In many cases, field service technicians make a company’s first impression on a customer — and that first impression goes a long way toward whether they’ll be repeat customers or not.
If technicians put customers at ease with their professional appearance and ability to solve the problem, they’ll garner repeat business and referrals — and make your company a lot of money. Conversely, if a tech chronically arrives late to calls, looks disheveled, talks down to customers, or appears to be in over his head, that employee is a liability to your brand and a drag on your sales efforts.
Here’s the challenge: When techs spend the vast majority of their time offsite, how do you effectively evaluate their performance? How do you spot those technicians who are heroes to customers, so you can reward their behavior and keep them on your team? And on the flipside, how do you identify and deal with subpar performers before they negatively impact sales?
Here’s an easy five-point checklist to use as an “early detection system” for technician performance.
“We’ll have customers who will flat tell us, ‘Hey, this guy was great! Send him anytime.’ Or, ‘I’m not so sure about this one.’ That’s because we’ve had some of these customers for years and have built that kind of relationship,” says Jim F. Thomas, the president of JS Thomas Service, Inc., an Atlanta commercial HVAC service contractor with 18 employees.
Take initiative to ask customers for feedback about your technicians, Thomas says. Don’t wait for customers to call you. A disappointed client may never take the time to call you to complain, but just move on to another vendor. You’ve got to seek it out so you can do something to resolve the situation before the customer decides to leave.
Says Thomas: “We constantly remind our techs, ‘OK guys, it pays to be nice. Your wallets are fatter when you’re the nicest person you know because customers will love you.’”
Frequency of Callbacks
How many of the technician’s service calls result in callbacks? Even the best employees make mistakes. But it’s the number and type of callbacks that can raise concern. Is the tech making the same kind of mistakes? What’s the underlying problem creating the issue? Will more training help?
Quality of Service Tickets
Attention to detail is another telltale sign of great — or sloppy — work. Keep an eye on some of the little things; they’re likely to reveal a great deal about an employee’s quality of work.
“We’re looking at how they fill out their service tickets,” Thomas says. “We want to know: how they detail what they’ve found, how they wrap it up, how they make recommendations. We expect our techs to write service tickets in a way that is very detailed and thorough.”
Periodic Vehicle Checks
Like a uniform, your company trucks or vans are a way for people to spot your brand out in the field. So make sure they look good. Attention to detail goes a long way.
“I personally check one truck each week,” Thomas says. “I have a checklist I go through to make sure they have all their safety equipment, tires got air in them, and the truck is clean. They all know my expectations with that. The condition of the truck can tell us a lot about the care technician puts into his work for our customers. And how that truck’s appearance and condition reflects upon how we operate our business.”
Feedback is important, too. Have technicians’ supervisors talk with them about their work, and review what went right and what went wrong.
“When a tech is done with a job, he calls our service manager for his next assignment,” Thomas says. “The service manager reviews the previous call with the tech, asks specific questions about the job he just completed and holds him accountable. The service manager can usually tell during that call whether or not a technician knows what he’s doing or if he’s having issues with the customer. Those calls help us keep close tabs on how the tech is performing throughout the day, so we can make adjustments as necessary.”
The Bottom Line
As the saying goes, “You must inspect what you expect.” Use this checklist to gain the insight you need to ensure your field service technicians are exceptional ambassadors of your brand.