What Makes A Great Field Service Engineer
Supplying quality technical service is a simple concept that becomes very complex in implementation. First and foremost is finding qualified technical staff that poses good customer service skills. Generally, people fall into two groups. There is the sales person that is good at making connections with people and disseminating information. Then there are technical folks who like tackling complex service issues and have an innate understanding of how machines work. These two very different skill sets are generally not found in the same individual. It is the old left brain, right brain analogy. The key to finding a truly exceptional field service engineer is to find a person who posses both these traits naturally. To try and train someone in either skill set without any inherent natural talent is not something that I have ever been able to accomplish nor have I ever seen it done by any other service company or training organization. Through training, you can, polish and hone these skills. They cannot be transplanted into an individual that does not possess some level of these skills naturally.
The second key element is what has taken place over the last decade. A technology vacuum has occurred with respect to basic engineering training for the following disciplines, electronics, and mechanical engineering. They have fallen by the wayside replaced by IT, software engineering, web development, computer information systems, “engineering technology”, which turns out to be security camera, alarm and fire system technology. There is nothing wrong with these fields of study. It is just that they have replaced true electronics and mechanical engineering courses at least in the tech schools. One of the things I do when interviewing a potential job candidate for a field service position is to show them a schematic and a circuit board and ask them to identify various schematic symbols in the diagram. Prior to the interview I always give them notice that this going to be one of the key elements of the interview and if they are not comfortable answering these type of questions this is not the job for them. It always amazes me when a recent graduate of a two year program cannot identify the symbol for a transistor. Next I ask them to identify various components on the circuit board. Most cannot tell the difference between a capacitor and a diode. Most field service engineers are not required to fix boards to component level in the field, but they should have a good understanding of how they work and what other parts of the system they affect directly. The ability to trouble shoot with this level of understanding and convey the diagnosis to the customer in a manner that is clear and informative without being condescending is what makes a great field service engineer. Here is where skill set #2 comes in. Now it is time to switches hats and becomes a technical sales consultant. If the instrument he or she has been asked to repair is no longer cost effective to service they should now recommend replacement over repair and offer the customer some options on what is available in the marketplace. In this manner the customer is truly kept informed and can then make the decision that is best for their current budget as well as future technical requirements. It is a perfect blend of sales and service with the customer’s best interest in mind.
President/CEO Tritech Inc.