Technicians are able to identify problem areas and are a great resource in improving products and services from watching their performance in real life.
More and more, we see the importance of merging customer service with other areas of service, including for our technicians in the field. With field service techs being, quite literally, the faces of the company, it’s important to equip them with, in addition to their technical expertise, soft skills like communication, customer service, and empathy in order to develop a positive relationship with the customer.
Representing the business and themselves positively is unquestionably important, and has a huge impact on customer retention. as well as referrals. But what we’re paying close attention to in the article is how technicians can influence customer service in return. Like I said, technicians are the face of the company. They’re the ones interacting with customers regularly, face to face, and speaking to them in real time. They also have the unique combination of skills to interact with both the physical issue at hand and the customer’s experience with it. Let’s face it, customer service behind a phone can only go so far–everyone’s heard the age old “Have you tried turning it off and back on again?” solution from the customer service desk–and having someone in the thick of it, getting real-time information, is invaluable.
Working with problems and customer interactions as they play out in real life, as opposed to at arms length, is critical to understanding further customer connections and about the product. Technicians can often see patterns in the systems or products they’re working on during calls, whether it’s for regularly scheduled maintenance or emergency fixes. By recognizing issues as they’re happening in the field, technicians are able to identify problem areas and can be a great resource in improving products from watching their performance in real life. They also experience customer interactions around these products and may be able to provide proactive recommendations through their understanding of what they’re working with.
Identifying trends in performance of products, systems, or maintenance plans is something techs are in a great place to do, making them a perfect resources for product design, system modifications, or creating a more streamlined schedule. One thing companies have integrated into their daily routine is to have techs generate notes on the jobs they work on. Many companies have turned to apps to make this more accessible and easy to use, being simple for both techs and internal staff to process information. But what gets done with all these notes? Do they get read and acted upon? Unfortunately, that’s often not the case.
This is key information that could be crucial to performance, services provided, and the very function of your business. By taking the time to analyze feedback from the field, you’re better able to get a view of what’s going down, despite not necessarily being on the same site. These notes reveal trends in performance, problem areas, customer satisfaction, how the environment impacts the system, etc. Notes must be read and referred to, yes, but what of word-of-mouth? Sharing technician feedback in meetings is a great way to ensure it is communicated throughout the organization. It’s also a great way to recognize the good work of the technician.
Creating opportunities to show technicians you value their input and dedication to the job is crucial to both the success of the business and employee engagement (the two are intrinsically tied). Knowing they are being listened to is the best encouragement for people to speak up. Allowing them to speak freely and communicate honestly is essential in these situations. How are problems going to be identified and then solved if leadership isn’t aware of them? And how does leadership find out about them if they’re not being communicated? Beyond that, why would technicians communicate this information if they feel no one listens?
Consider these questions when planning your company’s internal communication strategy. Nothing gets solved without a foundation of respect and trust, and that starts with open communication and valuing the input of everyone, including technicians. As we roll into the next month, book time in your calendar for one-on-one conversations with your technicians. (Need a resource for those conversations? Find one here!) Demonstrate you value their time, input, and experience by paying attention and taking note of what they say. One-on-ones provide opportunity to discuss identified problem areas, trends in performance, questions customers consistently have about products, service, or the company, and much more. By creating these moments of connection with your technicians, you’ll achieve an accurate understanding of what’s happening out there, and not just how things should be working according to the manual. These moments create a sense of mutual respect and show your team members you value what they have to say.
By providing space for technicians to provide feedback, and by paying attention to what they say, you can identify important issues that impact customers as they arise, and adjust your approach to reflect that. Often, e talk about how important it is for techs to be strong in customer service, how important communication is in the field, and how both soft and technical skills are essential for a great employee, etc. What we haven’t emphasized as much is how input and opinions provided by technicians are essential to customer service and company success.
Value your technicians. Listen to their opinions. Your customer service approach will forever be changed for the better.