utility worker
Digital tools and technologies can help you align field service workers around a common and more easily understood goal. PHOTO: Elvert Barnes

Field service workers have unique employee experiences. 

Detached from their organization's larger goals and objectives, they may feel isolated and disconnected.

But in the digital era organizations have new options to manage the remote employee experience, including the experiences of field workers.

By focusing your service offerings more on business outcomes you can align these employees on a common and more easily understood goal.

Mobile workforce management software is already a "must have." 

But better collaboration between people, digital technology and machines can open the door to even deeper improvement and move the worker experience from reactive to proactive.

If you have a mobile workforce here are some tips on where to start your digital odyssey.

Plan Your Digital Initiative

Using digital tools and technologies to manage field employees is a major undertaking. Get the resourcing right for the project, and know for a time you may need a full time, dedicated team.

In addition to a project manager, appoint internal stakeholders to investigate new digital ways of working. Include a customer service representative, a field worker, a marketer, a supply chain representative and an IT technician.

The opinions of field workers are particularly useful, firstly because they understand the work more than any other, and secondly to get their team’s buy-in from the beginning.

Get the Vision Right From the Start

Make sure everyone in your organization understands why you are considering digital technology to transform the worker experience in the field. It could be a combination of reasons, not only being more competitive but to also improve both the worker and customer experience.

Research and Brainstorm

The bottom line is to get creative, establish an internal brainstorm, and call upon your employees’ expertise in the task force and wider.

Millennials working in your organization, long used to working with digital, may have some great ideas. So will the most experienced workers, who have "seen in all." Look externally at your competitors and look at similar sectors for benchmarking ideas.

A good structure to use is to start at the desired customer outcome and then work backward. That way all the technology, all the field employee training, and all the resource deployment, will be focused on the same objectives.

Engage with a Technology Partner

You don’t want to just implement technology with a vendor and have them walk away. You need a partner. You want a vendor that understands you, understands your ideas and can contribute to what is possible to provide an opinion about what else you could do to meet your objectives.

Additionally, there are many providers offering field service solutions, so make sure you engage with one that understands digital. Do they use tools like AI (Artificial Intelligence), real-time analytics, social collaboration and true cloud?

Manage the Shock

Even with highly intuitive technology, digital is transformative. It often means huge change and therefore can shock employees. Get buy-in from senior management, win the hearts and minds of stakeholders with workshops, communicate to avoid rumors and provide training. Provide "How to" videos to remote workers and make sure you have adequate support to handle questions.

But also, so all employees truly feel part of the project and not just stuck out on the road, you should arrange face-to-face meetings to build trust and engender project ownership.

Develop a Digital Mandate

The greatest corporate risk to change is due to a lack of mandate and therefore adoption. Making the move to digital must be sensitively handled, and ideally, different teams or regions are phased in with employees trained on the new way of working. Workflow is a great tool to help this process.

Delivered on mobile devices, it will walk field-based employees through a ‘best-in-class’ process to make sure each customer gets the service they were promised and expect. Over time field based employees will be working smarter, spending less time on administration and more time on the job in hand, improving productivity and boosting their own sense of achievement.

Go to Market

Now the hard work begins to pay off. You are no longer delivering analog services at analog speeds. You have built a platform to digitally power entirely new revenue models and SLAs for which your customers may even be happy to pay a premium.

Aim for Relentless Improvement

Powerful service management technology can help you measure and model every aspect of the workforce including how its collective behavior impacts customer outcome metrics. In addition to digital tracking, engage with employees as often as possible; ask them what works and what doesn’t.

The relentless search for improvement will help your services stand out from the crowd as you move to the next quartile.

This is especially true when managing the experience of your employees. They are the face of your brand and going digital in the right way will keep them happy and engaged. Your customers will notice, and it could make the difference to becoming number one in a competitive market.