The Tipping Point for Service Managers: Maximizing & Improving Operations4 May, 2014 By: Sarah Henderson, West Point Products
On my desk are my favorite collection of books that I often reread and reference as I work with dealers on strategies for Managed Print Services excellence. Recently, I grabbed a small book, nestled between a couple Seth Goodwin classics, so I could be reminded of the concepts explained in The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. The premise of Gladwell’s work is simple; that little changes can have big effects. He writes that when a small numbers of people start behaving differently, their behavior can have a ripple effect, moving outward until a critical mass or "tipping point" is reached, changing the world.
As I apply these concepts to our industry, I see daily how small changes can make big impacts on service operations and effectiveness. Remember, the S in MPS is the delivery of services portion. As pricing pressure continues to drive down Cost-Per-Page rates, dealers should not shortchange their program by only looking for a less expensive cartridge. Instead, one strategy I recommend is the ‘maximize and improver’ operations within the service department. These little changes can have a big impact on capitalizing on overall revenues.
Add a Formal Triage Process
An effective department should look to triage any service call prior to dispatch. As most contracts are booked via CPP or annual agreements, it will be in the dealer’s best interest to only roll a truck when really necessary. If you do not have a formal triage process in place today, consider partnering with a provider who can triage calls prior to dispatching or implementing triage within your own internal dispatch center.
A well run triage process looks to connect a certified technician to an end user with a specific device. By leveraging a quick phone call and reviewing data in the service alerts from the Remote Monitoring software package, the triage desk can confirm the error codes that the user is experiencing. Trouble shoot simple solutions for minor issues such as a paper jam, determining image defects (i.e., toner cartridge vs. printer), user installable maintenance kits, and recoverable error codes vs. service related error codes.
Triage also assists in identifying what parts may be needed for effective repairs and limits the number of parts used. For example, with feed, pick up and separation rollers, it is not always necessary to replace them all at the same time. The notes taken from the call and logged into the MPS software ensures the technician can go onsite prepared for the repair with the triage notes and required parts. This process will also help improve first call effectiveness and result in lower costs and more satisfied customers.
Invest in Training for Technicians
This may seem simple, but all too often a technician is dispatched to work on equipment they might not be completely prepared or properly trained to repair. A printer is not a copier and vice versa. Plus, common laser printer repairs change over time and model families. I recommend dealers invest in some hands on training for technicians and look at certification programs for the equipment lines you sell and support. Partner with companies that offer knowledge centers, tech alerts, and online resources for your staff.
Add a Service Backup Option
Even with training, there will be times you have a tech in field that may get stuck on a service issue for a printer model they don’t typically handle. In those instances, look to your selected providers for back up support. As an example, ask your parts supplier if they offer complimentary assistance to techs in field. By selecting providers that offer this additional value, you will gain important back up when issues arise without adding new expenses. This can be provided as a value add for purchasing products from those companies.
Outsource When Needed
Dealers should also be wary of taking on equipment too far outside of the range they want to physically send a technician. There are expert organizations that can help you properly align geographic regions for technical support staff if you need it. My advice is to determine what areas you will service equipment and areas you will not and to stick too that. If deals come into your doors that are outside that area you are servicing, it is often better to outsource that call to a partner or provider. Look for pricing up front to control costs when outsourcing. Also, consider outsourcing as you grow; wait until the number of calls justify adding a full time technician.
Implementing one or all of these concepts just may be the tipping point you need to affect change within the service world of your dealership. But in order for making these changes to be successful, you must fully embraces the concepts and get the people around you involved; this will help make the changes lasting. It comes down to the team and behavioral changes to make any effective service department better.
Sarah Henderson is Director, MPS Operations, for West Point Products. For company information visit http://www.wespointproducts.com or contact Sarah at email@example.com