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Posts Tagged ‘service technician’

“No Problem”

Friday, October 5th, 2012

I don’t know what is going on with customer service lately.   The next time you purchase something, or ask a question, or request a service, listen for the response.  

 Me:  “I’d like to purchase that television.”  Clerk:  “No problem.”

 Me:  “Would you give me directions to the shoe department?”  Clerk:  “No problem.”

 Me:  “I believe you gave me the wrong bag.” Clerk: “No problem.”

 Me:   “I’d like to order the lobster with that fine (expensive) bottle of wine.”  Clerk: “No problem.”

 Me:  “Thank you.” (after purchasing $182 of groceries, handing over cash and receiving change).   Clerk:  “No problem.” 

 How did the words “no problem” become the go-to response from service providers?  How did it get to this point that the service provider uses words that make me feel like I, the customer, have done something wrong, created a “problem” and they are graciously telling me “not to worry about it”?

After interviewing Service Technicians from gases and welding distributorships across the country (See article in September’s Welding & Gases Today), my faith in customer service has been restored.  These guys often deal with customers in crisis, as an equipment breakdown has a domino effect, usually ending at the sales numbers. 

So when a customer needs it fixed, they need it fixed right now.   Service Techs get this. And they do everything they can to get the customer up and running, as fast as they can.  Most of them will say they gravitate toward the broken equipment no one else can fix.  They like figuring things out, working on complex challenges. Hearing the words “nN problem” from a gases and welding service technician is met with relief. 

Independent distributors are quick to say that their customer service sets them apart from the competition. Listen to how your employees respond to customers.  They’re saying words like “Thank you,” “You’re welcome,” “Can I help you” rather than “No problem.”  Why?  Because they know that customer service does set the company apart.

So as I fork over a thousand dollars and change to the clerk at the electronics store for a new TV, and he responds with, “No problem,”  I will sigh and hope that this fad goes away like other words (remember the overuse of “paradigm,” “buzzword” and “sea change”).  

Perhaps I’ll ask him, “Why would it be a problem for you to accept my money, answer a question, or provide customer service?” and hope he can explain it to me.

Building The Perfect Service Tech

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Qualities of a Great Service TechAs I wrote in a previous blog entry, a service tech must be many things. Among them: mechanically and technically inclined, able to troubleshoot, customer-oriented. But few service techs bring the whole package right from the start (otherwise we would have no need for training!). Knowing that many of these qualities can be developed, which characteristics do GAWDA members think are the most important for a service tech to have?

Welding & Gases Today put the question to distributor executives in charge of hiring service techs. Their responses included mechanical skill, ability to read schematics, outgoing personality, understanding of how to talk with customers, and willingness to learn.

What do the technicians themselves say? Brian Hamilton, industrial service technician at Norco told Welding & Gases Today, “If I were hiring a service technician, I would want mechanical and electrical aptitude, along with patience and a willingness to learn. You don’t just wake up and know this stuff.”

Another technician, A-OX Welding Supply’s John Leonard, says he’d look for a technician with technical skills, along with a positive attitude. “Being around customers, I’ve learned how to relate to them, how to read them, and how to be diplomatic on what I say and how I act. Important skills to have.”

Other industry members have been talking on LinkedIn about the qualities a service tech must have. Technical ability and customer service skills were once again chief among the requirements, but less talked about qualities like pride in workmanship, troubleshooting ability and a logical mindset gave some interesting food for thought.

Based on these discussions, I’ve boiled the qualities of a great service tech down to five. Now I want you to help decide what quality is the single most important quality for a service tech to have by casting your vote in the poll below.

If you believe the most important quality is something other than what’s listed below, use the comments section to share your thoughts.

What You Can Learn From Your Service Techs

Friday, September 14th, 2012

“I think every owner should spend a day with the mechanics.” This was the reaction of Jeff Schmeck, director of a Texas supply chain company after he served as “Mechanic for a Day” alongside his company’s service technicians. Schmeck relates that he initially did the event to encourage 100% participation in his company’s United Way drive. But what he got out of it was an appreciation for the demands his technicians face and insights into how his company could improve its processes and help the technicians serve customers better.

Schmeck shares what he learned in Welding & Gases Today’s online-exclusive article, “Do You Know What Your Employees Need?

For me, Schmeck’s experience brought to mind the CBS show Undercover Boss, where company leaders go in disguise to learn more about their companies. Curious to see if a boss had ever posed as a service tech trainee, I ran a search and came across an episode where DirecTV CEO Michael White did just that. I’ve included a video of the segment below.

A few things struck me about White’s service tech stint. Like the technicians distributors nominated for GAWDA Service Technician Honor Roll, the technician in this episode (Phil) stopped at nothing to make sure the customer was satisfied. Schmeck, in his article, was likewise impressed with just how hard working his mechanics were.

White also learned the sometimes unfortunate answer to Schmeck’s question, “Have I assessed what resources my mechanics require to do their jobs?” Phil revealed that he had to provide his own GPS; and that the equipment stocked on technicians’ trucks was not always adequate.

White was apparently impressed and inspired by his time with service tech Phil. In an interview with BNET after the episode aired, White announced that the company would institute a Technician Appreciation Day as a result of his experience. I guess he had the same reaction we had after talking with GAWDA’s amazing service techs, one of the reasons we implemented Service Technicians Month as a way to recognize the industry’s oft-unheralded technicians.

Phil’s story is a perfect example of a technician going beyond the call of duty. He could have simply told the customer, “Too bad—I don’t have the equipment I need.” Instead he called around to find the equipment and make sure the problem was fixed before he left. Although it was a simple act, Phil’s great service turns what could have been a disaster into a positive experience, possibly saving the company a lost customer.  It’s this kind of story that we’re looking for in our Customer Service Technician Contest. If Phil was a GAWDA member, I know I’d vote for him.

Would you consider working as a technician for a day as Schmeck recommends? If you do, I’d love to hear about it.

As promised, here is the Undercover Boss video. White’s stint as a technician begins around the 5:47 mark.

Click here to fast forward to the segment being discussed (video will open in a new window).

Putting The “Service” In “Service Technician”

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

A service tech—be it a welding equipment repair technician or cryogenic installation technician—must be many things. A technician must be skilled, of course. But skill can be gained through training. Perhaps as much as anything, a technician must be able to interact and communicate with customers. It’s right there in the name—service technician. And great service is not an attribute that is easily taught.

One distributor manager noted recently that service techs are not like salespeople, who are used to being singled out and praised for meeting their goals. Well, all of that is about to end. With Service Technicians Month in our midst, Welding & Gases Today is doing everything it can to recognize the industry’s technicians. And because this aspect of customer service is so important, we want to reward the best example of customer service from a service tech.

During the month of September, W&GT is holding its first ever Customer Service Technician Contest. The concept is simple: share your stories of service techs delivering great customer service. Then it’s up to members to vote on which technician tale is most deserving. Deserving of what? I’m glad you asked.

GAWDA’s supplier members have kicked in to help us honor the industry’s best purveyor of service. The winner will receive more than $500 in prizes provided by industry suppliers. We’ll reveal details of the prize throughout the month of September.

So what do you have to do to take part? It’s simple. Head on over to the Welding & Gases Today group on LinkedIn and look for the discussion called “Customer Service Technician Challenge.” Add your story to the discussion any time during the month of September. Here’s a tip: the earlier you add your entry, the more time people will have to vote for your story.

Finally, it’s up to industry members to cast their votes. To vote, visit the discussion on LinkedIn and simply click the “Like” link under your favorite story. Voting will continue throughout the month of September and run until October 15. You can vote for more than one, so you don’t have to worry about a “better” entry popping up later on. Just be sure to check back every few days for new entries.

So show us your customer service in the spirit of Service Technicians Month—and win some great prizes in the meantime. Visit the main contest page for full details and the latest updates.

UPDATE: When we set out to create this contest, we had a goal of at least $500 in mind. Since the writing of this blog, I found out that Abicor Binzel has generously contributed $500 in cash for the contest winner. I can’t reveal any other prizes just yet, but needless to say, there’s much more to come. The winner will receive more than $1,000 in prizes.

September Is Service Tech Month

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

September is shaping up to be a busy and exciting month for GAWDA. First, we’re less than two weeks away from the Annual Convention, September 9-12 in Colorado Springs. But that’s not the only thing to be excited about for the coming month. Welding & Gases Today has declared the month of September as Service Technician’s Month.

Why dedicate a month to the industry’s service techs? Service techs play an incredibly important role for distributors. When a customer’s equipment goes down, the lost productivity can be very costly. In some industries, an hour of down time is equivalent to thousands of dollars of productivity. The experience a customer has with his or her repair is one that will have a lasting impact on a customer’s loyalty…or choice to take his/her business elsewhere.

Whether it’s welding equipment, a car or anything else in need of repair, great service from a service tech is something that people remember. As for myself, the experiences that stand out are those times when the technician took the time to listen, ask questions and then explain the problem and process of repair. The best techs I know are those who have taken a personal interest in my repair, going above and beyond the call of duty, and taking an unusual repair as a personal challenge.

Then again, I also remember the service techs who didn’t bother to call when my repair was done, or those who tried to up-sell me for unnecessary repairs. It’s also a bit jarring when a repair tech quotes you one price and then charges a very different number.

The bottom line is that a repair tech is perfectly positioned to solidify a customer relationship for life…be it through a timely repair that gets the customer back up and running, or a simple thing like knowing the customer’s name…but that same tech has the power to alienate customers.

So this September, GAWDA salutes the oft-unheralded service techs who keep customers happy and keep them running. Starting in September, we’ll have an honor roll of the industry’s best service techs. If you know a really good service tech, nominate them to honor their work and share what makes them so great. Plus, keep an eye out for a special contest involving service techs. I can’t reveal the details just yet, but needless to say, you won’t want to miss this.

Above I talked about my experiences and what stood out as good and bad service. Now I want to hear from you. What qualities in a service tech do you think make for a great customer experience?