By Bill Pollock, President & Principal Consulting Analyst at Strategies For GrowthSM (SFGSM)
Understanding the customer's need for basic maintenance and repair service and support is relatively simple; however, understanding their need for "value-added" service and support may be a bit more complicated, as their interpretations of exactly what value-added means may differ significantly. However, what it means to your field technicians should be a lot more clear and organized.
From the customer's perspective, value-added may mean anything from performing additional maintenance service on peripherals hanging off of the machine; to servicing additional machines while the service technician is already on-site; to installing new software or connecting the existing equipment to the office network or LAN; to installing another piece of equipment they had recently purchased from your company that you were not even aware they had; to anything else in between. While these may all represent realistic needs from the customer's perspective, it will ultimately be up to you to determine what really represents acceptable value-added service and support for your company. This means determining what work can be included while the service technician is already at, or on the way to, the customer site — and what will require an additional, or separate (and, sometimes, billable), work order.
Defining Your Company’s Value-Added Service Model
Some examples of the various types of value-added service and support activities that both the service technician and its customers may agree on while the tech is already on-site may include:
Other types of value-added service and support that may be requested include showing the customer how to operate the equipment more efficiently after they have told you what they were doing that ultimately caused the machine to jam, crash, or otherwise stop working in the first place.
While it is not necessarily the service technician’s role to provide on-site, on-the-fly training to its customers, it is still within the realm of his or her responsibility to ensure that they are operating the equipment properly, and performing their own equipment maintenance and management (as permitted) in an appropriate manner (i.e. neither neglecting nor abusing the equipment during the normal course of operation).
Of course, there are also several rudimentary cross-selling and upselling efforts that the technicians can initiate while on site — but it will ultimately be up to the sales team to drive any future product or services sales initiatives.
The more the field technician knows about the customer, the better equipped he or she will be with respect to supporting their total needs, requirements, preferences, and expectations for service — ranging from the core service aspects contained within existing maintenance contracts, to the more “over the top” requests that are all too frequently voiced by customers.
Ultimately it will be up to the technicians to decide which are core components of their service call at hand, and which are over and above the call of duty. And this will require additional training for many of them.
About The Author
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 Online. 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.