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October 22, 2021

The Power of Habit: Field service edition


Table of Contents

Tired of paperwork?

You’re probably heard of award-winning business reporter Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit. It’s a well-known book that discusses why habits exist and how they can be changed. It focuses on explaining how understanding the way habits work will help you learn to stop bad habits and start new positive ones. And this isn’t true only for people, but for organizations and businesses as well. 

As a Field Service business, having positive habits as part of your day-to-day is a must if you want to foster a good working environment, form great customer relationships, and maintain high profitability from your projects. 

For a quick recap of the concept of habits in The Power of Habit (we strongly recommend you read this book for yourself), let’s look at how habits are formed. 

How do we form or change habits?

Essentially, habits can be broken down into three parts:

Cue + Response => Reward. 

Cues can be one or a combination of stimuli (sight, smell, touch, sound, taste, though). Responses, on the other hand, are the chains of thoughts and/or actions that usually come as a reaction to stimuli. And lastly, when combining the two we get rewards: which are pleasant or unpleasant sensations, emotions, or thoughts that come as a result of our responses and cues that we experience.

The secret then, according to the book, is working on the response part of a habit. This is where all habits are formed, changed, or stopped. As time goes by, your brain begins to crave the reward more and more as soon as the cue arises. That’s what drives the responses. If we control our responses and repeat the same ones as soon as a cue arises, a habit is formed and it becomes almost “automated”. You won’t even have to think of cues, responses, and rewards anymore. Your brain will automatically recognize cues and know what response to give. 

Now, let’s look at which habits you can start reinforcing today to take your Field Service business to the next level and really harness the power of habits!

Habit 1: Making Proactive Service a Regular

Proactive service is doing something for your customers and clients before they ask for it. It’s like your cup being filled with water by the waiter as soon as they notice it’s empty. With field service businesses, being able to offer proactive service is a great habit to form. This will help build long-lasting relationships with your clients and positions you as a trustworthy business. Analytics and data is your best friend here. Let’s say, for example, that you and your competitors use the same product or machine for your services. If a certain machine breaks after a certain number of cycles, and you know that replacing that machine or its parts is expensive, then you can offer free servicing before it needs to be replaced. It is usually a lot cheaper to service machines than it is to buy new ones, so offering proactive service will not only save your business money but will build trust with your clients. 

Habit 2: Start and Finish With Customer Feedback

Collecting feedback from customers doesn’t mean that you have to resolve the issue right away and not deal with it anymore. Even if in some cases some issues are a one-time thing, bringing customer feedback into your service lifecycle management system will help you close a loop and be able to deal with similar issues that can arise in the future. As a field service business, it’s important to analyze data and take action and incorporate findings into the management style. As a result, you can combine customer satisfaction, service, and operational information to immediately deal with customer feedback and work on underlying operational issues. You will save a lot of resources and even cut costs of dealing with problems when you’re able to prevent the same issue from arising. 

Habit 3: Make Contract Renewals a Priority

As your business grows, you may face a risk of keeping warranties, contracts, and other entitlement data in a few data-storing systems that are not connected. Some digitalized, some in paper binders, some in a box in storage. It’s important to connect all of your data and keep everything in one place. If you’re able to digitalize everything, then the next part becomes easier. With all contracts and other data on your computer, you can plan and send notifications to your clients to remind them when a contract is due. You can even enable sending automatic invoices so that you never miss an opportunity to renew a contract. 

Habit 4: Focus on Mobility

Your field technicians are one of the most (if not the most) valuable assets that your business has. Equipping them with the right tools should be the first thing on your to-do list. Information is also part of those tools. So if you can equip your field techs with on-site software that contains all of the information about a client and the project, they can do their job properly and identify any potential issues.

Habit 5: Good Inventory Maintenance

As a field service business, your inventory needs to be up to date and maintained regularly for you to be able to complete jobs successfully and meet deadlines. Your team should know if something needs to be repaired, a new part needs to be purchased, new inventory needs to be ordered, and know where everything is. If you can offer your service teams real-time visibility into the location and status of every product or service part, then your projects will go smoothly and you won’t risk irritating your customers because of your mishaps. 

Habit 6: Bring People, Processes, And Technology Together

While some may not like it, technology makes our current world go round. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a bad thing. It only means that some accommodations need to be made. If you can synergize your people, processes, and technology, then you will be able to maximize your efforts and increase productivity. People, processes, and technology need to be working with one another, and not against each other. Introducing specific software to help your business can be a first step to achieving this synergy. One example is integrating time-tracking software to help keep track of things without having to micromanage everything. Most software today will make the clock in and out process incredibly easy, and timesheets can be automatically generated with a few clicks. This way, you’re linking your employees with the process of tracking their working hours and technology with one software. 

Habit 7: Better Your Dispatch And Scheduling

Your field technicians need to be able to respond to a call as soon as it is placed. But as a field service business, you need to dispatch the right team with the right skillset. They also have to be equipped with the right information and parts to do the job. If you work on sharpening your dispatch and scheduling, then you will save time, costs and make your customers happy with fast service. 

Any of these 7 habits are sure to make your business a good workplace for employees and a trustworthy service to customers. Harmonizing Charles Duhigg’s concept of habit-forming and the habits mentioned above, your company culture will in no time flourish. Your best practices will soon become standard and automatic, and you can continue to form more positive habits to take your field service business to the next level.

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