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Analyze if Your Service is Best in Class 

28 Jul, 2011 By: Ken Staubitz, Strategy Development

Analyze if Your Service is Best in Class 

Throughout our travels we have seen many “good” service organizations. However, “best-in-class” service organizations are a rare breed.  We notice that some organizations are laser focused on margin gains at the expense of providing outstanding client service.  Yet in other cases, we see service teams that have historically delivered excellent client satisfaction, but when their organization gravitates towards other revenue streams, i.e. managed print services (MPS), production print, managed services; service levels begin to deteriorate.  To truly be a best in class service organization today, there needs to be an intense focus on results in various areas.

The areas for opportunity are not merely topics of discussion. Good service organizations are constantly implementing and executing the appropriate action plans for clear and concise expected results. These companies are focused on multiple areas simultaneously to ensure the service department is properly trained, creditable, and running as efficiently as possible. 

The following are 5 key attributes of these types of organizations that differentiate them from their competition while providing value to their clients.

5 Key Attributes

1) Service is viewed as a core competency within the organization.

 It is no secret that the service department has a significant impact to the organizations bottom line therefore it is imperative that the entire organization, not just service, understand the value of this department.  In doing so, depending on the size or your organization, the service leader should be a creditable member of the organization’s senior management team. It is vital that the service leader work with the sales leadership to develop growth strategies that increase combined returns on sales and volume (images) growth.  This leader should also inspire and motivate his/her employees to achieve the department’s goals and this leader needs.  The service your organization provides to its customers (internal/external) is vital to maintaining client relationships and can significantly impact your employee’s, current and potential clients, and perception of your company.

2) Laser focus on service margin improvement that is sustainable and contributes to the company’s bottom line.

Although it is important to ensure service costs and revenues are assigned to the correct “bucket” or profit center; sustainable margin improvement is best accomplished by taking a bottoms up approach to productivity and cost analysis.  This analysis should be done at the company, branch, team, individual, model and serial levels.  BEI Services is an extremely effective tool in gathering your organization’s machine performance down to the serial number level and it allows the service organization to compare its performance to the benchmark.  However, pure data alone will not provide the desired bottom line improvement. 

The best service organizations are acutely aware of both the number of technicians needed to support their base and where their parts spend levels should be, at the benchmark service effectiveness and benchmark machine performance levels. Performance management is continual at the individual and equipment level.

3) A proactive approach to adopting technology solutions

Technology is constantly evolving and changing and when applied properly can have dramatic, positive effects for the organization.  The top service organizations take the initiative in researching leading technology solutions in order to improve the operation and to enhance the client experience.  Before implementing such technologies these service leaders are able to provide a compelling business case and are able to quantify the ROI in order to justify the investment.

Today there are an increasing number of service organizations incorporating some form of GPS technology in order to better track their field staff and hold them more accountable.  This is considered a best practice to enhance productivity.  Believe it or not, many of the best in class service organizations have been using this technology for over 5 years.  They saw the benefit of this technology before it became main stream in order to enhance their service levels and to stay ahead of their competition.

4) Continually invest in training and development

Customer skills training and development of interpersonal communication is often overlooked as a training offering and are just as important as technical training.  The field service staff is constantly in contact with your customers on a daily basis, and these individuals influence customer’s perception of your organization, therefore it is imperative that these staff members are properly trained to handle issues and communicate clearly with your customers.  Best in class service organizations incorporate the previously mentioned training in conjunction to an individual’s current and future technical training requirements.

Management training and development is considered a must and is provided to continually improve the value of its current and future management personnel.  This type of training includes new and advanced service management training, along with leadership and time management to effectively develop this team.

5) Place an intense focus on the customer experience

For a dealer to provide outstanding client service it needs to utilize a variety of methods to create awareness of situations in order to resolve issues as they occur. Incorporating various listening posts for feedback is important, but the organization has to respond to the information received.  Example of listening posts include:  customer surveys, post installation follow-up, random service call surveys, key account reviews, and the Service Manager’s customer visits.

Another differentiator of a best in class organization is that there is some form of institutionalized client resolution process.  This process spans the entire company to ensure client issues are documented, routed to the appropriate person for resolution, and resolved within a given time frame.  Periodically these issues are reviewed and the appropriate changes are made to the servicing company’s processes to ensure such issues aren’t repeated.  In addition, the customer experience is always at the forefront of any process development or improvement within the servicing dealer.

Unfortunately there is not a silver bullet in becoming a best in class service organization.  No matter where you find yourself on the path to greatness it is imperative to improve and sustain service margins through benchmarking and using a bottoms-up approach to gross profit gains.  This will help to ensure that the organization is financially strong to support its clients.  It is vital to the customer experience that you are able to differentiate your organization and provide value by applying technology and investing in training and development. All of these techniques will provide value to your clients and help you to stay ahead of your competition.

Ken Staubitz is a service consultant with Strategy Development, with 14+ years’ experience in all levels of service operations & MPS service structure. Formerly with Modern Office Methods (dealership) in various service & operational roles; served on the Lanier Dealer Advisory Council; was an e-Automate Service Committee member.  At www.Strategydevelopment.com.



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