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Insights from Field Service Palm Springs 2024 | TrueContext, formerly ProntoForms











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Insights from Field Service Palm Springs 2024

Lessons Learned on Balancing Data Collection and Technician Workload

In early May, I attended Field Service Palm Springs, a global, cross-industry conference where field service leaders share ideas, learn about each other’s challenges and successes, identify macroeconomic trends and strategies surrounding them, and understand the emerging and existing technologies.

TrueContext has attended Field Service Palm Springs for years in many capacities. We’ve kicked off the event with thought leadership addresses, hosted speakers to share insights and case studies, moderated roundtables on emerging trends, and even took on the role of In-N’-Out caterer.

While this event always helps keep your finger on the pulse of field service, we wanted to go a step deeper by hosting an intimate luncheon with industry thought leaders to facilitate a discussion on balancing data collection and field technician effectiveness. There were many great insights from this discussion, and I wanted to share them with you. I’m going to give you a heads-up right now: AI, while clearly important in its own right, is not one of them.

The Challenge

Alvaro Pombo, CEO & Founder of TrueContext, kicked off the discussion with a brief presentation posing this question, “In our quest for improved data from the field, are we overburdening our technicians?” Field service organizations see the value in data – it’s digital gold.

When the right data is collected, a company can level up its decision-making, operational efficiency, and customer relationships. However, as the need for new data increases, the onus is heavily being put onto the technicians and the people who support them to bridge the gap. Pair this with assets and processes becoming more complex, and you run the risk of technicians checking out. When this happens, they skip steps, find unapproved workarounds, and eventually burn out. If this scales, your data, field team, and organization are all at risk of failing.

True leaders in field service are people who understand these forces and seek to find the balance between the data they need from the field and the technicians and processes they have to accomplish it. Here are my takeaways from this group.

The Realities of Field Technicians

I said it before: field service is becoming more complex, and technicians are being asked to do more than ever. This is the overarching reality of field service, and there are many facets that need to be considered when an organization is tasking their teams to do more within this increasingly complex environment. Not only do they need to understand the assets, which are becoming more sophisticated, but they’re also in a unique position that makes it possible for them to wear many hats, like uncovering sales opportunities and collecting key data pieces from unleveraged sources. However, without proper processes in place to do this, these additional tasks bog down the technician and make it difficult for them to balance these new asks with their existing duties.  

So how are leading service organizations addressing this paradox? By truly understanding the processes they are asking the technicians to execute. One theme at these roundtables was common: technicians want to help. The nature of their job is to be problem solvers, and they want to solve these problems as quickly and effectively as possible. When they’re provided with processes that are not optimized to accomplish this, they are eager to provide feedback. While the organizations that take this feedback into account will be able to deploy solutions that address the realities of their technicians’ day-to-day, the ones who choose to involve their technicians as true stakeholders in process improvements will lead in their market.

When planning new responsibilities, improvements, or processes, having this insight from the start will help you every step of the way – from mapping the processes out with realistic resource requirements to understanding if there is a need for a new tool or technology, selecting the best tools, and testing these tools in real environments. By rooting this in the reality of technicians, through their eyes, you will have the insight to deploy more effectively and have increased credibility and buy-in from the start. PWC says that 70% of all digital transformations fail because of poor user adoption. By simply involving your technicians from the get-go and building around their reality, you have already increased your chances of success.

Including the Realities of Supporters

While it’s critical to involve your technicians in these improvements, that’s only part of the equation. Equally as important is the insight, feedback, and testing of the people who support these field teams from the back end. These people have a variety of titles: Process Specialist, Business Technologist, Citizen Developer; they are the people who are going to deploy the changes, iterate new improvements, and own the field activities from the technology side. You are likely already including them in the projects and process improvements, but by linking them closer to technicians and giving them tools and solutions to easily make iterations that effectively address the technicians’ reality, you will drastically increase your odds of a successful deployment, with more immediate improvements and ROI. Past that, if the tools you give them provides structured data, regardless of its source, and a way to easily extrapolate and present insights, you have achieved nirvana.

Alvaro has said this in many presentations. There is technology that exists that help you address the realities of your technicians and your citizen developers. We think TrueContext is an example of this type of solution, but there are many other technologies across the field service solution space that can help you reach this outcome. When you are looking at anytool, solution, or technology, make it their responsibility to demonstrate how they will address these critical realities, and don’t settle for less.

Redefining the Role of the Customer

There is a tough equation to stomach in field service.

Increased complexity + growing customer requirements – retiring technician superstars – qualified prospects = profit?

When writing it out, it appears ridiculous, but this is the reality I’m hearing at every conference I go to. Even with these increasing macroeconomic stressors, service leaders cannot take their foot off the gas. You are now expected, more than ever, to turn your service organization into a profit center. But how do you do this amidst this equation? The previous section will help – you will make your people more efficient with processes that truly address their reality. When done right, we’ve seen this impact everything from technician satisfaction, improved first time fix rates, and increased job completion rates. However, there is one area that is already proving to have major potential in solving the equation: customer centricity.

Put simply, customer centricity is giving your customer the ability to interact with your business how and when it suits them best. In fact, this is a common customer expectation, especially in service. If they can fix an issue themselves, they want a way to quickly confirm this, understand what steps they need to take to do-so, and then execute. Self-service is nothing new, but service leaders are finding clever ways to push the levels of customer centricity with their current technology and solutions. What does this have to do with burdening your technicians and risking burnout / checkout? I’ll give you an example I learned at a previous Field Service Palm Springs and heard again at the roundtable.

Lenny Cumberledge, Field Service Director of GOJO (the makers of Purell), outlined a challenge following the pandemic. More people were working remote than ever. This meant that fewer buildings were occupied, and fewer buildings were being built, ultimately leading to less hand sanitizer stations being installed, and less sanitizer being used. To address this, they shifted their strategy from a few large-scale deployments to many small-scale ones. But this led to another challenge: it was unfeasible to dispatch technicians to so many small deployments all over the world. Exorbitant costs aside, there was a risk of decreased satisfaction and burnout of their employees. They needed to make a change.

A key part of an installation was a pre-installation checklist and site survey. Using their current deployment of Salesforce and TrueContext, GOJO deployed this workflow directly to customers for them to complete on their own. Now, GOJO could obtain the necessary data in a clean, accurate, and concise format, and have everything they needed to ship the appropriate assets to the site for installation. This customer-centric process led to faster installation timeframes, more accurate job planning, less technician travel time, and increased customer satisfaction. In Lenny’s words, this is driving an estimated $1M in savings per year. With return to work in full swing, larger installs will follow, but by thinking outside the box, embracing customer centricity, and leveraging their current technology, GOJO will be able to retain their small installation market, remove this activity from their technicians’ scope, and focus them on larger installs and more critical tasks.


The challenge of balancing technician bandwidth and data collection will always lead you to process. Organizations must consider many factors when trying to achieve this equilibrium: the complex nature of field service, the realities of the people who operate in these teams, the workflows they must execute and manage, and how these different internal and external processes fit together. Ultimately, the biggest takeaway I learned from these roundtables was the importance of process realization: the effective implementation, execution, and iteration of processes that will allow a service organization to meet KPIs and improve operational efficiency. To achieve this, organizations must understand where digital transformation must happen, considering the organizational strategy, the customer roles and expectations, the stakeholders and teams, and truly understanding the processes at the field level. Only when this perspective is taken can you work to achieve this balance.

TrueContext Editorial Team

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