Disgruntled Techs

Written on: January 1, 2018 by Roger Daviston

Do you employ technicians who complain? Dissatisfaction is an unpleasant part of our week, but most of us experience it frequently.
In psychology, there is a principle that, on some level, your diagnosis of others is actually a reflection of yourself. Of course, discovering what’s wrong with us is easier said than done and requires humility. As an owner, you must be the source of a multitude of your company’s problems and this can be painful to admit. Allow me to illustrate.
As I was finishing a morning meeting with a team of technicians, the owner became irritated about several things, including the simple process of keeping a record of parts taken from the stockroom. In this case, the issue was that some of the technicians would tell him parts to order, but would not write the request down. As a result, parts were frequently out of stock, and the boss became frustrated. He could keep the room stocked only if the notebook was accurate.
Frustrated, he declared, “Don’t ever tell me which parts you take. If there is anything that you need me to order, write it down in the book. Do you hear me? Am I clear?”
As soon as this outburst was finished he was onto the next, barking orders at a dispatcher across the room who was not even in the meeting. He exhibited the exact same behavior that he had condemned with the technicians. Don’t tell me a list of things to buy, write it down.
At work and in life, the conditions, emotions and circumstances that you create for others come back to you multiplied. In other words, we reap what we sow. In some cases, we may reap more than we sow. Too often, I see owners who can’t take a step back to consider the facts.
Let’s consider a technician who is easily frustrated and tends to blame others. He often expresses his problems with dispatch, the company culture and the customers. His major challenge is focusing on how he can respond differently to his circumstances, achieve different results and work through his day without anxiety, stress and pressure, while maintaining company expectations.
Much of this anxiety comes from receiving four or five calls at once and is heightened when the call is taking longer than dispatch forecasted. While riding with a technician, the second call he received involved a furnace tune-up, which came from a direct mail piece. Customers often try to use a promotion for tune-ups to try and fix a major problem. However, as most technicians know, tune-ups can only be performed on a working system.
When the frustrated technician discovered a broken system, he became anxious and frustrated with his schedule. After all, he had it all planned out. He could “run and gun” to get it all done only if there were no hiccups. Instead his thoughts now turned to “How do they expect me to get all of these calls done?” and “Why did dispatch give me a tune-up when this is a service call?” He could see his carefully planned day crumbling before his eyes. As a result, he was stressed out, upset and angry with dispatch.
Let me pose a few questions:
• Why plan the entire day for a technician and only let him see the schedule in the morning?
• How does dispatch know how long each call will take?
• Do we really know what the technician will find when he gets there?
Pre-planned maintenance can present opportunities for revenue, but only if we have time to slow down.
John, a technician from another company, was with me on a ride-along performing annual maintenance on a furnace. His boss texted me, asking us to hurry and get out of there. I responded, “Please relax, we have a fish on the line here”. John sold $2,300 at 10:00AM and didn’t go to another call that day. Did we know that was going to happen? Obviously not, but thankfully this company already grasped the process dynamic of dispatching—the schedule changes as we work through each call. Do not rush technicians. Leave them alone and give them one call at a time. Dispatch owns dispatch and dispatching is not scheduling. Dispatching is putting the right person on the right job at the right time.
I’ve discovered many technicians are leaving calls undone, unsold and are merely patching things up because the schedule won’t allow them to stay. The company is overly ambitious with its workload and setting impossible time slots, which all falls on the back of the technician who’s expected to find revenue. When you create a plan and show it to the technician, he will rush through each call and not look for opportunities because he feels like he can’t
We all have family commitments. It’s human nature to want to go home at a reasonable hour. When you plan a technician’s day and he sees all the calls, he will either rush or fill in the time depending on how the day unfolds. Neither one of these are good for revenue.
I have worked with customer service representatives (CSRs) and dispatchers for years. It is well known that their desire to please the customer causes pressure. They find it very hard to say “NO” to a customer. In fact, they often don’t know how to do it.
Can you imagine your CSRs saying something like this: “Mrs. Jones, when were you hoping that we could come out? Well, we will try this afternoon, but if our workload changes, will tomorrow be okay?”
Unfortunately, we never know what we are going to find on each call. CSRs may feel uncomfortable asking this, but it’s just a question. It is not a directive. We have the right to ask.
Most customers are okay with it and it gives us much more flexibility, which prevents technicians from rushing and therefore leads to more revenue if they execute the Service Call Blueprint*. If customers give you “push back” about coming tomorrow, provide them the best service that you can and work with them to find a satisfactory solution. Most reasonable people understand this.
What is the bottom line? Pressure from the office causes the CSRs to try to appease everyone, which leads to overbooking and stress out in the field. Most often, this pressure on CSRs or dispatch originates with the owner, who has their own stress about profitability. They can’t make the cognitive shift to slow down, relax and remember that we make more by doing fewer calls. In my next column, I’ll describe how to successfully book calls without giving time slots. I always welcome your feedback, so please reach out. ICM
*Roger Daviston is a cognitive behavioral specialist who helps clients achieve and maintain behavioral change. His new book The Service Call Blueprint is available on Amazon.com. Watch The Service Call Blueprint webinar online: www.rogerdaviston.com