Bringing it into the Home: Customer Service in the Field

Customer service isn’t what it used to be, but I don’t mean that in a negative sense. In fact – by nearly every measure – companies are working harder than ever, from training through resolution, to resolve customer issues quickly and to provide a positive customer experience.

Today, Customer service offers fewer and fewer opportunities for live, face-to-face interactions. We are increasingly handling it through our web browsers, via the telephone, and across social media channels.

The expansion of customer service choices into multiple channels is a positive thing. There are more potential avenues customers can use to reach customer problem-solvers and get a fast resolution.

CSR – Dec bullets modules 2-4 CSR-Sept slideFaceless Customer Service
But multiple customer service channels bring a key disadvantage: the loss of personal human connection & relationship-building that comes with face-to-face interactions, shop talk, small-talk and banter.

There’s no hold button when you’re face-to-face. In person, people talk. They share.

For the telecommunications industry in particular, this change has been pronounced. Fewer customers have face-to-face contact with customer service reps these days. But in the telecomm industry, there is one group of employees that still has that in-person contact outside of the retail store sales environment: installers & technicians.

In-Home Customer Service
Installer & technician customer interactions have become increasingly important: as a source of good customer service that leads to a positive experience, as a face and persona serving as one of the few brand representatives, and as a sales medium & educational resource. 

The Installer: All-in-One On-Site Problem-Solver, Customer Service Rep, Brand Evangelist & Educator

Because they are increasingly the only ‘face’ of the Company which a customer will actually see, the role of installers & techs is morphing beyond simple installation and technical troubleshooting.

They are also, to some degree, a field sales team. By engaging with the customer (“Yes, it sure was a great game! I wasn’t sure if you’d heard, but we’re actually offering an amazing deal on the premium sports channel package right now…”) techs can learn what types of information to share that would be useful & interesting to them.

Here are 5 tips for improving field customer service, and using it to maximize your Company’s goals & objectives.

  1. Setting Priorities: It All Starts Back at the Office
    To deliver top-notch customer service, you have to embrace it and make it a key part of the Company’s culture. That means creating a positive environment where giving customers memorable service during each and every interaction is the number-one priority.
  2. Create Standards of Excellence
    It is important to provide a company-wide standard of excellence. Your technicians and field teams need standards that guide their actions and provide them something they can strive to achieve and exceed.
  3. Empower Your Field Techs
    Technicians should be vested with the authority to handle any situation on the first visit. Time is precious: both to the Company and the customer. Single-visit resolutions conserve the Company’s resources while vastly improving the customer’s experience.
  4. Avoid the ‘Bad’ Words, But Adopt the Concepts
    There’s no way to dance around it: ‘Sales’ and ‘Retention’ are two words technicians don’t like to hear. (“Hey, the job’s hard enough already!”) But they aren’t being asked to do sales. Their job is to engage with the customer and try to gain an understanding of their needs, their concerns, their desires…what motivates them…while sharing how the company’s offerings fit in with their unique situation.
  5. Educating Field Team Members on Customer Service Excellence

Field techs should be encouraged to take specific steps to ensure high standards of operational excellence. Generally, these may include:

Shift Preparation

  • Review the schedule/take inventory of equipment needs
  • Personal and vehicle appearance

Pre-appointment Preparation

  • Review customer profiles/anticipate their needs & equipment
  • On-time arrival and adherence to accepted parking procedures
  • Visit prep and customer profile review

Making a Good Impression

  • Be aware of the customer’s needs
  • Maintain eye contact
  • Courteous and professional demeanor
  • Defuse difficult situations

Fix the Issue: Listen, Empathize, Probe, Apologize and Take Ownership

Add Value: Move the conversation forward, educate the customer on product/service benefits, deliver value and gain commitments

Ensure professional completion of appointment

  • Clean up work area
  • Summarize visit with the customer
  • Confirm the customer’s satisfaction
  • Thank the customer for their business

How does your Company utilize customer-facing teams to improve customer service delivery?