Generation Y as service technician? A new role model based on digital service technologies!

Customer Success | min. reading time

8th of September 2019

Martin Plutz Blog oculavis
Remote Service Technologien
Many customers and interested parties from the mechanical and plant engineering industry tell me again and again how difficult it is to find, inspire and retain junior staff for the profession of service technician. These concerns mostly relate to the so-called Generation Y. These are the people born between 1980 and 2000, who are often referred to as millenials and either have several years of professional experience or have just completed their studies or vocational training.
These concerns about young service technicians are understandable, as the job is often associated with many trips and stays abroad, which usually do not lead to the attractive metropolises of this world, to which a millenial would perhaps like to travel privately. Then there is the pressure from the end customer, who wants his machine serviced or repaired as quickly as possible. Time and performance pressure therefore accompany almost every service technician on his travels. Who wants to work on a stressed-out customer in a small town - let's say in China - during the day, with whom he can hardly communicate and spend his time in a cheap hotel in the evening? While Generation X (the 1960 to 1980 born) could be compensated for these strains as a service technician with a good monetary reward, this is less and less easy with the Millenials. The reasons are many and varied and some of them can be found in the following graph, which is taken from the study The 2016 Millennial Survey🔗 of Deloitte and that shows the work motivation of the Generation Y.

Motivation of young people to choose a job

Opportunities to progress/ be leaders
Flexibility, i.e., remote working, flexible hours
Sense of meaning from my work
Professional development training programs
The impact it has on society
The quality of its products/services
Strong sense of purpose
Opportunities for international travel
Fast growing / dynamic
A leading company that people admire
Uses the latest technologies
The reputation of its leaders

Many of the reasons given here for choosing an employer or a job are not compatible with a position as a service technician. There is no positive work-life balance on stressful service assignments, no flexible working hours or the opportunity to work from the "home office". In particular, the meaningfulness of work activity plays a particularly important role for Generation Y. And this is especially not the case with service missions in the event of machine malfunctions and the like, if the problem could have been diagnosed and rectified remotely. However, this usually only turns out afterwards and does not contribute positively to work satisfaction. And also an ever-increasing environmental consciousness of the younger generations leads to the rejection of unnecessary travel activities, which today are connected to a large extent with the production of climate-damaging CO2 - no matter if the way to the place of action is covered by car, train or airplane. In addition, machines and systems are becoming increasingly complex and place high demands on the qualifications of service technicians. In most cases, this means that regular consultation with the engineering department or other specialist departments is required during a service assignment in order to understand problems in a complex system and then be able to solve them.

Service technicians in the sense described so far are now mercenaries on a mission that has become more and more obsolete due to the possibilities of digitization!

In my opinion, the core problem is not that Millenials of Generation Y no longer want to work as service technicians, but that the technological possibilities of digitization with which this generation grew up have not yet arrived in industrial service processes to the extent that young people imagine. This discrepancy makes the job description of the service technician, which is still predominant today and in demand by employers, unattractive for Generation Y. Enter simply once with Google the term service technician 🔗. Most search results on the first page are job offers, in which service technicians with world-wide travel readiness are looked for. This shows that industrial companies are still looking for the "old" role of a service staff. The large number of sponsored search hits on Google suggest that companies have difficulties filling the vacancies, however.

What can the future image of a service technician already look like today?

By connecting machines at the end customer with the manufacturer, remote access to the machine control, the possibilities of Predictive Maintenance and Augemented Reality, service processes at machine and system manufacturers can already run more digitally and efficiently today than described in the previous - somewhat exaggerated - explanations. With remote access to the machine control via the Internet, many machine faults can be fixed remotely. However, what is often missing here is the visual view of the affected system or its components in order to find the cause and the solution to a problem. Also phone calls or the exchange of emails with photos of the problem often do not help. Augmented Reality (AR) and Remote Service Support Solutions play out one of their strengths here. The service technician switches via live video from the office to a machine operator on site and works virtually and collaboratively on the diagnosis and solution of the malfunction. Ideally, the problem is solved immediately and there is no need to travel to the machine's location. Should a repair of the affected system nevertheless be necessary, AR-based remote support can be used to clarify in advance which spare parts and tools are required for a repair, which can then be installed by a local service partner with the help of AR-based step-by-step instructions. By combining these remote service concepts with predictive maintenance approaches, it is also possible to better plan when a machine will need to be serviced or repaired with a certain probability and when remote support will be required. This makes the service processes more predictable and transparent for machine and plant builders and also enables them to create new business models on this basis. Because faster troubleshooting not only makes service technicians happier, whose role model based on new digital technologies is increasingly being transformed into managers of service-relevant information, but also, of course, the end customer, who is ultimately solely concerned with his machine being up and running!

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