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5 Ways Cutting-Edge 3D Digital Work Instruction Software Improves Field Service Work

Discover 5 ways digital work instructions software improves field service operations through employee retention, higher FTFRs, and safer work environments.

5 Ways Cutting-Edge 3D Digital Work Instruction Software Improves Field Service Work

Failure to fix a problem the first time has a significant impact on customer satisfaction. It is a key performance indicator for any service organization. The first time fix rate (FTFR) measures the percentage of service calls that were resolved on the first visit. The higher the rate, the more calls were resolved on the first trip.

Over 50% of follow-up service calls are due to unavailable parts or customers. The remaining 40%+ of subsequent calls are misdiagnosed problems, lack of technical skills, and temporary fixes. Many of these issues could be addressed with more effective digital work instruction software.  

Modern, advanced instructions can help field technicians troubleshoot problems and provide more effective, detailed, and interactive instructions on how to fix them. Well-designed, technology-driven guides enable onsite personnel to resolve problems, even if they lack experience.

What Is 3D Digital Work Instruction Software?

While technology has played a role in work instructions for decades, 3D digital solutions are more than word-processing programs or a set of graphics. They use multi-sensory technologies to deliver instructions on a range of devices. For field service technicians, digital work instructions provide an interactive, on-demand solution for installation, troubleshooting, and problem resolution. 

Using 3D digital instruction software while performing a task helps with retention. These digital solutions deliver critical content to field technicians by incorporating the three learning styles—audio, visual, and kinesthetic—into a set of instructions. When the information is delivered to a mobile device such as a phone or tablet, field technicians have the advanced help they need at their fingertips.

How 3D Digital Work Instruction Software Improves Field Service

Whether troubleshooting software or fixing an appliance, on-site servicing can be stressful for the customer and the technician. Both are worried about the outcome. To ensure the best possible resolution, field technicians need usable information. Puzzling over hard-copy directions or two-dimensional, static drawings adds time to the service call.  Written instructions, even with graphics, can be difficult to apply in a unique situation.

Related: Attracting and Retaining a New Generation of Workers Through Digital Forward Practices

3D digital work instructions software gives field technicians confidence. It gives them everything they need to comprehend their next steps, and it enables service organizations to offer consistent and efficient repairs. With digital technology, companies can ensure a positive customer experience despite labor and technology challenges. Here are 5 ways the right instruction software can improve field service.

1. Closing the Skills Gap

Although the average age of a field service technician is 43, that number does not reflect the true state of the industry. With 46% of North American field service personnel over the age of 50, the existing labor force is edging toward retirement. The labor pool has not kept pace. 

Not only are there fewer workers, the new hires lack the skills and experience of the seasoned technicians. It could take three to four new hires to replace the skill set of one retiring employee. Much of the knowledge companies desperately need is simply walking out the door.

3D digital work instruction software can help close the skills gap by providing step-by-step procedures for troubleshooting problems and resolving them. For example, these digital work instructions allow users to manipulate 3D, interactive visuals to zoom in on a specific area. They can rotate the image to view an instruction from all angles. Providing multiple views from a single instruction allows new technicians to customize the information to meet their learning styles and, later, their unique on-the-job situations.

When new employees can access work instructions that effectively meet their needs, they are less likely to need to contact more experienced technicians for assistance. Fewer support calls allow newer workers to complete more jobs successfully while growing and gaining confidence, and also allow veteran technicians to maintain their productivity. Both of these benefits help close the skills gap and improve an organization’s bottom line.

2. Retaining Employees

The secret to retaining employees is providing tools that help with knowledge retention. Field technicians need access to information on demand, but they also need detailed, simplified instructions that make it easy to understand the job and complete it successfully, without unnecessary frustration. 

New hires become more productive as they learn from experience. Retaining what they’ve learned while on the job empowers their productivity. It’s estimated that employee turnover can cost an employer about $15,000 (US) per employee. This cost includes training, lost productivity, separation, and recruitment expenditures. It doesn’t include lost business because of insufficient skill in new field service technicians.

Providing technology, tools, and training are three ways to both train and retain employees. Investing in these three areas indicates a commitment to employee growth. Field service technicians with 3D digital work instructions are not left to “figure it out” while on a service call—and then held responsible for inadequate outcomes due to inadequate instruction and support.

3. Increasing FTF Rates

It’s well known that increasing first time fix rates and reducing the number of follow-up calls improves the customer experience. Less churn maximizes customer lifetime value to improve profitability.

High FTFRs also reduce costs. If a problem is not resolved on the first visit, it will take, on average, 2.5 additional visits and up to 20 days to resolve the issue. Each visit adds technician time, vehicle wear and tear, and decreased customer satisfaction, adding to the cost of the service. 

Poor FTFRs have a ripple effect. Payment is delayed until the problem is resolved, which can impact cash flow. Repeatedly sending technicians to resolve a problem means they are not available to address new business. 

Making sure employees have the resources they need to resolve a problem the first time not only improves customer satisfaction but saves money over the long term.

The right digital solutions go where technicians go. Whether atop a radio tower or on a factory floor, digital information is available. No one is going to lug a manual to the top of a tower along with other tools. Instead, they must call the office for support. That call uses at least two technicians. If the first-line support can’t help, the call escalates. With each added contact, the cost of that service call increases. If the solution is to schedule a follow-up call, customer satisfaction declines.

4. Improving Worker Safety

Field service technicians face complex maintenance and repair situations daily. For those working on heavy machinery or dangerous equipment, safety is a primary concern. Poorly trained field technicians can contribute to the 2.6 million non-fatal injuries and illnesses that occurred in the private sector in 2020. In 2021, fatalities increased 25% over the 4,764 in 2020. Failure to provide adequate training can result in an Occupational Health & Safety (OSHA) violation.

In addition, fewer people entering the industry means existing field technicians may approach burnout. With more service tickets and a growing backlog, employees may quickly become overwhelmed. This, along with potentially frustrated customers, only increases stress levels that often lead to unintentional errors that can jeopardize field service safety.

3D digital work instructions software can reduce training time while offering the support technicians need on the field to feel informed and confident, improving worker safety. Using digital instructions that address multiple learning styles allows participants to personalize training to meet their needs. 

Field technicians don’t have to struggle with the material and the teaching method. Instead, they can review and manipulate the instructions in ways that improve comprehension and retention. This ability is crucial when the training involves safety measures to employ while executing repairs.

5. Simplifying the Deployment of New Technology

Manufacturers deploy new technology in their products to maintain a competitive edge. What may appear to be minor enhancements on the assembly line can create major changes in how the product is serviced and repaired. If field service technicians do not receive work instructions that correspond to the latest model, they struggle. Their productivity declines as they try to address a problem with little to no guidance.

Related: Why Instructions Matter: A Metrics-Based Review of How Instructions Impact Consumers and Brands

3D digital work instruction software can make the delivery of updated instructions to field technicians instantaneous. Instead of making and distributing hundreds of hard-copy procedures, companies can revise a digital version that can be delivered immediately to field devices. If amendments are needed, they can be incorporated quickly for up-to-date directions.

Digital solutions provide a single source of truth for field service documentation. Traditionally, many companies may have used version control systems for their paper-based manuals, but others did not. Without a method to identify the latest information, field technicians were left unsure of document accuracy. 

When employees question document accuracy, they often establish their own methods for repair. The inconsistency in repair methodology can extend service time, as no situation is exactly the same. With digital solutions, changes are centralized, creating work instructions that field service technicians can trust.

The Path to Improved Field Service Performance

The right cloud-based application is a dynamic platform that provides field service technicians with on-demand training. Technicians learn as they go with technology that fosters knowledge retention. Using 3D technology, companies can deliver interactive intelligent instructions that simplify directions, making it easier for less-experienced technicians to gain valuable experience and seasoned techs to review and update their knowledge as needed.

As the industry struggles to address the challenges presented by labor shortages and increasingly complex equipment, BILT’s 3D digital instruction software solution ensures a single source of truth for efficient and consistent installations, repairs, and maintenance. Bilt’s digital work instructions supply field service organizations with the solution they need to help future-proof operations. Contact us to schedule a demo and see how BILT can transform your company’s training capabilities.

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