At the core, a customer’s need for basic service and support is quite simple: When equipment is down, the customer wants it fixed as soon as possible.

Easy enough, right?

In most cases, it will involve a simple repair process, likely one that service technicians have made countless times. For regular customers, techs will already be familiar with the equipment, its service history and how the customer uses it on a daily basis. Techs will likely also have the documentation, tools and parts they need to make the repair.

For most situations, this simple process will suffice. But there are always exceptions, and service leaders should be prepared to address those as quickly as possible. One example: A customer thinks he’s asking for “basic” support, but he’s actually asking for service that goes above and beyond the call of duty.

Basic Service, Or Anything But?

These situations are common, say, when a customer asks an on-site tech to perform preventative maintenance that’s scheduled for later in the week. The request might seem perfectly reasonable to the customer, but it could wreak havoc on the technician’s daily schedule. At times like this, the tech will typically check with dispatch to see if an impromptu PM call is feasible — or if it’s best to quickly get the machine up and running and handle the preventative maintenance at its regularly scheduled time. However, one could also argue that, in some cases, it’s best to appease the customer by handling the preventative maintenance while you’re already on-site.

Technicians, of course, may have a clear understanding of the difference between “basic” and “above and beyond” service, but they can’t assume customers will share that understanding. Still, it’s a critical distinction for service technicians to understand. Those who do will be well-equipped to match their company’s services to the customer’s true needs.

A Wide Gap Between Wants and Needs

We may define customers’ “total” needs as everything they want, truly need and expect to receive from their services provider (in general) and their on-site technicians (in particular).

The customer’s total needs, for example, may be nothing more than their basic and value-added needs, delivered to them in a timely, skilled and professional manner. As such, the service technician’s performance at each of these levels of customer service becomes very critical. For example, if the customer perceives that the technician is unable to satisfactorily deliver even their most “basic” equipment service and support needs, they will be even less likely to believe that he can meet their “value-added” needs. It’s an even bigger issue if customers don’t perceive technicians as capable of delivering professional, courteous service.

Ultimately, customers depend on technicians to not only repair their equipment, but also to serve as a jack-of-all trades technical adviser, trainer, and fixer for anything else they think of. It’s not necessarily the technician’s responsibility to service all such roles, but the tech should at least be prepared to serve as a conduit between the customer and any employee whose job description fits those roles.

Service Tech, Meet “Mr. Wolf”

In this way, a service technician can position himself to customers as someone who is personally responsible for supporting the customer’s “total” service and support needs. (No matter if technicians, in reality, are merely supporting the equipment and acting as an intermediary to other company departments.)

It is important to remember that even if the service technician is doing everything he is supposed to be doing within their specific service responsibility, the customer’s needs will generally always be greater than services alone, and they will continually be counted on to point customers in the right direction, make appropriate recommendations, lead them to the right people within the sales or other services organizations — and generally support the customer’s “total” service and support needs.