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Industry Leaders: Pivot Now to Prepare for What’s Next in Field Service

Since the pandemic impacts service delivery, field service leaders from eight industries share how they adapt, support their employees and customers, and plan for the future — all while delivering service.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “The show must go on.” Well, in field service, the job must go on. And across industries, the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting service delivery.

In a series of virtual round table discussions, Salesforce’s Michael Maoz, Steve Smith, and I chatted with field service leaders from eight industries about the challenges they’re facing and what they’re doing to mitigate them in the short- and long-term. Industries include:

  • Healthcare and Life Sciences
  • High-Tech Manufacturing
  • Manufacturing
  • Medical Devices
  • Oil and Gas and Utilities
  • Professional Services
  • Retail and Consumer Goods
  • Telecommunications

No matter the industry, they’re finding ways to adapt, support their employees and customers, and plan for the future — all while delivering service.

Check out who we talked to, what we discussed, and highlights of their experiences.

How are you changing and responding in this new world?

Preparation is key. During this time, field service leaders are looking at how they can reduce onsite visits by using remote support and make the most of when they do visit. They’re leaning into how to:

  1. Help the customer without an onsite visit through video tools
  2. Schedule visits for essential work and ensure social distancing
  3. Prepare the mobile worker prior to the visit with checklists

Chad Lowman, Technology Manager, Fike Corporation: “We’ve partnered with SightCall, a virtual assistant program. We can remotely train a technician and have a master technician to walk them through a job.”

Steven Nivens, Sr. Manager — Global Field Service Operations, Varian Medical Systems: “Customers are asking us to do more after hours. We’re using an internal remote analytics tool to consolidate service call visits from two days to one.”

Jerome Joseph, VP Global Support, Cohesity: “Preparation is key. We use a checklist to make sure the field engineers have the right parts, the right safety equipment, and the right guidelines.”

How are you supporting and protecting employees and customers?

Physical safety has always been a priority, but now the emotional well-being of employees and customers is also top of mind. Field service leaders are focusing on how to:

  1. Address and alleviate concerns through regular check-ins
  2. Build relationships across their teams, including contractors
  3. Improve physical safety through health checks

Snehashish Sarkar, Vice President Business Transformation Office, Varian Medical Systems: “Employee safety is #1. We’re addressing concerns with empathy. We also have the priority of keeping our radiation oncology equipment up and running.”

James Curtice, Senior Director of Advanced Service Cohesity: “We have a weekly global video call. We go over how you’re doing, so we have a stronger relationship and bond, even though we’re not physically together.”

Greg Peckham, Director of Technology, Snap Install: “We make sure that our contractors feel supported. We communicate with them constantly, so they know and feel the partnership is still there.”

Jesse Metcalf, Senior Director of Business Operations, Medical Device Manufacturer: "We continually thank our field engineers. We can teach proper hygiene and provide PPE, but it’s other things that help with a psychological boost."

Joey Len, Manager CRM and Account Management, Enovate Medical: “We have a hospital room on the production floor. A contracted nurse is there with an HR rep and they take your temperature when you come in.”

How are you thinking about the new normal and preparing for the future?

Field service leaders are developing strategies now, so they’re ready to act once restrictions are lifted and the new normal begins. They’re thinking about how to:

  1. Improve service delivery through digital transformation
  2. Use data insights to make operations decisions
  3. Continue to stay close with their customers

Thierry Hyppolite, General Manager, Hainet: “We’re looking into AI and how we’re going to use it for troubleshooting and install mechanisms, so we can speed up work and reduce time spent on site.”

Landon Howell, IT Manager Digital Oilfield Solutions, Marathon Oil Corporation: “Our approach is to leverage data and streamline processes into solutions to help us to produce oil and gas more efficiently.”

Dave Appert, VP Customer Care, Clayton Homes: “The future is all about doubling down on analytics. We need to be less exposed.”

A shared commitment to service and next steps

No matter their line of business, these industry leaders have the same strong commitment when it comes to delivering service, supporting customers and employees, and planning for what’s ahead for field service in the new normal. And all of them share this sentiment:

Gautam Rao, Director, Product Management — Digital Transformation, Cisco: “I’ve been very amazed at the resiliency of the human spirit.”

For the full discussions and more insights from these leaders, tune into Managing Change in Field Service: Industry Roundtables.


Karen is vice president of Field Service at Salesforce. With two decades of services and leadership experience, Karen supports companies and partners of all sizes and industries, including large, complex and strategic implementations. She helps companies navigate field service and quickly define success. Connect with Karen on LinkedIn.

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