Doug Van Kirk

“A Day in the Life”: What We Learn in the Van at a Ride Along

Blog Post created by Doug Van Kirk Employee on Jan 7, 2016

At ServiceMax, we’re proud of our Ride Alongs Program that sends ServiceMax employees out on the road with technicians who uses our software. We get to see how our applications are used in the real world and gain better understand the challenges field service personnel face in their daily lives. In the two years we’ve been doing this, we’ve seen how resourceful and creative technicians can be and we’ve learned a lot about what goes on in the field.



A few things we've learned from your teams:



  • “MacGyver” is a verb Technicians are amazingly resourceful.  We’ve seen technicians make parts from scrap metal, find replacement components from unrelated pieces of equipment, and teach customers clever work-arounds to get them up and running again.
  • Many hats In the field, technicians have to play equal parts detective, engineer, and diplomat. They have to improvise solutions, sometimes using parts or techniques intended for other applications. And they have to make sure the customer is happy when they leave, even if they can’t fix the problem.
  • “It’s never done THAT before” Techs frequently solve problems that aren’t in the service manual. It’s not unusual to see failures without diagnostic codes or documented symptoms.




  • Inside track A technician can be a great resource in gathering new business, technicians can easily survey an environment and find competitor’s equipment beside their own.  Make note of the competitors that are installed on site in the account/location record so you have competitive intelligence when it comes to propose a new contract to that customer.
  • “There I was…”Technicians have to put up with difficult work conditions. We’ve seen them on the tops of tall ladders, wedged in crawlspaces, under, behind, and inside noisy and dangerous equipment. We’ve observed technicians servicing beer and soda taps in London pubs while others are tethered to the tops of windmills.
  • On the road again Driving is a big part of the technician’s life. The men and women who service our machines often hit the road while it’s still dark and don’t get home until after sunset. They know where to park, where the speed traps are, and the best places for lunch.
  • Mission-critical Lives depend on the work of service technicians. Everyday, technicians service equipment critical to medicine, transportation infrastructure, power generation, and resource development. Without technicians, the machinery of the world would rapidly stop working.
  • Pardon the interruption! Every tech is a resource and they constantly ask each other for help. The downside is that technicians get interrupted - a lot!
  • Keeping it real Technology can’t always substitute for the human touch. In Japan and Hong Kong, it’s still a business custom that you need to physically rubber stamp a document before sending it to a customer. When a service report is generated on iPad, it still needs to be printed.


Have you hosted a Ride Along?


What did you and your team think of the experience?


What else could we learn in the field with your field service stars?