The biggest mistake field service technicians can make is thinking that they simply need to arrive at a customer’s site on time and fix the equipment. That is primarily how to measure a technician’s performance, but it’s not everything—not even close.

Every service organization can log service calls, dispatch field technicians to the customer site, and measure key performance indicators like average time to respond (ATR), average speed of repair (ASR), and the number of calls handled per day. These metrics measure both company-wide and individual performance, but they only address half of the customer service equation. The other half is servicing the customer.

Solving the ‘Problem’ Customer

When a technician gets their daily call list from dispatch and notices one or more calls with potential problem customers (or customers with whom they’ve have had problems in the past), a little preparation can work wonders. Consider picking up the phone to let the customer know when you’ll arrive, and that you’ll alert them to any delays.

Your technical know-how is beyond reproach. You have the skills, the tools, and the experience to fix the equipment. But by taking the time to pre-empt any customer service problems, smart technicians can alleviate much of those “problem” customers’ anxieties.

Some high-maintenance customers may require a great deal of attention, reassurance, and hand-holding. For those, an estimated time of arrival (ETA) is essential, particularly if they’ve complained in the past. But even relaxed, relatively low-maintenance customers appreciate a courtesy ETA.

Customer Satisfaction: A More Difficult Fix

Here are some other strategies to consider for effectively servicing the customer while you service their equipment:

Over-communicate: Don’t simply tell them they have a problem and go about fixing it. Most customers will want to know the details:

  • The nature of the problem
  • What they may have been able to do to avoid it in the first place
  • How you’ll fix it
  • When they can expect the unit to be up and running again.

Briefly summarize each of these points to inform the customer—and to buy yourself time to work at your own pace to get the job done.

Take initiative: If you notice that a particular piece of equipment has been requiring a greater number of service calls because of age or usage, advise the customer that perhaps now might be a good time to consider upgrading to a newer or more efficient model. But don’t stop there: Bring copies of the most current product literature and any background information that might be useful in helping the customer to justify the decision to move to a new unit.

Advise, advise, advise: Based on your history with some of your customer accounts, you have probably had the opportunity to observe how they use the equipment, how they may be pushing it to the limit and, as a result, how they may be responsible for some of its problems. Casually mention tips for how customers could extend the life of their equipment. Your customers will appreciate any advice that leads to fewer equipment failures—even if it focuses on some of the things they themselves may be doing incorrectly.

None of your customers operate equipment either in a closed shop or under ideal circumstances. Any advice you can give them that maximizes their equipment’s lifespan and efficiency will be well-received. While you may not necessarily be a professional services or efficiency expert, your customers will still look to you for guidance in these areas—and by providing it to them, you will ultimately be able to go well beyond merely fixing their equipment.