How field service companies can embrace the grown up gig economy
There are around 4.7 million gig workers in the UK at the moment. Consumer demands for “instant” everything has led to the rise of services like Deliveroo, Uber and Amazon Prime. For me, if I can’t get my hands on it now, I don’t really want it and I’m not the only one who feels like this.
Field service industries are also starting to see the potential in using the Gig economy to their advantage. As a sector which has always used a blended workforce of direct employees and third-party contractors, it’s no surprise that we’re starting to see the emergence of “on-demand” field service teams.
However, there is one aspect of the gig economy that we tend to overlook.
When people think Gig, they think Millennials, but that’s not always the case. Now more than ever, the flexibility gig works provides is drawing in experienced and mature workers, who are taking advantage of being able to work around their family and life commitments.
It’s easy to see how this grown-up gig economy is beneficial for the workers themselves, but it’s hugely important that field service providers recognise and take advantage of this emerging blended workforce.
Field Service and the experienced worker
When we think gig economy, we tend to think of millennials or Gen Z.
Yet, in the field services industry, the gig economy sits just as comfortably with the mature generation. That includes engineers approaching semi-retirement, professionals looking for a settled lifestyle with less time on the road, and ex-military professionals.
By tapping into a third-party market of engineers, field service companies can access a contingent labour pool with the necessary skills to perform around 80% of day-to-day tasks. Companies can supplement this workforce by using IoT technologies to ‘dial-in’ job-specific expertise when needed.
This gives businesses the flexibility to best use their specialist technical resources to handle more complex repair and maintenance calls.
Benefits of the blended workforce
Embracing this blended gig workforce has plenty of benefits:
Skill diversity: Many companies benefit from widening their engineers’ skill sets to develop and establish new service offerings.
Flexibility to scale with seasonal or variable demand: Organisations that face significant swings in demand across varying seasons, like those in the HVAC sector, can scale up or down quickly with gig labour.
Business efficiency: By using gig labour to ‘fill gaps’ in a service schedule, businesses can retain efficient service delivery and maximise use of their core workforce.
Geographical coverage: Gig workers can give businesses flexibility to cover remote geographies easily, or move into new territories with traditional complexity or outlay.
Customer satisfaction: For customers who want choice of service quickly and easily, gig workers can provide this flexibility. This can be most important during peak seasons when your own internal team is stretched most thinly.
Customer experience considerations
While making use of the gig economy can bring significant benefits, there are some pitfalls to consider.
Customer expectations are higher than ever, both in terms of price and service. Every service delivered needs to be excellent, regardless of who delivers it. Here’s what you need to think about:
Stay on brand: Customers don’t care, and shouldn’t know, how you’re contracting the person who’s delivering their service. What they do care about is receiving the service, quality and experience they’ve come to expect from your brand. A consistent, digital, customer journey through booking to delivery can help deliver this consistency.
Empower technicians: Mobile apps help to reduce friction for your technicians on the day of service. Since apps are highly scalable, they can easily be rolled out to employees and gig workers alike.
Maintain visibility: It’s important for office-based staff to know the status of jobs, and the location of engineers. Localz technology gives your teams real-time visibility of all on-duty technicians who are using the app.
Collect feedback: For a true picture of customer satisfaction, it’s a good idea to automatically request feedback as soon as each job is completed. This will enable you to quickly pinpoint and resolve any issues that arise.
Your primary goal, however you resource your operation, should be to make every customer’s day of service awesome. It may make sense for you to blend your workforce and exploit the flexibility of a Gig workforce, but consider how you’re supporting those workers to deliver the on-brand service your customers have come to expect. By using technology smartly, you can connect your workforce to share the most important skills and experiences, and create incredible customer experiences on the day of service.