If you communicate, you win: A feedback culture that's lived and breathed not only increases employee motivation within the company. It can also be used as a lever to optimise processes and minimise error rates. What does this mean for Service and Maintenance processes across industry in general?
As in many other areas, the same applies here: Problems are increasingly being solved through knowledge-sharing.
In this article, we'll demonstrate how a feedback function can help to channel the expert knowledge of your Service personnel and gradually improve the information process in Service.
Why is a feedback channel so important?
Complex systems, new technologies, changing locations: Your Service teams face many challenges every day. The Technicians can't rely on their expertise alone.
Particularly in the case of critical Service orders, it's often the special "hacks" of the experienced Service professionals that make the difference. An interactive feedback channel gives them the opportunity to feed their valuable practical know-how back into the organisation and make it available to the entire team.
A significant advantage: Existing Service information can be evaluated directly in the field and improved upon in an uncomplicated manner. This makes it both quick and easy to eliminate errors, outdated information statuses, and gaps in Service Documentation. In addition, the supply of information across the entire Service team is gradually optimised, and the quality of your knowledge base improves a little more each day.
Effectively share existing expert knowledge: For companies, such solutions are an important investment in the future, in view of the increasing demand for information.
Especially new employees and career changers with little experience need additional support during their training period. A feedback channel offers new employees an ideal opportunity to expose any gaps in Service Documentation and initiate improvement measures.
How can a feedback channel be implemented, technically?
The successful implementation of a feedback channel requires both modern information and knowledge management.
In other words, it must be clear (at all times) where the information sought is located and whether it's still up-to-date.
At least that's the theory, because in practice, Service employees invest a lot of time in searching for information, as our Insight-Report-Service 2021 Cooperation Study (available in German, only) shows.
What's the problem? In stressful day-to-day business, Service employees often have just enough time to maintain their own notes and annotations. As a result, a lot of important information gathers dust – either on local desktops or in various email inboxes – making it inaccessible to other employees.
Benefiting from digital information solutions
In the Service sector, the trend is therefore clearly pointing toward smart content delivery . What does this mean in concrete terms? Instead of decentrally-organised PDF collections, modern platform solutions are increasingly being used for standardised and centralised content management.
With the help of these digital information portals, the entire collection of Service Documentation can be managed in one place in the form of modular information objects. This saves search time, and all employees always have the latest version of the Service document they need on-hand.
A major advantage is that currently available portals are already equipped with an interactive feedback function. This can be operated intuitively and is reminiscent of the rating function found on online stores and rating portals.
How is the function structured, exactly?
- Your Service employees can directly evaluate each individual information object in the portal and suggest changes. All it takes is a click of the Feedback button, and the Feedback window will open.
- In order to better narrow down and filter the feedback thematically, defined feedback categories are available for selection. Here, for example, you can specify whether the feedback refers to content, spelling or linking errors in the associated Service document.
- A quick comment can be left in a text field, to describe the feedback in better detail.
- Using a binary rating system (e.g., thumbs up or thumbs down), Service staff can leave a positive or negative rating for each information object. In this way, the Content Managers (in the administration area of the portal) can see at a glance which Service documents are already performing well, and where there is still need for improvement with the Service Documentation.
- In the event that important Service activities have not yet been described at all: Using the Note function, Technicians can easily store their spontaneous ideas and comments in the portal. The Content team can then edit this information and add the appropriate metadata – so that the expert knowledge of your Service staff isn't lost.
- Thanks to mobile app support, your employees have access to the Feedback function in the portal anywhere – and at any time. Important practical know-how can thus be documented on-site at the machine and then stored in the portal.
What are the innovations for Service teams?
Digital information portals offer many opportunities to take information and knowledge management in Service to a new level. Important for manufacturers: The technical set-up of these portals alone is no guarantee of success for a structured information process. The idea of a central knowledge centre can only be successfully implemented if all colleagues work together on it. This requires the right mindset: moving away from information silos, that have accumulated over many years, and toward cooperative know-how sharing.
Especially for the key players in Service (e.g. Technicians), it will play a greater role in the future to no longer only store their knowledge in private channels, but to share it with the entire organisation.
The good news is that the new workflow can be optimally supported with a clever distribution of roles and tasks – even on the system-side. For example, it makes sense to define clear responsibilities for the information process right from the start.
What might such a division look like in practice? One possible scenario is for Service Technicians to focus purely on the input of content (i.e. they simply document important information in a kind of raw version and store it in the information portal, without first making any major adjustments).
Specially qualified Content Managers then prepare the raw information into comprehensible Service documents and tag them with the right metadata for optimum findability. In this way, the portal is populated step-by-step with high-quality content, while the Service Technicians can fully concentrate on their core tasks.