Competitive pressure and customer demands are forcing field service organizations to step up their game when it comes to the use of mobile technology and data analysis. While most service companies are using mobility to improve efficiency and productivity in the name of meeting service level agreement (SLA) requirements and cutting costs, the next phase of service evolution will require better use and sharing of customer, machine and service data — and that will require the use of knowledge management capabilities.
The evolving role of the service professional and changing workforce requires an increased focus on continuous learning and on employee engagement – which includes the onboarding, training, and performance management processes. When combining these processes with technology and collaboration, the result is a more engaged field service team. To achieve service excellence, the entire field service team – from managers to dispatchers to individual technicians – have to be able to collaborate to create value for the customer.
According to Aberdeen’s knowledge management report, “Knowledge management is not solely about storing data off in a data warehouse. Intelligent insights need to be accessible, accurate, AND relevant to the team — not just a chosen few.” Aberdeen Group data indicates that best-in-class service organizations are 65 percent more likely to regularly assess the effectiveness of knowledgebase articles and 22 percent more likely to connect field technicians to remote experts to share knowledge.
Many factors are driving the adoption of knowledge management capabilities. With the increased risk of loss of knowledge and skill sets due to turnover, aging workforce, and so on, organizations must become proactive in cultivating an environment of knowledge sharing. There are many ways that technology can have a positive impact when it comes to the collection and dissemination of information. Ultimately, it all boils down to ensuring that the right information is available to the right person in a format and manner that aids in optimizing service across the entire delivery chain.
Equipment is also increasing in complexity, which can make it more challenging to meet SLA requirements or guarantee uptime. With knowledge sharing tools, it can be easier for technicians to access critical information, other technicians and subject matter experts to ensure that all warranties, SLAs, and guarantees are met during the service encounter ultimately improving customer satisfaction.
Finally, there is a lack of collaboration across the enterprise. By leveraging knowledge management tools, it is easier to share and collaborate with others while also making it effortless and faster to meet customer needs with fewer employees or fewer resources.
With knowledge management tools in place, field service companies can better achieve service key performance indicators. According to Aberdeen’s data, best-in-class companies that leverage knowledge management tools attain a 79 percent customer retention rate (compared to 71 percent for non-users), an 82 percent SLA compliance rate (compared to 60 percent for non-users), and a 75 percent first-time fix rate (compared to 61 percent for non-users).
“This connection to data and insight provides a level of visibility to not only know what is happening but also proactively act on information in real-time.” Aberdeen’s report says, “The Best-in-Class don’t stop at just monitoring the field, they create an environment through knowledge management tools to be able to have a conversation between the field, the back office, and service leadership.”
Knowledge management tools can help service organizations excel by enabling them to:
• Capture insights in the field in real-time.
• Provide those real-time insights to the field and back office simultaneously.
• Communicate value to the entire team via intelligence access, and leverage field experience to improve future customer interactions.
• Maintain accuracy through connected data flows.
For more on the value of knowledge management, see Aberdeen Group’s report “Knowledge Management for an Integrated Service Experience.”