What is a field technician?

A field technician is a specialist trained to handle on-site diagnostics and servicing, while maintaining client specifications and safety standards.

Although much of today’s business activities occur in the office and are associated with digital solutions, on-site hardware and other machinery still play a significant role. Workforces and home-based customers alike depend on their in-house and local machinery to perform essential tasks. And when that machinery malfunctions, stops working, or is simply in need of a tune-up, specialized technicians are responsible for getting everything back up to 100%.

These field technicians (also called field service technicians) are vital to the ongoing success of businesses and customers alike.

A subset of service technicians, field technicians are responsible for all upkeep, maintenance, repair, and supervision of in-the-field products. As a common example, when an air-conditioning system stops functioning, a homeowner, property owner, or office manager may need to contact a field technician to have it repaired. The field technician will work with the customer to schedule an appointment. They will then travel out to the location to repair the air conditioning unit, bringing any tools, materials, or resources they may need along with them.

Field technicians may be employed to service a wide variety of home and office machinery. Other common products that rely on field technicians include telephones, Internet hardware, and wireless equipment. Technicians are also responsible for other roles in the general field, including:

  • Providing high-quality customer service and support during on-site jobs
  • Managing scheduling and workflow
  • Diagnosing issues to determine the right course of action
  • Performing all forms of on-site service, including hardware installation, maintenance, repair, upgrading, and removal
  • Performing data-network integrity tests
  • Identifying and securing any required tools or equipment
  • Documenting issues and processes, and sharing documentation with other relevant teams
  • Repairing data wiring and connectors
  • Operating service vehicles
  • Following established safety protocols, regulatory standards, and best practices
  • Communicating well with customers and building a positive brand reputation

Although many organizations that employ field service technicians are willing to provide at least some training, most job opportunities in the field service market go towards those who have some form of accreditation. This generally includes at least an associate degree in computer science, information science, or a related field, and nearly a third of field technicians have also earned their bachelor’s degree.

Technical skills

Naturally, technicians must be able to demonstrate technical expertise and perform a range of functions. These technical skills include the ability to operate, maintain, and repair a variety of machines and tools. Additionally, field technicians need to embody extreme attention to detail, have above-average problem-solving skills, and be able to clearly document issues and solutions.

Soft Skills

In addition to technical skills, field service technicians must be able to master interpersonal skills. These include the ability to listen and respond to customer concerns, work effectively with others, explain technical issues in lay-person terms, demonstrate patience and stress management, and perform tasks in difficult or distracting environments.

Although the overall market for field service personnel is climbing and is expected to continue climbing for the foreseeable future, shifting job sectors are creating noticeable change. For example, as more and more organizations double down on wireless and mobile services, job opportunities for traditional telecommunication-equipment field service technicians are anticipated to see steep decline.

At the same time, many businesses are expected to move away from employing in-house field technicians. Instead, focus will begin to shift towards contract workers. These freelance specialists will allow businesses to reduce onboarding and equipment costs, while prioritizing core business activities over the fielding and training of field service technicians.

Nearly every industry relies on its own types of field service technicians to ensure that on-site machinery is being kept in proper working order. And just as there are many kinds of field technicians, there are a variety of paths an individual may take to become a field technician:

Earning a degree

The most obvious path to becoming a field technician is to attend a university and earn a degree. Many prospective field technicians pursue engineering, communication, or technology majors. At the same time, many vocational and technical schools offer field-technician courses and programs.

Becoming certified

For those who are less interested in earning a full degree, many colleges offer specialized courses. These programs are designed to cultivate the skills and technical knowledge future field technicians will need to establish themselves in the field service industry. Often, college courses will offer some form of certification in lieu of a full degree.

Completing an apprenticeship

It is not necessary for a prospective field service technician to become certified or earn a degree before securing employment. An apprenticeship with a company focused on construction or related can provide the hands-on work experience many employers look for when hiring in-house technicians.

The entry requirements to become a freelance field technician are generally less defined. In most cases, securing contracts with employers will mean first gaining certification and demonstrating sufficient experience.

For businesses that employ or contract field service technicians, there are many organizational and strategic challenges to consider. As new service tickets arise, field technicians working on independent projects may have a difficult time effectively prioritizing, scheduling, and fulfilling the various jobs required of them. Field service management allows organizations to coordinate their field service operations, handling scheduling, dispatching, labor tracking, and invoicing without distracting off-site specialists from their primary tasks.

Effectively employed, field service management helps eliminate redundancies and increase productivity and customer satisfaction. However, to do this, businesses need to consider the following best practices:

Being open to customer feedback

Field service technicians tend to interact directly with customers, which means that customers often have valuable insights into how that interaction should play out and whether it was a success. Organizations should follow up on service visits by soliciting customer feedback. This can be managed through customer portals in field service management solutions.

Listening to field service technicians

Feedback from field service personnel can be just as valuable as—or even more valuable than—customer feedback. Similar to the previous point, organizations may use online portals to help collect and organize technician feedback.

Improving communication

In the past, technicians operating out in the field have had to work isolated from valuable digital resources. This is no longer the case; field service management makes it possible for organizations to augment their field service specialists with mobile tools delivering real-time communication, collaboration, and support. This allows technicians to view updated schedules, review warranties and customer service histories, make accurate cost estimates and quotes, calculate billable work, and access other essential information.

Identifying and tracking the right metrics

Improving field service means first being able to evaluate field service, and that means identifying and tracking relevant field technician KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Two of the most important KPIs to consider are FTFR (first time fix rate) and MTTR (mean time to repair). These metrics provide insight into how effective the technician is and whether there might be any issues in the chain of service. Field service management provides tools for tracking these and other KPIs in real time.

Automating data entry

Field technicians are valuable resources. Unfortunately, many organizations find that too much of their field technicians’ time is spent manually entering data and completing paperwork. Automated solutions can minimize the need for manual input, freeing up field personnel to complete more jobs in less time, while also improving data accuracy.

Providing customer self-service

Businesses aren’t the only ones that benefit from real-time information about service tickets. Portals in field service management systems may be configured to allow customers to access and manage appointments, check ETAs, and more. Offering self-service options improves the customer experience, while also helping reduce support-center call volume.

Organizations in essentially every industry depend on field service technicians to maintain and repair vital hardware. As such, field service management is quickly becoming essential. ServiceNow provides businesses with the cloud-based resources, advanced automation capabilities, and complete visibility they need to increase productivity and effectively coordinate technician activities in the field.

Built on the award-winning Now Platform®, Field Service Management empowers users with an intuitive solution for enhancing operational efficiency, maximizing asset uptime, expanding service revenue, and optimizing the effectiveness of individual technicians and off-site service teams. Additionally, ServiceNow Dispatcher workforce provides a configurable workspace for managing field service agents and directing tasks, and Dynamic Scheduling ensures that the right resource and equipment are always directed to the right job. And that’s only the beginning.

See for yourself how ServiceNow has revolutionized field service management, and give your customers and field technicians the support they need to find success.

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