The Silver Tsunami: Threat or Opportunity for Field Service?


The field service population is aging.

You might feel that has little relevance to your business. But, what about when they reach retirement age?

You’re thinking through your own team now. John’s 58 and Paul is 62. Jackie must be around 60 as well. They’re valuable, trained and knowledgeable members of your team. But where is that knowledge kept?  It’s in their head! And their head will retire soon.

So what?

Out with the old and in with the new then?

The Silver Tsunami, also termed the Grey Tsunami, refers to the large number of baby-boomers reaching retirement age. The growing vacuum is underway and having a greater impact than you might imagine on many different organizations.

Consider this. Worldwide, those aged over 60 years are expected to double by 2050, rising from 962 million in 2017 to a whopping 2.1 billion in 2050. In the UK alone, those aged over 65 will account for almost 25% of the population by 2045.

It’s a threat!

Some might be very worried. If you have a large field service team, you might be very worried. Time-served technicians have consolidated their ever-growing industry knowledge from years of experience, coupled with disparate data sources such as technical manuals and supplier support. Their own knowledge is what delivers such a high standard of service for your customers.

Let’s look at the new, younger model hired to replace them. Granted, they’ll be keen to please, but they will lack the in-depth knowledge built up by your Silver employee throughout his career. How can your newbie access all this knowledge? Chances are, your data system is not as robust as the employee that’s about to retire from your business.

There’s the problem. The immediate outcome could be a fall in service levels, more time spent on each call, more errors made and costly inefficiencies creeping in.

In a recent survey conducted by The Service Council (TSC), 7 out of 10 organizations indicated that the loss of talent and knowledge in field service was the biggest challenge their company was either currently facing, or would be facing in the next 5-10 years.

It’s an opportunity!

Before you conclude that the end must be nigh, let’s look at the other side of the coin. Let’s look at this new, younger model that is to be your next field service technician.

The Millennial.

Generally defined as those born between the 1980s and the early 2000s, Millennials (or Generation Y) do have some distinctive strengths. And one particularly relevant here is that they are tech-savvy. Beyond a doubt. Whether it’s their constant desire to remain connected via social media or their ease at using technology in the workplace, Millennials are far more technically switched on than Generation X or Baby-Boomers.

Here’s the key point: your lack of central knowledge can be solved by technology. Your new, Millennial employees are ready and waiting to embrace this technology to its full potential.

Older employees can get stuck in their ways. Transforming to a technology-led working environment is a challenge that they generally resist. Not so with Millennials!

This is the perfect opportunity to transform your business. To ensure that you’re never at risk of losing this knowledge again. To empower your workforce to deliver exemplary service.

This is the perfect opportunity to excel, leaving your competitors wondering what happened.

How will your organization respond?

So, now you have a choice. You can keep worrying that you’re losing some of your best field service technicians, or you can do something about it and steal the advantage.

How do you do that, exactly? Develop a system to capture the knowledge and deploy it directly to those that need it. In short, develop a knowledge management solution.

The Aberdeen Group states that Best-in-Class organizations are 62% more likely to have a centralized repository of service data, ensuring critical service knowledge doesn’t leave the organization along with the technician. And 67% of Best-in-Class are more likely to provide access to this via mobile devices. Service data includes access to maintenance and break/fix information in addition to specific parts details required for repair.

Most mobile tools in field service focus on automating the administrative side of an organization. They decrease paperwork, expediate invoicing and eliminate billing errors. While these types of mobile tools certainly have their place, they do little to support technicians where they need it most – at the point of service.

It’s costly, right?

There’s no denying that such a move is an investment. But consider these two things:

    • The cost of not transforming your knowledge management.
    • The service and productivity advantage of integrating a system that stands you ahead of your competitors.

Will you choose to surf those tsunami waves with ease? We’d love to demonstrate the likely return on investment and show you how such a knowledge management system could transform the performance of your business.