Beyond great service: The Hurdles (Part 2)

Aug 01, 2017 • FeaturesManagementbeyond great serviceJim Baston

Charlie’s fictional journey to service sales nirvana continues as Jim Baston continues the serialisation of his excellent industry focussed book beyond Great Service continues...



If you missed the earlier parts of this series you can catch up by clicking here



Last time Charlie and Ken had uncovered two hurdles that could negatively affect their efforts at getting their technicians to make recommendations to their customers. These were:

  1. The service person’s view of the salesperson
  2. The customer’s image of the service technician

They return to Charlie’s office. Charlie is ready to get started, but Ken points out that there are more hurdles to consider.

Ken begins: “…we might have to tighten up how we handle opportunities around here or our efforts could be in vain. Think back to the service meeting on Monday. Remember when Angus spoke about handling opportunities? Do you remember what he said? … when the lead is given, we don’t always follow-up in the timeliest manner."

"Put yourself in the tech’s shoes for a moment. There you are at the customer’s facility, and you see something that would benefit them. You work up your nerve, and as you ask them to sign your work order, you mention that you noticed something that might save them money (or time or improve air quality, etc.), and would it be all right if they arranged for someone in their office to call you."

The customer says yes.

Now the tech writes a note on the work order regarding the opportunity with the request that someone call them to discuss. One month later, the technician is back at the customer’s to perform maintenance, and the customer asks if anyone is ever going to call. How would you feel if you were the tech?”

“Well, I would be a little embarrassed and more than a little ticked off,” offers Charlie.

“Now, let’s suppose this happened again, with two or three different customers. How do you think this will impact your willingness as a tech to continue to speak to customers about additional things that Novus can do?

Skills adoption can be as much as four times more effective when combined with coaching. Training and supporting these new behaviours will also serve another purpose. It will tell everyone that this is an important strategic initiative

And, what is Novus signalling to the technician about the importance of finding new opportunities?”


“Sometimes following up on opportunities is not enough either,” continues Ken. “It is important that we communicate to keep everyone informed. For example, how difficult would it be for the salesperson to send a note or voicemail to the tech that initiated the lead, to thank them and let them know they’re on the case?”

“I’m starting to get the picture,” says Charlie. “So, if we are going to ask the techs to reach out to the customer to discuss the things we can do as a company to help them, we’d better have a bullet-proof system for handling the opportunity and communicating to the techs our progress along the way.

I also hear you saying that despite the fact we are pretty good at this, it’s still not good enough. “… let me capture this as the 3rd hurdle: Systems and Processes for Handling Opportunities from the Field. Charlie writes this down on the whiteboard. “This is good, Ken. I think we are getting somewhere. Any other hurdles?”

“Yeah. … What we are asking will require some of the guys to change their behaviour and step into a role that might be uncomfortable and cause some uncertainty. To make matters worse, when they try something for the first time, they may not do it very well, which will add to the discomfort. When this happens, the path of least resistance is to revert back to the old ways. To get the results we are looking for, we need to be proactive in providing support and reinforcement to encourage their progress.”

“Why don’t we call it management coaching and support—that is, giving feedback to reinforce good behaviours, and encouragement to adjust behaviours that detract from their effectiveness in serving the customer’s needs?”

“Sounds good to me.”

Charlie writes: Hurdle # 4: Management coaching and support.

“If we are to make this work, we will need to provide ongoing resources to encourage the technician to take the risks accompanied with trying new skills—like speaking to the customer about our products and services and the potential benefits. I read somewhere that skills adoption can be as much as four times more effective when combined with coaching. Training and supporting these new behaviours will also serve another purpose. It will tell everyone that this is an important strategic initiative for Novus—not simply the latest management fad.”

Thinking about your business:

  • Are your processes and systems for capturing and tracking opportunities clear?
  • Do they allow any opportunities to “fall through the cracks?
  • What steps do you take to provide encouragement and support for your technicians as they learn new skills and behaviours to become more proactive in making recommendations?[/unordered_list]

Next time we will consider what Charlie needs to do next to put his strategy into action.



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