If a tree falls in a forest, and there is nobody there to hear it, does it still make a sound?
We have all heard the saying, but it offers a lesson for field service leaders. Whether the tree made a sound or not is irrelevant because there wasn’t anybody there to hear it anyway. The same thing can be said for knowledge that your field technicians have but don’t share with their customers.
Customers always want to know what’s going on, and they want to have as much information as possible at their disposal to help them make decisions, regardless of whether the decision is large or small. They don’t want their field technician to make their choices for them. It is up to the field tech to provide them with all the information they need to make their own choices, whether it involves acquiring new equipment, upgrading older equipment, modifying existing service level agreements (SLAs), or anything else that may impact their ability to operate your company’s equipment.
Your customers hold the key to their systems and equipment. But the field technician is essentially the gatekeeper handling maintenance, support and communication to keep that equipment running. And since most customers will readily admit that they don’t know everything it takes to keep their systems and equipment running efficiently, they depend on them to share suggestions and recommendations for the well-being of their equipment over time, based largely on their perceptions of the tech’s experience, expertise, training and commitment. This is where techs get the chance to shine!
It may be argued that any field technician with the proper amount of training, expertise and spare parts can fix any piece of equipment, at any particular time. However, the difference between a service technician and a customer service technician is the ability to fix the customer as well as the equipment.
The only way this can be successfully accomplished is through a genuinely interactive vendor-customer dynamic, predicated on trust, supported by observed performance, and fortified by mutual respect. These are typically the same traits that an employer looks for in its employees, and in a certain way, technicians are looked up as one of the customer’s employees.
The various types of suggestions and recommendations that techs pass along to customers include:
- Arranging for a more frequent preventive maintenance (PM) schedule (or moving to a predictive diagnostics and remote monitoring scenario)
- Upgrading to a more powerful piece of equipment that can handle higher levels of usage, capacity or production
- Switching to a more appropriate grade of consumables to reduce the frequency of jams, failures or outages
- Maintaining an in-house stock of certain key parts for business-critical equipment
- Upgrading to a more robust SLA for certain specified equipment
- Standardizing the SLAs for all of the installed units at the customer facility
- Sending new hires for training on existing equipment, and/or existing employees for training on new equipment, and many more.
Everybody likes to get something for nothing. But nobody likes to receive gratuitous sales-oriented calls. Make sure that whenever your techs make recommendations that they provide customers with “real” information, and not just providing them with the “official” company sales pitch, or some other unsolicited sales and marketing jargon.
Successful client relationships are built on a mutual exchange of useful information between two or more parties – and your customers will expect these exchanges to be honest, reliable, useful, informative and relevant to their specific needs, requirements, preferences and expectations relating to the ongoing maintenance and support of their installed systems and equipment.