One in twelve field service technicians is more than sixty years old. Almost certainly, they’ve accumulated a wealth of experience that helps them solve problems and keep customers happy. Just as likely, they’re starting to consider retirement, and without a knowledge capture strategy that could leave their employers struggling.
Service: the new differentiator
Forward-thinking organizations recognize field service performance as a key differentiator and are putting more emphasis on satisfying customers. One key measure of success is the number of service calls that need a second visit. Returning is inefficient, and it’s frustrating for the customer.
Field service technicians should:
- Arrive when they said they would
- Solve or fix the problem quickly
- Leave promptly
Fortunately, technology-based solutions are available to help with each of these, and they can do more besides.
Automated scheduling and routing
When technician location is tracked in real-time customers can be notified of expected arrival times and routes can be optimized. Mobile solutions exist to make this a reality.
The technician should have an electronic work order on his mobile device before arriving at the address. (49% rely on their smartphone, according to Field Technologies Magazine.) This will give him a full service history: is it a repeat visit, what equipment the customer has, how old it is and what repairs have been made before. This helps him tailor his approach and avoid duplicating work already done.
Up-to-date product information
Technicians want to solve problems, but that requires access to three types of information.
- Up-to-date product manuals and drawings
- Repair advice, from Technical Service Bulletins and other technicians
- Spares availability
- Product information, drawings and schematics should be accessible remotely via a tablet or laptop, as should advice on troubleshooting and repair.
Historically, persuading technicians to share repair tips and advice has been a challenge. However, it seems knowledge sharing on the web, through specialist discussion forums, is changing real-world attitudes and behaviors. Increasingly, the technician who can help solve a problem gains the respect of peers.
Leaders in the field service industry are taking advantage of this by creating knowledge systems that enable technicians to post solutions and advice. This way they grow their credibility and authority while protecting their employers against damaging loss of knowhow resulting from employee turnover.
Armed ahead of time with this information about the equipment and type of problem to be faced, the technician should be able to access company inventory systems to check on replacement parts availability.
For management, technology allows the capture of performance data. One benefit of this is the ability to identify the most effective technicians, and then codify their knowledge.
Skilled, experienced service technicians are valuable assets. Their ability to solve problems quickly is highly valued by customers and differentiates an organization. However, when an expert leaves the loss can be damaging, so companies must capture that knowledge and experience. Fortunately, technology is at hand to make this possible.