Ask the Experts | Online Reputation Mgmt & Tech Behavior

Question: How can I use my online reputation management process to drive behaviors for my service techs? Any promotions or spiffs you might suggest for that process would be helpful.

Gary Elekes; Founder, EPC Training:

That’s a great question. There are so many companies out there that struggle with getting the service techs to understand how important it is to get the review system in front of the client, and basically communicate enough with the client that they will actually write that review.

So somewhat depends on which technology you’re using, there’s a variety of them out there. Usually Wally or Drew will give a full disclosure on this: Obviously I own a company that does this, so I think you have to temper whatever I have to say with the idea that I’m in that space. But just as a generic answer to that question, if you’re using somebody like ReviewBuzz or RevuKangaroo, or any of those companies that are on EGIA Contractor Marketplace, the technician has to understand the platform.

I think the one thing that we’ve seen over the years is, the technician training and communication that Wally just talked about, and just the whole engagement process with the technician, to really train them on their comfort levels with respect to whatever technology you’re using. So if we’re presenting an iPad review system and we’re asking the client to engage, if the technician isn’t comfortable and doesn’t understand it and hasn’t roleplayed and practiced it, it’s almost 100% that they probably won’t execute that as well as the company owner or service management function wants it to be done.

So that’s a problem, and it needs to be dealt with, and there’s no other way to do it than just coaching and training and sitting down and doing the day-to-day details and what I consider to be hand-to-hand combat work. It’s training, it’s discipline, it’s getting in the gym and moving the rock. You’re not going to see any results unless you do that.

The second part of that is, I think, we have to make sure that the consumer understands the nature of what we’re asking them to do, and that’s also a technician training. You can work through some collateral information. Certainly you can create some videos that are supported on an iPad or an Android device that allow the client to be able to watch a short video that explains exactly what’s going on, and the importance of what they’re contributing to the overall success of the company -- if we did a good job for you, how important it is for that technician to be part of that.

And then to be direct at the heart of this question, “How do I get the technicians’ behaviors changed, do I create some incentives?” was part of this program. The answer is yeah, I think you want to track this. It’s the same old, same old: What gets measured gets done. If we don’t track the behavior patterns, then it’s not likely that we can coach.

So we should set some standards, we should set some minimum requirements, some thresholds for underperformance. So that if technician A, we’ll call that technician Wally, is performing at 70% review success, and technician B, we’ll call that technician Gary, is performing at 22% review success – we need a minimum threshold. Let’s call that 30% of our clients producing reviews. So Wally would be eligible for the bonus, and Gary would be eligible for a sit-down with the service manager and have a little conversation about, “Hey what do we need to do to help you with your performance? How do we get you in a position to understand how to do this?”

So as long as you have the training and the tools and the resources to do that, there’s no reason why technician Gary shouldn’t be able to do that, and then you mitigate those conversations with ride-alongs. You start observing and putting yourself in a position, as the service management function, to understand why technician Gary isn’t getting it done. It’s almost always a lack of confidence and communication skills and that’s something that you can coach and train around. Certainly that’s hard work, but it’s something that will benefit the company, the overall brand. We know full well that money is a short term motivating factor.

Meaning if I create a bonus plan, and I give Wally $50 for every review, as an example, while Gary’s performance might improve from 22% to 28% or 30% short term, if I don’t change Gary’s skill sets, and I don’t put him in a position to understand exactly what’s necessary to be successful, then ultimately Gary will fall back as soon as that behavior pattern takes over again. In other words, the behavior itself is going to win versus the ability to promote, incent or be able to create any kind of economic incentive.

So the only way we can really change the behavior pattern is to get at the thinking pattern, really work on the belief systems and make people understand why it’s important, sort of the Simon Sinek routine. And then understand how to set expectations and measure those expectations, and then work with people’s attitudes. That’s how you correct behavior patterns. If we don’t do it that way, it’ll all be short term. So obviously the technology has to be easy, it has to be trained on, it has to be user-friendly for the technician as well as the consumer. And I think those are questions that I would ask if I was looking, as a broad conversation, “How are we doing as a company? Do I have peak performers and what are they doing successfully, what are the differences between that individual and the average or below-average technicians?” As noted in the example, technician Gary isn’t getting it done, is he just not capable? So we would look at all of that.

And then the final part of that is, yeah, I probably would have incentives and tracking systems and celebrate success. I think you can point out people’s flaws very easily by just using tracking and tools to present. I don’t have to call out Gary publicly. Gary’s going to see the chart each day when we come into the technician training platform if we’re tracking that. He will clearly know that he’s not performing, if the standard of excellence is 30%. That can be done in a lot of different ways, so we typically just use color-charts and thresholds. There’s been a movement in our company to move to smiley faces and then a straight-face if you’re right on goal, and then a frown if you’re not. So we don’t have to say anything, you can just look at the smiley face if you’re doing well, or see a frown and know that you’re not. Wally I’ll pass that on to you and you can make any comments.

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