Last updated: Solving the talent shortage in field service for happier customers

Solving the talent shortage in field service for happier customers


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Think about the last time you had to call for service. Maybe your water heater broke. Or maybe you needed cable installed for internet service. Most likely you needed help fast, but did you get it?

Field service organizations struggle with talent shortage so it’s difficult for them to meet customer needs. According to Service Council research, almost 57% of field service organizations report challenges finding enough talented technicians.

The field service talent shortage

Multiple forces are driving this talent shortage in field service, including an aging workforce — the surge of retiring baby boomers — increased skill requirements, and higher customer demand.

With customer expectations for speedy resolutions higher than ever, this talent shortage is forcing field service leaders to rethink their workforce models. Consider a manufacturing customer that needs a key piece of equipment repaired. They can’t afford to wait for days for a technician – the cost of downtime adds up quickly.

Without enough skilled technicians, field service organizations are at risk of customer dissatisfaction, reduced competitiveness, and lost revenue. A Korn Ferry study estimates global labor shortages of 85.2 million skilled workers by 2030, resulting in lost revenue opportunities of more than $8 trillion.

Talent shortage: Partners and freelancers to the rescue 

Many field service leaders have turned to partners or freelancers to extend their service teams to meet customer need for speed and agility. This isn’t a new trend in field service, but it’s picking up steam. In fact, a study by Blumberg Advisory Group and Field Service Insights found that 77% of US field service organizations surveyed use a variable workforce to handle labor shortages.

There are a few key reasons for the increased interest in on-demand. New technologies like the Internet of Things enable companies to detect issues early, and companies need a flexible workforce to provide quick fixes.

Field service organizations also are using on-demand workforces to manage fluctuating demand in service; they want to be able to react quickly when there’s a sudden peak in demand. Moreover, the growing gig economy provides ample opportunity to hire freelancers, with millennials apt to prefer self-employment and many retirees keen to continue working a few hours a week.

Knowledge is power 

However, to keep customer satisfaction high and reap the cost benefits, field service companies need to take a thoughtful approach to solving the talent shortage by incorporating freelancers and partners. They can’t just send anyone out to a job.

The freelancer must have the right skills to perform the task and access to the same systems as in-house staff in order to quickly fix the customer’s problem.

Advances in technology enable companies to effectively manage an expanded service organization of both freelance and in-house technicians. Companies can find the best available technician, assign them to the job, and give them access to the tools and data they need to maintain high standards.

This new technology leverages AI to optimize scheduling and dispatching of external and in-house technicians, so organizations can fill in any time, location, or expertise gaps they might have with their own resources. With the right tools in place, companies can maintain an overview of all customer service activities for the best results.

Expanded teams, happy customers

Leveraging an on-demand workforce infuses a field service team with the agility and flexibility needed to provide the experience customers today expect. Companies can fix issues quickly and efficiently, which builds customer loyalty.

Customers are happy, as are employees. In-house staff aren’t stretched thin scrambling to cover calls for service. They also aren’t overwhelmed trying to fix problems for which they don’t have the right expertise. When the company can call in external technicians with specific skills, internal employees can focus on their strengths.

Digital transformation is rapidly changing how field service organizations operate. Field service organizations can’t afford to let this opportunity go by.

Better agent efficiency, more loyal customers. Get the Aberdeen report to find out how B2B service leaders do it HERE.

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