Earlier this year, the Syncron team gathered with more than 500 like-minded field service professionals, after-sales innovators, and solution providers at Field Service USA. Through speaking sessions, networking events, and workshops, we ran the gamut of all things field service and support.

Our main takeaway from the event? There has never been a more important time in field service to embrace innovation. From topics like service revenue, preventative services, connected devices and IoT, the customer experience, workforce management, and more, this event showed us the true state of field service today, and where the focus should be in the coming year.

Leading Change And Business Transformation In Field Service

In the midst of all of this change, your organization must transform, as well. Whether it’s a new software, a newly signed client, or a new product added to your portfolio, you must assess the people-side of the change and be sure your team is just as ready as your systems, methods, policies and processes before launching the next big thing.

One thing Sarah O’Brien, Senior Director of Business Transformation at Sears Holding Corporation and a veteran field service and process improvement expert, has learned over time is that if you make a mistake that you can learn from — regardless of what change you’re driving — celebrate the failure. Good for you for taking a risk and trying something new! Just make sure you understand why it didn’t work, and feed that back into your next change.

As we learn more about transforming your field service business, it’s clear that the same can be said for the aftermarket part of your business. The adoption of a new after-sales strategy isn’t changed overnight — you have to start by influencing from within to, in turn, better your customers. This transformation is all about leveraging your own people to drive a better experience for the customer.

How To Set The Vision And Strategy That Turns Service Into A Growth Engine

Growth takes time, and there are dozens of elements to take into account when you are going down a growth path. But with growth, sales and service constantly increasing, how do you continue that growth, at scale? Terry Diaferio, Senior Director North American Service, and Joseph Molesky, Senior National Operations Manager, both of the Tennant Company, discussed what all it takes to set the vision and strategy within your organization to turn service into a growth engine.

The key is to figure out what growth engine strategy is most important your business. Make sure it’s aligned with sales, as they’re a crucial part of your transformation team. Communicate your vision and growth strategy, and make sure the what and why is understood by all. People don’t like or dislike your strategy, they dislike misunderstanding, so talk often and early and understand their current view. Explain the differences in their current view and the transformation strategy, then seek to understand their concerns.

The goal with successful change and growth is to be 100% certain that your leaders are capable to lead a transformation, because, without them, you’ve lost your growth engine before you’ve even begun.

Why Embracing Innovation Will Enhance Your Service Organization

When it comes to innovation in our industry, service is the biggest area of opportunity. Modern service expectations have been shaped by companies like Amazon, where consumers are saying “I can have it when I want it,” and Uber, who lets me track the progress of my driver, and Zappos, who lets me shift the blame of my shopping errors to them.

Gary Brooks, Syncron CMO and trailblazer for the improvement of after-sales service operations, took the big stage to deliver a keynote discussing three of the most crucial impacts on after-sales service innovation today: “The Perfect Storm,” economic shifts, and emerging technology.

1. The Perfect Storm. Customers’ expectations often are misaligned with your capabilities to deliver. And by 2030, millennials will make up 75% of the US workforce, with 60% of the population moving to major cities. And, thanks to medical advancements, 2050 will be the year we see the number of people over the age of 65 double. At Syncron, we call this grouping of trends The Perfect Storm—a storm that will create both massive opportunities for some and business disasters for others. Those who don’t heed the warnings and prepare for the storm are the ones who fail to embrace innovation.

2. Economic Shifts. We’re seeing a big shift in the way that things are sold. Think of Tesla: they are going around the dealer, they are going direct to the consumer. Tesla is leading the way by having a direct relationship with the customer, which is impacting the way we deliver service. By cutting out the middlemen, manufacturers sell straight to customers creates an intimate and immediate feedback loop that leads to a better customer experience.

3. Emerging Technology. There’s a lot of talk and speculation about how a variety of emerging technology will fundamentally change field service as we know it — from drones and driverless cars to augmented reality, wearables and IOT. How and when will you embrace technology to improve your ability to deliver exceptional and profitable service? Embracing innovation is no longer a luxury in field service. It’s a necessity.

So, while we all want to be better leaders, the best leaders, as it turns out, are the most insatiable learners. And as field service leaders in the US are getting on board with these trends and changes, European field service leaders must also ask themselves, “How am I learning as fast as the world is changing?” These shifts are affecting the world as a whole, and globally, we need to align on how to improve our global field service efforts in order to empower after-sales service organizations and, ultimately, provide excellent customer experiences.

Change can be harder than rolling out a brand new process, so it’s important to recognize milestones in the process. Support is the most important part of leading people through the change, and sustainable change starts by connecting people with process.

Join us at Field Service Europe 2017, December 6th-8th in Amsterdam, as we join manufacturers and service leaders from around the world, all looking to advance service together.