Do Your Service Engineers Need an Attitude Adjustment
When Managers evaluate the effectiveness of their service engineers, they typically focus on productivity measures such as service requests handled, response and resolution rates etc. What is often overlooked are the more intangible behaviors commonly known as soft skills. Just fixing the customer’s problem is not enough, it’s more about how you interact with the customer and how you make them feel that will ultimately determine whether or not the service experience was a positive one. Much of this could be summarized in one word, ATTITUDE.
We all know the basics of how to come across positively to customers: smile, be professional and speak clearly. That’s all we need, right? Wrong. Attitude is much more than that. If all you focus on is the basics, you may miss critical clues of negative attitude. The definition of attitude, according to the Webster Dictionary, is:
The arrangement of parts of the body; mental position with regard to a fact or state, a feeling or emotion toward a fact or state; a state of readiness to respond in a characteristic way to a stimulus.
This definition indicates that attitude is much more than smiling or being nice. It is a state of mind. In other words, telling your service engineers to smile and be polite will not by itself convey a good attitude toward the customer. If a person is smiling through gritted teeth you can bet the customer will know and will respond with decreased satisfaction.
What are the factors that affect attitude? They are both personal and professional. Personal attitude is determined by an individual’s state of mind about the job he or she is performing and perception of its importance. If the job is perceived as thankless and of little value to the organization, the resulting attitude will be negative. If the job is perceived as overwhelming with little support, the resulting attitude will be negative. When these conditions exist, the customer can read them through a service engineer’s responses and tone. The negative attitude may come across in comments that tell more than the customer needs to know about the situation, for instance, “I’m trying to get that resolved for you but we’ve been pretty swamped lately.” It can come across in prolonged resolution times because of a perceived inability to deal with the tough problems or customers. It can come across in the service engineer’s hesitation or even admission that an answer is not known, rather than confidently collecting initial information and going forward with a solid plan.
Professional factors include the ability to communicate effectively and manage customer perceptions. Good communication incorporates verbal, written and listening skills which are essential to the problem determination process. It is also important for the service engineer to know their own communication preferences and then to recognize the customer preferences to minimize any miscommunication. Other professional factors that influence attitude are the ability to deal with conflict and difficult customers situations, which involves the ability to negotiate for a win/win outcome. All these professional factors can be delivered through training and the new skills developed will enable the service engineer to perform with confidence and credibility.
Here is a topic outline for a Professional Field Service Engineer course:
- Communication Fundamentals – Managing customer perceptions
- Understanding yourself and your customer – Effective questioning, knowledge levels and communication preferences
- Communication methods – Face to face, telephone, electronic
- Challenging customers – Negotiating, working with difficult customers
- Maintaining confidence & credibility – Effective teamwork
- Organization and productivity – Stress management, time management
You can Preview the Online Class Here
If your service team has low customer satisfaction scores, ongoing complaints and generally low staff morale, then you have the typical symptoms of a negative attitude within your organization. An action plan for an attitude adjustment will be needed. The cause, whether personal or professional, must be determined. An improvement plan must be instituted to build positive attitudes that deliver great customer satisfaction results. The plan should include organizational support through recognition and a commitment to train all service engineers so that they have the confidence, ability and credibility to be successful.