Field Service Technician In-Home Etiquette Guide
Field service is one of the most personable technical industries. We have to be, after all, field service teams are expected to arrive and work inside people’s homes, which means impeccable manners and professionalism at every moment. While it’s difficult to be prim elbow-deep into someone’s HVAC vents or fixing their basement flooding, there are certain rules of etiquette that allow field service technicians across the country to convey respect and care for customer homes while still getting the job done. This etiquette spans the entire customer experience from ‘Hello’s at the door to packing up your things, but it can be challenging to remember every detail of this complicated dance between good maintenance and good manners.
To help, we’ve put together a quick reference guide for good rule-of-thumb field service etiquette when working in customer homes.
The best way to make a good first impression is to arrive exactly on time. Some customers will want to see you early, many will expect to see you later, but exactly on time with your quote is ideal. The best way to approach an appointment, especially with a new customer, is to arrive a few minutes early and get a feel for the neighborhood before pulling up to the curb exactly two minutes before schedule. This should have you ringing the doorbell right on time.
If you do arrive early, take a moment to find a nearby place that would be pleasant to take breaks in: a small restaurant, convenience store, or a local park. Or simply get your paperwork in order if there are less than five minutes before you can make a perfectly punctual arrival.
It is usually unwise to work in a customer’s home without supervision and never without permission to do so, but a homeowner may ask you to work while they are at work or otherwise engaged. If the instruction is given in writing and headquarters approves, you can enter the home and do your tasks without anyone else being present. In this case, it’s best to pretend the homeowner is standing behind you the entire time and treat everything as carefully as possible.
You may also want to establish who is permitted to serve as supervision with the customer beforehand. They may or may not consider their child or a housekeeper to be adequate supervision, or they may intend for you to work in these conditions without incident.
Tracking in Mud
It is not okay to track mud into a home but sometimes this is inevitable, especially when your work involves indoor and outdoor work. If this is the case, ask the homeowner if there is a safe path over moppable floors you can take or for permission to lay down a sequence of tarps. Always carry enough tarps or plastic sheeting to cover your tracks literally. Homeowners will appreciate your forethought and consideration.
You should also always have enough cleaning supplies in the vehicle to clean up after a muddy job. Towels or paper towels, and even a mop may be the right answer to certain in-home repair situations.
Cursing and ‘locker room’ language is never acceptable inside a customer’s home, even when working without homeowner supervision. You never know who or what might overhear you. Homeowners today often have security systems that record sound and you don’t want your foul language to show up on the tapes. There is also always the possibility that a child you have not seen yet is in a room nearby.
Using the Bathroom
Bathroom breaks are an inevitability and homeowners are generally prepared for this. Make sure that everyone takes care of business before loading into the truck. If necessary, always ask a homeowner before using their bathroom and expect to be directed to the downstairs powder room. If the homeowner wants to leave or be left alone during the service, ask them ahead of time which bathroom it’s safe to use.
In the case of working without homeowner supervision, do your best to determine which bathroom is intended for guests and treat it like a house guest would. Consider packing air fresheners to make sure you don’t leave a bad impression.
Accepting Food and Drinks
Sometimes customers feel hospitable and like to offer refreshments. It is perfectly alright to accept snacks or beverages if offered by the residents as long as nothing contains alcohol. Accept graciously or decline as you see fit, but give a polite reason if you say no (ex: “My hands are filthy right now”). As for the need to eat and drink, try to bring your own water bottles for the team and a refill jug in the vehicle.
If customers are drinking and invite you to join them, consider turning down all drinks on principle. Indeed, stick to team water bottles. Also, have care if the person offering is a child in the home. While unlikely to spike your drink, they may not have permission to share, and you don’t want to get them in trouble.
Long services may physically and legally require the team to take breaks. However, customers tend to get nervous when they see a work crew sitting instead of working. Make sure your breaks are spaced and timed appropriately so the customers know what is happening and consider taking your breaks away from the property unless the customer invites you to break somewhere specific. Relax in the vehicle if this is comfortable or use your previous neighborhood scoping to find a nice low-key local place to kick back and eat lunch.
Setting Up Your Workspace
It’s alright to ask for things that you need to set up your workspace and create an efficient work environment. Even if you need to change things about the home environment temporarily to do so. Ask politely and explain to the customer why you need the things you’re asking for. Whether it’s to temporarily turn off the HVAC or leave a door open to the utility area you’re working in, simply be clear and polite about what you need.
Private Areas – Bedrooms
Sometimes you may need to go into a private area of the home like a bedroom or a non-guest bathroom. If this is necessary, always ask first and it’s best if you do any brief work with the homeowner in sight. Carefully respect any items you find in these areas and if you move something, try to put it back exactly where it was.
Closing Up Shop
Finally, always make sure to close everything neatly behind you. Whether you opened panels or simply laid out your tools in the basement, the cleaner your environment is when you’re gone, the better an impression you will make. Use the cleaning supplies in your truck to actually polish the area you’ve been working in and any appliances or fixtures nearby. Leave your spot gleaming and customers will always remember.
As you leave, roll up your floor protectors, bid the customer a polite goodbye, and try to roll the truck out ahead of schedule.
Learn More About In-Home Etiquette for Technicians
The etiquette of an in-home field service technician is a complex dance between being a polite house guest and an efficient technician, but with practice and awareness, it’s easy to master. For more helpful tips on how to rock your field service performance both in the main office and in the field, contact us today!