Friday, May 25, 2012

SOP Friday: Guide to A Service Call

There are three stages to any service call. A service call means that a technician goes to a client's office to perform work, as opposed to connecting remotely to client systems. The three stages are pretty obvious: Before the visit, during the visit, and after the visit.

1. Preparation

1.1. Company Materials, Parts, and Tools. Each technician needs to have certain supplies and tools to be able to perform their daily work tasks. We'll talk about the "Scary box" of supplies in a few weeks. For now, just know that you need to make sure that each technician has what is needed to be successful. The goal is to never be on site without something you should always have on hand.

1.2. Personal preparation. Opinions vary on this, but I haven't changed my tune in 20 years. I believe computer technicians should be dressed professionally. That means a shirt with a collar. No jeans. Decent shoes. You should look like someone who is worth $150/hour if you want to get paid $150/hour. If you look like you work out of your trunk and charge $40/hour, then expect to get paid $40/hour.

1.3. Technical preparation. If you are going to send someone onsite, you should try to have that person work as many tickets as possible while there. There are a lot of little things that can be knocked out much faster in person than over a remote connection - especially with slow machines or slow internet connections.

Of course technicans should be aware of working in real time, working tickets from highest to lowest priority (and oldest to newest). But there are important exceptions to these. If a tech is going onsite, he should first look at the service board and print out a list of all open service requests for that client. Then figure out how many he can knock out in the time allotted for the visit. If he can knock out five small tickets in an hour, that can make a big difference.

1.4. Supplies. Think ahead and obtain or arrange to have everything you might need on site. This includes wireless access to the internet if the job is to fix or troubleshoot a problem with the internet connection. It also includes tools and any hardware, software, or supplies that need to be delivered.

2. At the client's Office

2.1 Parking. Please park in Visitor Guest parking as designated.  Try not to take spaces close to the building out of courtesy to the clients. Always park in a for-pay parking lot that gives a receipt rather than on street with metered parking. The company pays for all parking fees while on the clock. The company does NOT pay for in and out fees if you choose to go somewhere for lunch other than what is available. The company does not pay for parking tickets.

2.2. On Site Routine

Follow the Company guidelines for phone etiquette. In particular, do not use your phone for anything other than to talk to another company technician or third party tech support. That means no texting, no email, no phone calls. This is the client's time.

Follow the Company guidelines for Email Etiquette. Again, unless it's related to solving this client's immediate issues, don't worry about email until you are done with this visit.

Check in with the client contact when you arrive, if possible.

Always work from an SR.  If someone has a "new" issue with no service request, create one, get it prioritized, and go on.

Follow the Company procedures for Service Request escalation. If you work on any task for more than the allotted time (60 minutes) you must call another technician or your supervisor. Stop, if you are not making progress, and get another set of eyes.

We have an on-site minimum of 1 hour so:
o Never leave the client's office without checking with the client contact to see if there are other things they need done.
o If they have nothing pressing then review and work on any open SRs.
o Attempt to put in the remaining time performing some desired and useful work either on the Server(s), workstation or at a minimum the Network Documentation Binder.

3. After the Visit.

Never be in a hurry to get out of the office.

Before you leave, talk with the Client Contact and convey the status what you did and all outstanding issues.

Make a final round check with all users especially those who had issues to be resolved.

If required, create Service Requests for all unresolved issues.

At all times, and with every service request you touch, you must keep the PSA (Autotask or ConnectWise) up to date. You must work in real time. In addition to keeping the board neat and orderly, this means less clean up at the end of the day. Do not leave the site until the PSA is completely up to date for your visit and all items you touched. This includes:
o Time
o Travel Time
o Mileage
o Expenses (if possible)
o Detailed work documentation including Internal Analysis notes.
o Product delivered to the client.  Billable or Not.

Remember: All work must be done on a service ticket. So there is no "shoulder tap" support onsite. If the client wants to add a task, they need to enter a service request. Or the tech needs to create it. But he cannot do the work before the ticket is created. Period. No exceptions. Absolutely.


Please note that this process brings together many things we have discussed. Obviously, the technician has to know about the PSA procedures, priorities, etiquette, and more.

Following this process consistently has many advantages. It gives the client a reliable, predictable, and positive experience. It keeps the board clean because the tech is always working in real time. It cleans out a few lower-priority tickets simply because you're on site.

And to be honest, this process allows technicians with fewer social skills to still connect with the client and provide a personal service.

Your Comments Welcome.

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About this Series
SOP Friday - or Standard Operating System Friday - is a series dedicated to helping small computer consulting firms develop the right processes and procedures to create a successful and profitable consulting business.

Find out more about the series, and view the complete "table of contents" for SOP Friday at

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Next week's topic: Service Manager Roles and Responsibilities


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