Service-ology: the Art and Science of Finally Solving the Service Problem Why Incorporating Service into Every Phase of the Client Lifecycle is the Best Path to a Profitable and Sustainable Service Department By Joseph Kolchinsky Published: May 15, 2018 ⋅ Updated: April 15, 2019 For the last couple of months, I’ve had the opportunity to hit the road for our National Tour. Meeting with home technology professionals (HTPs) all over the country to discuss effective service strategies has been a blast. Service is a problem that everyone is trying to solve, and it shows now more than ever. On several of my trips, I’ve had the chance to present a condensed version of our “Service-ology” workshops. This presentation covers many of the detailed concepts that HTPs on the OneVision platform leverage to build sustainable, high-quality, and profitable service departments. Given the amazing engagement and feedback we’ve been getting on our tour, I thought I would share some of the key insights that we teach. If you are headed to CEDIA 2018 and are interested in taking a deep dive on these topics, register for all three of our Service-ology workshops here. Leading Sales with Service – Setting Proper Expectations Leading with service during your sales process is one of the most important ingredients to successfully tackling the service problem. Too many HTPs shy away from the topic, presenting their premium aftercare plans (which we at OneVision call “memberships”) as an optional afterthought, if they present them at all. These companies tend to view service as an exercise in damage control (eg “I just gave them my mobile number, but man I hope they don’t call.”) It’s no wonder these companies struggle to sell recurring revenue; it’s hard to demonstrate value when you don’t see service as an opportunity. Conversely, the companies that find success are invariably the ones who leverage their service departments as the ultimate competitive differentiator. This approach requires confidence in the form of a willingness to openly discuss the importance of ongoing service and support from the very first meeting (yes, this requires admitting that the systems you install will, at times, fail). Only by openly discussing this fact can you set the stage for a healthy and profitable ongoing service relationship. Getting your prospective client’s buy-in on the critical role that service will play in their experience allows you to set proper expectations right out of the gate. This paves the way for productive conversations about premium service memberships and eliminates pushback on the inclusion of remote systems management (RSM) solutions and rebootable outlets throughout the project. In short, leading with service is one of the simplest and most effective ways to improve the profitability of your service operations while simultaneously enhancing your client experience. Register for the Leading with Service workshop at CEDIA. Project-to-Service Transition – Setting Up Your Service Team for Success Giving service a prominent role in your sales process is just the beginning. The next critical step is putting it front and center during the project phase. This means teaching your project managers and installation crews to continually reinforce the importance of service. Specific examples of this can include making sure they are fluent in the language of your service memberships and that they reference the service team often. Doing so ensures that your client understands the project phase is finite and that, once the system is handed over, a distinct service phase will begin. This understanding on the part of your client is essential to a smooth and efficient service transition (something that almost every HTP I speak with struggles to attain). Operational success during the project-to-service transition requires that your project team be bought into the importance of setting your service team up for success. The devil is in the details here. Wires must be cleanly managed and labeled, proper ventilation of equipment must be provided, and all backend systems such as rebootable outlets and RSM platforms must be properly configured. Any corner-cutting by your project team on these critical components will have long-lasting effects on the profitability and healthiness of your service relationship. Execution on the steps above ensures a clean project-to-service transition, successfully bridging the gap between what your sales team promised and what your service team must deliver. Register for the Project-to-Service Transition workshop at CEDIA. Service Execution – Following Through on Your Promise Now that you’re successfully leading sales with service and are setting the team up for success a solid project-to-service transition, the only thing left to do is execute on your promise. If you’ve done everything correctly to this point, the lives of your clients and of your service team will be all the better for it; no more digging yourself out of holes caused by improper client expectations or sloppy installations. Instead, service becomes a far more predictable and efficient part of your operations. All client service requests should be funneled through dedicated channels (e.g. a dedicated service phone number and email address). Doing so enables you to bring order to the chaos of service requests being scattered across dozens of different phone numbers and inboxes across your organization. All of these requests should then be piped into a centralized ticketing system, providing a single and comprehensive reference point for service collaboration and documentation. Ensure that your hours of availability and response times for support are consistently met. And, of course, make sure that any benefits outlined in your client’s selected membership are always delivered. Teach your team the importance of empathy, emotional intelligence, and creative problem solving in the support process. And measure success at every step of the process (not just on solve rates and time-to-resolution). Register for the Service Execution workshop at CEDIA. Service at Every Step We’ve met with a growing number of HTPs looking to solve the service problem once and for all. Today’s ultra-competitive smart home landscape combined with the ever-increasing demand for around-the-clock support has left them with little choice but to address the challenge head on. But too many of them focus on the execution of service in its own silo. Instead, it is critical to understand that the companies who find ultimate success with service are those who incorporate it into every phase of the client lifecycle. Interested in learning more? Heading CEDIA this September? Check out our three workshops: Leading Sales with Service, Project-to-Service Transition, and Service Execution.