Avoiding the Field Service Perfect Storm

Aberdeen Group’s February 2016 research report concluded two things: the field service workforce is aging, and organizations don’t have enough visibility into the value of knowledge being delivered in the field.

What will happen to the quality of service being provided if the most experienced technicians retire and the new talent doesn’t have access to the knowledge the elder generation built up over the years? When these two issues arise at the same time, an event referred to as “The Perfect Storm” by The Service Council’s Aly Pinder, the service organization suffers.

Losing Internal Knowledge is the Problem; What’s the Solution?

Field service organizations are well aware of the aging workforce and talent gap. According to Aberdeen Group, even the Best-in-Class are facing the challenge of addressing it. The impending need to not only retain tribal field service knowledge as organizations lose a sizeable amount of technicians to retirement, but also leverage this knowledge to somehow fill the looming skills gap that is created. An organization must figure out how to tackle this challenge if they wish to remain competitive.

The industry’s thought-leaders advise that organizations need to make better use of knowledge management tools if they want to keep ensuring service excellence, and they aren’t exactly wrong. After all, a lack of information isn’t the issue. Most organizations are swamped with disparate information and knowledge in various non-compatible forms. The first step to avoiding a perfect storm is collecting all of the disparate knowledge into a single format.

Field service knowledge must be mobile to be effective

However, this is where most field service knowledge management ends. What good is knowledge if it’s just sitting on a server somewhere? That knowledge then needs to be developed into a “single pane of glass” for an organization’s hundreds – or even thousands – of technicians to access at the point of service. In addition, organizations need to be sure the information their techs are accessing is up-to-date, accurate and can be accessed quickly and efficiently. Otherwise, first time fix rates and customer satisfaction will drop.

In my previous blog, “Knowledge Management for a Millennial Workforce” I discussed the important role knowledge management will play in the training of new talent. One thing organizations can expect from the new generation of technicians is a need for connectivity. The millennial field technician expects to have the knowledge they need at their fingertips 24/7, and organizations must be prepared to provide that.

First and foremost, field service knowledge management should always empower the technician with the right answers to do their job efficiently and correctly.

Mobile knowledge management is the key to avoiding the field service Perfect Storm. It is the only way organizations can ensure that the tribal knowledge of experienced field service technicians is retained and can also be deployed into the hands of the people who need it most – the new talent.