The competition for service technicians
Three success strategies for machine and plant manufacturers
It is becoming increasingly difficult for many machine and plant manufacturers to keep their service promise. The main reason is the lack of available service technicians. Although the need for qualified technicians has been increasing for years, the supply continues to decrease. Additionally, new digitalisation possibilities keep changing the specific job profile. Companies must use new approaches to find the right service technicians and retain them for the long term. Based on a variety of successful projects, Deloitte has developed three strategies with which manufacturers can achieve a clear competitive advantage.
The competition for service technicians is intensifying
Finding the right service technicians is currently a major challenge for machine and plant manufacturers. On the one hand is the supply side: for many young people, this professional field is simply not attractive. The primary reasons are the intense travel schedule, the increasing desire for a better work-life balance and because service technicians are rarely the “rock stars” in the company. Employees do not strive for this field of work. However, although large new machine orders generate much attention, the service area often receives significantly more profitable orders.
Whilst this reality is nothing new, the demand side is slowly becoming a “problem.” It is no longer enough to keep existing service technicians in manufacturing, because you simply need more and more. A growing number of companies have defined service as a source of profit for years to come, generating a significant increase in demand for technicians to meet customer needs.
Changing requirements for service technicians: the most important trends
Progressive digitalisation in particular brings new opportunities for service technicians in manufacturing, but also critical requirements. Companies must ensure that their technicians are able to use new technologies in such a way to ultimately bring added value for the customer. Machine and plant manufacturers can only ensure this through consistent “on and off-the-job training” of both seasoned and new technicians.
This Deloitte whitepaper describes and analyses in detail the six most relevant and current trends for service technicians in manufacturing:
- Trend 1: Data analysis for technicians is not just a “can”, but a “must”
- Trend 2: Support functions and back office are crucial for the provision of services
- Trend 3: Service as the most important lever for customer loyalty
- Trend 4: Customers want to maximise overall equipment effectiveness, not fix individual problems
- Trend 5: Service becomes the second pillar of machine sales
- Trend 6: Third party machines and assets as the next goal
Three success strategies: Find and retain service technicians
Manufacturers must act quickly due to the increasingly tight supply and demand situation for service technicians. Specifically, current and future gaps can only be closed if companies consistently implement three strategies:
Strategy 1: Find the right service technicians
An improvement in terms of pure employer marketing will not be enough to attract more service talent in the long term, existing job profiles need to urgently be revised. In the future, the primary focus must be on increasing flexibility. Whilst the service technician profession will always involve a significant amount of travel, there are still some levers to address changing requirements and relieve the burden on employees (e.g. annual rotation into less travel-intensive areas, home office arrangements or attractive overtime reduction provisions).
Strategy 2: Retain the right service technicians
In addition to hiring new service technicians, setting up a clear career path is crucial to keep employees in this profession long-term. To do this, the company must show technicians in which attractive job they will find themselves throughout their careers in two, five, ten and 15 years. Each step in the career path shouldn’t be attractive just because you chose the service path, but precisely because you chose it.
Strategy 3: Use the full potential
Regardless of whether you have to quickly prepare new service technicians for their assignments or focus on improving the effectiveness of the team: today, a wide variety of technologies offer the possibility to automate and optimise processes. In particular, digital innovations such as artificial intelligence (e.g. for better planning of technician assignments) or augmented reality (e.g. for virtual support of technicians on site by headquarters) are in the process of generating new optimisation options. Despite all the technical euphoria, one thing is crucial for service technicians in manufacturing, technology must be relevant to the specific service use case and clearly linked to a positive business case.
The Deloitte approach: consistent focus on the customer’s service business
Finding and hiring service technicians in manufacturing can only be part of a holistic and comprehensive service strategy. The individual elements only make a meaningful contribution if this overall strategy is consistently geared towards the customer. For this reason, the Deloitte service cascade offers a structured approach to develop a crisis-proof service strategy and to put this into practice. In the graphic below you will find further information on the individual steps of the service cascade.
Monitor Deloitte Service Excellence Cascade