The Importance Of Technician-Agnostic Platforms In Combating Field Service Labor Shortages

By Michael Israel- Zuper

When a herd of deer destroys your tomatoes, you have a choice. You can replant and hope for the best or build a wire fence around your garden to prevent losing your crop and having to start over. The same can be said for many organizations trying to keep up with a changing workforce. You can continue to rely on the status quo and risk losing market share to competitors who can keep up with rising consumer demand or innovate to future-proof your business.

Field service business leaders saddled with the pressure to innovate find themselves (or will soon find themselves) struggling to meet customer demands. In an era marked by the increasing sophistication of products and a pressing need for rapid service delivery, field technician and engineer roles are becoming more complex. The challenge is twofold: managing the departure of seasoned professionals as a considerable portion of the talent pool retires and integrating a younger, more transient workforce.

This dynamic scenario demands innovative solutions that empower all technicians, regardless of their experience level, to deliver high-quality service efficiently. So how can field service leaders—currently forced to hire more, onboard more quickly and embrace extended labor networks—upskill, reskill and provide their front line with all of the capabilities needed to maximize their effectiveness?

What does technician-agnostic mean?

John Carroll, founder and CEO of the Service Council, hypothesized that with the right technology, any technician can perform any job at the highest quality by relying on the information the technology provides. He defines this concept as having a “technician-agnostic platform.” The Service Council reports that 70% of service organizations are worried about the repercussions of the retiring workforce, specifically citing the loss of their knowledge and expertise as a key concern. With the right technology suite, it’s possible to fill the knowledge gaps these technicians will leave behind.

Quality service is critical to your business’s growth. According to one study, a 10% increase in service quality leads to a 2.3% increase in customer lifetime value, so proactively leaning on software to maintain service quality amidst transition allows your business to flow with the changing tide without floundering.

Building a technician-agnostic platform

The Service Council defines a technician-agnostic platform as “a tech stack that empowers technicians of all levels and experiences with information, collaboration tools and greater visibility into the customer journey.” Building a software stack that will help your organization become technician-agnostic can be done by sourcing new technology or elevating existing tools with extensions or add-ons. A true technician-agnostic platform is meant to upskill and reskill employees so that any competent team member can fill any service role inside the organization and be as effective as their counterparts, increasing organizational capacity and enabling better throughput and utilization.

There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. While reliance on technician-agnostic platforms can significantly improve the output of organizations servicing industries like HVAC, cleaning and maintenance, or fleet management, industries that require advanced, specialized training like surgical robotics and other very sophisticated repairs, calibrations and maintenance activities may require a different approach.

Reskilling for All Workers

Access to customer and asset history, service manuals, knowledge management resources, and the benefits of machine learning and IoT predictive alerts all contribute to a thoughtful and thorough customer service experience. Such platforms enable technicians to perform a range of tasks, from routine repairs to preventive maintenance, engineering and safety change orders, ensuring customer equipment reliability and productivity.

Interestingly, technician-agnostic platforms are not just for the less experienced or younger employees. They also play a critical role in retraining more seasoned employees, challenging established habits that may not always align with the best practices. In many cases, these platforms help level the playing field, effectively and efficiently.

Even in scenarios involving complex, multi-day projects requiring the collaboration of multiple engineers, technician-agnostic platforms demonstrate their value. A less experienced technician might handle preliminary tasks, setting the stage for a more seasoned engineer to complete the more complex aspects of a job. This approach underscores the versatility of technician-agnostic platforms, proving their worth in a wide range of service scenarios, from the simplest to the most complex.

Harnessing the gig economy

To grapple with a retiring labor force, some service organizations are turning to on-demand workforces to help fill the gaps. Maintaining a technician-agnostic platform can ensure that even temporary workers uphold the same quality standards as your full-time employees.

These platforms are distinguished by intuitive workflows, unified work management, real-time information sharing, low-code and no-code configuration and customization capabilities, and comprehensive training and support. These features empower technicians of all levels to deliver consistent, high-quality service by providing them with the tools and information needed to complete tasks efficiently.

To learn more about how TimeLinx can help your business, contact us today.
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About TimeLinx
TimeLinx delivers innovative project & service management software as a complete solution that perfects the sell-track-manage-support-bill cycle that services organizations must have to delight their customers; TimeLinx brings the cycle together in a single application that offers less frustration, better project management, complete reporting, and improved profitability – all specially designed for Infor and Sage.