Field Service

Four Things Field Techs Should Never, Ever Say

When a service tech is called out to a job, something has probably already gone wrong. But the danger to your brand’s reputation doesn’t end there. Aside from failing to make the fix, there are a few absolute no-nos when it comes to things customers don’t want to hear.

The SmartVan asked some industry experts for their take. Cover your ears …

1. “Sorry I’m Late”

“This means the technician has already screwed up,” says Shep Hyken, a customer service expert and New York Times best-selling author. “Any excuse they have is an excuse, and no excuses are good. Technicians shouldn’t be giving excuses, they should be giving explanations, and say something like ‘I was overbooked and was running late from the last job.’”

2. “This Is Going to Take a While” 

A while is not a definitive answer, and it scares customers,” Hyken says. “Service techs need to offer a more concrete timeframe to customers — something like, “I’m going to get this done within three hours.”

The next step is the follow-up, which can be a note saying, “Thanks for letting me come in and fix it. I know we got off to a rocky start, but rest assured we’re here to help you fix whatever needs to be fixed.”

3. “I’ve Never Seen This Before”

Ignorance isn’t an inspiring trait in a technician, says John Ragsdale, vice president of research for the Technology Services Industry Association. “The tech saying they haven’t seen this problem — or worse, they haven’t seen the equipment before — is a big no-no,” Ragsdale says. “The customer will immediately lose faith in the tech’s ability to fix the problem.”

4. “This Is Your Own Fault”

Blaming the customer for a broken piece of equipment is another non-starter. “It doesn’t matter if it’s an equipment failure or a user failure — just fix the problem,” Ragsdale says.

Ragsdale gave an first-hand example of a repairman from the phone company who missed his appointment time, only to reschedule the fix for sometime (during an eight-hour window) the next day. When the tech finally arrived, he chastised Ragsdale for keeping a dongle in the kitchen too close to the sink. “As if I can control where the phone jacks are in my kitchen,” Ragsdale says. “Blaming me for the problem didn’t make me happy, especially after all the delays in getting him onsite in the first place.”

Hyken says the key is for service technicians to use what he calls “power phrases” — taking a negative and focusing on the positive, actionable things that can prevent it.

“The customer’s not always right, but they’re always the customer,” Hyken says. “Instead of telling them what they did wrong, show them how them how to do it right. Show them how to wire it. It’s all about how you position your words. ”

What are some stomach-churning phrases you’ve encountered? Let us know in the comments!

More: Seven Deadly Sins of Service Calls.

Click here to download a free whitepaper, “Five Steps to Make Field Service Profitable.”

  • While I am in total agreement with one and four, when you are troubleshooting a piece of equipment, it is impossible to give the customer an acurate time when you will be done. What I would do is tell the customer to give me a couple hours to see what I could learn and then touch base with him after that period of time. Communication is the key.

    Unfortunately, in the industrail world, I can promise you that our technicians work on equipment that they have never seen before. There is a delicate balance when it comes to this. When you have sent your technicaian to work on a piece of equipment, chances are they have to learn the equipment and use their hasic troubleshooting skills to find the problem. I would rather be honest with the customer and let him know up front that I am going to have a learning curve on his equipment. If he knows that up front, he can decide rather to allow me to continue or possibly look for a more qualified technician. Usually, they know that help is far away and they will give you the chance to figure it out. Again, good communication and honesty are my preference when dealing with our customers.

  • John

    I really have to dis agree with number 4. My customer is usually Whirlpool, Ge or another manufacturer. If the homeowner is the cause of the failure, then i am required to inform them of proper operation. The other side of the coin is that if they caused the problem once, they will cause it again. Not properly educating the consumer is only guaranteeing further service calls.

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