By Bill Pollock, President & Principal Consulting Analyst at Strategies For GrowthSM (SFGSM)
The field technician’s role in supporting its customers may be extremely varied, and no one job description is likely to be able to describe or define everything he or she does – either from the customer’s perspective, or from the organization’s. In some cases, a field technician is called on to be nothing more than the repair person – they arrive on-site, fix the equipment, and leave without causing any undue disruption. However, in other cases, the technician may serve as anything from a consultant (being asked to provide advice on how to most efficiently use the equipment), to a trainer (being asked to teach the customer how to operate some of the equipment’s more advanced features), to a sales person (being asked to suggest what new type of equipment should be acquired to replace the existing model) and beyond.
If the question is “Which one of these roles is the field technician supposed to play when interacting with its customers?,” the answer is – simply stated – all of them! The customer will, at one time or another, expect your technicians to serve in all of these roles, as they will typically be the only employee of your company that physically visits or speaks to the customer once the original equipment sale has been made (save for an occasional sales call made as the equipment nears the expiration date of the warranty or service agreement, etc.).
Basically, field technicians need to serve in whatever role their customers expect them to serve as they are often the customers’ only connection to your company. The irony is that, if all they do is repair the customer’s equipment whenever it fails, they will typically be perceived as “not doing their job.” However, by also becoming their customers’ systems and equipment consultant, advisor, and sales person – if only on a casual, or as-needed basis – they will certainly place themselves in a stronger position to become the most important individual to the customer with respect to any and all of its systems and equipment service and support needs.
It really doesn’t take customers a very long time to get to know who their field technicians are. In fact, with just a few on-site service calls under their belt, they probably will get to know them very well in terms of how well they communicate with customers; how quickly they react to what they would define as “emergency” situations; how quickly they tend to arrive on-site; and how much attention they pay to the details once they get there.
Can your organization say the same for each of its customers? If the answer is “no”, you may find yourself in a situation where your customers are managing their relationships with you better than you are managing yours with them. If this is the case, you may ultimately find yourself at a relative disadvantage in dealing with your customers in the future – especially if they believe that you don’t really know who they are.
So, what do you really need to know about your customers? It comes down to having a basic understanding of their needs, requirements, preferences, and expectations for the types of service and support you provide, and the way they react when their equipment goes down. And, how can you best get to know your customers on this basis? By listening, observing, and thinking before you speak!
Bill Pollock is President & Principal Consulting Analyst at Strategies For GrowthSM (SFGSM), the independent research analyst and consulting firm he founded in 1992. Bill is a prolific author and speaker on all things service, and a long-time contributor to Field Technologies. For more information, Bill may be reached at (610) 399-9717, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Bill’s blog is accessible at www.PollockOnService.com and via Twitter at www.twitter.com/SFGOnService.