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Loosing Focus Part 2: Are You Running Service Or Is Service Running You?

28 May, 2002 By: Wes McArtor imageSource

Loosing Focus Part 2: Are You Running Service Or Is Service Running You?

mentioned last month, I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to work
with many outstanding office equipment dealers throughout my career. In my
current capacity, I have taken advantage of the many quality practices these
dealers use, and I offer their insight to many of our customers. I readily admit
that most of what is discussed here is not necessarily new information, nor are
the solutions mine alone, but I have seen the same common problems in varying
degrees in almost every dealer I have consulted with. With this in mind, I would
like to highlight these common areas of concern, and offer suggestions on how to
solve the often-complex nature of running service.



common complaint, from most customers and service managers alike, is the
call-back. This is the seemingly inevitable call, which occurs shortly after a
customer has had their machine fixed. The first issue that must be tackled, when
addressing call-backs, is the yardstick used to measure what is or is not a
call-back. Since my business is based on standards, we use a criteria that is
based on how a model performs at a national level. This system uses a
measurement of copies and/or days, meaning that the machine needs to produce a
specified number of copies or the specified number of days.


if a product is introduced, that does not perform as expected, the call back
criteria must reflect this poor performance. Conversely, if a product’s
performance improves over time due to modifications or fixes, the criteria must
reflect that improvement. To set the call-back standards, in other ways, is not
going to allow you to accurately determine which calls should or should not be
call-backs. With the variety of products running the gamut from reliable segment
one units (which average 183 days between calls), to high end color units (which
average 5 or 6 days between calls), or digital duplicators (which will go 10 of
thousands of copies between calls), it should be easy to see that there is no
one criteria that would allow meaningful call back statistics.


addition, it is necessary to define the math used to determine the call back
percentage. At BEI, we define the math this way: for example, if a customers
calls in about light copies, this is called an Emergency Call (EM); if they have
to call back for whatever reason within the (call-back) parameter set for their
model, this call is a call-back (CB).


this case, what is the CB percentage? I would say it is 100 percent, because if
the machine had been fixed correctly, there would have only been one call. Most
systems would say 50 percent; two total calls of which one was a CB. As trivial
as this definition sounds, many dealers have lulled themselves into a false
sense of call back nirvana, because they are counting no part calls, courtesy
calls, PM calls, and shop calls, among the total calls. Then, dividing the
totals by the CBs, when in reality it is the customer generated EM calls that
should be the reference point. After all, isn’t the goal to have the customer
call you as few times as possible?


key component to reducing CBs is to be sure the techs are compensated in a way
that encourages them to make the machines run well, not simply to reduce the
number of CBs. Time and time again, I see dealers set up the acceptable CB
performance levels, only to have their techs manipulate their systems to meet
the number, instead of actually reducing the number of call-backs. For example,
I have a customer whose techs are saying, they are unable to complete better
than 60 percent of their calls, because of “no parts.” They then want to see
if the customer calls back within the CB parameters; if they do, they cancel the
customer call, and take the no part call. Once it exceeds the call-back
parameters, they will cancel the no part call. This kind of number game playing
cannot be tolerated.


way of handling this problem is to pay the technician a per-click commission,
for every copy produced, after their call is complete. If a CB occurs, they
loose those “copies.” By taking the emphasis off the number of CBs that
occur and changing their focus to the benefits of doing a quality job, you can
get the needed results. This method also changes the punishment and reward. Most
dealer systems punish the technician for having a CB rate that exceeds their
pre-determined standards. This is done in an effort to encourage the technician
to reduce the total number of calls that could be defined as CBs.


the BEI method, there is very little direct penalty for the call-back. The few
copies we are taking away impact their bottom line very little. What is being
impacted is the technician’s ability to manage a large volume of copies.
Techs, with a high CB rate, cannot manage as many copies as someone with a lower
rate. Thus, they are limiting their income as a result of not doing a quality
call. At first glance, it may look like an average tech will loose about $15.00
to $25.00 per month because of CBs, but eliminating those CBs would net the
average tech over $100.00 per month. Knowing this, how do you think your techs
would respond?


is vitally important to understand what the intended outcome is and how to
tailor your incentives around those goals. Once the goal has been stated, you
must structure your compensation so that achieving those goals has a direct and
immediate reward. One of the most common mistakes made by the dealer is
compensating techs on a quarterly or semi annual basis. This never works for
several reasons. I believe that changing behavior is much like disciplining
children. The closer the reward or punishment is to the behavior, the better the
results. Most technicians cannot remember specific service calls that happened
two weeks ago, let alone two months. So, it is unrealistic to expect them to
remember what they did or did not do, over the last quarter, to earn their
bonus. If it were not for the logistics involved, I would pay techs every week,
based on the previous week’s performance. Paying each month balances the
administrative labor involved with the desire to reward a technician’s
successes for the prior month. Another benefit of paying monthly is that most
techs live pay check to pay check, and as such, will most likely spend any
bonuses they receive. Getting them used to having additional income each month
will encourage them to maintain the standards they set for themselves;
otherwise, their income will suffer the next month. This will, almost by
default, force them to sustain the improvements in their technical performance.


can be managed and reduced, but you must be willing to set and adjust your
criteria, and then be willing to provide the proper incentive to achieve the
desired reduction involved with these excessive calls. 



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