As the calendar flipped to January leaving 2017 behind, what is your 2018 strategy, how will you take goals and turn them into a reality and where to begin? It’s easy to get bogged down with a lengthy “to do” list, so let’s focus on prioritizing the objectives that will yield the greatest return based on modern service industry trends.
What’s Hot for 2018?
Let’s examine the top 6 strategic initiatives, per a recent survey conducted by Field Technologies Online, poised to affect the field service industry this year and consider the importance of each.
- The number one strategic initiative to focus on this year – according to 74 percent of respondents – is to increase efficiency of field technicians. The number of field technicians is typically the largest employee group in a service operation and efficiency gains can dramatically impact operating and financial results. Efficiency is also expected by your technicians and will assist to attract and retain quality technicians in an ever increasing talent short environment.
- Improving the customer experience is number two on Field Technologies Online There’s been a shift from an inwardly operational focus to an outwardly, customer centric perspective that is the real key to success to understand how service can engage, delight, and exceed customer expectations, and 71.8 percent of respondents agree. Understanding your customers’ needs will help align your service offerings to provide customer satisfaction.
- In the number three spot is increasing revenue, which nearly half of respondents listed as a focus. However, it’s important to note that understanding the needs and expectations of customers is paramount in driving the right kind of service offerings and elevating the customer experience to meet the demands of your client base, which in turn, will positively impact revenue.
- In 2018, data will again be a force majeure. By collecting and analyzing data properly, service companies can develop and monitor KPIs to focus on service improvement, leverage internet of things (IoT) information to change service processes, make product decisions, gather customer feedback to provide a more positive experience, and align service teams more strategically (see strategic initiative #2!).
- One-third of respondents identified technology as a driving force in optimizing mobile operations. With field service management (FSM) software, companies can benefit from better usability and scalability in streamlining operations and elevating customer service. However, there are many technology options available and companies must first determine their strategic objectives and then align the right technology fit for their company (not one size fits all!).
- Lastly, just over one-quarter of respondents list performance-based contracts as a trend. Strategically speaking, these contracts benefit both the customer and the service organization by utilizing proactive or predictive maintenance. The customer sees increased uptime and the service company sees improved efficiency in scheduling and dispatch, which provides an increase in revenue.
Although every “top” strategic initiative has its place, perhaps tackling all six trends within one calendar year is over-zealous. The key is figuring out which two or three trends to focus on in 2018 to truly impact the customer experience and your business’ bottom line. One way to assess what initiatives your business should undertake is by referencing Jolt Consulting Group’s 5-stage Service Excellence CurveSM. This roadmap provides a strategic path to help service businesses benchmark how they compare against best-in-class and determine if they are at the bottom of the curve, “Reactive” state, or the pinnacle of service excellence, having achieved “Best-In-Class.” So, whether you’re still finalizing your strategic vision for 2018 or have already started the year strong, remember, efficiency, customer experience, increased revenue, data, technology, and performance-based contracts will likely be the industry terms from now until the “next” new year.
 Field Technologies Online, Prioritizing Top Field Service Strategic Initiatives, November 28, 2017.