No Substitute for Good Management4 Apr, 2011 By: Tom Arney, Service Consultant imageSource
No Substitute for Good Management
Throughout history, managers have spent the ages seeking out the “Holy Grail”
of programs or quick fix technologies to magically make service personnel
perform as they command. Notably, the key to unlock this mystery lies within the
During my more than 25 years in the office products industry, I have had
multiple programs heaped upon me as a technician to get me to service the
products and customers as my manager desired. Also as a Service Manager, I spent
a large amount of time in the quest to find the one program, or a combination of
programs, for the magical processes that would answer my service productivity
There were the bonus programs that seemed to change on a moment by moment
basis as some of the technicians found ways to manipulate the program to their
benefit while others simply ignored them all together. Enter technology…within
these cutting edge devices must be the answers to all our service problems…as we
can now tweet, text, link, upload, email or broadcast all our desires to the
field. In turn, our field staff can reciprocate by communicating directly to our
operating software through PDA’s, Blackberry’s, Notebooks and Laptops. Let’s not
forget GPS and mapping and automated dispatching systems that are designed to
make managers obsolete.
Certainly with all this technology and the right bonus program in place, our
service personnel should be servicing the base in perfect harmony with the goals
and objectives of the department. Right? Unfortunately that is not the case.
Don’t get me wrong, all these items have their place and all can help facilitate
the Service Manager to achieve the desired results, but they are only
accessories & add-ons to the real secret in creating a great service
Management. Basic Wikipedia’s definition: Management in all business
and organizational activities is the act of getting people together to
accomplish desired goals and objectives using available resources efficiently
In this definition, the job of the manager is to get people together and by
using what is available, such as programs and technology, to obtain the goals of
the organization. You cannot simply employ the programs and technology then
expect that the goals will be achieved, but with the proper foundation of solid
management, the programs, along with technology, can improve the ability to
achieve the desired results.
People. Author Jim Collins wrote in “Good to Great” that if you have
the right people on the bus, it doesn’t matter where the bus is going.
Obviously, if you’re running a service organization you need people with
technical skills to service the product. What Mr. Collins is referring to is the
attitude of the people that are on the bus. Do they understand the goals of the
organization? Do their values match that of the manager and the company? Do
they understand their role and what is expected from them in order for the
department to achieve their objectives?
Many of us have or have had technicians that, from a technical stand point,
are very good and you wonder how you could have done without them on your staff.
At the same time, because of their attitude, demeanor or character make-up, they
turn off customers, fellow technicians or other employees. These people can be
turned around but not through implementing a new bonus program or by handing
them a shiny new PDA.
Communication. The foundation of a good service organization is in its
method of communication. We must communicate end-result goals so everyone
understands the objective. This includes the “why” and not just the “what.” Why
do we need to average 5 calls a day? Why do I need to be at my first call at
8:00 AM? Not until all the service personnel understand the goals, and more
significantly, why achieving them is important, will it create “buy-in” and a
common team objective.
Minimum expectations must be set to ensure that everyone knows what “Good”
looks like, and that these standards are the minimum expected performance. Most
technicians, once they understand what is expected and that they will be judged
by these standards, will excel in this environment; some others may not.
This is where management must step in; re-communicate the goals, identify the
obstacles and, with the technician’s assistance, develop an action plan to
achieve the proper goals that produce desired results. If the technician
continues to struggle then it may be necessary to consider eliminating that
technician. It doesn’t matter if you are following the “Johnson Model” or
another set of service metrics. As long as you are consistent in your
measurement and it is equally applied throughout the department, you will move
the bar in a positive direction.
Once everyone is on board and the goals are understood, look to bonus
programs to help drive the activity. This will help satisfy the “WIIFM” (what’s
in it for me) question in your technician’s mind. Be sure to keep it simple and
based on your goals, and reward only those that are over-achieving; yet adjust
it as needed. Remember, it’s not the amount of the bonus but the recognition
that makes the biggest impact.
Technology can be advantageously utilized as long as the benefits outweigh
the costs. No GPS system or computer system will ever replace the benefits from
doing in-field audits in person with your technicians and customers. As Jerry
Newberry, President, Elite Pros (formerly BEI Pros) has always said, “You should
inspect what you expect.”
Customers. Hopefully a part of your expectations will revolve around
customer satisfaction in a non-technical fashion. The further we go down the
path of technology, the less we have an opportunity to show our appreciation for
the customer through our direct interaction on a day-to-day basis.
Over the past few years the decision maker regarding MFP service vendors
within our customers’ hierarchy has been passed from the Executive or C-level
office to the Purchasing Manager and now, in many cases, to the IT Department.
As a result, this department is much closer to the end-user and is instantly
aware of any negative interactions with service personnel. This change can work
in your favor if you make great customer service part of your “total call”
After all, the customer is ultimately the “Holy Grail” in business - the key
to our collective success as an organization. Whichever company has the
happiest customers in the end, wins big.
Tom Arney began his career as a technician with Cascade Office Systems, WA
in 1987; Global Imaging Systems acquired the Co. in 1997; Tom was named “Service
Manager of the Year” for GIS in 1999 / 2005 & named to the group known as
“Global’s Greatest” honoring the top 1% of GIS staff. Xerox acquired GIS in ‘07
& Tom went on to pursue other opportunities in 2010. At