The Coronavirus is spreading. Are your field service engineers at risk?

by | Mar 11, 2020

This virus has dominated the news and water cooler discussions for the last few weeks. At the time of this post, according to this Coronavirus Update site, there were approximately 117,000 cases and 4,500 deaths worldwide (729/27 in the USA).

If you are a Field Service executive, you have technicians in the field every day who are at risk. They use planes, trains, and automobiles. They go into your customers’ work locations and interact with machine operators, other support technicians, etc.

From what we can tell, there isn’t much written about how you can minimize the risk of exposing your FSE’s to this virus. Most of what is written is around prevention; make sure they wash their hands, ask your customers if there are any of their employees who have been exposed, schedule work for off-hours when there are fewer people at the site. I saw one suggestion that you could actually charge more for your service calls since your FSE’s would have to wear fully protective gear in some areas! On the whole, most of the advice centers around limiting interaction between humans.

The founders of RevTwo have been working with field service organizations since 2000. We know that, on average, FSE’s are dispatched to a site and can’t find anything wrong anywhere from 7-18% of the time. Customers should be able to assess the issue and resolve the problem most of those times.

However, none of what we’ve read about reducing exposure risk to the Corona Virus says anything about enabling customer self-service. Sending your FSE’s into the field less often will reduce exposure risk. Less travel. Less exposure. Almost every company we talk to has “Enabling Customer Self-Service” as one of their priorities for 2020 and beyond. Why not use this growing problem as a reason to push self-service more to the top of your priority list?  

Also, what will you do if one or more of your FSE’s actually has to self-quarantine? What if it’s one of your more experienced techs? Do you have plans in place? Have you captured their knowledge so it’s available to lesser experienced members of your team?  Even more, will your team have access to their “know-how” accumulated from all of their years’ experience on the job? If not, the reduction in site visits above through self-service could be canceled out by your junior techs site revisits and extended visit times because of this knowledge gap.

Do your FSE’s and customers a favor and give some thought to how you could reduce interaction. If you haven’t already done so, put a plan in place so that if your FSE’s get sick you can still leverage them.  

With or without an event such as the virus, you should have these plans in place anyway. And hopefully, the Coronavirus will stop spreading soon.

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