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The Service Manager Handbook: Your engineers: The public face of your business

Sep 9 • Features, Management • 2952 Views • No Comments on The Service Manager Handbook: Your engineers: The public face of your business

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In this the latest feature from our serialisation of the The Service Manager Handbook published by Advanced Field Service we look at the most important part of any field service operation, the field service engineers…

You are also able to download the full 40 page ebook for free by simply clicking here and completing the brief registration form

Your reputation, spread by word of mouth or increasingly through social media and online reviews, is founded on the experience your customers have of your engineers.

Unfortunately, customers seem more likely to broadcast a negative experience than a positive one, especially in the consumer or domestic service sector. Some disgruntled customers have even taken to posting video blogs of their experience of poor service. A video goes viral; word spreads like wildfire; and your reputation is permanently damaged. So how can you develop a service team committed to building your reputation?

Free engineers to do what they do best

A happy engineer more often than not results in happy customers. What motivates them best is using their time in deploying their skills rather than in endless form-filling. Consider ways to free your service team from the routine dross that saps their time and motivation, and empower them to be more productive and efficient.

Talk to your workforce

Holding regular face-to-face meetings between management and the workforce on the status of the business and sharing any development plans will all help build a team ethos, visibly improving productivity and enabling individuals to see the bigger picture. Whereas they might see the introduction of a new process or technology as a threat; you know it’s essential to the viability of the business.

Make your engineers your eyes and ears

With their close, on-the-ground contact with your customer base, even the most junior engineer can be a source of intelligence

With their close, on-the-ground contact with your customer base, even the most junior engineer can be a source of intelligence, such as feedback on how your customers regard your products and services: are they generally happy or are there murmurings about changing their supplier or service provider? Your field team is also a valuable channel for communicating your vision of quality and also for publicising forthcoming product updates or new services.

 

Encourage ‘self-monitoring’

Some service companies are using modern technology such as GPS tracking to weed out the worst instances of misconduct among their engineers. Others are adopting a more complementary method where their engineers choose their priorities and self-monitor their performance, an enlightened approach that can pay dividends.

Information: the vital tool in your engineers’ kit

As previously mentioned, engineers need the right tools for the job: their physical toolkit and information about the product, such as parts, diagrams, nature of the problem and known workarounds, as well as information about the customer, including their service history, plus, of course, essentials such as their contact details and location.

Be sure your engineers are fully aware of any recurring issues, such as a problem with a particular product, so that they can handle the situation with all due sensitivity.

Be sure your engineers are fully aware of any recurring issues, such as a problem with a particular product, so that they can handle the situation with all due sensitivity. As previously mentioned, engineers need the right tools for the job: their physical toolkit and information about the product, such as parts, diagrams, nature of the problem and known workarounds, as well as information about the customer, including their service history, plus, of course, essentials such as their contact details and location.

Be sure your engineers are fully aware of any recurring issues, such as a problem with a particular product, so that they can handle the situation with all due sensitivity.

Mobilise your team

Information should also travel in the reverse direction: from the engineer back to base. Using their mobile device, engineers can send the customer’s sign-off back to the call control centre, along with any photographs or other supporting evidence, and details such as time to arrive on site and time to complete the job.

This information can be sent immediately to the contract manager to provide an instant report. A mobile solution is also a useful way to record exceptions to your usual high standards. In some cases, your engineer may be prevented from getting to the root of the problem. Was the equipment inaccessible due to a physical obstruction or the machine being unavailable for servicing?

A photo will provide supporting evidence should there be a query from the customer at a later date.

Room to grow

To maximise staff retention, it makes sense to create a rewarding work environment. A clear and defined development strategy and regular career mentoring are likely to encourage employees to stay. Pairing experienced engineers with new engineers will also speed up the learning curve and give individuals the opportunity to advance.

And those negative social media comments…?

Hopefully, the above tips will help to secure your reputation but if you do receive negative feedback online, you need to address it. If you respond courteously to comments – without being a pushover for compensation – you’ll be seen as a responsive, market-aware company.

Move the debate out of the public arena and offline as quickly as possible. You need to be vigilant but you can’t watch all social media channels all of the time. There are social media monitoring tools, such as Hootsuite, that will trawl the web for mentions of your company.

But once again, encourage your staff to report back on any negative social media they come across. Conversely, thanking customers for sharing a positive experience of your service is also well worth doing if you have the resources.

Download the full 40 page ebook for free by simply clicking here and completing the brief registration form

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