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Empathy Towards Field Agents: What We Don’t See

Two warehouse workers using Custella for virtual, paperless inventory management

On A Rainy Afternoon

A crash of thunder startled me as I turned off my laptop screen to look outside the window. It was cloudy. The cold wind against my skin and the petrichor rejuvenating my sense of smell made me appreciate the simpler pleasures in life. Since it was a Saturday and I did not bring back any stressors from the office, I felt like ordering some exotic food. Seafood chow mein and Thai soup seemed like the obvious choice for me to enjoy some me-time and the weather.

I felt thankful as I scrolled through a food delivery service app thinking how convenient it is to order my favorite dish from the comfort of my home. It took me a few taps to order my cravings and wait in anticipation. A message telling me that it would take about 20 to 30 minutes to get my food delivered popped up and I closed my phone feeling reassured.

The Unfortunate Incident

I was resting my head against my bed and binge-watching my favorite series when suddenly my stomach grumbled. I noticed how hungry I was and grabbed my phone to look at the time. It was way past the app’s promised delivery time. I am not sure whether it was my hunger or my strict sense of time maintenance but my initial reaction to the delay was a feeling of anger.

I texted the delivery man asking him why he was late. The driver replied with an apology text explaining that the restaurant was late with the food preparation and it was raining outside. I read his texts and looked outside to see the rain slowly pour. It made me feel a little guilty to be angry at the driver without assessing the situation first.

After waiting 30 more minutes, my food had arrived. I wore my mask and quickly went down to receive my food only to see a heart-breaking scene. The delivery man, probably in his late 50s, was getting verbally abused by another customer who ordered his food around the same time as I did. What came next absolutely made me angry and wanted to take action.

The customer pushed the driver asking him to go heat the food from the restaurant and bring it back to him. My guilt for feeling agitated at the delivery personnel turned into a sense of responsibility to step in and tell the customer off for being abusive. Soon, the customer stopped making a scene and paid the helpless field agent.

Feeling sorry, I reassured the gentleman that I would give him a full rating and asked whether he had his lunch or not. He answered that the last meal he had was at the beginning of the day and could not manage time to eat his next meal. Shocked, I immediately invited him to have lunch at my place. Hearing this, he broke into tears telling me how that was the first time any customer had ever offered him that.

During our meal, I learned about how the pandemic took his job away and that delivering food was the only viable option for him to earn money for his family to survive. The Enablers of Dreams

I believe you and I can both agree that the pandemic has been far from kind towards us. But when I heard about the delivery agent’s perspective of life during the pandemic, I was reminded of the privileged position I was in. Sitting at home watching movies during the rain while ordering our favorite food is not something everyone is fortunate enough to do. The other side of the picture requires someone else to make the food, pick it up, and deliver it to our doorstep all the while braving the virus and following SOPs.

After the eye-opening meal with the gentleman, I understood just how important field service applications are in our lives to improve mobile workforce management. The virus may have separated us physically, but it is because of such technology that we are able to maintain our daily operations and meet our goals and dreams through our smartphones and computers. And the enablers of our dreams are the ones who hit the road, maintain a strict schedule, put their lives on the line, and try their best to prioritize customer happiness over anything else.

What We Value

I realized that during these tough times, where the future often seems bleak, it can make a big difference if we treat the frontline employees with the dignity and respect that they deserve. As a part of the Custella organization, we honor the field service agents for the sacrifices and impact that they make. Our technology can enable our customers with the transparency and visibility of the service their team is delivering, and let them choose to be a little more empathetic towards their field agent’s circumstances and motivations. After all, we can all agree that kindness costs nothing and the world would be a much better place if we all understood one another’s personal and professional battles and lent a hand to take off even the simplest of their burdens.

If your field rep is running late, use these insights to either send a replacement rep or leverage these insights to inform your customer proactively. Use real-time location tracking for better visibility of your field operations management and keep your customers informed for better visibility. Indeed, it is easy to scrutinize the mistakes of those who are not in the position of power to cut their salaries, give them a low rating, and even decide to terminate the contract with them. It may cut the cost of our business in the short run but the way it can affect the lives of the front-line employees is something we could perhaps think about once. A team leader with sufficient information and visibility could leverage insights ahead to turn a potential complaint to a compliment. To conclude, here is a favorite quote of mine from one of my favorite shows which sums up what I really want to tell you right now: “Only in darkness are we revealed. Goodness is not goodness that seeks advantage. Good is good in the final hour, in the deepest pit, without hope, without witness, without reward.” - Dr. Who

Still have more questions? Check out more FAQs on our website here. You can also get in touch with us below from the link below; we are always happy to get back to you with any queries regarding your business.


Need a field service management application like Custella? If you’re in Malaysia, Indonesia, or the ASEAN region, drop us an email to schedule your demo:

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