Empowering your Field Workforce - 7 key tools for arming your field engineers to deliver service excellence
Your field service engineers are the most important element of your entire workforce. Your entire company's reputation in their hands. Your field service engineers are the public face of your business and in many cases, they may be the only representative of your company that the customer ever sees.
In this feature adapted from Advanced Field Service's Service Management Handbook 2014 we look at 7 wtools you should be applying to arm your field engineers to defend your reputation and deliver field service excellence
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 wild fire; and your reputation is permanently damaged. So how can you equip your service team to build your company reputation?...
Arming your team
- 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 - It may seem obvious, but communication with your workforce, holding regular face-to-face group meetings on the status of the business and sharing any development plans will all help build a work team ethos, visibly improve productivity and make individuals feel valued and part of the bigger picture. Consider holding workshops between management and the workforce to maximise the knowledge of the entire company and boost morale.
- 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, 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 service quality and also for publicising forthcoming product updates or new releases.
- 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. Whatever you decide, consider the culture of your organisation. You may choose a halfway stance – after all, you don’t want to be seen as Big Brother, but it’s likely you’ll need some sort of process in place to support your growing business.
- <Information: the vital tool in your engineers’ kit - It’s essential that your engineers have the right tools for the job, and not only their physical toolkit, to arrive on-site fully armed and hit the ground running. They need 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 and essentials such as their contact details and location. In addition, alert your engineers to any issues that the customer has, such as a recurring 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 keep staff retention to a maximum, it makes sense to build a happy and rewarding work environment where employees can flourish and grow. A clear and defined development strategy and regular career mentoring is likely to make employees more inclined to stay at a company. Mixing up experienced engineers with new engineers will also speed up the learning curve and give individuals the opportunity to advance.
Want to know more? You can download a copy of the full 45 page Service Management Handbook by clicking this link
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