Researchers: Tech Pubs Can Support Service's Digital Transformation

Written By: Dave Duncan
  • CAD
  • 8/6/2018

The Service Council (TSC) recently wrote a white paper outlining service information’s role in digital transformation, citing a survey of service leaders (VPs, C-suite executives, etc.).

One hundred percent of those surveyed maintained investing in digital capabilities was critical to the success of their organizations. Here’s what they hope to accomplish:

  • remotely, or predictively resolve field service events
  • provide customers with information that allows them to proactively care for the products they use
  • empower customers to diagnose or resolve issues themselves
  • improve first-time fix rates, time to resolution, and overall field service efficiency

Technical publications teams, TSC argues, can support these goals by producing digitally accessible content that accurately reflects an in-field asset’s configuration.

Address accuracy before accessibility

Before worrying about setting up an online self-service portal, you need to make sure your back-end systems can consistently deliver accurate, up-to-date service information. According to a survey from Tech-Clarity, 30% of service leaders claim their service procedures are either inaccurate or conflict with what field service technicians see in the real world.

Say you produce lawn mowers. The spindle on a customer’s riding mower breaks. He goes to your website, navigates to the self-service section, and enters in the mower’s year and model. He finds a 3D technical illustration of the mower but sees that the spindle on the computer screen doesn’t look like the spindle he has in his hand.

What does the customer do? He could assume that what’s listed online is the correct part, and that he should order it. That may seem intuitive to someone managing content for the manufacturer, but it doesn’t give the customer that warm, fuzzy feeling that what he’s about to do is right.

The main point: Make sure your information accurately reflects which products customers are using. If a part is superseded, a customer looking to replace that part should quickly confirm which parts he should order from a dealer, one of your partners, or whomever.

One of the best ways to deliver configuration-specific service content is to apply a practice known as associativity, which my colleague, Rob Bannerman, discussed in detail. The basic premise behind associativity is to link downstream technical illustrations with upstream engineering CAD data.

Making service information accessible

Regarding how you should deliver digital content, it all depends on what your audience wants. However, there is some research on the matter that you can consider:

  • 33% of technicians want to access service manuals through mobile devices, according to TSC.
  • Coleman Parkes found that 91% of consumers said they would use “a single, online knowledge base” to solve issues themselves.

The key word in the latter point is “single.” Revisiting the lawn mower example, the customer with the broken spindle shouldn’t have to navigate through multiple sections of your website to find what he’s looking for. Ideally, he should be able to enter the model of his mower into the self-service portal and see an interactive 3D illustration of the mower that contains parts information, animations showing service procedures, and other information.

If service leaders are serious about digital transformation, these are the types of experiences they’ll have to deliver. For obvious reasons, the tech pubs team plays a critical role in making those experiences a reality.

Want to learn how to create 3D service content in a cost-effective, scalable manner? Watch this on-demand webinar to find out how:

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  • CAD

About the Author

Dave Duncan

Dave Duncan is responsible for the service information solutions business within PTC's Digital Engineering segment. His previous positions include Portfolio Management VP at Servigistics, service manager at GE Healthcare, ERP technical services lead at JD Edwards, and US Army Officer in Germany and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Duncan holds a Civil Engineering and Operations Research degree from Princeton University. He coaches high school rugby and youth basketball in his spare time.