Don't 'cold-call'
your field techie

The following is usually an unrecognised bad habit on the part of many a colleague of the field techie. Seldom is it the techie's fellow technicians who are guilty of this, but rather those who are not in his department (although there are many heads of customer services who fall foul of his favour!). If this subject is not brought to light then how will it be known the stress it causes. It's time to better your working relationships and severely save on embarrassments, and the techie's wrath!

Every techie will want (but is probably too shy or scared) to ask that while they are out of the office, especially to places where it is difficult to get a phone line to send emails etc, that 'probing' phone calls not be made. These do nothing for their morale under what is usually difficult circumstances. As luck would have it they'll more than likely get 'that' phone call when the client is right there with them.

The reason is 'that' phone call is usually riddled with questions that put the techie in a position where firstly he cannot not answer wholeheartedly as there were issues where the client was at fault (how can the techie say this in front of him!?) and, secondly, where it appears as if the supplier had let everyone down, again! How can a techie retain the client's faith in the equipment when having to truthfully say what's going on!

It is, however, understood that people want to know what is going on. Look at the techie's past. Is it not his usual custom to, as soon as possible, write a full and detailed visit report and distribute this amongst all concerned? With this sort of history, it is more than acceptable that a little patience be exercised. If during a visit the techie feels it prudent to report back, or feels the need to enlist any help, then let him make the phone call from a more appropriate environment (such as the car or hotel room).

It is extremely embarrassing having people making unsolicited phone calls to suppliers on the techie's behalf. This gives rise to two distinct feelings; One, the techie feels the supplier may start viewing him as one who is not capable of "fighting his own battles" and, two, that no faith is displayed in the techie's abilities to sort the problems out. The atmosphere becomes strained between the techie and supplier once someone else has "had a go at them" and thus difficult to get problems resolved.

Again, it is clearly understood there is a want to help. This is not in question. Just try to understand how difficult it is controlling a problem when many people are pulling in different directions.

One further aspect to this is people reacting to what is said. Again, it is understood the need to know what's going on but when the techie does report things (especially mid-stream) it is often reacted upon and often incorrectly. When diagnosing faults it is often the true fault remains hidden for some time and the reportbacks are incorrect until closer to the end. If you do get an interim reportback please do not react to it what-so-ever. Wait until the final report is issued before any action is taken.

An example of this would be an interim reportback was given that boards sent by a supplier may have been faulty when in actual fact a setup may be incorrect. If action is taken on the first statement the techie would find himself, once again, in an embarrassing situation of explaining to someone why he had said what he did.

Bad habits are not the easiest thing to break, but if you think of how necessary is it to call the techie to get an update, and how much stress you're going to give him (put yourself in his shoes!), then the habit will soon break.

Marc Dekenah

© 14.07.02