When your technicians call on customers, they personify your company and play a critical role in satisfying and retaining your customers – provided you give them the wherewithal to play this ambassadorial role.
The customer relationship is not the exclusive preserve of salespeople and the customer service department! Technicians who call on your customers – for installation, maintenance, repair, inspection, assessment, or other services – are also fully-fledged players in the customer relationship. Obviously, as an employer, you prioritize their technical skills, both during recruitment and when assigning tasks. That is important. But for your customers, the fact you are sending them competent technicians is a given, something self-evident. What they are going to take away from the service call, what is really going to determine their satisfaction score when this call has been completed, is the relationship dimension.
The difficulty arises from the fact that numerous parameters are involved in the way in which a customer will perceive and judge this dimension. Some of these parameters are beyond the control of your company and your technicians, beginning with the customers’ personality or their mood at that particular time… And then there are all the things you can do, as an employer/manager, to help your field operatives have the right attitude, in all circumstances, even when dealing with the most “difficult” customers…
Do not put your technicians under unnecessary pressure
Overambitious schedules, last-minute changes, impromptu replacements… all this causes stress for your technicians and does not put them in the right frame of mind, be it to complete their technical tasks calmly and even less to deploy the interpersonal skills that are expected nowadays of any professional: friendliness, empathy, listening skills, a sense of service…
Tackle the problem at source by creating reasonable schedules and optimized routes. Our planning and optimization solutions enable you to calculate routes your technicians will complete in the way they should be because they systematically take account of:
- their individual technical skills (certification, authorization, experience…),
- their legal/contractual working hours,
- the customers’ location,
- travel times between calls,
- the duration of each call type.
On this latter point, there is nothing to stop you adding five or 10 minutes of “relationship time” to the time required to perform the technical tasks. You will object that this flexibility translates into fewer calls at the end of the day. This is indisputable. But overlooks the fact that these 5 or 10 minutes of margin are anything but a waste of time. Although this time can be cut short to make up for any delays, this is when your technician can play his ambassadorial role: explaining to the customer what he has done or is going to do, listening to him, advising him and, at the same time, identifying needs or generating new projects/assignments/contracts for your company.
If they are forever chasing the clock, your technicians cannot be listening to your customers and detecting these opportunities. Above all, they grow tired of it and end up leaving the company. Given the current recruitment difficulties in certain trades, think about your reputation as an employer. Take the first step towards retaining your best technicians: slim down their schedules!
Make your field technicians’ daily routine easier
Optimizing your technicians’ schedules and routes on paper is a first step. But, in the field, your operatives still need all the tools and information enabling them to complete their calls successfully, both technically and in relationship terms, all this without their schedules getting out of control. You can help them satisfy and retain your customers in three crucial areas:
1/ Keeping to time – Punctuality is a legitimate demand by your customers and plays a big role in awarding a good or bad satisfaction score. In mobile professionals’ daily lives, there is no shortage of reasons for being late that are beyond their control: congestion, problems parking, detours caused by roadworks, unforeseen complications during a previous call… Your technicians must be able to alert customers who are waiting for them of any delay at the earliest opportunity, without wasting time finding their contact details. This is never a pleasant thing to do, but they will find it easier if they are equipped with a mobile application where each call location on the route is associated with the relevant customer’s contact details. This enables them to make a call or send an SMS without the need either to look for or dial the customer’s number. Moreover, with Nomadia’s mobile business applications, they will be able to communicate a new and reliable arrival time, calculated based on their location at a time “t”, the distance to be travelled and the traffic conditions.
2/ Professionalism during calls – No matter how competent he is, a technician who arrives at a customer’s premises without knowing exactly what he needs to do or without having the necessary tools and parts to successfully complete his call creates a bad impression, and projects a negative image of your company. Do not put your technicians in this situation! Provide them, via their mobile business application, with all the available information on each call on their route. This ranges from the reason for the call (as it may have been classified when the appointment was made) to the customer and installation history, to the precise information on the hardware installed, which is indispensable for equipping oneself with the necessary equipment for its maintenance or repair. All this information already exists in your company’s systems. The challenge is to make them available in your co-workers’ mobile application, requiring a small amount of integration or interfacing effort. If you decide to take this further, they will even be able automatically to generate the list of tools and parts they will need for their next day’s route. Whether your technicians prepare their vehicles themselves or this task is assigned to a dedicated team, you will be minimizing the number of calls that need to be rescheduled because of a missing part or inappropriate tools.
3/ The generation of post-call documents – Call/assessment/compliance reports are part and parcel of what your technicians and experts do. If they can easily generate them upon conclusion of each call, then in the estimation of the customers who need these documents – for example, for their insurance company or to prove their compliance with the law on public premises, your company will be scoring points. The customer, who having searched in vain for a leak has to wait 3 weeks to receive the corresponding report, has every reason to be dissatisfied. On the other hand, everything that can be done immediately, on the customer’s premises, and on a mobile application with no hard copy documentation, will contribute to customer satisfaction. By sparing your operatives the need to reopen the case once their route has been completed or avoiding them constantly putting off the administrative component of their assignments, you will be improving their working conditions and the satisfaction that governs their loyalty to your company.
Do not turn your ambassadors into supplicants
If you are looking to customer experience to differentiate yourself from your competitors and improve the quality of your services, you need to measure your customers’ satisfaction. It is easier than ever to do thanks to post-call surveys by email or by SMS you can carry out using Nomadia solutions. But beware! Don’t fall into the trap of an increasing number of companies who are turning these surveys into a means of exerting pressure on their co-workers. Sent in the wake of a call by a technician, an NPS-type survey (Net Promoter Score) is tantamount to asking the customer to pass judgement on the technician who has carried out this call, with all that implies in terms of subjectivity.
In companies where this indicator is used without due care, technicians who are supposed to be ambassadors become supplicants for high marks once they have finished providing their services: “You are going to receive a satisfaction survey. Thank you in advance for responding and especially for giving me a 9 or 10/10: if you don’t, I will be penalized and I won’t receive my full bonus… This approach is as humiliating for your technicians as it is embarrassing for your customers. Above all, it can in a few seconds ruin much of what your company and your technicians are doing to improve customer satisfaction, thus deserving, in return, the best satisfaction scores, without having to beg for them…