Don’t Get Trapped in the Escalation Black Hole

Don’t Get Trapped in the Escalation Black Hole

Unlock historical data to solve even the most complex service problems

What happens to those service calls that can’t be resolved on the first or even second visit? It’s a question we’ve posed to service pros across the world. Unfortunately, the most common answer is that they disappear into a service black hole. While only accounting for a small percentage of all jobs, they require a disproportionate amount of resources. These seemingly unfixable issues go on for days and weeks, racking up service costs, depleting your team of its best resources as multiple team members get called in, angering customers, and keeping managers at their desks late at night. An analysis of several Aquant customers’ data found that the mean time to resolve (MTTR) increases by an average of 17 days when the issue is not fixed the first time.

Don’t blame your team

These jobs are complex anomalies that fall outside the range of everyday issues. They’ve passed through the hands of call center reps who attempted to troubleshoot over the phone, field technicians who tested machines, swapped out parts and made manual fixes, and when that didn’t work, escalated the job to senior techs and client relations managers.

Part of what makes them so challenging is that they fall outside of a straightforward model of identifying problems and making the most logical fixes ⁠— like an undiagnosed medical issue on an episode of House. Here are other reasons why stubborn service issues go unresolved:

  • Multiple problems are present, sometimes with conflicting resolution procedures
  • After repeated trial and error attempts, the job gets passed around with no clear owner
  • Today’s workforce is in flux, with a large number of junior techs who lack the tribal knowledge required to address these issues
  • When there’s no obvious solution, techs take a “shotgunning approach,” replacing parts unrelated to the root cause of the malfunction
  • Typical field service tools, like static checklists or digitized manuals, don’t work for these types of complicated scenarios that require more than a simple question and answer

However, there are ways to navigate around the never-ending escalation.

Let historical information do the heavy lifting

While frustrating, it’s unlikely that even the most complicated issues are the first of their kind. Your organization already has the information required to address the bulk of these black holes — though the data is likely hidden in plain sight, never having been cataloged or analyzed. Go beyond pulling the same old fields from a CRM and unlock your hidden service data for answers.

Think about the goldmine of information that never made it into the CRM, from handwritten job orders or technician notes to parts catalogs information and IoT messaging. Powerful AI tools can sort through these varied sources, combining information from siloed systems, then analyze and map out your service organization to find trends that translate into actionable recommendations.

Democratize tribal knowledge

While your data may do the heavy lifting, data can be misleading. Just because the data shows that 80% of the time your workforce solved the problem a certain way, does that mean it’s the best solution? Not necessarily. Quite often your top service experts, those that are the heroes of your service organization, have found solutions to the most complex problems that are not recorded in any system ⁠— hidden gems of expertise that are not shared beyond the people they interact with.

Combining the power of historical information with the input and validation of your top experts provides a comprehensive and transformative approach that can democratize tribal knowledge and avoid escalations entirely.

Empower your team with dynamic tools

Let’s chuck the checklists. Today’s complex jobs involve complicated machinery and technology that require a comprehensive skillset. A static list of suggested fixes won’t help inexperienced technicians or even a veteran team tasked with a tangle of error messages.

What does help are intelligent tools that work with your team, assisting with complex problem-solving. Dynamic systems that combine historical data with human knowledge connect the dots quickly, in real-time. In addition, the best tools can understand the intent of employee questions or searches regardless of word choice, ensuring that everyone has easy access to recommended solutions regardless of how they describe the problem. Intelligent tools get smarter over time. You can’t say that about a checklist. As you use the platform, it will learn the service language spoken by your employees and customers, and offer up even more accurate recommendations over time.

Armed with insights, technicians can solve persistent service issues and prevent the dreaded escalation black hole.