Encouraging a “Learn By Doing” Approach in Field Service
Join us on a brief nostalgia trip. Back in the day, the majority of green techs in field service were given the opportunity to shadow as an apprentice for the first 5+ years of their careers. Snap back to the present day, and the nature of the industry has changed. Economic factors like the skilled trades gap and the labor shortage have made it extremely difficult for companies to offer a robust apprenticeship program. It’s unfortunate, and we’re finding that knowledge is being lost due to poor documentation. The knowledge of older generations of techs is kept “between the ears” and greener techs can certainly find themselves at a disadvantage. This causes a cyclical effect—if your technician lacks the knowledge they need to complete jobs effectively, you’re losing customers, revenue, and eventually, those techs may be out of a job.
Thankfully, technology helps to break this cycle. In this modern age of field service, if you’re able to train on the job by introducing automatic, consistent workflows, training resources and knowledge bases, the training process is sped up exponentially, and techs are seamlessly able to access the answers they need. According to research from the Harvard Business review, an approach known as, “‘learning in the flow of work’” can help ensure that learners retain and apply new skills and concepts in their day-to-day.”
Let’s talk about 3 ways you can build consistency, resources, and workflows to help technicians receive continuous on the job training.
Microlearning in Day-To-Day Workflows
Through the use of technician-focused technology, every job a technician tackles is broken up into step-by-step workflows. Not only does this create consistency on every job, it allows a technician to learn each step-by-step process of the work in real time. By following simple, repeatable steps, a technician receives an experience that’s not unlike a traditional training session. Workflows follow two research-backed principles for smart teaching: breaking up the content into smaller chunks, while contextualizing within a job. Both have been proven to greatly improve retention.
With the aid of technician-focused technology, an experienced tech can break free from reliance on tribal knowledge, and easily document their work by taking a video of their process and directly tagging it to a specific workflow. Anyone within that technician’s organization can access that video for training purposes on the job.
Technology also helps to document and centralize all workflow job history, giving everyone in the organization, most notably greenhorns, the ability to see all services performed on a particular unit. This feature serves as a reference for quickly replicating the fix, and/or getting to the root of the issue.
Build a Knowledge Base
Techs, especially green techs, can be hesitant to ask for help. They’d rather spend hours combing through dense paper manuals or searching Google for the answers. The result of that hesitancy? More often than not, it’s wasted time and a poorly executed fix.
The ability to build a technology-backed knowledge base gives a technician resources at their fingertips, saving countless hours that would be otherwise wasted scrolling for answers to their field service questions, or spent in an all-day training trying to essentially memorize a manual.
A digitized knowledge base provides thousands of hours of documentation and manuals on specific units. When a company invests in technology that utilizes AI and machine learning, the search for answers is performed automatically—all a tech needs to do is take a photo of a unit’s data plate. Through the aid of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology, that data plate photo is automatically indexed to pull up all job activity and service history for the unit—complete with photos, videos, notes, and even recorded support calls from previous technicians.
A knowledge base centralizes an organization’s completed job information so techs can easily search and reference completed work for in-the-moment answers in the field.
Rely on Virtual Mentors
We know what you’re thinking — “you really expect my technicians to sit on hold for hours waiting for a virtual service tech?” No, we don’t. The modern solution to a virtual service center is a virtual mentor center (VMC). The VMC is an in-house agency made up of experienced technicians with 20+ years on the job. Trusted virtual mentors will give technicians the answers they need in a pinch, but they are trained to walk a technician through the problem—troubleshoot, teach repeatable processes, and provide on the job training in the moment.
XOi Can Help …
Nothing will ever truly replace the value of face-to-face training. But, in this modern era, technology replicates the standout tactics of personalized learning. Younger generations of field technicians are greatly benefiting from technology-fueled contextualized microlearning that gives them instant access to workflows, resources, and mentors in the field. Learn more about XOi’s Journeyman Solution by filling out the form below.