Paul Whitelam

By Paul Whitelam

June 13, 2017

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Can you remember your last bad retail experience? Maybe you were making a large purchase, like a computer, and wanted to find the best one to fit your needs. You don’t know much about computers, so you expected guidance on which model to choose. Perhaps your experience was sub-par because you walked away with nothing. But more likely it was a rude or poorly trained salesperson who you were counting on for advice that left you leaving frustrated. There’s a reason the salesperson had such a big impact on your experience.

Research overwhelmingly confirms that there’s a strong positive correlation between employee engagement and happy customers. According to Gallup, the most engaged workplaces are 56% more likely to have higher than average customer loyalty. They’re also 38% more likely to have above average productivity. Why? Because engaged employees care about their job and customers, and are motivated to perform well.

Remember that computer salesperson who made you unhappy? He hates his job because he feels undervalued and underpaid. He’s been on his feet for hours without a break. So why should he be helpful to the customers? If he felt like his company cared about him, he might have done his job better.

If you’re in the service industry, you already know that customer experience is important, and you’re probably investing a lot in it. But to be truly successful with customer experience, you first need to invest in your employees. In field service, your technicians are probably going to be the only point of direct contact with the customer. This means your brand reputation is in their hands.

What does an engaged employee look like?

If you still don’t see the connection between employee engagement and customer experience, consider the characteristics of an engaged employee:

Contented

It’s no secret that if you treat someone right, they will be in a better mood. If you praise your employees and treat them fairly, they’ll be happy to work with you and help customers. If you refuse to listen to an employee’s case for a raise, they probably won’t be in the best mood when interacting with a customer that day.

Motivated

If you recognize your employees for their achievements and reward them for accomplishments, they’ll have a better reason to work hard and invest in your company’s success. This motivation translates to productivity, which means more customers satisfied by their service.

Confident

If you tell your employees when they’re performing well, they’ll likely feel more confident in their work. This confidence will make it easier to handle more difficult situations. An employee who feels dragged down might feel discouraged and question their ability to manage high-pressure situations.

Genuinely care about customers and quality

Customers can usually tell when you’re just using your “customer service voice,” or doing the bare minimum to help them out. The experiences that stand out are the ones where employees are willing to share their knowledge and remain with the customer until they are satisfied. Engaged employees take pride in solving customer problems and ensure they always leave happy and helped.

How to improve the day in the life of a technician

Hopefully by now you’re seeing the connection between employee engagement and customer satisfaction. The next step is to foster engagement for your technicians. Encourage them and recognize them for their achievements. Ensure them their opinions matter and give them plenty of opportunities to grow. It also helps to make their daily lives as enjoyable as possible.

According to the Service Council, these are the three worst parts of a tech’s day. Let’s talk about making them better:

1.      Paperwork & Administrative Tasks

Nearly half of technicians said administrative tasks are the worst part of the day. That’s because they’d rather be doing what they do best—solving customer problems. They have specialized skill sets and want to use them. Unfortunately, paperwork is part of the job, but you can make it easier for them. For instance, you can make the paperwork digital so they can easily complete it onsite via their mobile device.

2.      Time Spent Looking for Information

Your techs have multiple jobs to get through each day, and strive to complete them as efficiently as possible. It’s frustrating when obstacles get in the way, such as spending time looking for information. Keep a knowledge management center, or a collection of manuals, training videos, and customer information, accessible on the tech’s mobile device. This way they can easily access information without spending too much time looking for answers.

3.      Feeling Isolated

It’s easy for mobile field workers to feel isolated from the rest of the team. Most of the day, they’re on their own, traveling to customer sites. Sometimes they need backup but there’s no one around to help. Mobile devices can also give techs easy access and communication to the home base. Live video support and augmented reality wearables can also be a way for techs to connect remotely with an expert.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll continue to stress the importance of employee engagement. We’ll discuss different aspects of employee engagement and offer advice on how to improve it. Here’s a look at what’s on the way:

  • June 13: The impact of a disengaged workforce
  • June 20: Employee engagement for millennials
  • June 27: Technology’s role in improving employee engagement

Keep an eye out for more Engage Your Employees posts by subscribing to Field Service Matters.

Paul Whitelam
By Paul Whitelam

Paul Whitelam is Group VP of Product Marketing at ClickSoftware, where he works with field service management leaders across a variety of industries. Paul has more than twenty years’ experience in enterprise software, working on both the technical and business aspects of many of the areas that are fundamental to field service such as mobility and sensor technology (Nokia), data management (Endeca), and machine learning, SaaS and GIS (HERE).

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