In the final feature from our exclusive serialisation of Jim Baston’s excellent industry focused book Beyond Great Service we see the benefits that have resulted in Charlie’s efforts to establish a new sales-focused mentality amongst his service engineers that doesn’t compromise their trusted advisor status and even more importantly that they as service professionals are comfortable with…
Over the past several months, we have watched as Charlie formulated and implemented a strategy to proactively engage his field service team in making recommendations to their customers to help them to be better off.
We saw how he came to realize that making recommendations of this nature was a service and not a sale and how he took steps to integrate this initiative into their overall service delivery.
Here we look in on Charlie as he reflects on how far they have progressed since initiating Intelligent Service just over six months ago.
It’s been six months since the new service initiative was launched and Charlie is preparing for the Monday morning service meeting.
He is planning to provide a report to the service group on the performance of the program to date. He sits back to reflect on all that has happened since he first introduced the concept to the service team.
Things have moved fast. Charlie listed in his mind all that had been accomplished since then.
- Sales materials promoting the new initiative (named ‘Intelligent Service’)
- Changes to Novus’ maintenance contract proposals and terms, reflecting the nature of the service to be provided, and outlining the formal and informal customer reviews
- A management process and tracking system to ensure that all opportunities are captured and followed up in a timely manner
- A training program for technicians to increase their confidence and effectiveness in having proactive conversations with their customers
- A monthly newsletter for customers, highlighting the latest in conservation practices and green technologies
- Changes to the website reflecting the new Intelligent Service, featuring an interactive learning portal with up-to-date information on products and services, including significant issues and trends affecting customers, and a place for customer questions
- Customer-focused seminars on pressing issues like energy conservation, new rules and legislations, etc.
- A revised customer satisfaction survey that includes questions about how proactive the technicians were in bringing new ideas to the customer’s attention
- An Intelligent Service Dashboard of key metrics to measure the effectiveness of the program
It is early yet, and some of the programs (for example the customer seminar program) are just getting underway and the initial signs are positive. New contract sales are up slightly, and John in sales has reported that the new initiative is getting lots of attention.
The contract kick-off meetings are getting favourable reports and overall customer satisfaction scores are trending upwards. Also on the rise is the percentage of additional revenue generated within the contract base.
There’s been no significant change in the contract retention rate, but Charlie concedes that not enough time has passed to give a true indication of what is happening there.
All of this is good, but Charlie knows that the real reason for this initial success has been due to the efforts of Ken and the technicians. For some, this process has merely validated their own personal (and successful) approach to serving their customers.
To others, however, what has been asked of them is a significant change in approach and with this change, a significant increase in discomfort. Charlie and Ken both know that without constant support and constructive feedback, people faced with significant change often revert back to their original habits over time.
That is why most initiatives of this nature fail. It’s also why Charlie feels that a major portion of the credit for the success of their new approach is due to Ken’s great example and leadership.
… stronger relationships continue to evolve between the service and sales departments, with John playing an instrumental part.
There is a definite increase in the number of inquiries coming in as a result of the technicians’ efforts, and John is handling it all in stride. He painstakingly keeps each tech informed throughout the sales cycle.
On occasions when his workload will not allow him to respond to a customer issue as quickly as he would like, he speaks to the technician as well as the customer to determine the level of priority that is required. In instances where time is of the essence, he’s quick to get Ken or Charlie involved so that nothing falls through the cracks.
Although the results have been positive on just about every front, Charlie knows that the customers will ultimately determine their success.
That is why he and Ken have each set up meetings with ten of their customers over the next three weeks to discuss the program and to get their feedback to date.
They want to ensure that the customers fully understand what the program is all about and recognize the value provided. More importantly, however, they want to ensure that Novus is delivering as promised, and through the eyes of the customer, if the promise made is being fulfilled to their satisfaction.
… Charlie is startled by the telephone.
It’s Joe Costello of East Side Properties. “Charlie, we’ve just won a contract to manage three buildings for a major building owner in town. I’d like you to come and see me about Novus doing the mechanical maintenance. How soon can you get over to see me?”
Charlie smiled. Things just keep getting better.
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