Making the Most of a First Impression

Very often customer service begins and ends with the service technician.

After all, they are usually the only contact that customers will have with your company. And sometimes a customer’s impression has already been formed before the technician even arrives on site. It’s daunting to think that something as important as customer retention or company reputation may have already been affected before a service tech walks through a customer’s door. That’s a lot resting on your technician’s shoulders!

I found myself in a relevant situation when I moved house in September and had to wait at my new residence for a technician to install my internet. I was originally told when I ordered the service that they would be there between 9am and 5pm – a long window to wait!

However, the company called me at 9am to inform me the technician would arrive sometime after lunch. The technician himself then called me at 11am to inform me that he would be with me between 1pm and 3pm. A couple of quick phone calls freed up my morning to run errands and more importantly made a really good first impression on me.

No matter if the service call is at a home or business, there is always one question all customers have in regards to the technician: When are they going to get here?

How a company addresses this question can contribute more to customer satisfaction than the price or efficiency of the fix itself. In fact, this particular internet provider has already received two new customers from me because I’ve recommended them to family members. In this day and age, most internet services are similar enough in quality and price (at least in my neck of the woods). What had impressed me enough to recommend them was the customer service.

We can all relate to hearing, “We’ll send a technician out between 9am and 5pm”. And we can all relate to being stuck at home waiting for a technician to arrive, whether it’s for an installation or repair, because their estimated time of arrival basically spans the entire day. And more often than not, if you’re told they’ll be there between 9am and 5pm, without fail they will arrive at 4:59pm!

This can be just as frustrating when waiting for a technician to arrive at an office or place of business because office staff face restrictions such as ensuring the technician arrives within office hours and has sufficient time to make the repair.

Perhaps they’ve had to cordon off a high-traffic, frequently-used area or rearrange meetings, not to mention being able to anticipate how long the broken equipment will be out of commission for so workers can plan accordingly.

When it comes to customer satisfaction, first impressions really can mean everything.

It can be nearly impossible to pinpoint the exact time the technician will arrive at a service call, especially when they have other calls beforehand. Having communication with the customer either by calling or texting can go a long way in addressing a common complaint and ensuring they don’t feel like they’ve been forgotten about.

The technician makes a good first impression of themselves and the company before they’ve even arrived. And as we all know, customer satisfaction is one of the vital building blocks for any business in achieving Best-In-Class. As the saying goes, “Your first impression is your last impression.” And sometimes a customer’s impression has already been formed before the technician even arrives on site.


Then and Now – A look at the changes to parts and folios

Technology is constantly moving forward. Every year we have the next cutting edge smartphone or game-changing IoT-enabled device. Of course, the technology behind information management and data processing is no different.

For several years, Infomill has processed data for a multinational energy and home services company. Using the data that we process, their engineers can visit a domestic property secure in the knowledge that all the parts and servicing information is available at their fingertips to help them service, fault find and repair an appliance. We strive to make the data and associated illustrations 100% accurate so that the engineer only has to visit a property once to service the appliance or effect a repair.

We all know the importance of the First-time Fix Rate! After all, faster fixes result in happier customers and reduced service costs. The company prides itself on efficient service and the work we do for them plays an important factor in achieving this goal. A small, but significant cog in the field service wheel.

I joined the project in 2000. As you can imagine, things were different back then. Parts lists were processed using a system called FADASPI, which could be fiddly to say the least, as parts lists had to be entered individually, line by line. Technology moved forward, as it tends to do, and Data Retrieval Using Interactive Devices (or DRUID for short), was developed. The DRUID database held all the parts lists, exploded views, service information and other associated documents.

To get the technical information into DRUID, the data was received from the manufacturers in varying formats, ranging from hard copy, .pdf, MS Word and plain text documents. A benefit of DRUID was that we also moved from manually entering the parts lists to an electronic import of the whole list, which made the whole process significantly faster. Framemaker was used for processing servicing documents, where the structured approach made for easier processing and a consistent output.

At the end of each quarter a snapshot was taken of the data and the updated information was  burned onto 5 Master CDs.  The data on the CDs was then checked AGAIN to ensure everything was correct before being replicated and sent to the field engineers for use on their laptops. This part of the process took approximately 10 weeks, which meant that a field engineer might not receive the data update until nearly 6 months after it was first received by us for processing .

Needless to say, a more efficient process needed to be developed and in 2004 a web based system for the data was developed to replace DRUID. The new system gave office-based users access to technical information in real time. The data for servicing documents moved from Framemaker to use of .xml with Adobe being used to zone the documents. CDs were still produced, although as the amount of data increased, the data moved to extra CDs and then eventually to DVDs..

Further developments by Infomill now means that the data no longer goes out to the engineers on DVDs. Changes made during the previous 24 hours are sent out over the air in small deltas that are applied to the database held on the engineer’s device. This system has been developed to run alongside the web based system that is still being used for processing the data.  The result is that data can now be processed, checked and sent over the air to the engineer who will receive it within as little as 4 days from initial receipt of the data.

Some might argue that this isn’t as exciting as smartphones and IoT devices. However, technology innovation is all about making our lives easier and more efficient, and certainly the innovations that Infomill has developed in the last few years is no different! Take, for instance, the fact that service engineers for this multinational energy company now receive up-to-date technical information within a week – a far cry from the 6 months it used to take back in 2000!