Information Flow in Service: Why Knowledge Gaps are Expensive

Published: 2023-07-13 Updated: 2023-11-10
Subject: Increase efficiency in service Identifying spare parts Documentation

Service technicians are indispensable for keeping machines and systems running smoothly. But maintenance experts hardly have any time left for their core tasks. In this blog article, you'll find out what challenges they face on a day-to-day basis, what role access to information plays, and why knowledge gaps are expensive for your company.

Always in demand: The service technician

Boredom is a foreign word for service technicians: Their daily routine is characterized by complex problems and increasing customer expectations. As a result, the to-do list of service professionals is growing inexorably.

At the same time, however, demographic change and the shortage of skilled workers are also intensifying - which is why many teams have fewer and fewer colleagues who can lend a hand in managing the tasks.

Last but not least, service professionals are also facing new challenges due to the digital transformation. Where, for example, the solution used to be a firm grip, IT expertise is now required. The service technician's remit is changing, and with it his role: he is moving from problem solver to optimizer, from hardware professional to data analyst.

Why information is the most important tool for service technicians

Even for experienced service professionals, many problems can no longer be solved with know-how alone. That's because machines and equipment are becoming ever more sophisticated and complex. That's why it's more true than ever: knowledge is power - and service technicians can only use this power if they have access to it.

Clearly prepared, correct, and up-to-date information is the prerequisite for service technicians to achieve first-class results and perform their work with focus. Otherwise, they will find it difficult in their day-to-day work to

  • identify spare parts,
  • find suitable information in the technical documentation,
  • organize all the necessary tools and spare parts before the service call,
  • carry out service calls in a targeted manner and without wasting time,
  • improve customer satisfaction and
  • achieve a high first-time-fix rate.

If all this is difficult, efficiency and time losses in repairs, maintenance and modifications are the result - and these losses cost companies a lot of money.

Conversely, without a holistic and clear information architecture, there is also a risk of losing valuable expertise that your company's service employees have built up over years: Know-how and valuable experience retire with the service technicians or transfer to competitors. In this case, the next generation of service technicians will have to invest a lot of time to reach a similar level of knowledge.

Speaking of young talent: Young service technicians are generally digitally savvy and used to accessing knowledge via short paths. Consequently, they prefer employers who manage their information as clearly and digitally as possible.


Lost in Information: Information gaps in service are this critical

In the German "Insight-Report Service 2022" study, Kothes, together with the customer service associations in Germany (KDV) and Austria (KVA), analyzes what information service technicians need on a day-to-day basis to be productive - and what happens when the information is missing.

The most important source of information for service technicians is their own wealth of experience. But more and more frequently, they encounter new challenges in their customers' plants that require additional information to overcome.

The problem here is not so much a lack of information, but that the service technician has to wade through too much inappropriate or outdated data before finding the information he is looking for.

According to the study, more than 90 percent of technicians spend half an hour a day looking for service information. A third spend at least an hour doing so. One reason for this is that 60 percent of service personnel do not even know where exactly to look.

Ninety-five percent of respondents report that a lack of access to information they were looking for has already resulted in the need for additional service calls. This rate is catastrophic for the first-time fix rate.


What sources of information do service technicians need on a day-to-day basis?

Despite advancing digitization, 44 percent of technicians have to make do with information on paper. More than half of them would like to see a better solution. Asked what would help them troubleshoot quickly, half of the service technicians cited step-by-step instructions, and one-third each cited FAQs and specific troubleshooting information.

The study therefore concludes: machine and plant manufacturers should increasingly rely on user-centric and context-related content that goes beyond the information content of pure circuit diagrams and data sheets. Instead of providing information in paper form, manufacturers would do better to make knowledge available via online portals or apps.

Tip: The results of the study can serve as a benchmark for your organization: If your company is only average, it is high time to act.

Closing information gaps with digital solutions

In the second part of this series of articles, we look at the digital options available to machine and plant manufacturers for closing information gaps. You will learn how to efficiently provide your service technicians with information and thus increase productivity, first-time fix rates and customer satisfaction.

Access to clear information not only saves your company money, but also fulfills an important need of your service technicians: they want to work productively and without stress. Above all, however, they want to be understood by their employer and to receive the best possible support in their daily challenges.