When you hire technicians, your first priority is ensuring that they can perform their job. Do they have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to repair a washing machine, install a furnace or troubleshoot that troublesome software? If they don’t yet have the specific skills you’re looking for, do they have the experience and capacity to learn them on the job? 

Too often, however, one question that service organizations fail to ask is whether or not the techs they hire have the proper people skills to deal with customers on a daily basis. 

Now, let’s not confuse a field tech with a salesperson tasked with converting a skeptical prospect into a customer. While field techs don’t have to worry about being persuasive like their sales team counterparts, good customer service skills are important for any employee who interacts regularly with clients. After all, if a customer finds an interaction with your tech unpleasant, you may lose a client even if the tech did a great job. 

While we all know that the customer isn’t always right (and is sometimes scary and wrong), we also know that bad Yelp reviews can ruin your business’ reputation. Don’t take that risk: Make sure your techs understand that they need to not only possess solid technical skills, but also know how to engage with customers effectively. Before your new technicians go out onto the field for the first time, remind them of these four key people-rules to follow:

Rule 1: Be Punctual

Most customers consider showing up on time to be a requirement for technicians. While everyone technically understands that technicians don’t always know how long each job will last, they should try to keep their schedules and notify clients if they’re running late.

A simple text message or quick phone call to provide an ETA can go a long way in ensuring customer satisfaction.

Rule 2: Ask: Shoes On or Off?  

Regardless of whether a customer’s kitchen floor looks pristine, offering to remove your shoes shoes off is a simple gesture that demonstrates respect for a person’s home. 

Now, some of you may have just recoiled in horror. Your techs work with heavy objects and if they drop that washing machine on their bare toes, they’ll end up with a broken foot. Steel-toed boots exist for a reason. If your tech will be dealing with a dangerous environment where shoes are a must, provide them with booties they can wear over their shoes or have them roll our some plastic between the door and the area they’ll work in — especially if they’ll be going in and out of the house often.

Rule 3: Don’t Make Yourself at Home 

Remind your techs not to assume that they can use a customer’s bathroom or get a drink of water in a private home. (At a business location, yes, they can use the bathroom, but they should ask a receptionist where it is, so that they can use the right one.) 

In a dire situation, a tech can ask a customer to use their restroom, but must do so politely. We’re all human, and most people will say, “No problem!” 

SEE ALSO: What Is ‘Interrupt Time,’ and Are Service Leaders Going Overboard with Data Collection? 

Rule 4: Engage in Small Talk — or Don’t 

Some customers love to chat and while your technician needs to focus on the work, he or she needs to politely respond to the client and engage in small talk, at least for a little while. After a few minutes, it’s okay to say, “I’d love to keep chatting, but I need to focus on this work.”

If your tech is lucky, the client will get the message. If not, the client will continue to talk to your tech and ask questions about what your tech is doing. It’s just the nature of the job, so your tech will have to put on a smile and keep working.

Delivering good customer service doesn’t require your technicians to be sparkling conversationalists, but being polite and professional is a must. Without some of these basic people skills, your tech’s attitude could cloud the otherwise good work they do. 

ABOUT Suzanne Lucas

Avatar photoSuzanne Lucas spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she hired, fired, managed the numbers, and double-checked with the lawyers. She now writes about Human Resources and Business for a number of different publications.