May 29, 2018

How to Think Like a Troubleshooter

How to Think Like a Troubleshooter

Most jobs require troubleshooting at some point. Heavy duty repair shop technicians are no exception. In fact, a large part of their job is diagnostic work and troubleshooting. Because of that, thinking like troubleshooters comes naturally to techs, but there’s always room for improvement.

Trouble Shooting Skills Pay Off

Thinking like troubleshooters pays off in two ways. First, finding a solution to a problem gives you valuable information for the next time it happens. Every issue is an opportunity to learn and expand your knowledge base. That saves time in advance. It’s like having reserves in the bank for future issues.

Second, thinking like troubleshooters is kind of contagious. If you do it well, the customer you’re helping learns from your example. They can start thinking like troubleshooters, which can save them some money and save everyone wasted time. Many issues stem from a ridiculously simple problem, like a dead battery or a cord that’s not plugged in securely. So, after learning to think like troubleshooters from your example, the customer can check for simple issues before calling you the next he experiences a similar problem. That eliminates the need to bring everything in for servicing, and techs won’t waste time fielding unnecessary work orders.

Thinking Like Troubleshooters: 5 Problem-Solving Steps

To think like troubleshooters requires critical thinking. It’s a skill that comes naturally to some, and one that is second nature for many heavy duty repair techs. It comes from having to solve problems every day. Whether you consciously think about it or not, troubleshooting involves five steps:

  1. Determine what the problem is—what is the specific issue your customer is having trouble with?
  2. Evaluate the problem—identify possible causes and if they’re fixable issues.
  3. Devise possible solutions—rely on past problems and what you learned from them to come up with several things you can try.
  4. Organize your solutions—list them out on paper if you have to. Rank them from simplest to more complicated as well as which ones are most likely to work.
  5. Implement your solutions—start trying them out. You can begin with the easiest ones first or start with the ones that you think would work best. Sometimes they’re the same.

If luck’s on your side, you might hit the answer first thing. It’s also possible you’ll go through your entire list without success. In those cases, you’ll have to start over with #2 and reassess the problem. There are times, too, when you might have to consult with someone else. Other people can bring a fresh perspective and an expanded knowledge base to the project. It benefits you because you’ll learn a thing or two for the next time.

Some people think like troubleshooters so well that they go through the steps automatically. Sometimes they even perform them simultaneously, coming up with possible solutions as they’re evaluating the problem. It’s a challenge, like figuring out a puzzle. The more troubleshooting you do, the better you’ll get.

Troubleshooting is an Art Form

Troubleshooting is more than a skill you hone. It’s an art form. Since the goal is to help customers think like troubleshooters, it must be done effectively.  When a customer comes to your shop for help, they’re already frustrated. Good troubleshooters know how to approach the problem as well as deal with the customer’s often emotional state. That means listening patiently, speaking their language (customers aren’t techs—that’s why they come to you!), and being honest. The customer may not want to hear that you’ve never encountered a problem like his before. However, it’s better to be upfront about possibly having to spend more time troubleshooting his issue to find the right solution than to say everything will be fixed in an hour.

In conclusion, the art of troubleshooting is something that everyone can work on. It improves with practice. Plus, you can pass on your knowledge and teach customers to think like troubleshooters. It’s added value your shop can offer that will help customers run their own businesses better.