From analyzing the latest mobile technology to providing management tips and vehicle fleet operations advice, the SmartVan’s Top 10 posts of 2012 covered it all. Here’s a look at our top-read articles of the year:
1. Four Things Field Techs Should Never, Ever Say (Oct. 18)
John Ragsdale and customer service expert Shep Hyken opined on the worst things field techs can tell a customer. “Sorry I’m late” ranked near the top.
2. How Comcast Killed the Four-Hour Service Window (Jan. 18)
By optimizing logistics, automating scheduling, and improving self-service options, Comcast cable company was able to make good on its promise to halve appointment windows from hour hours to two — and in some cases narrow it to one hour.
3. Five Tips for Evaluating Field Service Tech Performance (May 30)
A service manager doesn’t necessarily get to see his technicians in the field. So how can he judge their performance? Sean Lyden gave us a few easy tips — like periodically inspecting techs’ vehicles. “The condition of the truck can tell us a lot about the care [the] technician puts into his work for our customers,” says Jim Thomas, owner of HVAC contractors JS Thomas Service, Inc.
4. How the iPad Has ‘Revolutionized’ the Job for One Field Service Veteran (Feb. 13)
Gone are the days of lugging around heavy laptops and waiting for them to boot up — and God forbid you actually carry a paper binder manual. Kevin Wright, a medical device engineer with Parata Systems, now uses an iPad on the job — and suddenly customer history reports, service manuals, and instant messaging are just a few swipes away.
5. Four Tips to Keep Rock Star Service Techs On Board (July 31)
Competition for top-tier technicians is fierce — in fact we’ve heard from some recruiters that companies are more interested in poaching talent these days than developing it. So managers need to focus on retaining their best employees. One way: celebrate their successes! “When we get a customer email or letter that is complimentary of the technician’s service, we like to post that on our social media sites,” says Katherine Harris, a recruiting director for Roto-Rooter.
6. The 7 Deadly Sins of Service Calls (Aug. 29)
More do’s and don’ts of field service etiquette. For instance, don’t hand customers off to middlemen. “So much information about the customer’s issue would get lost,” says Arthur Hill, author of Field Service Management: An Integrated Approach to Increasing Customer Satisfaction. “You don’t want too many people in the communication chain because then no one really owns the problem; no one owns the customer.”
7. How a Single iPad Changed a Field Manager’s Business (April 4)
Back in 2011 we held a “cool tool” contest, won by Chad Engle of Mit-E-Ducts in Zionsville, Indiana. His prize? An iPad. A year later, we checked in to see how his newest cool tool was changing business.
8. Designing the Perfect Van: Q-and-A with Nissan’s Mike Hobson (Feb. 28)
Nissan’s NV service van has been described as “cool” — not exactly the first thing most people think of when imagining a commercial van. We spoke with Nissan’s director of marketing about how to bring some fun back into the workday vehicle.
9. For Sears, Field Service Is the Engine of Great Customer Service (May 2)
Sears’ “pro-advocacy model” was a re-thinking of its entire service chain, with the focus rested squarely on the customer. The results have been impressive: the “blue-ribbon” service given to previously botched calls has retained 96 percent of such customers.
10. The Case for Service Over Sales (Aug. 17)
Sentinel Field Services, Inc., a mortgage field service company based in Utah, has no marketing department, no salesmen, and no local advertising. But they’d doubled their coverage area in just a year, by focusing entirely on word-of-mouth referrals based on terrific customer service.