On those long days when your field service team is challenged by meeting customer demands, navigating recurring issues, dealing with unexpected travel delays and the like, creativity is the vehicle to problem solving, designing new customer experiences, and staying energized as a team.
We don’t often think of technical services as a creative profession. After all we go about our days meeting schedules, diagnosing and maintaining equipment, and transacting time and material in the systems. Normally, we don’t think of either ourselves or the field service profession as a creative sort of group.
However, we also experience that no day is the same, no customer relationship or problem is the same, nor are the various locations and equipment. Being close to customers and truly understanding their needs and where they are going spawns new service agreement programs with market leading options and customer interfaces. If you look deeper into top field service technician performance, there lies a strong attribute of creativity and resourcefulness. When I was a FSE, I never found myself to be the most technical or astute troubleshooter. Thankfully, I used my resources (documentation, technical support, and senior engineers) to help me. There truly is a flair of creativity in all our field service teams — technicians, coordinators, systems, support, and management — as they complete their daily activities to solve problems and exceed expectations.
As field service leaders, we all understand the importance of social skills in today’s field service. While creativity may not be thought of as a leading social skill, it is critical in problem solving and designing new customer experiences. We should be asking ourselves, how can we work to instill creativity and resourcefulness within our teams when most in our profession don’t even view field service as a creative profession?
At a recent service technician meeting, I asked my group their thoughts on this topic and captured the following take-aways:
- Confirmed that the field service technicians didn’t think of themselves as creative
- As we discussed further, they realized that how they approached certain jobs, used the systems, scheduled themselves, obtained meetings with key account decision makers, and utilized their team and company resources was in fact unique and creative. They all had various examples (without many similarities) of demonstrating their original and creative thoughts in completing their daily tasks. I truly think they left the meeting with a new perspective on their role and job
- Discussed research from Adam Grazzaley, M.D. Ph.D — a nueroscience researcher, who said “boredom is where creativity happens,” Taking Dr. Grazzaley’s point, have you noticed that with the ability to always look at a “screen” we are never bored anymore? Never does a long grocery store line dull me anymore with my smartphone in hand. In the day of 24/7 connectivity and multi-tasking, we must be deliberate to be creative. In field service, that becomes even harder because decisions and actions can happen with a moment’s notice
- I observed a senior technician lead his first ever safety meeting where he prepared an outline, tips, and relevant You Tube videos to make his points and engage the audience. This was a creative, informative, and effective meeting
- Personally, I use long drives or flights (with the center seat unoccupied) for my best creative work, just because I have time to think
- How can we structure a creative work environment for our own teams? I think we need to be creative just to establish a structure in the fast-paced field service operation. Capturing the voice of the customer can be one way to bring out new ideas that are aligned to customer needs. Is there a designed, deliberate process to do that?
- At the very least, our small group concluded that there is importance in creativity to fulfill field service work, and that we need to address our work methods for both spontaneous creativity to solve an immediate problem or deliberate creativity to develop a new process
There’s a place and purpose for creativity in our industry. Connecting people’s creative spirit together with leadership and technology can be a big aid in the field service role and in improving the customer experience.