Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic we have been consistently hearing the same messages from service technicians and their managers. Here are a few examples:
I’m now having to deal with the disruptions to my customer’s business as well as in my own company caused by the pandemic. Everything is far more urgent than before the pandemic. On top of that, I have to pay attention to all new safety protocols related to the virus
Communicating virtually with customers and internally has added a whole new layer of complexity and confusion. I’m actually working far more hours every day, simply because everyone assumes that I can be available for a conference call 24/7.
By now it’s clear to Service Managers that the pandemic has altered many of the norms of service delivery – perhaps permanently. Not only are service managers dealing with major disruptions in operations, they are also addressing the increased uncertainty and stress of team members (not to mention their own). A sudden transition to all virtual interactions with employees, other departments, and especially customers has been hard. And it seems that virtual work seems to be overloading everyone with more online meetings, more work, and more attention required.
There are steps service managers can take now to address these challenges and at the same time help their people develop the skills and confidence to improve the good relationships they have always had with customers, even if now they must do it remotely.
Understanding and addressing customers’ non-technical issues has always been a challenge for technically oriented service people – and the impact of COVID is making it even more so. Imagine, for example a remote service call where the service engineer is trying to understand a complex technical situation and work with customer using new remote diagnostic tools and trying to pick up the subtle clues from the customer about what they really understand – all without being able to see, hear, and experience the normal clues they would get from being face-to-face.
Training service people to communicate with customers in this new virtual environment has, in some ways become easier because of COVID. For example, the cost and time to travel for training is potentially less as training can be delivered virtually. In addition, time out of the field for training has perhaps become more available and often, easier to organize.
Historically, so-called ‘soft skills’ training required putting people together in face-to-face workshops so that they could practice and develop people interaction skills. The challenge for companies now is to ensure that the impact and results of training done virtually matches traditional face-to-face training.
The good news is that new technologies, such as Zoom, enable training to be delivered virtually without sacrificing the impact of face-to-face training. Likewise, eLearning and other microlearning resources have advanced to the point where they can contribute significantly to the adoption and embedding of new skills and behaviors. Our experience providing virtual training is that students can actually be more engaged in a well-designed instructor-led webinar than they are in a face-to-face classroom.
At Global Partners Training, we have been enabling global service organizations to deal with transformative challenges for more than 25 years. Contact us to learn more about how we are helping global organizations adjust to the new normal in technical service delivery.