By Brad Hawkins, ServicePower
The COVID-19 virus has changed how we work for the foreseeable future, and the field services industry is no exception. Despite appliance services being classified as an “essential service”, some customers may not want technicians visiting their homes. Others, with entire families at home, are desperate to have appliances repaired. Meanwhile, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and independent service providers (ISPs) are adjusting to a new normal for ensuring customer and technician health and safety.
Guidelines surrounding virus protocols are changing rapidly. Below we’ll explore some of those changes, how they are impacting our business and how to communicate them to customers.
Managing Service Incidents Safely
Our data show that most OEMs are still running service calls to all U.S. zip codes, but they are implementing new measures to keep technicians and customers safe. Nearly all major appliance makers are adding new screening questions at their call centers to ask if anyone in the household is or has been ill. If the answer is yes, many OEMs will not schedule an appointment for less than 30 days out. If no illness has been reported, they will schedule the first available technician.
As COVID-19 cases increase nationally, however, many companies anticipate a tightening of policies for service calls. Many report that they will limit calls to functional repairs only. Service providers may also consider blocking those zip codes where COVID-19 cases are highly concentrated or where in-home service calls are prohibited by a government mandate.
Overall, calls for service are declining. One TPA told ServicePower that they’ve experienced a 12 percent decrease in daily call volume. Despite these declines, most appliance manufacturers have no plans to dictate where a third-party technician can go, although the choice ultimately remains theirs. Field service organizations are relying on ISPs to take prudent health and safety precautions, trusting them to manage their businesses according to what is practical and safe.
Understandably, many ISPs are limiting their availability or have stopped accepting assignments altogether. This is as much for the safety of customers as for themselves. For those who remain active in the field, however, there is increased vigilance around sanitizing products and parts, wearing face masks and gloves and other health and safety measures to ensure no transmission takes place.
Communicating Clearly With Customers
As the global pandemic continues, updates regarding the types of repairs customers can expect, timelines for service and any limits regarding the location of in-home visits must be communicated quickly to customers. This information should be communicated clearly and through as many channels as possible, from repair websites to call recordings.
Once service is scheduled, service providers should also proactively provide customers with health and safety guidelines for the upcoming visit, both for the technicians and themselves. Communicating this in advance shows a level of professionalism and that will help ease anxiety while ensuring a safer experience for both technician and customer.
For health and safety steps to pass along to your technicians and customers, see our Field Services and COVID-19 Coronavirus: Keeping Technicians and Customers Served and Safe blog. The article outlines preventative measures both technicians and customers can take to reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the virus.
About The Author
Brad Hawkins is Chief Solutions Officer for ServicePower.