If you are in the service business, then you know a little bit about change. Just about everything to do with field service has been impacted by technology; and it has changed the way we do business. Technology is also having a revolutionary impact on the relative importance of soft skills.
Technology has allowed us to improve efficiencies. It has enabled us to get a more accurate picture of the effectiveness of our business practices. And it has allowed us to empower our field personnel. Most of these changes have been good for the customer, for us and for our field teams.
Closing the Competency Gap
As the pace of technology increases, we can see the shift it is having on the relative importance of soft skills. And it truly is revolutionary. Emerging technologies in the field service business are reducing the competency gap between top service professionals and less skilled service providers. The result is that it is becoming harder to differentiate on technical skills. With remote diagnostics, artificial intelligence, visual reality and embedded information in the serviced equipment, the field service professionals rely more on their tools to troubleshoot and repair and less on their experience and technical expertise. This opens up the door for less “qualified” individuals who use these same tools to give comparable levels of technical service.
This means that, even though it is highly competitive now, it will become even more so in the future. Customers will have an even more difficult time distinguishing between service providers. Service professionals and service organizations alike will have to rely more on the service experience that they create when interacting with a customer to differentiate them from their competitors. The basis of competition will shift from who is doing the best job of servicing the equipment; to who can create the best service experience while doing the job.
It’s All About The Brand
This is not to say that technical competence will go by the wayside. Obviously, it won’t. Technical competence will remain important. But as technology levels the playing field between service professionals of different capabilities, technical competence of the individual and the organizations that employ them will no longer be a factor of differentiation. The winning service organizations of the future will be the ones that create a service “brand.” They will clearly define the service experience they want to create and invest in the processes and soft skills training of their field service team to achieve it.
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“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
– Buckminster Fuller