Ruth King
I had an interesting experience while visiting with the technicians at one of the contractors I work with. We were reviewing what was necessary to do, things that are always in the best interest of the customer. One of those things, in my opinion, is to write everything down that they see right and wrong with the customer's system. A lot weren't doing that.

We got into a discussion about why. One of the techs said that he sees people waiting to do things rather than going ahead and getting everything done. The owner of the company, who was sitting in the meeting with us, asked how many times that happened. As it turned out, only twice. One of the times, the daughter had to get permission from a parent. The other time, someone directly said that they would wait and see what happens. In more than 150 service tickets, only one time was the work refused until later.

This proved my point. Most of the time when the technicians recommend additional work, it gets done - as long as the customer trusts the technician. So, I reminded the techs that it is important to write everything down and review their recommendations and observations with customers.

I started thinking about why this might be happening. From what I've observed, technicians have a tendency to remember the no's and forget about the yeses.

Fear Of Rejection

Most techs are so fearful about getting a no that they don't ask the necessary questions, don't write things down, and don't explain the facts to the customer.

However, techs need to be aware that doing this is a disservice to the customer. It is the technician's responsibility to take these steps since it is in the customer's best interest. It is the customer's right to say yes or no. However, customers should be making informed decisions, not decisions out of fear or surprise - or making no decisions at all because they don't have the information.

I see the same technician fear with residential service agreement sales. My research has shown that only about 30 percent of the homeowners will purchase a service agreement. That means a technician can expect to get at least two no's for every yes. Once you explain this to the technician, he becomes less fearful about getting a no because he realizes that he will get more no's than yeses.

Selling service agreements is a numbers game. Whether it is residential or commercial agreements, the more you ask, the more you will generate. I don't expect anyone, technician or commercial salesperson, to use high-pressure sales tactics. They simply must present why this is a good deal for the customer and let the customer make an informed decision.

Don't Decide For The Customer

Finally, technicians' fear may revolve around their assumption that a customer can or cannot pay. Sometimes they will even do work, use a part, and not write down what they used. If you have a loose inventory system, this can easily slip through the cracks and you would never know.

I've seen many customers who look like paupers who are actually worth millions, and vice versa. The technician's job is to report the findings as he sees them in his professional opinion. Then, the customer determines what s/he is going to do, based on the facts that the technician reports.

These fears are common for a lot of technicians. Once you talk through them with technicians, have them role play some scenarios, and have them get some success out in the field, then they will truly begin doing things that are in the best interest of the customer.

King is director of For more information, contact her at 800-511-6844 or, or visit

Publication date: 02/09/2004