The vast majority of integrators I speak with agree that service is one of the biggest challenges facing their business. They believe that service revenue must become a bigger part of their financial mix. Adding to this challenge is the fact that service is already taxing their teams like never before.
In spite of this knowledge, many of them still run service as a relatively unstructured program and a break-even financial exercise at best. And in place of a structured and sustainable service program, most continue to provide “best effort service,” a surefire recipe for team burnout.
Many have tried to institute changes to make their service more profitable and sustainable. Most have failed. My colleague, Jason Griffing, recently shared some insights with our team from a great article from the Harvard Business Review (HBR) titled "The Hard Side of Change Management." One of the key facts? Across the business world, two out of three transformation initiatives fail. Integrators struggling to transform the service arm of their business contribute to that statistic.
Related: From Service to Sales
Their theory: So many of these initiatives fail because people don’t focus on the “hard” factors that determine success. These boil down to four factors — duration, integrity, commitment, effort (easily remembered with the acronym DICE). If you’re looking to finally institute meaningful change in the way you deliver service, here’s how the four factors can determine your success.
Do not assume that the longer a project will take to complete the more likely it is to fail. In fact, the length of time between reviews is far more important in determining your success. In other words, a short project infrequently reviewed is far more likely to fail than a long project reviewed at frequent intervals.
The takeaway? Give your service transformation initiatives a prominent seat at the table during your recurring leadership meetings. If you don’t already conduct these regular leadership meetings, use this project as a catalyst to start. Service is a vital component of your company’s future; successfully driving change will require regular reviews from the top brass in your business.
Also, schedule milestones that encompass a number of tasks for your team to complete between each review. The key is to make your milestones specific. For example, instead of “complete terms of service (ToS),” a milestone should look something like “first draft of ToS is complete and has been reviewed by stakeholders.” A little extra effort in creating your milestones will give your team much more clarity about the work required to keep the project on pace.
Integrity refers to the extent to which you can rely on the team assigned to this project. Avoid the trap of keeping your best people off the project for fear of their regular work suffering. The success or failure of your service transformation will depend largely on the quality of the team you assign to the project. Acknowledge to yourself and to your team that those working on the project may be required to “go the extra mile” in order to complete the project and keep their regular work on course. Be prepared to incentivize them if you have to.
Another effective technique is to “time block”. Ask them to allocate specific days or times of the day to the initiative, then help them protect this time by letting your team know they will be unavailable for regular day-to-day work during these time blocks.
On a personal note, I benefit greatly from the practice of time blocking. Without it, I find that my calendar quickly fills up with other things. As a multi-hat wearing small-business team member (like most integrators), it’s easy to think “I’ll find more time” or “I’ll stay up late.” But I’m finding that increasingly difficult to do. So I’ve taken to blocking time on my calendar to focus on these types of initiatives.
In order for your service transformation to be a success, two key groups must be fully committed to seeing it through. First, the initiative must have clearly visible backing from top executives in the company. No amount is too much. A good rule of thumb provided in the HBR story is that, “When you feel that you are talking up a change initiative at least three times more than you need to, your [team] will feel that you are backing the transformation.”
Equally important, you must also get buy-in from employees who will deal directly with your new systems, processes, and ways of working. Early efforts to engage your entire team can turn them from doubters to champions. Have straight conversations about your service transformation objectives and their importance to the long-term health of your company. Doing so is the best way to ensure they are committed to seeing the project through to a successful completion.
Never forget that your employees’ plates are already full with their day-to-day responsibilities. This makes resistance to new ways of doing business natural, as change always requires additional effort to implement. Ideally, no one’s workload should increase more than 10 percent during the changeover process.
To maximize your odds of success, identify the employees who play the most key roles in the change and rid them of discretionary or non-essential responsibilities during the transition. This is easier said than done in a small business, and you may need to get creative. For example, as HBR’s article states, you can relieve pressure during your service transformation by partnering with others, something OneVision does for our growing partner network every day.
Leverage the “DICE Formula” to Drive Change
If you’re like most integrators I meet with, then you see transforming your service department into a more profitable and sustainable component of your company’s strategic roadmap as part of your vision. Driving this sort of meaningful change is hard in any business, but especially so in small-to-medium-sized businesses with the fast-paced nature inherent in this industry. The DICE formula provides a simple and effective tool for increasing your likelihood of success. Paying close attention to the four “hard” factors of change management is the best way to ensure that you can successfully transform your service offerings.
If you’re looking for a turnkey solution to the service transformation, or simply want to chat about how to tackle change management in your company, drop me a line in the comments below. I would love to connect. —Joey