There are customers who are satisfied as long as your field service technician is good at what they do—fixing broken things or installing new ones. But for an increasing number of customers, that alone doesn’t cut it anymore.
These customers don’t see your field service professionals as mere technicians, but rather as an extension of your brand. And just like your brand, they expect your field service crew to deliver a fulfilling customer experience in addition to high-quality services.
Changing customer expectations is a major challenge for almost 58% of businesses. However, you can also see them as an opportunity to delight customers and differentiate your brand.
Here’s a glimpse of how customer service-centric field services can help you cash in on these opportunities:
Field service technicians (also called field service techs or field techs) go from being reactive to customer issues to being proactive in anticipating customer needs.
Instead of operating within the scope of the service request to fix only the issue at hand, field techs go beyond to identify the root cause to prevent issues from recurring.
Field techs double-up as an arm of the sales team to identify opportunities to cross-sell, up-sell, upgrade, or extend contracts.
Instead of giving in to unreasonable customer demands, field service techs can push back if needed while maintaining positive relationships.
In this article, we’ll discuss the best practices you can use to transform your field service team.
While neglecting customer service training for field techs is not a wise move, training them just for the sake of training is equally worse.
A training program is effective only if it brings you closer to your business goals. And if your goals are not clearly defined or measurable, it can be hard to evaluate how successful the training has been. Therefore, you need clearly defined goals that can serve as a yardstick to measure your progress. To jumpstart the process, ask yourself:
How satisfied are my customers with the service provided by my field techs? What are my targets for customer satisfaction after a successful training?
How often do I get complaints from dissatisfied customers about their experience with the techs? What would be a realistic target for reducing these complaints?
Are there any particular areas where my field techs need improvement? How many of these am I hoping to improve with the training?
What are some internal business challenges that can be resolved by better utilizing field techs? What outcomes should I expect in these areas?
In the interest of time and effort, you may be tempted to go with the most common training models or the ones that you’ve already tried. But that may not bode well in the long run since each training program addresses a different audience and a different purpose.
For example, a training on adhering to company values may not require hands-on learning as a training on building software applications would. Also, when it comes to training models, there’s no one size that fits all. So, you’ll need to invest some time in finding a training model that works for you. You may also use a mix of two or more training models or a hybrid of in-person and technology-driven training. Whatever be the case, you’ll need to cut out some time to explore training models. Here are some models you can try out:
Mentorship refers to a learning program where a team member experienced in a particular field educates a less experienced peer by demonstration or instruction. Mentorship can help field techs pick up the skills their mentors have gained through years of experience. Research shows that 97% of those who have a mentor consider them a valuable resource.
Under a mentorship program, you can pair a field tech with a seasoned team member (mentor) who he/she can shadow to learn tricks of the trade. You can also use video conferencing solutions to facilitate digital mentorship.
This training model involves educating employees on skills that are not a core part of their key responsibilities. Your customer service staff or sales team can help the field techs learn some customer support chops such as active listening, clear communication, persuasion, positive language, and upholding brand values. The sales team can also educate your field techs on the skills required for cross-selling, up-selling, contract upgrades, etc.
The 70:20:10 model is built on the idea that people learn best when 70% of the training is experiential (such as using booklets, pamphlets, or guided assistance), 20% is social (such as Lunch-and-Learn or role-playing), and 10% is focused (based on instructor-led training sessions).
Breaking away from conventional training styles can help you spur your training program. Or if you don’t want to completely do away with traditional training, try a hybrid of technology-and-human-enabled training.
A software tool will allow you to arrange anytime-anywhere learning, monitor course progress and performance more easily, and add engaging elements (such as videos, images, and quizzes) to the training program.
With the wide variety of eLearning tools on the market, you can surely find a software tool for your unique business needs. If your field techs are tight on time you can use microlearning software to let them squeeze-in bite-sized learning into their schedule. Or if your field techs have trouble accessing learning materials on-the-field, you can try mobile learning tools to support continuous learning.
You can also check out virtual reality (VR) training software to train field techs by simulating scenarios they commonly encounter on-field and asking them to pick appropriate next steps based on the situation. Since it’s nearly impossible for field techs to practice with real customers, VR training solutions are the next best option. Research shows that by 2021, one in every three SMBs in the U.S. will likely pilot VR employee training systems and see their new hires reach full productivity 50% faster as a result.
Simply attending training sessions or completing online courses doesn’t mean the training has been successful. You need to check how effective the training was at educating your field techs. And with 61% of businesses expanding their training budgets, it’s essential to ensure the dollars are well spent!
Based on the learning model you adopt, you can chalk out your own criteria for assessing the training’s effectiveness. Here are some questions you can ask the field techs:
To what extent were they able to apply what they learned, on the field?
Did they find the course material easy-to-follow and relevant?
What according to them were the strengths and weaknesses of the program?
Did the training complement their learning style and pace of learning?
Here are some ways in which you can assess the impact on the field techs’ performance:
See how the training impacted their key performance indicators
Ask for informal feedback from managers about their performance
Ask techs to fill in self-assessment questionnaires
Provide regular customers with feedback surveys to collect comments or complaints
Learning is a never-ending process. Your field techs are the face of your brand on-the-ground, and each day they face new challenges and learn new things. If you want to make sure your field techs stay updated, schedule regular customer service training sessions for them. And when you do, be sure to follow the best practices mentioned here. Here’s a quick recap of the best practices we discussed in this article:
Even with the right customer service skills, your techs can struggle to access customer information in the nick of time, struggle to remember customer preferences, their service histories, important notes, or their service schedules and other essential details. This can seriously jeopardize your brand image.
An easy way to avert such situations is to use field service software with customer relationship management (CRM) integration. Such a tool will give your field techs timely access to customer preferences, contact information, booking details, service history, and more. This way, you can extend a more gratifying and personalized customer experience.
The right software can make the difference between a happy and an unhappy customer. Therefore, before picking a tool, be sure to read reviews to see what those with first-hand experience say about its performance. This will help make a confident choice.