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Field Service and Design Thinking: From Customer Focus to Commercial Success

In June I had the opportunity to give the workshop “Service Design Thinking: From Customer Focus to Commercial Success” at the Field Service Forum in Amsterdam. Over 30 Fields Service Professionals attended my 2 hour workshop about the relation between field service and design thinking and were quite enthusiastic. I would like to share what we have done that day, the results and what we can learn from it.


First of all, I have introduced the Service Design Process and the potential role of the Service Engineer in this process.

field service and design thinking

The Field Service Engineer can have a vital role in redesiging and improvign processes:

  • exploration stage,  field service engineers can be the eyes and ears of the organisation.
  • creation stage, you can expect them to come up with great ideas since they have direct customer contact
  • reflection stage, you could let the engineer do tests, interviews, experiments before you introduce at large scale
  • implementation stage, the engineer is probably the person that introduces the client to new things

All in all, potentially a vital role if you want to enhance customer focus. I am a strong believer that if you enhance customer focus, commerical success will be the result.

The case study

I presented the Mars Drinks case (which is based on a real situation):

field service

We first started designing a persona, for the typical Field Service Engineer. A persona is fictious person that represents a certain segment of people. We had a very mixed audience, all Field Service People but from different companies, so it was interesting to see if we would find some ‘general’ characteristics of the average Servie Engineer. We had 5 groups working on this challenge and so we had 5 persona’s and problem statements. I have condensed this into the following:

field service and design thinkingWe then defined the key problem of Marc, our Field Service Engineer:

“Marc is trying to become a brand ambassador and experiences lack of support and skills. He would like to introduce new products but experiences frustration because he is afraid of saying something wrong. This has a high impact, it shortens the communication time and he is not able to sell new contracts. However he would love to interact more and be the superhero repair guy.”

So we clearly have redefined the problem from the perspective of Marc. In reality we would have to validate both this persona overview as this key insight by interviewing a number of Field Service Engineers.

Proposed solutions

As a next step we briefly brainstormed about potential solutions. These were the most often proposed solutions, some of them low hanging fruit but others quite surprising:

  1. Give Marc a proper Sales Training
  2. Allow Marc to spend more time for each service visit
  3. Let him work in pairs with his Sales colleague and provide support in quotes
  4. Provide a forum where Marc can learn from peers
  5. Include customer feedback into his list of tasks and rename to Field Service Ambassador
  6. Measure the NPS score after the visit and introduce incentive program

Again, all solutions should be validated first by talking to actual Field Service Engineers!

Take Aways

Of course, we only had 2 hours to go through the theory and work on this simplified use case. However, it proved that the professionals could see quite some added value from Service Design Thinking. Some quotes from the take aways:

“Focus on the problem – not the solution”

“A structured process that will help understanding the problem from a customer’s perspective to develop potential solutions”

“A way to approach company optimization”

“Customer centricity”


We applied Service Design thinking for a reality based problem in the domain of Field Service Engineering. For most people the process was new, but they very quickly were able to understand and practise a couple of the tools we use in Design Thinking.

The principles of Design Thinking were well received and proved to be applicable in the domain of FSE.

More information?

Want to know more about Service Design/ Design Thinking? This method enables you to improve your existing and new services.

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