In the penultimate feature from our exclusive serialisation of Jim Baston’s excellent industry focused book Beyond Great Service, we begin to see how our protagonist Charlie and his teams journey towards better understanding the balance of building revenue streams from the service department has begun to formulate into a clear and workable strategic approach...
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Based on the feedback from several customers, Charlie is ready to roll out the strategy of engaging his technicians in proactive business development.
He calls the initiative Intelligent Service. We join Charlie as he presents the concept details to his team.
The key components and actions/comments are summarized in the table below:
Charlie reminds the team that the focus is not to sell but to serve. He clarifies that serving means taking a proactive approach to speaking with the customer about the actions they can take to run their facilities more effectively.
Only if the technician feels there is a valid need that could be addressed by a particular service offered by Novus, should the tech promote that service.Only if the technician feels there is a valid need that could be addressed by a particular service offered by Novus, should the tech promote that service.
Charlie emphasizes that in no way do they want the techs to talk up Novus’ services just for the sake of sales.
Charlie is about to move on to the next slide showing the implementation steps and associated time frames when Peter stands up. Peter is a quiet, thoughtful technician and rarely speaks at the service meetings. When he does, he usually has something valuable to say. This was not to be an exception.
“Charlie, with all due respect,” opens Peter, as he pauses and looks down at the floor, “this is a good approach and I am all for the initiative. Frankly, it makes perfect sense to me. In fact, I think we all do this to some degree now...” Peter paused again, and Charlie waited in anticipation.
“But, if we do all the things that you point out here, we won’t have any time to do productive work. We’ll be spending all our time gabbing with the customer and I don’t think they’re going to like that, and neither will Novus.”
Charlie smiled. It was a good point and he was glad it came up, especially by someone as respected as Peter. It probably means that a number of techs feel the same way and it is important to clear the air on this.
“Thanks for that, Peter. You bring up a good point. I don’t think that this will have much of an impact on non-productive time if it has any at all. At the kick-off meeting, we will explain the program and ask the customer if they’re interested in participating. I expect that in most cases they will say yes, and by doing so, they will be giving us permission to discuss opportunities with them.
Also, as techs, you’re only going to be discussing items you feel are in their best interest, taking into consideration your experience and knowledge of the customer’s needs, so the time factor should be quite minimal.”
“Yeah, but what about this mid-year walkthrough stuff, and the time looking for opportunities. Won’t they take a lot of time?”
“It will take a bit of time,” conceded Charlie. “During the walkthrough, you can make the most of it by asking questions to get an even clearer idea of their needs and goals, along with pointing out areas where improvements can be made. I think it’s time well spent and I’m sure the customer will agree.”
Look and listen for evidence of problems as you walk to and from the work area. Be prepared to ask questions of the customers and their staff as you go about your normal routines“Remember too, that we will have already discussed the idea with the customer and gotten their buy-in at the kick-off meeting. As far as looking for opportunities, we only ask you to do that as you are doing your normal job.
Keep your eyes open for things that may not be right.”
“Look and listen for evidence of problems as you walk to and from the work area. Be prepared to ask questions of the customers and their staff as you go about your normal routines. Let’s see how things go. I suspect that the return on this effort will far exceed the time invested. Does that address your concerns, Peter?”
Thinking about your business:
- Is your business development strategy positioned as an integral part of the service you provide?
- Have you created a performance “dashboard” to monitor your progress?
- Do you have a plan in place to teach, coach and reinforce the skills development of your field team?
Next time Charlie reflects on the progress he has seen since implementing the Intelligent Service strategy.
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