service Hilton Head 2023 Recap


Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. I am here in Hilton Head, South Carolina at Field Service Hilton Head. I would say Sunny Hilton Head, but it's a little overcast at the moment. But here attending Field Service Hilton Head this week and wanted to share a little bit of a recap of what's going on here at the event. So I had the opportunity to open the conference with a kickoff session, which was a really interesting experience and a little bit of a practice in thinking on my toes. They somehow did not have my slides, so it was really uncomfortable for probably the first 45 or 60 seconds when I was trying to figure out if they were going to just pull them up. Once I realized that they truly didn't exist, it was a little bit better because I just accepted that reality and improved.

So that was interesting. That presentation was on five ways that I see companies working smarter to excel at service today, as well as prepare for the future. So I'm actually not going to share a recap of that session specifically here, because I think it would take too long to do that and also share some of the other highlights of the event. So I will save that for a future episode. So I had the opportunity to share that content. I also moderated a panel conversation yesterday on how centralizing and connecting your product can help your service organization maximize profitability. On that panel was Craig Bruns of Crown Equipment, Franklin Maxson with Socomec, and Dr. John Chrisentary, who was formerly with Medtronic. And we had a really good conversation. We spent some time talking about sort of the foundational elements and infrastructure of centralizing and connecting products to really be at a point where you can leverage them as part of your value proposition.

And within that, we also talked about the idea of centralizing strategy and sort of creating some standardization among locations, teams, regions across the globe, et cetera. So the idea of breaking down silos, creating that central and common strategy to make sure everyone's working toward the same vision, et cetera. But I think what was most interesting about that panel discussion was the aspects related to creating and communicating a new customer value proposition. So each person shared their own experiences of course, but we talked about the idea that when you're creating new service offerings, something that's focused on guaranteed uptime or as a service, not all of your customers are going to be ready straight away to just embrace and adopt the new way of working. So being selective about working with those who are a bit more open to doing things differently, some co-creation, co-innovation. And focus your efforts there first and get some wins that you can use to then not only refine your value proposition, but communicate it to customers that are in that next tier of readiness.

So I thought that was really good advice. With that, obviously we talked about changing the narrative and the dialogue. So when we start thinking about these advanced offerings, it's a different conversation. It's not transactional, it's value-based. So making sure that you are factoring in that narrative, making sure that sales teams understand what the focus is and how to articulate a new value proposition. Also, the reality that a lot of times the person within the customer base that you're going to be selling this new value proposition to, is most likely different than the contact that you sold the earlier value proposition to. So accepting that and preparing for that as well. We also talked about the idea that a lot of customers value this feel of customization, personalization. But how to offer that in a way that it feels customized, it feels personal but really you're working off of some standard set of parameters or offerings, because obviously customizing and personalizing everything for every relationship isn't scalable.

But if that feeling is important to your customer base, how do you provide that in a way that is scalable, that is standard enough but personal and custom feeling? We also talked a bit about determining what objections from customers are overcomeable, and what are maybe not worth prioritizing spending the time on. So there's somewhere it's just new, it's different. Those sorts of things I think are all things that you can work through if you put the effort in. Franklin specifically talked about how in their work with defense organizations, there are just some objections related to security and data exchange that right now are not really overcomeable or not worth the effort and time it would take to overcome. And so that's okay. They just segment that appropriately and focus on the areas that are possible to work on today. And know that things will continue to evolve in relation to security and those objections. So really good session. Dr. John Chrisentary who was on that panel then also did a solo session that I really enjoyed, talking about the differences between transactional and transformational leadership.

I thought it was a really, really good session and very timely in what folks here I think need to hear and be considering when we think about the talent landscape and also the way that the industry is evolving. So a really good talk. One of the things that he pointed out is sometimes this sense of control, really perceived control, keeps a leader in this transactional phase because it can feel when you move to a transformational leadership type that you're relinquishing control because you're distributing it more. But in reality, you are in a lot of ways maybe have more control or control isn't the right word and I don't think should be the goal. That's kind of an outdated objective, but I guess influence. When you're able to empower your teams to make decisions, to share in the journey of evolution and innovation, you're really in a lot of ways having much bigger impact than if you are maintaining this sense of control. I attended a workshop put on by David Bishops, who was formerly with Johnson Controls and now is doing some consulting with Twin Bishops, him and his twin brother which is interesting.

And that workshop was on the risk of shiny objects. So getting distracted by technologies that get a lot of buzz, obviously here it's certainly AI. And getting distracted from the real objectives at hand. That point was kind of reinforced in a conversation I had today at lunch where we were essentially talking about how AI is the biggest buzzword here for sure. But there isn't a lot of grounding of the concept in business value and real business use cases. And just talking about why that is and how sometimes the terminology itself creates the shiny object syndrome. So someone was sharing that the executive leadership had said to them, "We need ChatGPT, go do it." Without really understanding what they're talking about and what the intent might be. So really good point.

I think there are a lot of very practical applications for AI today, and certainly those will continue to expand and grow. But just making sure that you're looking at everything through the lens of how will this benefit our customers, serve a need for our customers or our company. And also keeping in mind the viewpoint of your employees is really important. I also attended a workshop put on by Roy Dockery of Flock Safety. I would say it was my favorite session of the week so far. The event isn't over yet, but it was talking about, is self-care in field service a myth or a reality? And really talking about this idea of burnout, mental health, making sure that employees and teams feel cared for and are taking care of themselves. And it was a really interesting and I think also very important conversation.

Now, there are some challenges that came up in the conversation that I think are incredibly valid. When you have a lack of talent, you're already struggling to hire and there's this amount of work and this need from customers that you have to respond to, it's really hard to create the space to introduce some of these concepts. So I don't want to make it seem as though there aren't some very tough realities that make the intent complex. But Roy, I think also does a really good job of pushing back on some historical thinking and preconceived notions and just default processes, systems, et cetera. So we talked about are people taking time off and if not, why? And as leaders, how do you do that and therefore promote mental health and wellbeing? We talked about different opportunities in service to transition employees.

So Roy talked about how when he was in his former role, he would transition employees sometimes from field service to tech support if they were really struggling with the demands of travel. Pointing out the fact that yes, they made more from a salary perspective than traditional tech support did but they also had much higher resolution rates. So again, thinking differently and challenging some of the historical norms. Another point that he brought up that I'm sure raised some eyebrows is in his former role, he changed the SLA from a two-hour SLA to an eight-hour SLA. And usually we think about that in going in the other direction. But his point was, in our industry two hours isn't the norm. It is a standard we've put upon ourselves that now we are beholden to in a way that is causing a lot of angst among our teams and putting a lot of stress on the field force.

It isn't something that is necessary. And so if we change that, yes, we have to communicate that change to customers. But it brings a lot of value in terms of the mental health and the self-care of the teams. So really good examples. Again, things that a lot of people might baulk at, but I think when you really start reflecting on your own circumstances and where can you push back in support of your people, it becomes really, really interesting. So it was a great session. It might be worth having Roy come back on the podcast and talk about some of the things that he's done historically and some of the considerations related to that topic. There was a guest keynote from Dave Delaney who talked about retention essentially. And really good points reinforcing the importance of really an employee's early experiences with an organization. So he shared some statistics that are concerning.

Some of those were it costs six to nine months of salary to replace someone who leaves. 20% of new hires leave within 45 days. 32% of new hires don't feel a sense of belonging at one year of employment, a fifth don't feel valued and two fifths don't feel appreciated. So he spent his time really sharing some insight and perspectives on how we can change that. Really good reminders of how important it is for employees to feel heard to even something so simple as be properly introduced within the organization, so that people know who they are and know that they've joined the company. He talked about the practice of writing weekly thank you cards to folks and the impact that that can have, again, something very simple that can easily be overlooked.

The importance of onboarding and he gave seven tips related to onboarding. Made me think of a session with Venkata from Bruker Nano when we were talking about that. He mentioned that, I can't remember the period of time if it was 30 days or something like that, but a certain period of each employee's onboarding when they first come on board it's really just an introduction. He called it a welcoming period. So there isn't this immediate expectation of learn, do, learn, do. It's welcoming them into the organization, getting to know them, having them get to know their teams and the people within the other functions. And just making it feel a bit more personal, which I think is really good advice.

And another thing that Dave spoke about that was also a part of Venkata and I's conversation is fostering relationships and connection outside of just who you are and what you do at work. So looking for those opportunities, whether it's social interactions, whether it's team building type interactions. Or Dave today shared the example of using the Kiva platform, which is where you can support entrepreneurs in different global startups around the world, using that as a way to give teams the ability to pick together what they would like to support. So sort of a philanthropic thing, but something that teams can use to get to know one another a bit better and to do something positive together. So really good input as well. And Dave Delaney is with Futureforth. So those are just some of the sessions that have taken place here at Field Service Hilton Head this week.

It's been a good event so far, and hope that gives you a little bit of perspective on what is going on here. Plenty of AI talk as well, and I certainly haven't had an opportunity to attend every session but wanted to share some tidbits from those that I have. And hopefully some of these folks can come on to a future podcast to share a bit more detail. And I can also share a little bit more on the session that I gave as well. So that's all for now. Stay tuned to For more, be sure to subscribe to the Future of Field Service Insider so you can stay up to date on all of the latest. The Future of Field Service podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more As always, thank you for listening.