Ask any manager in any company: What do you know about service management in your company? As an answer most likely you going to hear: “I am too busy with sales to take care about service as well. For me the most important is satisfaction of the clients, and the service manager should think about how to make it, I’m paying him money for it.
But the truth is, that 90& of company managers are perfectly understand the service importance for their business. They would like to know more about management principals, service strategy, KPI and etc. But they don’t want to admit their incompetence in this question and don’t know where to get necessary knowledges. They even don’t take into consideration, that service it’s not just chaotic manager movements, every day solving ten tasks to support everyday work of company. This is not monotonous drone in call-center or technical support, not back office regular conflicts and account department, not technicians which seem more like ghosts, which sometimes appears in the office but the staff don’t recognize them.
Managing service as a system
Service is a system. System based on marketing, statistic, analytics, long-term strategy, operational and tactic tasks. Like any system, a service has entry points, control actions that can be changed to get the desired result and exit points, a result that needs to be constantly monitored and compared with a plan to adjust control actions.
Knowing how the system works, you can easily and quickly set it up for your business. You need high quality and satisfied customers; the costs are not considered, you are welcome. It is necessary to reduce costs and maximize the use of resources and employees, no questions. Do you want your service to exceed the standards of all competitors and at the same time cost you less? Also, It is possible. Are you planning to develop a commercial service in order to create a second profit center in the company and attract clients with the help of long-term and mutually beneficial service contracts? Under certain conditions this is also possible.
Customer service. Does it need to be managed?
Strange, but experienced managers, well versed in the organization of sales, having a long-term strategy, understanding the process from the first contact with the client to the completion of the transaction, setting standards and KPI for managers on the number of meetings, conversions, etc. do not think at all that it is possible to manage the service department in the company according to the same principles.
Why it happens? The answer is simple. They have nothing to compare with. The closest competitors are the same. And for some reason, foreign companies are not taken into consideration. And even dealers often have a very superficial understanding of the work of the Russian representative offices of their suppliers. But the situation is changing. Competition is intensifying and few managers would not like to see service as their competitive advantage. Somewhere in the subconscious there is a thought that “it’s time to change something”. Believe me, your competitors are pestering the same thoughts. The only question is who will start the changes earlier and who will get them better.
A good service manager is fluent in KPI service numbers and can analyze them, make decisions based on statistics, his experience and the chosen strategy. And then translate digit-based decisions into concrete actions to get the desired result. He sees the system as a three-dimensional model on a computer, and he knows what needs to be changed in the original plans in order not to deviate from the tasks set. And this process in his head happens constantly, in real time. But is the work of the service manager in your company structured?
How to improve the quality of service management?
Remember, what you talked about in an interview with a candidate for the head of sales. Most likely you talked about strategy, about the market share of you and your competitors, about customer segmentation, about the stages of making a deal, about sales methods and entering a decision maker. Surely, you talked about sales channels, conversions, standards for meetings and training for young managers, about opening branches and working with partners, about the correct positioning of the product, its advantages and disadvantages.
Now remember what you talked with the head of the service department? You asked what equipment he knows, what work he did and, at best, what is his experience in managing the team. Although, most often the head of the service department becomes one of the most experienced engineers. He can perfectly repair the equipment, but he is not able to build, or, even more so, repair your system.
Over time, he will learn to “feel” the entry points and intuitively calculate control actions. But, firstly, it will still be at the basic level in comparison with ready-made models and systems used by foreign companies, and secondly, are you sure that you have this time? That already today your competitors have not started cooperating with specialists able to “translate service into a figure”, scale successful projects and reduce the likelihood of failures?
It is much easier, having an efficiently working service, to set market standards for the quality of service by yourself, rather than trying to keep up with the leaders of an inefficient service organization. This race will require doping in the form of cash injections that can quickly reduce the competitiveness of your product and company profits.
Recently, it is more and more talk about IT technologies, about the benefits that they give to companies. Especially strongly these advantages are manifested in the service. But to take advantage of these advantages, you need to have a certain level of development of the organization, which 90% of Russian companies don’t have.
For ease of understanding: the quality of service management in most Russian companies is now at the level of the Stone Age. But the average company (with a big desire of the owner) is able to pass the way from the stone ax to the airship in just 1-1,5 years. This is the time required for modern business management practices to take root.
Another half a year will be spent on building a “jet plane”, to reach a level where benefits can be obtained only through modern technologies. After that, the competitors from the “Stone Age” will have nothing left to do but to search for their niches and observe others' successes with envy.
“Change or die” - this phrase, said by President and reformer of the giant General Electric Jack Welch more than 20 years ago, is particularly relevant now, during the “fourth industrial revolution”, when significant changes in the external environment no longer need decades or even years. These changes are happening in front of us.