Every services organization strives to have a strong base of satisfied customers. They build this goal into their strategic services plans, set targets and goals, conduct customer satisfaction surveys, purchase and review industry reports, and hold meetings  — all to find ways to improve their customer service performance and corresponding satisfaction ratings.

But while multiple layers of management and staff attempt to do everything they can to improve customer service, success ultimately rests in the field technicians’ hands. The reason is simple: Technicians are the people who routinely have the most direct, face-to-face (and honest) relationships with customers. In fact, technicians may be one of only two or three people  in the entire organization, beyond salespeople, that customers know on a first-name basis. Customers likely do not know anybody at the corporate level by name — and even if they did, they would probably go to the technician first to fix a problem.

This is why every field technician’s primary role is to first make — and then to keep —customers satisfied. Of course, it’s not always easy to accomplish that. Occasionally, customers may become dissatisfied with anything from the product to the technician’s performance.

To keep a customer satisfied, service leaders and technicians alike must understand what made him or her dissatisfied in the first place. It’s easier to convert dissatisfied customers to satisfied customers once you understand the reasons for the dissatisfaction.

Here are some examples for technicians to consider:

If one of your accounts has experienced repeated equipment failures because of an inherent product flaw, it doesn’t really matter whether your on-site support is good or bad. Either way, the customer will not be very happy. Don’t reinforce that dissatisfaction by saying, for example, “We’ve been having a lot of problems with this particular machine all over town.” It will only make a bad situation worse. Instead, provide the disgruntled customer with information about possible product fixes or software patches and explain how those solutions have fixed the problem for other customers.

In cases where customer support has been less than optimal, there are several tactics to improve the situation. For example, if the customer is unhappy because the technician continually arrives late, discuss the problem with your dispatcher or service manager. If the blame lies in the call handling and dispatch functionality of your company’s service operations software, it should be an easy fix. However, if another issue is to blame (personal time management or ongoing vehicle or routing problems), technicians must look inward to correct the situation. Remember: The customer usually doesn’t care why you arrive late; that’s your business. What matters to them is that you don’t arrive late in the future; that’s their business.

There will always be customers who are unhappy, no matter how good the product or support. That’s a fact of life, and there is really nothing you can do about it. But for the vast majority of accounts, technicians will be empowered to do whatever it takes to make the customer happy.