Satisfied service techs: The No. 1 factor in ATM uptime?
by Marvin Bowers, Vice President of Global Sales, ACG
If service tech satisfaction isn't No. 1 on the list of uptime essentials, it is certainly up there.
With the standard uptime requirement consistently approaching 99 percent or higher for most financial institutions, and many variables that can affect this number: Preventive maintenance checks; a steady supply of the correct parts in the field; and technicians properly located in the field are all extremely important.
That said, the backbone of almost any great service company is the technicians who work hard every day to keep machines running.
In my career, I have gotten to know many of these people, and man, they have some stories! I have heard about thousands in cash left on top of machines and robberies in broad daylight; techs nearly being run over by every type of vehicle imaginable, and getting locked inside kiosks. I've heard about a woman who was attacked by ants when she opened a safe because a prior vendor had left part of his lunch in it.
Technicians are outside working in the blustery dead of winter and the sweltering heat of the dog days of summer. They work no matter how bad the weather is and — maybe even worse — on weekends when the weather is beautiful, the fish are biting, and the greens are perfect.
They work early, they work late, and they don't even get a break on most holidays. They truly are the unsung heroes of the financial technology industry.
So, what can we do to make their lives better? Many things probably, but here are a couple that really matter:
Well-placed, well-stocked parts bins
As it applies to the overall well-being of techs, there might not be anything more frustrating than spending an hour breaking (or at least bending) traffic laws in the hot sun only to arrive at a unit that could be fixed with a card reader or keypad that is not on the van or in a location nearby.
This is such a drain on the psyche, knowing that all this effort will have to be repeated tomorrow. After placing a call to the office to get the part ordered (and pray that it will be available and arrive at the site on time and without the parcel company destroying it, our worn-out hero retreats home to plan for the next day.
Getting pristine parts and getting them to the correct locations is certainly not easy — it takes effort and great planning. Robust analytics for failure rate and mean time to failure can help greatly in this process.
Finally, it is worth making sure the parts we send our techs are from a trusted and reliable repair or refurbishment center — sending them the cheapest, fastest thing that can be found is almost never good for the tech or the customer.
This seems like such a simple thing, but so many times it is overlooked by service companies working hard to grow their business.
New machines are added to the fleet regularly, new technology and updates come out at least weekly, and sometimes the skill of the technician gets taken for granted.
So many of the folks I know are just really good, and always seem able to figure something out. But to the detriment of their well-being and that of the company, they often must spend too much time in the process.
Working by trial and error, rebuilding subassemblies in the field (with a stick of Big Red and a rubber band sometimes), and receiving the dreaded "waiting for the network" message are all too common.
These folks deserve to be equipped with the knowledge, tools and diagnostics necessary to do the best job possible in the least amount of time. Which is why it's essential for all service companies, whether large or small, to provide a well-designed, flexible training program.
Working with a training provider who provides meaningful, hands-on, real-world instruction is a great step toward giving the hardest-working members of our industry the support they need.
Your field technicians are equal parts engineer, mechanic and MacGyver. They are also some of the best sales and customer service guys in the business. Many financial institution executives know their service techs by name and exchange gifts and cards at birthdays and other holidays.
Great techs deserve so much more than they get, sometimes — the least we can do is to make sure their areas are stocked with first-rate parts and their training is up to date!
Marvin Bowers is vice president of global sales at ACG, a leading provider of ATMs, spare parts, security products and training.