Usually this column deals with the technical aspects of ultrasound support, but I would be remiss if I left out an equally important component of service which is the relationship and communications you need to establish with your customers.
Recently, we were interviewing candidates for a field service engineer position at Conquest and I was asked to screen several individuals. My focus was not if they could fix an ultrasound system; it was whether they could fix a customer. The majority of readers of TechNation are technical people which can be an art all on its own but when combined with the ability to communicate well and form a relationship with a customer it makes a good service engineer a great one.
As a former service engineer with 25 years field experience, I became very good at my craft. Did I fail occasionally? Absolutely! We all do, but what separates a mistake or failure from a catastrophic customer loss is having a good relationship with your customer. They are much more forgiving with a friend than a stranger and they are much more likely to share with you any problems or risks in your business relationship if you have a personal relationship.
Ongoing communication is also critical to develop a solid working relationship with a customer. How many times have you or someone you know gone to a customer site, walked past a multitude of people into a room and closed the door to get to work? When creating our preventative maintenance process many years ago, the first and last step we instituted involves a customer interface. At the beginning of every PM, the customer is interviewed to find out how the system is performing and if any issues need to be addressed. At the end of the PM, the customer is told exactly what was performed, any action items are identified and, finally, they are thanked for the opportunity to serve them.
As with all relationships in life, good communication is critical to maintaining them in good and not-so-good times.
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