Field service software has revolutionized the service industry and radically changed how techs go about their day-to-day operations. However, many companies have stuck with the same training regimen they created years ago for new hires.
If it is time to update your company’s new hire training, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
A New Kind of Teamwork
When teams have dynamic scheduling, there is less of a need to communicate when things get busy. A tech simply has to inform the system that they won’t be able to meet the response time and the call is re-paged. When reps need parts from other reps, they no longer have to go down the list making calls until they find what they’re looking for. They simply check the entire team’s inventory for real-time levels of stock via their handheld device. However, all of this efficiency has had an unintended negative effect on teamwork. Because techs don’t speak to each other as often as they once did, they can start feeling isolated. This can be troubling for seasoned reps, but for a new hire it can be overwhelming.
If there isn’t a mentoring program in your company’s training repertoire, perhaps it’s time to start one. Even if the newbie has previous experience, he or she needs to be ‘brought into the fold’ by spending time with different members of your team. (Bonus tip: If you aren’t bringing new people onboard, this may be an area to revisit.)
Communication Has Changed
No one has to teach a tech how to make a phone call. However, the number of reps that are inarticulate or just plain rude when they communicate electronically is shocking. New hires should be taught that emails and text message should be written in a professional and coherent manner. A simple joke that might go over well in their circle of friends can easily be taken the wrong way when received electronically. When two techs get together to chat leisurely, it’s common to hear: “Don’t be so dense, Bob. You can’t let a filter that is as dirty go without changing it.” Bob can tell by the tone of his fellow tech’s voice that this is a tease. However, when he sees the same tease in written form, the tone is missing and he might be offended by being called “dense.” Texting when angry is another potential minefield. Discussing electronic communication etiquette during the new hire process could keep your HR department happy.
The Need for Typing Skills
The new way techs should fill out service logs coincides with the need to be precise in an email or text. Accurate documentation of repairs performed, parts used, and adjustments made are all essential to the efficiency of any service team. Before the computer revolution, paper logs were the standard and even now they are used more frequently than is needed. All service teams should be taught how to capture knowledge via field service software. They should then share that knowledge before the tech arrives on-site. Techs working in the computer age need rudimentary data entry skills, at least. If they don’t have these skills, logs will be sparse and incoherent. (I’m not advocating instituting a typing class, but I would advise it as a prerequisite to hiring.)
Learning Never Ends
Companies are aware of the need to keep their employees up-to-date with any new technologies that come down the pike. However, they often neglect to address changes in processes that accompany these new technologies. The most successful service managers recognize the need for on-going training in every aspect of the job. Many senior technicians may be exceptional service work, but it is possible they are struggling with the very issues emphasized in this article.
If you view the introduction of new technology as an opportunity to evaluate your technicians’ abilities to work together as a team, communicate electronically, and effectively fill out digital logs, the logical next step would be to create a learning plan that will benefit both tenured and non-tenured employees.
About the author: Donald B. Stephens is a field service technician with 30 years of experience with the Xerox Corporation. He is also a freelance writer, blogger, novelist and humorist. You can contact him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org