What I Learned About Field Service Today


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Guest Post By: Monica Postell

I live in a beautiful south Florida beach town, but before you start sending me mental daggers, take note that it’s mid May which means mid to upper 80’s with daily tropical  thunderstorms pumping up the humidity. Naturally, it’s time for my HVAC unit to die. I’ve had field service technicians out three times in the last month to fix freon leaks so I knew what was coming.  The unit was nine or ten years old which in Florida A/C years is like being 90 and still playing golf every day.

Still, I was anxious about replacing something as crucial and expensive as my heat and air conditioning equipment. So in preparation for the inevitable, I surfed the internet in hopes of determining which brands were best so I could be a savvy shopper. Ultimately, I found a post called the Top Ten Lies from the HVAC Industry that basically said all equipment is equal and the only thing that makes a difference is Field Support and the quality of the installation. OK, good to know. Although I wasn’t in a position to “shop” for an installer, the good news was that I trusted the company I’d been using to service my air conditioning for the last 10 years.

So today I am having a new unit installed and I thought I’d share a couple snapshots of my customer experience.  “Sam”, a senior field service technician who has been here before, and his apprentice arrived with the new A/C unit and got to work. I know the second man was an apprentice not because anyone introduced themselves but from overhearing their conversations . Yes, I’m eavesdropping and it’s very interesting.  After all I’m the customer and I have no earthly idea of how to do what they’re doing. Hmm, now there’s a thought. Maybe I’d feel better if someone set some expectations and let me know what was going on.

  • Customer experience: C

I know from what I’ve overheard that their company set an expectation for about how long the install should take and that this installation was going to “shoot their schedule all to *^#^$.”  (Interesting logic. You can’t see me sitting at my desk around the corner from the work area, therefore, obviously, I can’t hear you.)

  • Customer experience: C- and slipping

The space they’re working in is tight and apparently they don’t have everything they need as witness a couple of calls to the office and a subsequent quick trip to Home Depot. In a nice touch on his return, Sam said with a big smile, “You’re getting more for your money.” When I looked puzzled he went on to explain, “You’re getting new hoses….because the new unit has a different configuration than the old one.” Even though I had to choke back “Lucky me!” I really was very grateful to have new hoses and quite happy that he shared that news with me. Otherwise I wouldn’t know. It was a nice example of adding value and something our field service training promotes.

  • Customer experience: B

I was impressed with the way Sam worked with nameless apprentice. (He seemed like a really nice guy but I never did learn his name.) Sam alternated between demonstrating, checking his work, praising things he did well, and showing him better techniques. This made me feel more confident about the work being done. The nameless one was doing a good job from what I could gather. Although I did hear at one point a mumbled “If I had the right materials” which worried me. Silly me, I’d hoped that they’d come with the “right materials.”  Happily, one of the great things about good field service people  is they aren’t daunted by a little set back like not having what they need. They figure out how to work around it and make it work. (I hope. I wish I hadn’t heard that comment.)

  • Customer experience: B-

Four hours later, as I wrote a check for the work, Sam took the opportunity to reinforce that I’d made a good decision and why. (Phew! I needed that considering the heartburn the check amount was giving me.) He also shared some tips from his experience for getting the best air flow and keeping the unit at peak performance. That was very helpful.

  • Customer experience: B+

So what did I learn?

  1. Technical competence isn’t enough to ensure customer satisfaction.
  2. What a field service rep says and does on site has a powerful effect on the customer experience.
  3. While onsite, it’s a good idea to speak and act as though your customer is present and observing you.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Peggy Carlaw
Peggy Carlaw is the founder of Impact Learning Systems. Impact helps companies develop and implement customer service strategies to improve the customer experience. Their consulting services and training programs help organizations create a customer-focused culture while producing measurable business results. Peggy is also the author of three books published by McGraw-Hill including Managing and Motivating Contact Center Employees.


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