Some might consider the title of a service writer a bit of a misnomer. On one hand, it is not a job that involves writing in the usual meaning of that word. But on the other, it does involve quite a lot of writing, and a number of other tasks too. So what does a service writer actually do?
As Study.com explains, a service writer is employed by various service businesses and acts “as a liaison between a business and its customers, such as by performing cost estimates for transactions. “ The most common business organizations that have active roles for service writers are in the automotive industry, particularly car dealerships and service stations.
To that effect, Job Hero notes that “service Writers act as informative middlemen between their employer and customers at automotive shops at dealerships or independent garages. Service Writers try to make the experience of having your car pass the service as quick, easy, and understandable as possible. They coordinate the process of obtaining information from the customer and setting the repair or maintenance process in motion.”
While on the surface this might seem like yet another ‘administrative’ job, it involves quite a number of skills that are connected to ‘regular’ writers. Since they act as liaisons between the customers and the service department(s), they need to have excellent communication skills.
This certainly includes writing skills that will precisely describe the needs of a potential customer. To do this, like any other technical writer, they have to be informed in detail with a very specific niche. In this case, it is all the service/repairs that their business does.
But then, there is a number of other skills they have to possess to be effective as service writers.
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The skills service writer needs to do his job effectively
Formally, all the education a service writer needs is a high school diploma. Still, many businesses that require a service writer usually ask for some hefty experience from a potential candidate. Why?
It is due to a two-pronged set of factors. One set has to do with the specifics of the business itself. The other though, has to do with the skills a potential service writer needs to have that will successfully cover his job(s).
In any service, particularly connected to the automotive industry it is essential to be aware of all the technical details. In that manner, you can fully understand both what the customer wants and what a particular service can provide. After all, a service writer is the main connection between the customers and the service itself.
On the other hand, a service writer has to have some communication skills that he needs to fulfill his job properly, and those include quite a bit of writing itself.
IDS sees three main skills of a good service writer:
- understanding customer concerns that he can properly convey to his technicians;
- have precise answers to three questions all customers ask;
- keep current with the transaction.
The first of the above skills require the service writer is to collect all the information from the customer, what he wants, and needs. He then needs to enter that information into the service system “ so estimates can be created and service can be scheduled.” He needs to do that right away so that he can also time the scheduling properly. He also needs to allow time for direct contact with the customer before the service begins.
According to IDS (above) customers always have three main questions. Service writer has to have ready and clear answers to them:
- how much will the service cost?
- when is everything going to be done?
- what are you going to do?
More about the service writer skills
The first two of the above questions are more or less self-explanatory. The third one requires detailed consultation with the servicemen. If the service writer has collected good notes. He can consult with the service department ahead of the customer’s arrival. In any case, he hast to have prepared clear and concise answers to all of these, and possibly other customer questions.
The third skill is actually no less demanding than the first two. And, again, it depends on the fact how has the service writer collected his information and how made its input into the service management software.
There, he would need to be able to give the customer the following information:
- work order status (how the service is progressing);
- is the service going to be completed within the promised time period;
- work order comments – writing in comments makes it possible for the service writer or anybody else working on a specific project to keep the customer informed;
- job line status – at what point is the service process and how it is progressing.
Defining the skills service writer needs IDS goes into further requirements:
- she/he needs to interact with people in a friendly manner;
- service writers need to communicate effectively;
- they need to correctly interpret customer requests & tech recommendations;
- service writers need to understand the technology they are dealing with;
- she/he needs to make accurate notes & calculations;
- they need to think on their feet.
The last of these points might not be so simple as it sounds. As IDS (above) points out, there are a lot of different variables involved in servicing equipment. from meeting customer expectations to ordering the right parts, there are plenty of opportunities for things to go wrong.
And yes, there is a lot of writing to be done
If all of the above sounds a bit ‘too administrative’ to be connected with writing, think again. First of all, any serious writer, particularly a freelancer, has a hefty dose of the administrative tasks to do so that he can complete his job successfully.
Still, if you look at all that is required from a service writer, it is not so hard to understand why he has that latter term in his job description.
Any writer, including a service one, needs to have excellent communication skills. If he doesn’t who will understand his writing anyway? With a service writer, exact and precise information is something that will determine whether they do their job well or not. And this is a two-way street – they need such information from both the customers and their service department.
It is essential to understand that not all writing is connected with literature. Actually, there is a larger number of writers who fall within the copywriter/content writer category. And this a category of writers that need to acquire some very specific knowledge that is outside their writing realm. From medical or legal matters to very technical information, exactly the one a service writer has to deal with. He needs to know all the intricate technical details inside out.
At the same time, there is yet another characteristic a good service writer shares with ‘regular’ writers. That one is that his writing has to be clear, precise, and more often than not, as concise as possible.
On the other hand, in many cases ‘standard’ writers do not need to worry whether they were understood properly or not. But service writers do not have that luxury. They have to be understood completely and exactly as is necessary. And there, every word counts. That is why the job of a service writer can in many ways be as complex as of any other writer.