Sticks & Stones & Titles: Really, What Should Field Service Orgs Call Their Employees?

Titles have associations: “Senior.” “Technician.” “Representative.” “Engineer.” All of these words mean something, both to the customers who rely on the employee to fix a problem, and to the employees themselves.

We often get lost thinking about the newest gadgets to use, and the latest tips and tricks to best serve customers. But the issue of what these people who fix things should be called has bubbled to the surface recently. Jeremy Frank, who wrote an article recently for the SmartVan about what service organizations should call their employees – and why it matters – posed the question on LinkedIn. (Jeremy also works for our sponsor, ServiceMax.) The responses came pouring in. Below are a few snippets of the different takes from the thread in the Service Management 2.0 group. Nobody, it seems, can reach a consensus on what the best title is.

False Advertising?

Steve Dreifuerst, U.S. field service manager at Medtronic AF Solutions, said that his company recently changed its field employees’ titles to “field service representative” (it was previously “field service engineer”). Dreifuerst said he made the switch because not all the employees were licensed engineers. And while that may seem like semantics, it makes sense when you consider that Medtronic provides business-to-business service. It’s unlikely that consumers expect the guy or gal who shows up to install their cable to be a licensed, degree-carrying engineer, but that certification can go a long way toward building confidence for customers at hospitals that need, say, expensive medical device equipment serviced.

There are also legal and regulatory issues to consider. Regulations, and national differences of perception, are especially important for multinational service organizations that manage service teams all over the world.

International Differences

Daryll Brown, a product line manager of service at Donaldson Filtration, added, “It’s funny but we have guys in 12 countries and each country seems to have a national preference. In the UK, it seems to be Service Engineer, however, in France they prefer Service Technician. Personally, I like the idea of relating the title to customer service like Customer Support Engineer.”

And what would employees themselves prefer?

Darren Koele, currently a service technician in the dental industry, used to work for Xerox and liked his title of “Customer Service Engineer.”

“Made you feel a little classier, almost like you were deemed something more than what you really are,” wrote Koele. “Titles do mean something. If you are a ‘service technician,’ you’re often viewed as the ‘lowly’ blue collar guy, often with a high school education and some manufacturer training but nothing more. In many cases, this is true; in others, not so much. The big factor is respect. I often found I got more respect as a ‘customer service engineer’ than I do as a service technician, despite my overall function being of no difference between the two.“

Whatever your company decides on, be sure to put some thought into it. It matters – to your customers and to your employees.

More: Field Technician? Field Service Engineer? What’s in a Name? More Than You Think.

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