Is Shoddy Technical Information Holding Back Your Service Department?

Services and Technical Information

Did you know that nearly half of the average service technician’s day is wasted in unproductive activity?

In fact, industry research shows that the typical service organization achieves only a 56 percent level of efficiency. And the impact can extend far beyond the service team. The manufacturer may experience a “chain of pain” whose sources can be traced, more often not, to the struggle to deliver good, timely technical product information.

The chain of pain often goes something like this:

  • When service issues arise, customers often can’t quickly find the product information they need. Nor can the manufacturer’s service people. Resolution cycles stretch out, increasing the manufacturer’s service costs and squeezing their profits.
  • More importantly, customers endure longer periods without productive use of their products. The perceived value of using the manufacturer’s products drops. The perceived value of choosing the manufacturer’s products comes into question.
  • As customers’ experiences with the manufacturer’s products deteriorate, their satisfaction levels dip. Many customers begin seeking other sources for service. Worse, some switch to competitors’ products when the time comes to replace.
  • The manufacturer sees their brand equity—for so long their greatest strength—slowly but steadily diminish. Their market share, once dominant, begins to chip away. And the pressure comes not only from the manufacturer’s traditional domestic rivals, but also from the increasingly aggressive competitors from other corners of the globe.

Breaking the chain of pain is complex, but the root of the problem often begins with product information that’s inaccessible or out of date. Service organizations often complain that technical product information is:

  • Hard to find. Call centers can receive numerous inbound support calls from customers who have the information they need – but they simply can’t find it.
  • Hard to understand. Parts counters can receive multiple parts orders from service people because they are unable to tell from the catalog description which part is the right one.
  • Hard to trust. Service technicians can spend up to a third of their time searching for, and working with, technical information that’s out of date.

Technical information underpins literally every single service event for these manufacturers. No customer service problem can be solved without someone—the customer or the service technicians—digging into technical product information.

For many manufacturers today, there’s a tough mix of factors combining to keep their technical product information from being as good, useful, and easily accessible as it can be.  One big challenge: the manufacturers’ chronic barriers to cross-department communication and collaboration.

The plain truth is that, at many or most major manufacturing companies, the engineering and service organizations operate largely within functional silos. That is, they focus mainly on improving their own specific departmental processes, and rarely look for efficiencies and synergies across departmental bounds.

Opportunities to improve their understanding of precisely what technical product information is needed, and precisely how that information should be delivered, are mostly lost to the company’s technical information team, even as they push hard against the silos’ walls.

The prescription: a product-centric approach to technical information, which enables teams to create, manage, and deliver technical information in the context of the product. This makes technical information:

  • Easy to find. Information is easy to navigate visually. Users can search and sort by models, configurations, and parts – or by service tasks.
  • Easy to understand. Information is highly graphical and contextually pliable. Users can easily focus on only the information they need – in their native languages.
  • Easy to trust. Information is complete, accurate, and up to date. It’s consistent across functions, and fully reflective of the latest design changes.

This is the manufacturer’s best hope to break down the barriers to service efficiency between departments and processes. Putting product intelligence at the center of their technical information solution enables the manufacturer’s service and engineering organizations to:

  • Associate information. The manufacturer ensures consistency, completeness, and accuracy of product information wherever and whenever it is used for service.
  • Align processes. All involved in service can rely on up-to-date product information, with on-demand accessibility, at every point in the service lifecycle.
  • Accelerate successes. Service and engineering teams work in synergy, across functions and geography. The result is a continuous loop of service and product improvements.
  • Add to customer value. This, after all, is the ultimate goal of good service: delighted customers. It gives the company a competitive leg up.

Is the quality of your technical information causing a chain of pain, or a chain of success?

Attend the PTC Live Service Exchange, June 11-12, 2013 in Anaheim, CA to learn from 30 thought leading speakers discussing best practices to increase service revenue, profitability and customer value.

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