Is Field Service Obsolete?

Field_Service_Engineer_1Let’s not explore this question from the technical perspective but rather from the interpersonal view. Let me list several of the more obvious functions performed by our technicians each and every day.

VOICE OF THE CUSTOMER. Who talks with our customers more than our field technicians? The answer is no one. More importantly, because generally they fulfill the role of trusted advisor, they gather information that would otherwise be inaccessible. As I have traveled with field technicians over the years, I have witnessed firsthand hundreds of times the value this relationship provides for our customers. I would offer the follow on question: Are we doing everything we should to capture this information from the technicians?

SOLUTIONS TO DIFFICULT PROBLEMS. One of the key roles a technician practices is being a detective. So often a difficult problem is layered within several problems. On the surface what seems to be a simple problem, when corrected, still exists. The “detective” now steps in and begins asking questions and genuinely listens and then comes back with follow-up questions. Many times the person on the customer side who has the needed information is not the person who calls the problem into our response centers. Again the “detective” will ask the questions to finally speak with the correct person.

TRUSTED ADVISOR. I have discussed this point in other papers I’ve written. My general belief is that a field technician certainly should recommend or suggest products when asked but should never be involved in a hard sell because that tactic could jeopardize their position of trusted advisor. When acting as a trusted advisor they will be viewed as part of the customer’s team which puts our company right where we would like to be when creating customer loyalty. Additionally, as a result of this trust, the entire repair process goes more smoothly and therefore takes less time to accomplish the solution.

ON SITE KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERTISE. When our companies are up against a serious problem it has been my experience that our engineering or quality groups require onsite eyes to respond to questions they need answered. Here again the technician will provide an intuitive, knowledgeable, thought provoking, solution driven person who has been involved in the problem from the beginning. My experience has also been that the technician is a greater asset to provide why a purposed solution will not work because of their site knowledge. This saves time and more quickly allows us to arrive at a solution which, of course, minimizes down time.

CALMS THE ROUGH WATERS. I have been at several customer sites where the discussion is fairly heated due to the customer’s anxiety over a line being down. (You should see a line down in a General Motor’s assembly plant or in a semiconductor fab) both of these examples equate to multi-thousands of dollars per minute. If this tech is a trusted advisor, the technician walks through the door and you can visibly experience smiles on customer’s faces and an overall calm. The customer is now convinced that the problem will be corrected soon.

TEAM BUILDER. Good things happen when field technicians build team relationships with a customer’s maintenance staff. Now, when a customer calls a problem in, the field tech can call the customer maintenance staff to ask a few questions and, many times, walk the customer through the fix/ solution; thus saving the need for an onsite visit. There is no greater relationship than between our technicians and a customer’s staff. Here the trusted advisor goes to an even higher level. Our techs can help make customer maintenance people look very professional in their company’s eyes by providing inside technical expertise. This becomes one of those beautiful win/win situations.

I have listed six common examples of the incredible advantage gained from our service professionals on site with our customers. There are dozens of great examples of the true value of these wonderful ambassadors for our company’s on site arm-in-arm with our customers. My dad told me “never say never” but I will go out on a limb here and say the day will NEVER come when we will not gain something from having these ambassadors nurturing our customers as part of every site visit.

Reporsted from: “Could Field Service Technicians Become Obsolete?”

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