Today it’s the traditional day of giving thanks in the United States of America: Thanksgiving. While we have been busy drowning, preparing, and cooking a huge turkey for what seems like an endless number of hours, eventually the wine was cracked open and we started musing about how a running a successful and efficient field service organization is very much like a Thanksgiving dinner. Yes, you heard that right: it’s Thanksgiving Day and we are still thinking about Field Service Management. But let’s set the right expectation at the start: we’re not suggesting that field engineers are running around aimlessly like turkeys, waiting to get roasted later that day (however we have met a few engineers in our lives who unfortunately seem to operate in this way). Instead, we’re suggesting that the field engineers are the turkey in the dinner: the central, most focal point whose absence makes everything meaningless.
Picture this: you invite your friends and families around for a plentiful Thanksgiving dinner and that sit and your grand table with huge anticipation for this delicious meal. But the plates are empty. There is no turkey. There is therefore no dinner. Here your family are your customers and, guess what, they’re now disappointed and feeling very much let down. This is the parallel that we are drawing with field service engineers. Without them you have nothing. The service calls cannot be attendee to. The customers are left waiting and neglected. They are unhappy. Your service business is therefore defunct: you don’t have a business.
But the field service engineers themselves are somewhat useless without the dinner’s gravy: the field service management software that adds the flavor and keeps everything lubricated and flowing. Remove this from the dinner and things quickly become dry, tasteless, and tough. Remove the field service management software from your service business and the same result happens: operations dry up and become inflexible through poor planning and execution. Yes, your customers may receive the service but will it be to the level expected? Will the engineers meet the appointments and arrive on time? Probably not. Will they be able to react to unplanned events and other changes? Probably not. So dinner has been served but are your customers happy? Unlikely thus putting the credibility and reputation of your service business at risk.
Our analogy doesn’t stop there either because the greatest turkey and the tastiest gravy amounts to nothing without the trimmings and garnish. Miss this out and you’re still left with a mundane dinner that nobody is really going to get that excited about. Yes there will be an element of appreciation but is it good enough? Is this level of service really going to meet with your friends’ and family’s expectations? Again, probably not.
The garnish is essentially keeping it all together and giving the fully rounded product or service. This is your dispatch team that add the color and flavor to your service operation. Without them nothing would happen. There’s no-one to take the service calls (and not all calls can possibly be logged online: sometimes the customer still actually needs to speak to someone even in this ever-growing digital era). There’s no-one to handle those exceptions that cannot be scheduled using an automated system because it’s either to complex or there’s simply no one in the vicinity with the right skills so a human-based decision is needed. And there’s no one to handle any escalations because, let’s face it, not everything goes to plan all of the time.
So this Thanksgiving, take a moment to thank your field engineers, dispatch team, and customers because without all of these existing, and operating effectively, you have no business. We hope you like our lighthearted analogy of the Thanksgiving dinner and the field service business.