How many times have you been dining out and your server mentions something that grabs your attention—be it a daily special, a dessert, or cup of coffee after your meal—and you order it, though you might not have otherwise? Your server not only manages to provide you with better service, but potentially increases sales for their restaurant, while you leave happy and feeling well looked after.
This same method of customer service is something that’s incredibly underutilized in Field Service. While there are pitfalls that certainly need to be avoided, field technicians have an unparalleled opportunity to bring in additional revenue with minimal effort, while increasing customer satisfaction.
Why it works
Your field technicians are already at your customer’s home or business, they have unique insight into what your customer wants and needs and in some cases the capability to action the request immediately (instant customer gratification). Some examples are:
- While fixing faulty equipment, the field techniciancan offer an upgrade, extended warranty or provide information on new models available for purchase or rental.
- During an installation they can inform the customer of any specials such as, specialty channels or sports packages.
- If they see a room without internet or TV access they can offer an additional wireless receiver or outlet that can be installed right now instead of making another appointment.
- If they notice gaming equipment or high monthly download usage, they can offer a higher tier of internet speed or unlimited service options.
Most importantly, if your customer is asking questions or casually mentions needing additional services you offer, your field techniciancan help the client on the spot by simply providing the information they need or by leaving the information to direct the customer to your offer website. Alleviating the need for another call, the technicians are not only decreasing operational costs while improving customer satisfaction but also providing a strong referral for sales or even making a sale themselves.
Getting field technicians on board
Ask your field technicians how often they’ve been with a customer who needed further assistance and they’ve had to ask them to call in to the office instead of being able to help them or how often they’ve been in the field and spoken with a customer who could have used an upgrade but couldn’t because they were only there to do the assigned job.
The answers you get will surprise you. Most of your field service team actually love that aspect of the job.
In general, you will have field staff that fall into one of these 3 categories:
- Truly love working with customers to provide the best overall solution available;
- Solely task focused;
- Want to do more but lack the tools or communication skills to adequately engage with customers.
We would all like to believe that our employees fall into the first category, and I firmly believe that this should be a strategic objective, however, focusing solely on that item will likely delay implementing tactical improvements to your day to day operations.
What to focus on
As you go through your early discussions and planning, here are some of the actions to focus on where we have seen success:
- Help field staff that have challenges working with customers.
- Set-up formalized training to identify immediate and long-term customer sales opportunities.
- Provide communication skills training (formal and/or informal).
- Offer ride-a-longs for technicians and sales to understand the unique challenges for both.
- Integrate monetary and non-monetary incentive plans for field technicians.
- Leads or referrals to sales teams should count.
- Establish unique offerings for customers available through field staff only (remember you may save a truck roll).
- Give team rewards (award, dinner or special event) for exceeding targets.
- Simplify the processes for technicians AND dispatchers.
- Integrate a clear and concise referral process within the job, so field technicians can easily share important sales information with the sales team as part of the business process.
- Create online demos that the customer can watch while the field technician is completing the service call.
- Grant the capability for dispatchers to easily extend durations of orders or request incremental help and priority queues so technicians can book appointment that’s just one phone call or click away.
- Include everyone and understand the impact.
- Many workforces consist of a large 3rdparty contingent. Don’t forget about these individuals, they would love the opportunity for incremental funds.
- Dispatch / Back Office staff may experience incremental work; don’t forget about them and processes change impacts.
- Maintain focus and consistency
- Be patient. It won’t work 100% out of the gate; it takes time and commitment.
- Focus on making it easy to identify and report the opportunities rather than generating revenue.
- Understand the ﬁeld technicians’ culture and that some technicians may never want to sell, no matter what the incentive is.
What to avoid
The best way to utilize this opportunity is not by shifting a field service worker’s focus completely to sales, they’re still there to do a job. The emphasis should be less on “making a sale” and more on making sure customers receive the best service possible, it just so happens that this can sometimes mean an increase in revenue as well.
This also isn’t a replacement for your sales team, avoid any comparisons or competition between sales and technicians. The information provided by field service workers about customer needs is a fantastic asset to any sales department and could be a great first step into getting field technicians more involved with sales in the field.
- Everyone knows how or wants to sell;
- 5-10 minutes more on per call is no big deal;
- A field sale process only impacts field technicians;
- You will get the same results as a formal sales representative;
- Every technician has ‘free’ time to do more work;
- All technicians already have the tools they need to sell.
About the Author:
Bryan Ward has over 28 years of experience in the Utility and Home Service Operations business, with a background in end-to-end operational improvements through positions held in Information Technology and Field Operations. In his almost two decades of experience in Field Service Organizations, Bryan has accomplished a track record of success within multiple senior roles. His passion and experience for developing winning and strategic scenarios in workforce management environments for his clients is unmatched. Bryan thrives in dynamic environments while remaining pragmatic and focused to achieving measurable goals for his client base. In his role as Executive Vice President of Sales and Business Development at Diabsolut, Bryan leads the Sales, Marketing, and Business Development teams. He brings a practical and honest approach to advising his clients on everything from operational improvement, to the best use of technology in support of their return on investment.