I came across a funny and, in its own way, enlightening post on The Consumerist recently, which reminded me that despite all the groundbreaking technologies and best practices field service has to offer, sometimes the best advice is the simplest.

The story notes how a woman wanted to put a small TV in her cramped kitchen. Comcast, her cable provider, happens to make a miniature cable box that would fit perfectly in such a space. But apparently, nothing’s quite as easy as it should be.

If you want this mini cable box installed, you simply have to hope the cable guy shows up with one — because you can’t order it over the phone and there’s no guarantee the installer has one in his van. According to this woman, “When you order a box, you must take whatever the installer shows up with.”

The lesson here is simple: make sure your techs are well-prepared, or prepare to lose customers. (Or, as legendary basketball coach John Wooden would say, Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.) The post doesn’t say whether the woman cancelled her service, but she’d have a valid reason to.

Today’s service techs are spread thin, often undertrained, and forced to wear many hats. And the products they service are increasingly complex. That means a lot of stress on the tech and a frequent lack of preparation before heading out on a service call. That’s a problem within the service company, but remember, the customer doesn’t know or care about that. When a tech gets to a customer site, they’re expected to be courteous, fix the problem quickly, and have all the hardware to service or replace the broken equipment. When they fail to deliver on just one of those services, time is wasted, the contract is jeopardized and the entire organization loses credibility.

A simple lesson is sometimes the strongest.

More: Comcast’s Army of Techs Make Security Offering Possible.

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