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Are Your Client Service Efforts Running on Square Wheels?

Two cavemen pull a square-wheeled cart full of rocks. A fellow caveman in the background, holds up a round tire, trying to get their attention. The two laboring cavemen aren’t interested in his pitch. “Too busy!” they reply. Finding the energy needed to get new initiatives off the ground can feel all but impossible. So resign yourself to the status quo and carry on... or maybe, find yourself some round wheels.

I tend to keep a pretty clean office with minimal decorations on the wall, which only lends extra prominence to a single printed cartoon I keep hanging above my desk. Two cavemen are pulling a cart full of rocks. The cart, however, is getting bogged down because it happens to have square wheels. A fellow caveman is in the background, holding a round tire in an effort to get their attention. The two laboring cavemen aren’t interested in his pitch. “Too busy!” they reply.

Image: Thinkstock

For many home technology professionals, the battle to modernize their service operations fits perfectly into this analogy—whether it’s adopting an RSM tool, defining a new on-call policy, or assembling sales collateral for a new RMR program. Although you recognize the importance of such undertakings, they can often represent a new paradigm in your business. Finding the focused energy needed to get them off the ground in the midst of your current workload can feel all but impossible. So you resign yourself to the status quo and carry on.

Plodding Along on Square Wheels…
Pushing your client service efforts along on a set of square wheels in this way is an exhausting exercise. You and your team members constantly receive calls on your personal phones regarding service events, pulling you away from the task at hand, or even worse, from time with your family. Minimal RSM deployment results in many unnecessary truck rolls, pulling valuable resources off of projects. RMR streams that could improve your cash flow, profitability, and company valuation never materialize. The reactive, break-fix model of service continues without an end in sight.

Start Small, Think Big
There’s no doubt that modernizing your service operations is a significant undertaking. From implementing new software tools and sales programs, to crafting a culture of service and getting buy-in from the team, the list of tasks is long and each requires focus. As with any large project, however, breaking these items down into bite-sized pieces is the key to success.

The thought of deploying RSM tools to your entire existing client base, for example, can seem completely overwhelming. Instead, start by simply approaching the five clients that could benefit the most from one of these tools. As another example, planning the company-wide implementation of a robust ticketing system is a daunting task. On the other hand, you could carve out an afternoon to identify a system and initiate a free trial that you can use to track the next few service incidents, to see how it works.

Which specific tasks you start with are less important than the fact that you start. Identifying tasks that are relatively quick and can create meaningful change will build momentum. As your service program begins to gain steam, you can use the increased inertia to tackle your bigger to-do list.

No Need to Reinvent the Wheel
One of the hardest parts of revamping your service strategies is the fact that this represents a paradigm shift, requiring extended periods of thought and planning, while also remaining focused on the design and installation of complex projects. But it’s important to remember that there is no need to re-invent the wheel. Asking friendly colleagues, such as those you may know from industry organizations such CEDIA or buying groups, is a great way to glean information that can help get you started. Learning what has worked and what hasn’t from those who have already been down this road is immensely helpful in completing the initial research and development phase that is so easy to get mired down in.

Nowadays there are even dedicated outside companies, like OneVision (full disclosure: this is my new employer), that can help with this process of optimizing your service operations. Outside firms who are dedicated exclusively to transforming specific parts of your business can drastically reduce the time and effort required of your team. Not only can they bring deep levels of expertise to the table, but they can focus exclusively on solving a particular problem as they are free from the day-to-day battles that invariably pull your attention away from important new initiatives. This leaves you free to focus on the core parts of your business such as relationship building and project execution.

Forcing the Issue
As with implementing any big change to your business, revamping and improving your service operations can be a tall order. Executing this transformation properly requires extensive research, planning, and execution. And the paradigm shift that this process represents will affect not only your existing service operations, but many other parts of your business, including sales, engineering, accounting, and project management.

Successfully bridging this gap requires that you make the transformation a priority. By breaking down the challenge into small tasks and properly prioritizing them, as well as by leveraging the help of others, you will be able succeed in becoming a market leader in service. Alternatively, you could allow your service efforts to plod along on square wheels. The choice is yours.