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Improving Your Service Tech’s Behavior

16 Jan, 2002 By: Ronelle Ingram imageSource

Improving Your Service Tech’s Behavior

most commonly emailed questions I receive from my readers are, "How do you get
your techs to ______?"

Be more productive.

Come to work on time.

Do the required paper work.

Learn more about the digital process.

Be aware of the cost of the service hour.

Turn in leads that will generate hardware sales.

To not resign after the company pays for "computer" training.

Be willing to share their knowledge with other technicians.

Or my favorite, "How can a get a technician? I just promoted to service
manager to start managing."

get the idea.  The list of problems
service managers and owners face is

and universal.  They deal with
motivating your field service staff to accomplish specific goals. 
I have received similar questions from Europe, South American, Australia,
Asia, the Pacific Islands, Africa, Canada, and all over the U.S.A.  
Service Management problems are inherent in the human psyche. Location
and size of the company really don’t seem to matter.


non-commissioned employees that work in the field (away from direct supervision)
requires entirely different management styles; than when working with
commissioned or in-house employees.  Field
techs need to "buy into" any requested change. 
You must make it easier for the tech to do it your (new desired) way,
than the their (old familiar) way. 


takes time and constant re-enforcement. 
Consistent reinforcement is the
key to changing an established behavior.  Many type A entrepreneurial personality leaders honestly
believe that asking their employees for a desired radical change of behavior one
time, is sufficient.  Disappointment
and frustration sets in when the newly requested behavior does not instantly
take place. An essential tool of management is reputation
and tenacity. 
It takes an average of thirty repetitions of a new behavior to break the
cycle of a previously reestablished familiar behavior. 
Most managing adults will not, verbally or in writing, request and
re-enforce the need to change a behavior two and a half dozen times before
expecting compliance.    


is not easy.  Before you can expect
your employees to change a habit, the person requesting the change, must be
committed to follow through until the successful change of behavior has been
firmly established.

Guide To Establishing Change

is a sample step-by-step guide to establishing a change in behavior of a field
tech.  I will use the simple request
of requiring a signature on each written service order form that is turned in
(if you do not require your techs to completely fill out a written service order
on each field call, you have another set of problems, which will be addressed in
next months article).

Establish In Writing What Change Needs To Take Place. This written declaration
is as much to solidify the comment to the service manager (owner), as it is to
define the specifically defined change to the tech. 
There is no room for excuses when the new procedure is put into writing.


Once You Have Established The Need For A New Procedure, Figure Out Why This
Procedure Is Necessary. Think of your field techs as a jury.  What reasons for change can you enumerate that will make the
techs buy into the new procedure.   "Last
month over $2,000 of billable service calls had to be credited. 
Many customers refused to pay because no one signed the service order. 
Over the past twelve months, over $25,000 has been lost."

You must have a compelling answer to the ultimate question, "What’s in it
for me?"  You must provide the
tech with a solid self-interest to change. 
"This money could have been used for salary increases for service
technicians.  Taking an extra sixty
seconds, to get a signature on each service call may provide the income to be
able to give pay raises next year."

Have A Contingency Plan For Problems.  If
you are unable to get a signature, it is your responsibility to make a note in
the customer signature area.  "No
one was there, they left for lunch, refused to sign, no one authorized or even I
forgot."  Establish a way to allow
your tech to follow the procedure, even if they fail.  Have an option to provide a metaphoric "get out of jail
free card."

Establish A Consequence That You Can, And Will, Actually Enforce If The
Signature Line Is Left Blank.  Depending
on your company’s policies and labor labors in your area, create a reward
that will be withdrawn for noncompliance. 
Notice that I did not use the word punishment. 
I stated "withdrawal of reward." 
This is the key to creating winners, rather teaching techs they are
losers.  Those who do it right
receive extra benefits and approval.  Those
that do not comply are left out and ignored. Techs have a desire to belong and
to be appreciated.

Get A Signature. Have each tech signify understanding and personal agreement to
conform to the new procedure by signing and dating an agreement form that you
provide.  For example: I ____(techs
name)______ accept the responsibility to have each service order to be signed by
someone in the customers office before the service call is complete.       Signed ________________________  Date _____________

Have A Dispatcher (Receptionist Or You) Check Over Each Service Order. Separate
any service report that does not have a signature. 
You must follow through on the pre-established reward withdrawal. 
Give a copy of the non-signed report to the errant tech. 
Do not chastise or publicly humiliate. 
Just remove the reward. If a tech takes the time to complain about the
injustice of the lost of the reward, listen politely. 
Offer to allow them the opportunity to go back to the customers office to
get a signature on their own time, without being paid for mileage (or use of the
company car), or use any another mutually agreed upon procedure to re-enforce
the need to follow the procedure. The goal is not to punish, but to make it
easier to do get the signature the first time, than to deal with the


job is to be firm and consistent.  If
you do not follow-up on your part of the job, they won’t do their part.  This is not a one-time process. 
If you expect your techs to always get a signature, you must be willing
to always check their work, follow-up and follow through on the predetermined
negative consequences for less than acceptable work habits.

expect what you don’t inspect.

readers may think this is a rather childish way to treat adults.  Some employees will always respond to a single word said or
suggestion made.  However, human
nature will compel many workers to take the path of least resistance. 
Your job is to make sure it is easier to do a job the correct way than
the shoddy way. If you want to improve the quality of your staff, improve the
quantity of your management.  Establish
written goals, have your staff "buy into" the procedure, follow-up,
follow-up, follow-up. 

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