Late last month, Shep Hyken, customer service guru and author of The Amazement Revolution, made a powerful argument on SmartVan for why every field service executive should spend a day in the field. He argues that higher-ups risk becoming too product-centric in their pursuit of revenues and that customer service can suffer as a result. We thought it was an intriguing, yet practical, insight so we turned to members of the LinkedIn Group The Service Council for their take on Hyken’s advice. Highlights of the discussion are below. 

One Day Isn’t Enough

“Work a day (in the field); try a week where they will get the full scope of the activities of the position and the full gambit of scenarios good and bad faced by these individuals. Oh, they expect to get their hands dirty (if the activity can be completed safely. It would be beneficial for field staff to follow the boss for a period too, they often have misconceptions about what goes on up at the top of the food chain.” — Steven Dortch, a former manager of field and customer service with the city of Palo Alto, Calif.

What About the Rest of the Team? 

“Fortunately for me I did come up ‘through the ranks’ as a service engineer…all the way to Director and Global GM. I would add that not only do ‘non field service’ executives spend time observing and learning in the field, but other parts of the organization as well! Understanding the environment that your ‘customer facing’ people work in, along with hearing customer feedback is priceless [information] to bring back to your own internal group.” — Mark Keller, general manager of global service at Ametek, a manufacturer of electronic instruments and electromechanical devices.

How Customer Expectations Have Evolved

“In the early years of my career I was on the manufacturing floor and in the field so that certainly has influenced my perspective of service at the ground level. I don’t rely solely on that ‘old’ data though as the tools, systems and expectations of the customers have evolved over the years. Just yesterday I spent time in the field with two technicians. A group of us did this over the past few weeks and compared notes on the experience. Between watching what the technicians do and listening to their stories and ideas, we came up with some long-term improvements, but also half a dozen simple process changes and inexpensive tools, all of which can improve their performance and the overall customer service experience.” — Anthony Moffa, senior manager of global data services at Tyco, a manufacturer of safety and security systems.

A Smart Way to Minimize Miscommunication

“I believe that the interaction between the Field and Corporate needs to be done on a regular basis to make clear communication of procedure, product, and see how customer interactions play out. Too often there are miscommunications which translate into time and money lost.” — Matt Lyman, field service technician at EcoLab, a hygiene and energy technologies and services company

A New Level of Respect

“I believe that all C-level management should spend quality time with personnel. I have, personally, spent a lot time in the field as a Product Support Business leader, but I also always got my C-level bosses, especially Marketing/Sales, to observe how our dedicated employees did what needed to be done to provide our customers superior solutions. For most C-level management it was a humbling experience, but it provided [them] with a new level of respect.” — Ron Giuntini, principal at Giuntini and Company, a product support consulting company.