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South Africa: Power Technique promotes after-sales service excellence through distributor e-learning programmes

Atlas Copco Power Technique’s Service Division is committed to delivering seamless after-market service to ensure that customers’ machines are back in operation in no time, with minimum disruption to their productivity and production.

“That is why we push the training narrative because well-trained technicians are fundamental to meeting our service objectives,” notes Douw van Schalkwyk, Power Technique Service Division Manager. “However, training does not stop with our own technicians; we also roll out training programmes to our distributors who are an important route to market. They are at the doorsteps of our ever-expanding customer base so it’s imperative that we include them in our innovative training programmes, empowering them to provide the full value-add cycle – from sales to maintenance.”

These well-supported learning and development programmes help to improve the skill levels of distributors and their technicians when working or operating Atlas Copco machines, building their confidence and capacities. Moreover, fast efficient service gets the machines back up and running in no time, enabling customers to continue with their operation.  “By equipping our distributors with the right knowledge through training, they are able to provide the same excellent service and maintenance quality standards that Atlas Copco is renowned for,” notes Van Schalkwyk. “The overall outcome is that distributors will become experts in their respective areas and exceed customers’ needs.” 

Van Schalkwyk affirms that there has been a strong push since 2018/2019 to get more distributors and technicians onto the e-learning platform and start their training journey. “Since the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been developing our distributors digitally, from an after-market point of view. A total of 254 training programmes have been successfully completed in the last two years and we are encouraged by the fact that we are seeing a definite increase in the uptake percentage. This shows that our distributors are recognising the benefits that these training programmes offer their businesses.”

The learning programmes, which were developed by the Learning Link Division team, forms part of Atlas Copco’s group-wide on-line learning management system that offers a wide range of learning activities. In addition to customised online skills programmes and courses, learners and visitors also have access to 15 000 LinkedIn Learning courses and videos covering a wide range of topics, everything from business to automation and artificial intelligence.

The e-learning platform is easily accessible to all 27 Atlas Copco Power Technique distributors based in South Africa, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius. “They can conveniently complete their training at a time that best suits them and we encourage our distributors to do training at least once a month,” says Van Schalkwyk. “The training courses are usually pre-recorded and available on the system giving added flexibility.” He adds that once the training is completed, distributors will be able to contact Atlas Copco’s customer and technical service teams for ongoing support.

The training programmes are graded as ‘Bronze, Silver, and Gold’.  Van Schalkwyk elaborates: “The Bronze level is about ‘doing what we are supposed to do well’ and creates a ‘quality service’ mind-set; ‘Silver’ is about ‘improving processes and quality to better satisfy customers and includes the introduction of problem-solving behaviours, tools and techniques; ‘Gold’ represents world-class practice as a recognisable description of daily activity in the organisation.”

The Bronze level training is done online whereas the Silver and Gold courses should usually be hands-on training. There are nine e-learning programmes for distributors and technicians in the Bronze level and the division has started rolling out Silver level training, October through November. Topics covered here include product safety training, training on relevant product groups, how to operate a machine, basic application knowledge, etc.

Van Schalkwyk wraps up: “We encourage our distributors, their technicians and all other stakeholders to embrace our learning culture and enrich their knowledge and skills base. By keeping abreast of new product and technology developments and innovations we, in collaboration with our distributors, can deliver best-in-class after-market service.

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