Beyond great service: The Revelation (Part 3)

Feb 28, 2017 • FeaturesManagementmanagementfield serviceJim Bastonselling service

Jim Baston continues Charlie’s journey as the serialisation of his service oriented book beyond Great Service continues as we bring this section on “The Revelation” concludes...



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



As you may recall, Charlie comes to the realisation that the highest level of service that his company can provide is by helping the customer be better off for having hired them. That will require his field service team to be proactive in looking for and recommending products and services that will benefit the customer and help them achieve their business goals. Charlie’s plan to get his technicians to sell seems to come off of the rails by the technicians’ reluctance to act as salespeople for the company.

Fortunately for Charlie, his very able service supervisor Ken, helps him sort things out. As they sit together going over the details of their service meeting, Ken points out:

“What Angus said Charlie, was that it was not the technician’s job to ‘sell’. He didn’t say anything about the technician’s responsibility to help the customer run their facilities better. Actions speak louder than words and Angus’ actions—as you just pointed out—clearly indicate he believes that serving the customer in this way is very much a part of the technician’s role.”

“Ken, you’re going to have to slow down. I’m getting dizzy. Isn’t ‘selling’ and speaking to the customer about things they should do to run their facilities more effectively the same thing?”

It’s why there are very few service companies that could honestly tell you they are fully satisfied with the work being generated by the field service team

“No. There is a subtle but important difference, and most people get these confused. It’s why there are very few service companies that could honestly tell you they are fully satisfied with the work being generated by the field service team.”


Ken continues: “Let’s say you go to the doctor with a headache and you’re prescribed a pill to relieve the pain. Have you been truly served?”

“I guess so. I wanted to get rid of my headache and the doctor gave me the medication to do that,” says Charlie.

“Hmmm. Let’s compare that to an emergency service call. The customer calls complaining of no heat. We go to the site and find a blown fuse. We replace the fuse and get the heat back on. The customer signs our work order and we leave. Is that a comparable situation?”

“Sounds like it to me.”

“Unfortunately Charlie, I don’t think that the customer (or patient in the case of the doctor) was well served. Would you not think that the doctor should at least ask a few questions to explore the possible cause of the headache?  Where does it hurt? How long have you had it? What have you taken so far to relieve the pain? That sort of thing. Would you not expect basic information to be taken, including your pulse and blood pressure, or have your ears or throat checked? If something of concern was found, would you be surprised if further tests were suggested? And, based on the results, would you consider recommendations for a particular medication or a change in diet to help you get better as a sales pitch?”

“No. Now that you mention it, I would expect those basic actions. Without them, the doctor might provide me with temporary relief but overlook  the cause, which could have a troubling impact later on. And as for the recommendation for specific medications or diet, I would see that as part of the process to help me get and feel better.”

“Right!” exclaims Ken. He stands and becomes more animated.

The challenge then is to help them recognise the difference and encourage them to speak with the customer about what they feel would be in the customer’s best interest to do

“Let’s go back to our fuse example. I recognise it’s not a perfect analogy, and that most technicians worth their salt would do some basic tests to determine if there is a further cause beyond simply a blown fuse. But that’s where it often ends. We solve the immediate problem and move on to the next patient—I mean customer—without doing an ‘examination’ of the customer’s condition beyond the immediate problem. As a result, we miss countless opportunities to help the customer run their facilities more effectively or, perhaps more tragically, to avoid catastrophic breakdowns.”


… “I don’t sell, Charlie. I simply use my expertise and experience, and ask a few questions about the situation and the customer’s goals. Then I bring to their attention the types of remedies they might consider to reduce energy, increase tenant comfort, improve operational performance and so on. The customer then makes a decision on what they want to do. I don’t try to force or convince them against their will. I simply assist them to make informed decisions which will help them operate more effectively.”

It’s now that Charlie stands up and gets animated. “So, if I understand you Ken, what you are saying is that Angus and the rest of the team don’t see themselves as salespeople flogging Novus services, but rather as recommenders of our services when they see that as solving a customer’s problems. The challenge then is to help them recognise the difference and encourage them to speak with the customer about what they feel would be in the customer’s best interest to do. Have I got that right?”

Thinking about your business:

  • If you have a formal or informal expectation for your technicians to generate opportunities in the field, how do you position this activity with your field team? Is this a selling activity or a serving activity?
  • Does your team fully grasp the important service they are providing?
  • Do they see it as important a service as their ability to fix or maintain the equipment?

Next time we will look at some of the hurdles that Charlie will need to address if he is to be successful.



Be social and share this feature