The topic of knowledge transfer and knowledge capture has been increasingly prominent within the field service sector, so the Field Service USA presentation on the topic by Greg Parker, building services portfolio director for Trane, is set to offer some well-timed guidance on best practice in this area this week at Field Service USA.
Kris Oldland spoke to him ahead of the event to get his thoughts on the topic.
“When we talk about knowledge transfer, we’re talking about how we bring information from where it is in one spot to where it needs to be,” Parker begins as we open the discussion.
“Not only that, it’s about can you get it there effectively and efficiently,” he continues. “I would say it’s like knowledge-on-demand.”
“As a technician in particular, many times you may be in a situation where you need to open your laptop or even look inside a manual and dig for information. Of course, the more seasoned, experienced techs are knowledgeable through years of experience, but those who don’t know everything – due to poor training or applying that information incorrectly – need to reference manuals for correct information.”
“So this knowledge or information-on-demand becomes ever more important as time goes along and the technique as to how we transfer this knowledge becomes even more important,” Parker adds.
Knowledge or information-on-demand becomes ever more important as time goes along and the technique as to how we transfer this knowledge becomes even more important
“The short answer is yes,” Parker comments. “For some companies – depending on the environment and their customers and expectations – it could be essential today, for other companies it could be still just beneficial. At some point I’m sure we could all agree that whether it’s five years, ten years or even fifteen years down the road, it is going to become essential for everyone.”
Given the importance of knowledge transfer in terms of helping companies manage the transition from a workforce of baby boomers to millennials, is it important that these knowledge transfer programs embrace social media? Or is it more important that companies get into the mind-set and understanding that the way people absorb knowledge has changed when developing? Is it about embracing the technology, the culture or do the two just go hand in hand?
“People receive and process information differently today than they did five years ago and certainly different to how they did 20 years ago,” Parker comments. “I think the changing culture is part of it, but I also think technologies that allow people to receive and process technology will continue to evolve.”
“First there was Quattro Pro and Excel, then the Internet, now social media comes along and has continued to evolve to where we are today. What we are finding is a lot of different types of applications that someone, likely a millennial, is going to be using. For example, not everyone is using just Facebook or Twitter, they are using several different means of communication to get the information they need, from the daily news to how to fix their washer and drier.”
We are finding is a lot of different types of applications that someone, likely a millennial, is going to be using
“You have to ask questions like ‘if my technician has informational demands would they do a better job?’ ‘Would a technician be more confident and portray better customer service because they are able to delight the customer?’ Keep in mind most times a technician is the face to the customer and the most trusted advisor.”
“Considering that, the next question is ‘how do we do that, and is embracing social and mobile a way to do that?’”
“What we learned eight or nine years ago, was technicians wanted to be able to communicate via social and mobile channels. Our approach was to foster and enable it. Recently, we took it to the next level where technicians could not only find the information that they needed, but they could comment and share as well.”
“We had to think about what were the pros and cons of this, and have we developed into a culture who is a more willing to share information now than several years ago?”
“The answer is yes, we are more liberal in the information we share and ultimately we are more transparent, but we want to be sure we can enable our workforce in the proper way to delight our customers.”
Having gone through the process himself, what exactly does Parker believe success looks like in terms of the implementation of knowledge transfer?
“I think success should be measured with a number of probes and not just one thing,” he begins.
I think success should be measured with a number of probes and not just one thing,
“From a quantitative perspective, we have seen a shift from technicians solely calling into the technical support line for help, to now leveraging the new social platforms which are faster, more validated and accurate.”
“However, it is not all about the metrics,” added Parker. “We wanted feedback from the technicians themselves to find out how well the new platforms were working, we used those testimonials to improve the organisation and determined what types of best practices were being shared using the knowledge transfer and social platform.”
So what advice does Parker have for companies looking to emulate the success Trane has had with their knowledge transfer programs?
“Look internally to your company, understand how your current communication process is working for your customers and what are their needs and wants,” Parker replied. “Are you meeting those needs as well as you want to or should be?”
“Every company has a different culture and different processes. You have to truly understand how your existing process is working, where you want it to be and then design a road map to get you there.”