Field service and support reps are de facto in-person contact center agents. They provide assistance, listening to customers’ needs, asking them questions to find solutions while demonstrating empathy, patience and tolerance even when the customers are getting impatient and even rude.
In the field, the customer service/support work is hands-on and in-their-face. And, in many ways, field work—and the skills and the training required—is more challenging than that for the reps’ desktop-bound colleagues. The field reps must not only perform the physical work but they must deal with customers who are sometimes literally breathing down their necks. While a contact center agent can grimace and make faces while talking nicely to the demanding and unreasonable individual on the other end, the field rep can’t.
Then there are the other issues in field work such as children, pets, other employees, visitors and the sometimes deadly creepy-crawlies that lurk behind the computers, appliances and walls plus clearances, plumbing and wiring. Not to mention the elements: heat, cold and rain.
Now, thanks to smartphones, tablets and unified communications solutions, field reps can take calls, e-mails and SMS/text messages directly from customers, discussing issues before knocking on their doors. And it is not inconceivable that there will be a mashup between technically-skilled, home-based agents and field support, taking full advantage of the dispersed workforce.
The RCCSP Professional Education Alliance has developed specifically for field service staff, techs and engineers the Field Service Professional online training course. It offers a self-directed, modular and interactive online learning opportunity with on-the-job tools for field engineers combined with a skills reinforcement tool kit for field leaders. This delivery method provides interactive teaching that enables participants to learn valuable information and apply it to real world situations through local leadership reinforcement.
The course is in depth. Here is its agenda:
This includes managing customer perceptions and expectations, understanding the value customer feedback including customer complaints and identifying and overcoming barriers to communications including cultural issues. It also covers effective listening including how to get customer buy-in.
Understanding yourself and your customer
This section covers effective questioning to get needed answers and understanding individuals’ different knowledge levels. It delves into how to turn complaints into additional service opportunities, match company services and products to customer needs and offer identified services and products.
This section provides instruction on effective face-to-face communication including the importance of appearance, reading body language and preparing presentations and with this how to respond effectively to hostile questions. It also covers interacting with phone and text-based communications
This is a keystone to the course. It covers managing challenging situations such as how to say “no” to a customer, deliver bad news, how to overcome objections, and how to work with difficult customers. It teaches negotiation basics to manage issues.
Maintaining confidence and credibility / effective teamwork
Field reps need to not only know what they are doing but also how to convey this confidently to customers so that they can be assured their problems will be handled successfully. This section teaches that along with how to effectively work in teams.
Basic organization and productivity
Field reps risk wearing out like the hardware and software they have been sent to fix or replace. This section covers stress and time management to avoid having this occur on the job.
This course prepares participants to take an online exam and become a Certified Field Service Professional. Instructions on scheduling the exam are provided upon course completion. Training fees include the certification. The per student registration fee for this seminar is $495 and includes the certification exam and certificate. Upon registration, students are provided access for 60 consecutive days to complete the course and a reinforcement tool kit is provided for the field leadership team.
Take a close look at the topics covered. Many of the same training could be invaluable to contact center agents.
Brendan B. Read is TMCnet’s Senior Contributing Editor. To read more of Brendan’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Tammy Wolf