Aly Pinder, Program Director for Service Innovation & Connected Products at IDC, discusses how knowledge transfer can be seamless across service organizations.
Employee turnover is detrimental to knowledge loss within organizations. IDC Manufacturing Insights’ 2019 Product and Service Innovation Survey highlighted one of the top drivers for manufacturer’s service lifecycle management (SLM) efforts is a need to capture and make accessible service knowledge and best practices. In building a culture of shared intelligence and accessibility of service knowledge, nearly half of organizations (42.7%) sampled in this study plan to leverage mobile devices for increased collaboration amongst the service team.
These investments and prioritization demonstrate how much risk is inherent with having an entire workforce, which often goes out on its own for an extended period, rarely coming back into a centralized location, and is one of the closest resources interacting directly with customers. The challenging part is the value service employees have to the customer experience is becoming more, not less critical for manufacturers and service organizations.
In advance of losing service workers, Aly suggests you consider the following:
- Identify your workforce that is planning to retire soon. Do you survey your technicians and service team, at least annually, to ask them when they plan to retire? Assuming your service workers will retire at the retirement age of your respective country is quite risky. Reaching out to your team to identify when they plan to retire allows the organization to determine the level and urgency of the risk, plan for the loss, and even proactively strategize to either retain or hire more aggressively in advance of the damage.
- Get creative with retention. Organizations should establish a program that enables service team members to be able to work as a centralized expert. Gamification and incentives can be used to create a bench of technicians and service employees that are willing to stay with the company, accelerate the rate of capturing best practices, and recognize the value of the decades of experience held in the brains of the service experts. Organizations would be wise to establish a role that is based on identifying qualifications or attainment of a specific expertise level, which can extend the viability of a seasoned service worker staying on the team.
- Show your newer workforce a career path that is rewarding and valued. Many organizations struggle with creating tangible and exciting career paths for the workforce. Career paths are difficult to detail as there are so many variables, both for the employee (especially the remote-based) and the organization. However, the ability to communicate a future for the service team is a critical step in addressing the workforce skills gap, which should go hand in hand with trying to retain more seasoned employees. This practice will help create a culture that values the service worker experience and show the workforce where they will fit in the broader strategy of the organization.
Talking about the retiring service workforce must not be the end of the story that we tell each other, organizations must act now. Technology is one of the ways to capture and make accessible service knowledge. Still, manufacturers and service organizations need to identify their own risk and build a strategy around addressing the loss of critical service knowledge.
Collaboration and shared purpose will enable organizations to get in front of this pending wave of retiring workers.
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Tim Nissen has built companies through marketing in categories including technology, manufacturing, energy, commercial real estate and business services.