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The field service industry has a perception problem. Unfortunately, according to a familiar stereotype, embedded in popular culture for decades, contractors are unreliable, untrustworthy and deceptive has been.
While many of the negative associations the public has about contractors and technicians are myths, their impact on the industry is real. Long-held misconceptions have contributed to the skilled labor gap that is currently one of the biggest challenges facing the trades, and a concerted effort to rehabilitate the industry is long overdue.
Manufacturers, distributors, economic development agencies, and industry and professional associations are already performing heavy lifting designed to shift public opinion. But service providers have to be part of the solution. Here are some of the biggest popular myths about field services, along with tips for busting them.
Myth: Technicians are unreliable.
Truth: Technicians need information.
When a tech shows up to a job and can’t answer a customer’s questions, the customer may chalk it up to a bad attitude. But most field service techs take pride in their work and want to do their best, just like anyone else. They just don’t always feel like they’re equipped to do the high-quality work that’s expected of them.
Contractors who help their techs refine existing skills and add new ones will see their investment pay off. Connecting new employees with senior techs is one of the fastest and most effective ways to advance their skills and build useful institutional knowledge that can be passed to the next generation. Incorporating technology to give them real-time access to job information and resources like manuals, spec sheets and troubleshooting tips improves their performance and job satisfaction and ensures a higher level of customer experience.
Myth: The trades are a second-tier career.
Truth: A trade career is a great first choice for many.
Conventional wisdom holds that a four-year college education should be the first choice for everyone. Anything else means low-wage, dead-end jobs with no satisfaction or opportunity.
The right choice, however, depends on the person. The trades offer many advantages over career paths that require a college degree. Many people prefer working with their hands or don’t want to be stuck in an office all day. Recent high school graduates can enter the workforce quickly, with training and apprenticeships often paid for (and no student debt). They can earn good salaries in entry-level positions, and there are many opportunities for advancement, whether that’s simple seniority, management or starting their own business.
Additionally, the trades are no longer an old-fashioned field. Technology plays an increasingly important role in field service workflows, and savvy techs are proving to be highly valued throughout the industry.
Myth: Contractors rip off customers.
Truth: Technology can build trust.
Some members of the public associate field service professionals with poor service, upselling and an overall lack of transparency. One bad experience can tarnish a customer’s perception of the entire industry, and many encounters with contractors and technicians take place under less than ideal circumstances when stress is high and expensive repairs might be on the table.
What is a myth is that poor service and unreliability are characteristic of the service industry in general, any more than they are of other occupations. The vast majority of field service workers are dedicated and committed. They enjoy helping people out of difficult situations.
Contractors can put field techs in position to correct those misconceptions. By providing them with the right training and equipment, technicians can not only get the job done, they can do it in a way that builds trust, confidence and loyalty.
Technology provides another simple and easy to address consumer concerns. The same software that supports techs in the field keeps customers up to date, too, with convenient access to scheduling and pricing information, diagnostics and progress reports.
Myth: Customers only care about price.
Truth: Like techs, customers need information, too.
When it comes to big-ticket repairs and replacements that cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, price matters to most people. And considering that many field service jobs are emergencies, customers are often facing unexpected and stressful calculations when dealing with contractors and techs.
The less information a consumer has, the more important each data point is. When all they know is how much a job will cost, that’s what they’ll base their decision on. If a tech can provide a detailed description of the problem and offer two or three solutions at different price points, customers can consider the full scope of the situation and reach a more informed conclusion. Then other factors, like brand reputation, quality of service, customer experience and reliability, come into play.
Field service professionals understand that techs are the front line of the industry. If they’re undertrained or working with outdated tools and technology, customers may come away with a negative impression that’s hard to shake. If, on the other hand, techs are equipped to deliver outstanding service, they can be passionate advocates for an essential profession. Your technicians are experts. Invest in them and customers will notice the difference.