The fundamental principles that must be applied to driving remote service adoption
Whether a service organisation is to take Konica Minolta’s path of taking and retraining their existing field workforce or hire a new group of technical workers to step into remote service engineer roles, it is vital to identify what type of skill set is required to take on this new way of working.
So in this final feature in this series, let us take a moment to explore the key attributes of remote service engineers.
Maturity and Experience:
As we touched on earlier in this series, an ageing workforce crisis has been looming across all areas and industries encompassed in the field service sector for some time, and with each passing year, it is getting closer.
However, the creation of remote service delivery solutions can, in many ways, flip this challenge on its head and turn it into a significant opportunity to retain those engineers who may be working their way towards leaving the organisation and taking decades of knowledge and experience with them.
The potential of working from a central location, or even from home as a remote service engineer, instead of facing the long and often gruelling days on the road that is the life of the field service engineer, may well appeal to many of our more seasoned engineers that are in the latter part of their careers.
Similarly, as remote service offers the ability to support many more customers per day, the opportunity for these engineers to move from a full-time to a part-time role may also be appealing to both the engineers themselves and the service organisation.
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While technical knowledge and hands-on experience must form the backbone of a remote service engineer’s skill set, they also need to be effective communicators...
Suppose the technology is intuitive and easy to adopt, such as the AIRe Link solution that Konica Minolta has developed. In that case, the transition for a field service engineer with their vast knowledge and experience should be relatively seamless.
It will provide the service organisation with precisely the type of problem solvers they need to support additional field engineers and the customers alike
Strong Communication Skills:
However, while technical knowledge and hands-on experience must form the backbone of a remote service engineer’s skill set, they also need to be effective communicators – and this is something that may not be a natural component in many field service workers’ skill sets. While the role of the field service technician has evolved quite significantly in recent years to become aligned with customer-facing, brand ambassador qualities, it is essential to remember that much of the customer discussions an engineer would have, would be before and after the moment of service.
Indeed, the main body of the field service engineer or technicians’ customer engagement will come after the solution has been provided, offering them an opportunity to present themselves as trusted advisor who has already solved the customer’s problem.
This is a very different conversation than guiding either their field service colleague or even the customer through a solution. The period while undertaking the maintenance can often feel the strain of time pressures, mainly when the problem is more complex than usual.
Therefore, the effective remote service engineer must be part educator and part guide as he helps those on-site through any maintenance or repair calmly and methodically.
Augmented reality tools, such as those available in AIRe Link, can help with communication; invariably, messages and commands are more easily conveyed through visual means than verbal communication alone; however, the remote service engineer will still have to be a strong verbal communicator while always maintaining an approachable manner.
They are genuine problem solvers, can work independently, and inherently want to make things work as efficiently as possible – whether that be the machines they service or the processes they work within...
They cannot expect the person they are guiding to have the knowledge they do, so they mustn’t lose patience. Yet, at the same time, they shouldn’t lecture down to those they are helping, as this can drive subtle hints of frustration and even alienate those they are supposed to be helping – which of course, doesn’t lend itself to either good customer experience or good internal cooperation.
Pride in Being the Best:
One final aspect that may be overlooked is the importance of establishing the remote service team as the pinnacle of knowledge and expertise within the organisation.
To successfully capture the best of the field service engineering workforce and translate their expertise into a team that can support far more customer challenges per day, it could be advisable to position the remote service team as an elite group of service technicians.
There is a specific personality set that could be sought within those you are looking to transition from field service engineers to remote service engineers.
You want your remote service engineers to have an inherently strong work ethic, to be the type of people who love being able to solve the problems that others could not, while simultaneously being prepared to immediately take that solution and share it both with the field service engineer or customer in front of them on the call, and also if possible, with the broader organisation either through a recording of the live call or with an article crafted for a knowledge bank.
Ultimately, you want a remote service team that prides themselves on being the best technical experts within the organisation and who takes great satisfaction in knowing that their work is driving the entire organisation forward into a new era of customer service excellence.
While these individuals may be few and far between in your early team analysis, for these are very much the diamonds within the rough, rest assured they will be there. Many field service engineers and technicians have all the natural traits that are the foundation of such attributes.
They are genuine problem solvers, can work independently, and inherently want to make things work as efficiently as possible – whether that be the machines they service or the processes they work within.
By defining a straightforward ethos early within the development of the remote service team, by creating the collegiate approach of a team working together towards a more productive future for customers and colleagues alike, it is possible to develop a culture where pride in the job done can become a natural bi-product of the teams’ output – and it can develop far faster than many might think.
Each Organisation is Unique:
Of course, these are just some initial ideas of what could form the DNA of great remote service technicians.
Much depends on the team you have at your disposal, and as we’ve touched on earlier in this paper, defining the vision of what remote service as a default would mean for the organisation.
However, precisely as per the discussion around the value perception of the customer, the organisation that sees the adoption of remote services as merely a cost reduction exercise, where the role of remote support is viewed as a cheaper alternative to direct on-site service delivery in the field, is almost certainly destined to fail.
Whereas those who take the position that remote service as a default is a business-wide service strategy that will both drive profits and improve the service delivery given to customers, just as Konica Minolta has done, will likely go on to flourish.
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