Learn where you need to focus to make the leap (hint: data holds the keys) – plus, take a look at some helpful resources.
Throughout my career as a service leader, I have spoken to – and led – managers who were interested in taking their careers to the next level by being promoted to director. With so many hardworking and intelligent people competing for similar positions, each of them wanted to understand how to set themselves apart.
The secret? You need to get comfortable with data.
Good directors can always start with an effective and quantifiable problem statement. But great directors are able to go further and use credible data to support their cases. If you cannot effectively measure something, you cannot effectively manage it.
Long story short: it’s time to lean into data to make decisions. Here’s how.
1. Embrace the bigger picture and get data-driven – fast.
You’re going to need to come to the table with data in hand if you want to influence director-level discussions. If you aren’t already familiar with your business's service-level performance data, start asking for a walk-through from team members that are. Start getting familiar with available data and the ways that it is reviewed.
For example, you might think you have a good grasp of your org’s average Cost Per Service Visit. But in reality, there are large variances in cost between low and high performers – often as much as 40-80%. This detail easily gets lost if you aren’t deeply familiar with the data, and it wouldn’t be evident if you’re just peeking at running averages.
If you don't have a reliable reporting structure in place to review data, call that out to your team as an area for improvement and offer to lead the search for a better system. They'll be impressed by your initiative. If you want to know the critical KPIs you need to be measuring, here is a helpful guide.
2. Become a team builder.
Accept ownership for building and training a high-performing team.
Plan for ways you can objectively ID your top performers and the team members that need a hand and take responsibility for growing all of their careers. These performance measurement strategies should be rooted in data and reporting just as we discussed before at the service-org level.
Directors rely on hard data to identify which team members need training and which training areas would lead to the biggest improvements. Start thinking about what behaviors make a great technician or customer service rep, then plan on how you can train these skills into your junior people.
I’m a big advocate of creating followership. This means earning your team’s buy-in by helping them understand where you’re going and how you’ll get there as a business. Without this, you won’t make it as a leader.
3. Create systems to identify problems and offer solutions to other parts of your organization.
Field Service Directors have a lot of responsibility. Effective ones know that supporting the units around them – especially within product and engineering groups – can grow their team’s performance, too.
Having strong systems and reporting in place naturally builds visibility into other parts of the business. And, just as importantly, they show you where you need to look next. Establishing yourself as a helpful resource can grow your value in the organization, especially when you make your interactions as fact-based as possible. For example, if you believe there's an issue with a specific part or asset, come to your engineering teams with data in hand.
Having strong reporting and data review habits will give you an opportunity to share findings with colleagues in contact centers, product, and even sales and marketing. And by iterating on your findings, you’re bound to improve serviceability and customer satisfaction.
4. Accept that you're part of sales and customer service.
At the director level, you’re going to be challenged to think about retaining and growing customers. You’ll need a strong understanding of overall customer satisfaction – including which clients could use some extra support and which are good fits for upselling.
When you’re reviewing customer satisfaction, NPS and feedback from your reps and technicians are helpful, but you can go even deeper. Hard data about a customer's asset performance, maintenance history, and any issues with past visits can keep teams ahead of unexpected escalations. You’ll need to be able to dive into specific challenge areas for a customer, whether it lies with the application, technician ability, product misuse, or customer training needs.
Additionally, a good Director of Field Service finds opportunities to grow revenue. A lot of managers that I speak to want to be more confident in identifying opportunities for upselling and starting the conversation, but they don't know how to – or aren't comfortable yet. Having readily-accessible data helps you identify key opportunities. It can also help you confidently illustrate the value of a planned maintenance program or make a case for replacing equipment.
Above all the other goals, your business is there to make money. If you’re managing your part of the business in a way that keeps costs down and helps grow revenue, you’re in a great position to begin your push to VP.
Summary & Helpful Resources
So much success at the director level is rooted in understanding exactly what is going on – and those insights are right in your data.
Start off by building a report that you can review at the start of each day. Make this report about the key metrics you want to improve and start setting six-month goals with your team.
Once you start getting familiar with the data, start writing down other questions as they arise. Then, find and organize supporting data points in a dashboard that you can access at any time.
A few quick links to get you ready to grow:
- The most important KPIs to measure for success
- How other field service companies are performing in common metrics
- A helpful guide on root cause analysis
- The 5 Habits of Highly Effective People – read it!
If you're in a position to start thinking about how to get more data-driven and make your service data create success for your company, explore how Service Insights arms you with prescriptive, predictive analytics and reporting for field service.
Until next time –