All of us involved in field service management understand the daily crunch of matching up service requests with the resources to meet those demands. This is the fundamental role of a field service department. Whether you use full-time employees or sub-contractors does not really matter, the mission is to take care of the customers who require installation, training, or repair of their equipment. If your company is interested in meeting this role then I am sure it will be successful. The requirements to be successful with this role is really one of organizing your service department and understanding how to manage your resources.
What about other benefits of a service department, beyond running service calls? Your field service members are probably some of the most tenured, experienced, and product-wise employees you have. They will have a level of product knowledge that is more closely aligned to the customer’s perception of your equipment. Your field service department has a relationship with your customers that is by far closer than anyone else in the company. These ties may even be more personal between them and the customer than anyone else at your office.
In meeting with customers, field service reps have one trait that trumps almost all efforts by the office –influence. Your field service reps are in a better position to influence current satisfaction with products, new purchases by the customer, and feedback on current products. it is something that we all know happens, and in most cases we are grateful to have.
How do you harness this potential into an existing field service network?
1. Be hesitant to use sub-contractors for service roles. Remember you are investing in your customer service reputation, your field service skills, and experience. The strategy is about all service calls in the future, not just the margin on this one.
2. Develop a method that encourages and sustains interaction between field operations and the office. The success of any organization is based on how well different departments interact. Remote field service personnel are no exception. The feedback may not be popular or unique, but it is important to listen to the people who are in front of the customer each day.
3. Document and recognize the contribution that your field service reps make to the bottom line. This is calculated in the service revenue of billable calls but also the sales potential that is realized from these relationships.
Field service is the final frontier of customer service. Development of soft skills as well as hard technical skills are equally important. Imagine the true realized value of having an additional group of part-time sales reps. Armed with specific customer knowledge, these reps can qualify sales for full-time sales reps and prepare the way for the next big sale. Recognition of the contribution of your field service both inside an organization and outside is what will push your service, products, and sales over the top.