January 04, 2024: Aquant’s 2024 Field Service Benchmark Report highlights the evolving landscape of field service organizations as they seek to narrow the skills gap, meet customer expectations, and embrace technological advancements.
Key findings reveal that bottom-performing companies require assistance in addressing the widening skills gap within their workforce, a challenge reflected in the escalating costs they incur from their bottom-performing employees. In contrast, top-performing companies use data, AI, and the Shift Left Method to stay current with service trends and to upskill their service teams in an effort to meet growing customer expectations and counter the rising worker shortage.
To report on these findings, Aquant gathered and analyzed data from 145 service organizations spanning various industries, including manufacturing, medical devices, commercial printing, industrial machinery, food service equipment, and more. The dataset included over 24 million work orders, 6.6+ million assets, 582,000 technicians, and nearly $7.71 billion in service costs. The report discovered three key findings, including:
A smaller skills gap has a direct impact on an organization’s performance
Top-performing organizations lead the pack due to a smaller skills gap in their workforce, resulting in higher First Time Fix Rates, slightly lower service costs, and more extended intervals between visits for repairs and maintenance. On average, top-performing organizations resolve issues in 2.4 days. In contrast, bottom-performing companies take four times longer to resolve issues and have approximately three times more Visits Per Asset compared to their high-performing counterparts.
“We’ve long discussed the retirement crisis, but in conversations with industry leaders, it’s clear that organizations are feeling its impact more intensely and rapidly than ever before,” said Shahar Chen, co-founder and CEO of Aquant. “Seasoned older workers are departing at an alarming rate, posing a significant challenge in swiftly replacing their roles and training junior talent. More resources are required to keep up with customer expectations and demand.”
Lowest-Performing Employees Can Incur 80% More Expenses than Top Performers
The lowest-performing employees within an organization can represent an 80% higher cost compared to their top-performing counterparts. Even bottom performers at top-performing companies incur costs that are 34% higher than those of the highest performers. However, if every employee had the knowledge and skills to perform like the top 20% of the workforce, service costs would be reduced by as much as 22%.
Joshua Orr, Product Support Services Manager at John Deere recently spoke to how technology can help close the gap and improve customer experience in a webinar, “How do we take somebody new to service and make them perform like they have 30 years of experience? Through technology. AI assistance guides less-experienced people to perform similarly to those of their higher-skilled counterparts. Everyone, including customers, can independently troubleshoot issues which in turn helps with their uptime. If they can handle the problem themselves using AI assistance, it helps them fix it quickly without the need to call a technician, especially if the required part is nearby or not needed for the repair.”
Top-performing organizations stay competitive by leveraging data, tools, and the Shift Left Method.
The top-performing organizations in Aquant’s dataset proactively enhance their performance by regularly reviewing organizational metrics and utilizing advanced generative AI-powered tools for data capture, analysis, and solution dissemination. These organizations employ both quantitative and qualitative data from multiple sources, including unstructured data from work orders, machine logs, troubleshooting documentation, customers, technicians, parts, and even their top performers.
“Gartner® predicts that by 2025, 80% of customer service and support organizations will be applying generative AI technology in some form to improve agent productivity and customer experience (CX).” According to a Gartner research, “The advent of generative AI marks a dramatic leap forward in the realm of automation. application leaders responsible for customer service should partner with customer service technology vendors to evaluate and adopt the generative AI product innovations that deliver the most value in the near term.”
Recognizing the importance of AI quality, top-performing organizations commit to starting with available data and continuously refining outputs through user feedback for optimal results. They strategically adopt the Shift Left Approach, bringing service resolutions closer to the end customer before reaching out to the enterprise by prioritizing self-service capabilities and remote resolutions over field visits, in turn minimizing delays and improving service efficiency. Additionally, these organizations prioritize a well-rounded workforce, blending soft skills (e.g. communication and emotional intelligence) and hard skills (technical knowledge) to enhance the overall customer experience. Their commitment extends to continuous upskilling initiatives, ensuring their teams remain adaptable and proficient in evolving service landscapes.