How to Get Your Service Team to Embrace New Technology

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Pete Humes Head of Content

Making the case for change isn’t always easy.

Just ask Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph, the co-founders of Netflix.

In early 2000, Hastings and Randolph walked into Blockbuster’s Dallas headquarters. They were there to make a bold partnership offer to CEO John Antioco.

The pitch from the upstart Davids to the six billion-dollar Goliath went like this: They believed the future of movies was online. If Blockbuster paid $50 million for Netflix, Hastings and Randolph would develop and run Blockbuster’s online video rental division.

But Blockbuster CEO John Antioco didn’t see it. He balked at the price and declined the offer.

Netflix has since become the second largest entertainment company on the planet with over 230 million subscribers worldwide. Blockbuster declared bankruptcy in 2010.

Blockbuster certainly wasn’t alone in underestimating the importance of the world wide web. But they became a cautionary tale for companies dealing with change.

The future knocked on Blockbuster’s front door and Antioco yelled at it to get off his lawn.

Why? Because comfortable people don’t want to change.

In 2000, Blockbuster was king of the hill. The company was owned by Viacom and operated 6,500 stores worldwide. From Antioco’s perspective, things were pretty darn good.

Why should he worry about new technology, when the way Blockbuster had always done things was working just fine? Why should he risk being uncomfortable?

Why change?

Granted, introducing new technology to your service team isn’t the same as pitching multi-billion-dollar companies on bold new ideas.

But sometimes it can feel just as daunting.

Making the Case for Change

Selling others on the potential of new technology is asking them to take a leap of faith.

You’re asking employees to trade what they know for something unknown. You’re asking them to zig when they have always zagged.

People don’t like stepping out of their comfort zones. And they really don’t like being pushed.

When it comes to workplace change, the numbers aren’t pretty:

Most companies struggle with getting veteran field service engineers on board when new technology is introduced. And it’s easy to understand why.

Experienced employees have habits and routines. They know what works for the way they work. We all get why they might be hesitant, even suspicious, of changing their current methods.

Change can be risky and most service professionals are overwhelmed as it is. The day-to-day work of clearing tickets and closing jobs is challenging enough.

That’s why it might help to talk more about adaptability and resilience.

They need to understand that new technology isn’t just about changing processes and improving productivity on the front line. Digital transformation has the potential to make the entire company more efficient.

In a 2011 article for Harvard Business Review, Martin Reeves and Mike Deimler described adaptability as a huge competitive advantage for companies:

“In order to adapt, a company must have its antennae tuned to signals of change from the external environment, decode them, and quickly act to refine or reinvent its business model and even reshape the information landscape of its industry.”

In other words, change is coming and only the most adaptable will survive.

The good news is that there are proven ways to win over skeptics, convert cynics and get your entire service team behind the adoption of new business tech and tools.

Here are some solid strategies to help employees lower their digital defenses and embrace new technology:

Involve them in the decision-making process

Involving veteran field service engineers as early as possible in the process is worth the effort. Not only does it help them feel valued and invested in the technology's success, but their input is essential since they will likely be the primary users.

Highlight the benefits

Nobody gets excited by change for change’s sake. Explain how the new technology is designed to make THEIR job easier, save THEM time, or improve THEIR individual performance. Highlight the advantages of the technology and how it will positively impact their work.

Bonus points for eliminating the paperwork and administrative tasks that the Service Council recently identified as the #1 least favorite part of a field service engineer’s day-to-day job.

With SightCall, everything is done with the touch of a button. No more writing down long serial numbers just to reenter them into another system. One simple barcode scan and model numbers can be captured, identified and recorded to a central system for continued lifecycle maintenance.

Imagine how much time could be saved if we eliminated the pen and paper and duplicate entry after the site visit?

70% of companies stated that “using tech to simplify workflow and manual processes” to reduce costs is the utmost priority in the future. (Open Text)

Provide real training

Give them genuine guidance and a plan for mastering new tools. Offer training sessions that cater to different learning styles and provide hands-on experience with the new technology. This will help the engineers feel more confident and comfortable using it.

SightCall can make this easier by putting important information like maintenance guides, installation instructions, and step-by-step diagrams in front of a technician or service agent automatically without having to search the web for it.

Enlist early adopters

Encourage collaboration between veteran field service engineers and early adopters of the technology. This can help build a sense of community and encourage knowledge sharing.

Change is here to stay

Nothing about change management is easy.

Avoiding the hard work is not an option.

As research from Gartner confirms, “Change is the new constant.”

It’s not going anywhere, so service organization leaders need to continue to help their teams adapt, evolve and embrace the digital tools that will keep them competitive in the years and decades ahead.

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