In a few years, your top salesperson could also happen to be your top-performing technician. Soft skills—including the ability to deliver high-quality on-site customer service and to upsell customers—should now be as important to you as an employee’s technical expertise.

Soft skills training for technicians is either a high priority—or the highest priority—for 50 percent of field service companies. The field service industry is more customer-centric than ever, and being able to deliver high levels of customer service is vital.

In The Service Council’s report, “The Field Service Leader’s Agenda for 2018,” 58 percent of field service leaders say they believe that changing customer expectations is one of their biggest market challenges.

Field technicians are largely the face of your business’s customer service: They represent your brand. With the rise in automation and the internet of things, you must invest in training that will enable your technicians to deliver first-rate customer service to make every customer interaction a reason to stay loyal to your organization. If your technicians can’t deliver on customer service, your customers will find what they’re looking for elsewhere.

Crosstraining: Enable your sales team to train your field service technicians

Your technicians arrive on site with a specific intent: to fix a problem or install equipment. But what if you could fill two needs with one deed?

Consider these two points:

1. Your technicians are likely the only face-to-face contact that your customers have with your company from the moment they call with an issue to the moment that issue has been resolved.

2. You want to drive sales through upselling and cross-selling, and you want to make customers aware of potential upgrades in a way that will deliver the best customer satisfaction outcomes.

Though it’s likely that your technicians have not been trained in sales, they are the face of your organization in the field. Investing some time for your sales staff to train your technicians is a great way to boost your customer service ratings.

With the rise of the internet of things, Gartner predicts that by 2021, 10 percent of reported issues will not need a site visit by a technician to be resolved (full text available to Gartner clients). With fewer site visits, you’ll have to work extra hard to ensure that your technicians are making each site visit meaningful to the customer.

What are the benefits of training your field technicians as salespeople?

  • Technicians are in the unique position of being able to identify the most suitable opportunities to upsell or cross-sell to your customers. They can even present demonstrations of new equipment or technology during service calls.
  • Even if technicians aren’t successful in obtaining an agreement to buy, they’re able to capture leads while in the field and to share this information with other relevant teams.
  • Technicians are able to capture feedback on products and service delivery.
  • Training your technicians in sales can also reduce the number of touchpoints that customers have to engage with.

 

Customers trust technicians because they see them as the people who solve their problems. Because of this, they’re more likely to trust their suggestions than a phone call from your marketing or sales team. Customers are also likely to view recommendations of new parts, warranties, or service offerings not as a sale, but as a way to make their lives easier.

Ultimately, training your technicians to be able to identify and act upon chances to sell presents more opportunities for you to increase revenue—with a very small cost to your company.

Here are our recommendations for implementing a crosstraining strategy for field service agents and sales:

  • Using the expertise your company already has, plan to incorporate sales training into your regular training schedule.
  • Create a unified view of your customer data—get rid of your data silos, and get rid of them now. Align your technician, sales, and marketing data by using the same CRM to avoid disconnected customer service.

Embrace blended-learning training strategies for your technicians

With any hope, you no longer gather your staff into a conference room and have them endure training videos from the 1980s. In today’s customer-centric market, cheesy videos just aren’t going to cut it—and they’re not going to excite or engage your technicians either.

Blended learning is an educational concept that strives to deliver a hybrid learning strategy of both traditional classroom and online techniques, which can be applied to the field service industry.

For example, you can teach your staff how to use new equipment during several workshops (traditional classroom experience), while they complete digital skills reinforcement courses alongside (online training experience). And now is a good time to invest in blended learning training: 61 percent of organizations believe that it’s critical or at least important to improve individual performance.

Here are our recommendations on how you can implement a blended approach to training your technicians in customer service:

  • Create role-playing situations. Use real, on-site experiences of your senior technicians to initiate customer role-play training for your less experienced staff. Your technicians can role-play specific scenarios, deal with specific equipment, or simulate the process from the very beginning of an on-site visit to the end, identifying knowledge gaps and areas for improvement.
  • Use augmented and virtual reality technologies. With the use of AR and VR on the rise in the field service industry, use them to provide training, too. AR and VR technologies are highly visual mediums, and delivering training on complex equipment or jobs through these pathways can be highly beneficial.
  • Embrace a mentorship program. With a looming skills gap in the field service industry, make sure that all training-related information is accessible and being shared across your organization. Mentorships are a great way to boost engagement while training. Plus, by passing on information about specific customers, your newer technicians will be able to emulate the customer service they’ve come to expect.
  • Use learning management systems. Use cloud-based learning management systems—online portals on which you can create branded educational content for your staff—to house easy-to-access online courses, training materials, and progress information.

Set technician goals that are linked to customer service

Like in any industry, setting goals for your employees can have a huge effect on employee motivation and, in turn, customer service satisfaction levels. Goal-setting is also a way to move your entire organization toward one common objective such as high customer satisfaction.

Here are our recommendations on how you can link your employees’ goals to high customer service satisfaction levels:

  • Make at least some goals relationship-orientated. Work to tie customer service into your technicians’ goals by implementing customer feedback loops with rewards built in, monitoring first-time fix rates, and monitoring how often your technicians’ arrive on time.
  • Ensure that your entire organization is empowered to create great customer service experiences, and reward them for it. Remember, the customer service experience does not start and end with your technician. For example, make sure your inventory management practices are watertight so that your technicians can arrive with the correct equipment, and make sure your scheduling processes give your technicians’ the flexibility needed to complete all jobs.

Support customer service training for field technicians with field service management software

Training your technicians in customer service doesn’t need to break the bank—but smart organizations know that investing in training their technicians can improve productivity and, in turn, customer service. Start strategizing now to maximize the benefits of your technician training plan.

Above all, according to Gartner, 70 percent of organizations will derive “customer satisfaction” from implementing field service management tools by 2020 (full content available to Gartner clients). Not only can field service management tools support your day-to-day business, but they can support the future of your business, which rests on how well you’re able to deliver customer satisfaction.

Read on to discover: