Mobile & Tech

Pollock: Don’t Overlook the ‘Real’ Intelligence Stored in Technicians’ Brains

Service organizations likely have a solid understanding of their customers’ equipment and services, from hardware schematics and software specs to repair documentation and support histories.

That’s a good start, but as a service technician eager to manage customers’ installed bases, you need critical information beyond just what the equipment is, but also how it is used, who is using it and where it is located.

Ultimately, your ability to successfully understand and manage your customers’ installed base will depend on two key variables:

  1. Up-to-date, accurate counts of equipment installed in the field. This could be organized by customer, equipment model, location, age, service history, and any other relevant information your service organization collects.
  2. Observations (written and mental) you’ve made while supporting your customers and their equipment over the years.

Your customers’ installed base of equipment is critically important to their businesses. As such, your job is two-fold: managing people and the equipment.

A Collector’s Mentality

Here’s a new way to think of your installed customer base: Many of us have accumulated collections over the years, whether baseball cards or rock & roll records. Collectors can often recall from memory when they acquired each item, how much they paid for them, how much the item’s worth today, plus numerous other distinguishing characteristics that contribute to the item’s overall value. In a relative sense, these collections are to the hobbyist what a “customer installed base” is to the service technician. The information the hobbyist has collected and maintained over the years is analogous to the information a tech has collected on their customer accounts.

The information the hobbyist has collected and maintained over the years is analogous to the information a service technician has collected on their customer accounts.

Admittedly, your homegrown customer information base is probably less formal and comprehensive than the customer and equipment database information the company regularly collects — increasingly in real-time via the Internet of Things (IoT). Nevertheless, whether the information you have compiled is formal or informal, handwritten in a customer account diary or electronically entered into a spreadsheet app, it still serves an extremely useful purpose by providing customer-specific information that no other company employee possesses. Between what the company provides to you, and what you have collected, you should have more than enough information in your possession to be able to successfully understand and manage both your total customer installed base — and your customers.

When Experience Trumps Technology

But similar to real estate, location is also an important factor. There are all kinds of models and algorithms that your company might use to monitor and track the installed equipment base you support, and the introduction of GPS mapping has greatly improved the ability of a services organization to integrate route management into its dispatch processes. A great deal of effort has also gone into compiling and tracking these informational databases for you, and it will be to your advantage to refer to them on a regular basis.

That said, despite the abundance of software available to map customer equipment locations, your techs’ first-hand knowledge of customers and how they use their equipment is invaluable to providing consistently high levels of service and support.

Many organizations are adding artificial intelligence to their services offerings. However, it is important to remember the “real” intelligence that already exists in technicians’ minds!

  • William K

    I have been making this same assertion for several years. It is totally correct that recalled data can be vital, and that there is no place for it in the official data base. That is what allows me to have the system up and running before others can even open their books on how to diagnose the problems.

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