The manufacturing industry is rapidly changing, and the role that third party workers play in service excellence is becoming even more critical. Technological advancements in AR and IoT were already driving the move towards a contractor-focused – or gig – economy. In 2018, the IDC predicted that within two years, 20% of service would be delivered by contractors.
Since then, the combination of the field service skills gap and the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed 3rd party workforces directly into the spotlight and cemented outsourcing as an essential part of service delivery. Manufacturers are turning to third-party providers to overcome travel restrictions, reduce costs and extend their service capabilities.
To ensure outstanding service for clients, organizations must invest in the right tools to support and manage external service workers.
Provide 3rd Party Workers with Mobile Knowledge…
Service efficiency is directly related to a technician’s access to knowledge. A 2019 TSIA (Technology Services Industry Association) report found that knowledge management had a huge impact on performance, with a 50% reduction in mean time to repair.
The need for knowledge is true for all technicians, whether they are employees are contractors. In a survey by the Aberdeen Group of 3rd party workers, 24% said their primary reason for a repeat visit was because they didn’t have the necessary knowledge to complete the task the first time.
Mobile knowledge tools are a necessity for field service excellence, and one of the most important solutions a manufacturer can invest in if they wish to deliver or maintain a high quality of service delivery.
…But Don’t Provide More Knowledge Than Necessary
Not having access to technical and parts data makes it difficult, or even impossible, for 3rd party contractors to complete the job they were hired to do.
However, this is easier said than done when the manufacturer or customer’s security protocols might make it difficult to grant the contractor access to sensitive data. It becomes even trickier with blended workforces, where employers might have a hierarchy of employees within your organization, all with different levels of security clearance to sensitive technical data.
The ability to manage exactly what a contractor can access is critical for organizations stay secure and compliant. Furthermore, it is an important demonstration that manufacturers take the security of their customers’ business and assets.
Investing in a mobile knowledge tool that gives managers complete control over who sees what information and for how long will allow organizations to safeguard sensitive data while ensuring their workers – both internal and external – have the information they need onsite.
Use Analytics to Monitor 3rd Party Worker Performance
Extending service capabilities with a 3rd party workforce calls for more attention to monitoring external field staff’s task performance. However, with many technicians in different regions, supervision and quality control can be far more complicated. Managers need to have access to real-time information about how external providers perform.
One area of data analytics that is often overlooked is insight into how technicians are using available knowledge. And yet, this information is one of the most critical for an organization to locate knowledge gaps and training needs, as well as identify behaviors that are affecting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as first time fix rates and mean time to repair.
Knowledge is the Way Forward in Field Service
A gig-economy staffing model has long been on the rise worldwide, and service leaders are already embracing the use of a blended or outsourced workforce to navigate the challenges of a post-pandemic industry, workforce retirement, the talent gap, and evolving customer needs.
In order to meet and exceed the expectations of the customer, organizations will need to prioritize mobile tools that will enable technicians to efficiently resolve customer needs while also providing appropriate safety protocols and monitoring capabilities for the company.