Usage Profile Series: The Field Usage Profile

By Marty Parker
10 Oct 2016

The concept of a Usage Profile was introduced in this post on September 19, 2016. This series of articles will describe eight role-based Usage Profiles plus a Foundational Usage Profile. These profiles cover well over 90% of all employee and contractor roles in the U.S., across all industries. Each Usage Profile article will describe:

  • The primary type of work done by people in the Usage Profile
  • The vertical industry segments where the Usage Profile occurs
  • The metrics for workers in the Profile
  • How the Profile is unique
  • How workers in the Profile communicate
  • The technologies and tools used by workers in the Profile, currently and evolving to the future

This post considers the second Usage Profile, Field Workers.

Usage Profile 2: Field Workers

What Field Workers Do

The Field Usage Profile comprises workers who are primarily outside the office or organization location. Field workers usually interact with customers, clients, or citizens in the sales, design, professional services, product installation, and support services roles. While Field personnel interact with customers and clients, their roles are primarily transactional and relational, rather than collaborative (See the Collaboration Usage Profile post).

Field roles are usually based on specific metrics such as quota performance, billable hours, service ticket completion, service delivery speed against standard, etc. In most cases, the Field worker follows well-defined business processes and policy guidelines to ensure their work is complete, consistent, thorough, secure, and compliant to regulations.

While many Field personnel may have a home office to be in proximity to their territory or customers, the work-from-home communication requirements are included in the Foundational Usage Profile (to be described in a future post), since work-from-home can apply to any Usage Profile. Workers in outdoor locations for production work in agriculture, mining, construction, route delivery, and similar jobs are not included in the Field Usage Profile. They fit the Production Usage Profile, which will be described in a future post.

Field Worker Titles and Industries

In 2015, Field workers represented 12.5 million U.S. workers (8.4% of employment), based on an analysis of U.S. employment by occupation1. Field workers are mostly represented in the vertical industries of Manufacturing, Distribution, Natural Resources, Government - particularly State and Local, Finance and Insurance, Real Estate, and Professional Services. Job titles vary by industry and include titles such as Field Sales Rep, Field Service Technician, Real Estate Agent, Insurance Agent, High-Net-Worth Banker or Business-to-Business Banker, Insurance Claims Adjuster, First Responder and Public Safety Officer (police, fire), Inspector, professional services worker such as Consultant or Accountant, Logistics Account Rep, and Home Health Care Provider.

Field Worker Metrics

Most field workers are measured on a ratio of results produced per time period. Usually this can be reduced to a financial ratio of Expense to Revenue (E::R). In some cases, as with a maintenance contract, the "R," or revenue, is a fixed amount, so the leverage is to deliver the services more quickly and efficiently in order to reduce the "E," or expense. In other cases, as with sales or consulting roles, the objective is to maximize the "R" from a relatively fixed "E" for the Field worker's salary, benefits and expenses. In either case, the focus is on speed and efficiency, with highly visible and usually automated reporting of both expense and revenue. Field workers and their managers and supervisors are usually focused on efficiency and become impatient with anything impeding their work, including poor employer-provided communications tools or applications services.

How the Field Usage Profile is Unique

The Field Usage Profile differs from the other profiles in these ways:

  • Off-premises: Field workers seek to maximize their time with customers, clients or citizens.
  • Mobile Device Users: Almost all Field workers use some form of wireless mobile device, at least a smartphone (voice and data), and often a tablet or laptop computer. In most cases other than independent contractors such as Real Estate Agents, the mobile device and the wireless service subscription are provided by the employer or provided by the employee with reimbursement from the employer (BYOD). Most likely, the Field worker has a wired or wireless (Bluetooth) headset for the mobile device to use when driving, mobile, or typing/writing.
  • Radio-based Communications: Some Field workers, such as First Responders, use a radio-based communication device, which may or may not be integrated to telephony.
  • Prefer SMS or Similar Mobile Apps: Field workers often communicate with customers, clients, and co-workers via their mobile device and often prefer mobile device Short Message Service or similar apps (Whatsapp, Twitter, etc.) for communication.
  • Little or no Desk Phone Requirement: In most cases, the Field worker will continue to use wireless mobile devices when in the office and will expect good wireless coverage in the office. Many Field workers use a shared office workspace. They do not expect to have a desk phone, nor would they use one even if it were provided.
  • Uses a CRM or Service Management Application: Nearly all Field workers manage their work through a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or Service Management application on their mobile device. The CRM or Service Management application is connected to the employer's customer and business databases, which include relevant customer information. The application also enables the Field worker to record their activities and communicate with co-workers.
  • Transaction-oriented and Relationship-oriented: Field workers focus on completing tasks, which may include advancing a prospect through the sales funnel, performing the steps in a statement or work, or responding to and completing a dispatch request or "ticket" to install or maintain a hardware or software product or to resolve a public safety situation.

How Field Workers Communicate

Field worker communication centers on a CRM application or a similar Service Management application. The Field worker expects to communicate with customers and co-workers via email, SMS/text, calls and meetings by clicking to communicate from the customer information within that CRM or Service Management application on the mobile device.

The Field worker also expects and prefers that incoming communications via email, SMS/text, or calls will link to the CRM or Service Management application to identify the sender and link the message or call to the customer record. The application should log the contact, possibly record the call (depending on policy), and otherwise assist the Field worker with transaction or task completion.

Field workers prefer non-voice communications, primarily by posting to their CRM or Service Management application. Of the typical UC communications tools, Field workers prefer email, followed by SMS, mobile apps, and instant messaging. They prefer voice message delivery and receipt, and listening via the email application. In some cases, email send and receive is integrated into the CRM or Service Management application, and can be organized or filtered by client.

Voice calls are usually made and received on the cellular voice channel, since cellular voice is now a fixed price, unlimited talk-time service in the U.S. and many other countries. Almost all cell phones and smartphones now include the voice communication features commonly used by Field workers, including click-to-call from any contact phone number (in an app, in the user's contact list, in the corporate directory available on the mobile device, or from a web page), hold (or mute), transfer, 3-party conference, and speakerphone.

Field workers value presence status information about their co-workers, their support team (sales support, dispatch, engagement leader, etc.), and their management. They can use this information to find the best available person for customer status information, administrative support, technical support, and/or management approval of exceptions. Presence information can be provided via a unified communications (UC) application, or as part of the CRM or Service Management application, or via the mobile device email or corporate directory application. The Field worker can then tap the mobile device to text or call from that presence information.

Most Field personnel have figured out how to avoid time-consuming calls or email with internal personnel by using the features of the mobile CRM or Service Management application. They find that posting information and making requests via the app is more efficient and automatically logs the action in the customer record.

Some Field workers have a need for online meetings. Sales representatives of all types are most likely to use online meetings as a convenience to their customers for information presentations, project coordination, or decision making. Joining an online meeting must be easy for their customers, and if a first-use install of software or an app install is needed on the customer's device, it must be very easy to download and install.

Field personnel will also use online meetings for training and information sharing sessions hosted by their company or team leader. Field workers will use mobile devices to schedule meetings, likely from their email application or their CRM/Service Management application.

The Field worker will lead or participate in online meetings from a mobile device, using either cellular voice or the VoIP functions of the online meeting application.

Field Worker Communication Directions for the Future

Workers who fit the Field Usage Profile will likely be the first group of users to drop their use of the enterprise PBX or voice over IP (VoIP system). The combined functions of the smartphones and mobile devices, in combination with feature enhancements of the CRM or Service Management applications, will entirely serve the real-time voice communication needs of this group.

Field workers will press for and readily adopt any communications enhancements that streamline their work. They will prefer enhancements that are incorporated into the business apps on their mobile devices, whether the enhancements are provided by the app vendor or by an Internet Protocol connection to a third-party service provider who can integrate into the app. Examples of these enhanced communications functions include:

  • Geo-location information automatically incorporated into the user's presence information.
  • Geo-location information used by the mobile business application for purposes such as route optimization, location of nearest facility, etc.
  • Geo-location integrated to calendar data for scheduling, late notices, etc.
  • Integration to social and mobile messaging networks (Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, etc.)
  • Federation with customers or clients for presence, sharing, texting, IM, voice or video.

Further enhancements will likely be introduced by the business application software vendors.

Summary

The Field Usage Profile is important in any industry, since Field workers have a customer-facing role that develops new sales revenue or provides services to customers, clients or citizens. The efficiency and speed of Field workers is usually a major leverage point for the financial performance of the enterprise.

Communications technologies are key to the Field worker performance metrics of speed and efficiency, since the quality of service depends on having timely, accurate and pertinent information to support each customer or client interaction and to remove delays in the business processes.

Field worker performance can also be improved by using the most effective communications method for the task. It is much more efficient to quickly access customer information or documents needed for a field task from the Field worker's mobile device than to send an email or make a call, either of which may not produce an immediate response. Improved speed of information access is the primary reason that most Field worker communication is being incorporated into the CRM or Service Management application on the Field worker's mobile devices.

Based on this evolution, we highlight that the Field Usage Profile no longer requires PBX functions, whether the PBX is on-premises or in the cloud. There are several methods for connecting the Field worker to their co-workers and others in the enterprise without requiring a PBX license or phone, such as the use of directories and directory-enabled gateways (as described in this post) between the PBX-based users and the Field workers.

For the Field Usage Profile, work with the Field worker teams and their management to assure that the communications they need for optimal performance are provided by the CRM or Service Management business applications in combination with the Field worker's mobile device for voice, email, SMS, IM, directories and meetings.


1US Bureau of Labor Statistics Table 11b. http://www.bls.gov/cps/tables.htm#charemp.

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Also on UCStrategies.com in this series: