Your expressions can greatly impact communication.
We often talk about the technician’s role in providing great service. But what about beyond that?
It’s not enough for a field service technician to do right by the customer. Providing truly great service goes beyond that, all the way through the company. Managers play an integral role in ensuring the chain of service is strong and effective.
Coaching is an important part of the manager’s job. Anyone who has been in organized sport knows how important the coach is to the success of an athlete and to their performance on the field of play. The same holds true in business. Managers are in the best position to provide feedback, but how do they do this when they’re not in the field with their people?
A good start might be going out into the field every now and then. Managers would then be in a good position to observe the technician at work, fixing what needs to be fixed and interacting with customers. This can be awkward at first. When people are being “observed” it’s natural they’d feel under the microscope. However, done well, these situations can result in strong relationships between manager and technician. The manager will be on hand to provide support and guidance in real time, coaching skills, attitudes, and behaviours as they occur.
Another important investment in creating great service lies in one-on-one conversation. These conversations between manager and technician can be done in the office, in the field, or even via Zoom. During these chats, managers develop relationships with their people, ensuring communication flow, information exchange, and building trust. They provide the ideal opportunity to learn how things are going for the technician—where they are doing well and where they could use some help. This is a great time to provide feedback from customers and tie that into how best to do the work.
One-on-one conversations are meant to be about the technician first. We suggest a 10/10/10 process for a 30-minute conversation:
- 10 minutes for the technician to share what’s on their mind
- 10 minutes for the manager to share company updates
- 10 minutes to talk about professional development
The insights gained from these conversations provide the manager with a snapshot of what their technicians need to be successful.
Perhaps it’s an investment in their career growth. Making investments in developing technicians shows the company is committed to helping be their best. Most employees, regardless of industry, feel valued when their company invests in their development, and they feel grateful to be in a company that pays for it. Even if there is no budget for training, managers can still help their technicians to grow. Feedback and coaching provide knowledge technicians need to improve. Managers who are worried about how their feedback will be received can learn to provide effective feedback and coaching. Courses offering soft skills training can help to set up managers for coaching success.
Bridging the gap between service technician and great service should also be done by promoting communication and collaboration amongst the team. It’s understandable that technicians could feel somewhat removed from the office, seeing as they’re always out of it. Yet their ability to provide great service often hinges on the people in other functions such as sales, accounting, inventory control, and dispatch. The service enjoyed (or endured) by the end customer is affected by these people. Let’s take a look at an example:
- Our technician visits a site and carries out repairs on an outdated piece of equipment. While on site, he speaks to the customer about replacing the old equipment and promises to have someone in account management/sales get back to them with pricing, availability, etc. The customer is pleased about this because every bit of down time for that machinery costs them in lost revenue. The technician turns in the work order, along with a notation about the customer’s request. And that’s where the chain breaks. The information either never makes it to the salesperson or never gets acted upon, and nothing gets done. A couple of months later, the technician is back at that same site, working on that same machinery, and having to deal with a customer who is angry about repeated repairs, more down time, and no sign of new equipment on the horizon.
The first thing to do is ensure systems, processes, and expectations of office staff align with what we ask our technicians to do in the field. Then, it’s important to communicate to keep everyone informed. Collaboration, teamwork, and communication are things that often come up in employee engagement surveys as lacking. Ensuring communication flow is key to supporting the technicians and ensuring customer needs are attended to. Technicians are removed from the day-to-day workflow in the office. Attention to communication flow throughout the organization will help them to feel connected to other members of the team. Again, managers can take a role in this. They are very aware of what their technicians need from the office staff and should advocate on behalf of their technicians.
Finally, an important part of providing great service—stepping beyond the technicians and into organizational practices—is providing them with the tools for success. If technicians are sent out on the job without the tools and materials they need to complete the repairs, they’ll just end up disappointing the customer. There are software options available to help with this type of organization. However, it doesn’t have to be that fancy. Having a system and processes in place to ensure these things are considered and taken care of efficiently is what’s truly important.
Paying attention to building relationships, providing coaching, feedback, and support, and encouraging the growth of technicians is not just for them. Nor is creating workflow processes and communication networks, as well as equipping technicians for success. Giving employees the tools they need to get the job done, and done well, allows them to work more efficiently, take on more work, and really and truly help customers. In turn, this allows the company to build its business and bottom line—and that’s a win for everyone.