My customer thought me about customer service

This is a short story on how a friend of mine was delighted by the Service he received from his Customer!

My friend has been running a service business for over two decades and is well known in his community for his continuous focus in providing customers with the best possible service experience. Over the years his business had grown from a very small, one man operation, to a respected local business with over 200 technicians, managers, and back office staff. Having diversified his business to represent several Multi National Companies, he has had to relinquish, some of the responsibility of running the day to day activities of his business. His organisation shares his vision of providing best in class customer service. But, as the company has grown, it has become increasingly difficult to meet every customers expectation.

Recently, due to improper communication and delay in taking action, a very valuable customer was insulted by the team. Having understood the gravity of the situation, my friend decided to personally visit the customer to extend an apology and to mend the relationship. This meant that he would have to drive over 150 kms (one way); but he wasn’t about to allow distance and time deter him from taking action. As you might expect, his visit was successful and the customer was delighted by his promptness. They agreed to continue doing business together, and be more mindful of each others problems. After the meeting my friend and his two managers, decided to spend the rest of the morning visiting other customers in the vicinity.

The day was progressing as planned until the vehicle they were travelling in had a breakdown. They were shocked to see that both the front and rear tyres on the left of the car were punctured, and the worst part was that they were in the middle of nowhere with just one spare. In desperation my friend called up his customer and explained his predicament. Before he knew it, the customer had already sent a vehicle with helpers to dismantle the tyres and take it to the nearest repair shop. Almost immediately following the departure of his helpers, the customer himself arrived to escort my friend to his home for lunch.

Over lunch, my friend was thanking the customer for his generosity, when news arrived that the tyres were not repairable. The customer reassured my friend that he would have them on their way back home soon, and to enjoy lunch. After lunch the customer proceeded to accompany my friend and his team to the nearest tyre shop and bought new tyres for them. The tyres were replaced and the team could finally return, but not before thanking the customer profusely.

On hearing about this incident, I decided to call my friend up to check if he was ok. He couldn’t stop talking about the whole incident. He was clearly thankful, embarrassed, excited, and overwhelmed by the experience. He had experienced unconditional customer service from his customer! He told me that he has taken the decision to try and provide all his customers with a similar experience.

Have you had similar experiences? Please leave your comments and thoughts on this post.

Monitor Service Requests

The data available to a service coordinator or manager can sometimes be confusing and overwhelming. The service team of any organisation has to manage organisational expectations, OEM expectations, customer expectations, employee expectations, etc. These expectations are communicated in the form of business targets, service requests, appraisal requests, etc. To effectively manage in this high pressure environment, it is imperative that data is available at your fingertips. More importantly, it is critical that the right data is always presented, first time. But lets not get carried away. Managing an entire service business is a blog by itself. Lets focus on just managing field service activities. These activities are the primary revenue stream for service organisations.

Lets assume that you are the local service partner for a larger company. You will most likely have to manage several different types of service activities, including, but not limited to warranty period visits (free or otherwise), post warranty period paid service visits, maintenance contract visits, free check up (goodwill) visits, parts promotion visits, etc. Almost all these visits can generate revenues for your organisation and it is important that you and your team are aware of when to carry out the same. Many larger organisations, do not pay their dealers for warranty period visits, if the same is not carried out as per their requirement (time elapsed / machine run time). Similarly, delays in attending customer service requests, will result in customers refusing to pay you for your services, refusing to renew contracts, etc. So how do you make sure that you and your team are always on top of things?

The first step is to record all the potential visits that you might have to make, for the foreseeable future. After this is done, you can follow it up by recording customer service requests. Once the requirement for visits is recorded, you can start sending your field technicians to attend to your customers. These visits have to be recorded and tallied, so you are aware of how many visits are completed and how many visits are pending. You have to also keep a close eye on visits done, where issues have not been resolved. Every day that passes by, more information is added. If you manage to maintain a record of this information, you can then use it to understand your service business in greater details. For example, which type of equipment is demanding more service, which field technician is resolving more complaints, which customer is frequently calling you for service, etc. This information is critical to a business owner as it tells him, exactly, which aspects of his business requires more attention, more focus and changes. It also, gives him an understanding of his customers and his field teams performance. As you can imagine, doing all this using an Excel spreadsheet is going to be incredibly difficult. That is where Atom Tracker comes in. We have designed the system to be extremely clean and simple to track all the different types of visits that your team has to make, capture all your customers service expectations, monitor the performance of your field team vis a vis the customer and finally draw conclusions from these and other data points to improve your service business.

 

Instant Feedback from the Site

When we set out to design Atom Tracker, we took up the challenge to create a quick and easy way for the field service team to communicate with their service coordinator or manager. In today’s fast paced world, there is a need to know what’s happening at all sites, at all times. Managers can no longer depend on conventional forms of communication. A service report is the backbone of the service industry. For a very long time, service organisations and customers alike have depended on service reports to capture the status of service requests and officially communicate with service providers.

Service reports tend to capture the following information for the benefit of all concerned:

  • Name and contact details of the customer
  • Service visit, in and out time / date
  • Asset reference name and model number
  • Nature of the service request
  • Activities carried out by the service representative
  • Status of the service request
  • Customer comments
  • Service representative and customer signature with seal

A complete service report will give a service manager great insights into the actual status of the customers service request. It will include a detailed description of the work carried out the components replaced / failed, the expectations of the customer, etc. But there is one major weakness that has plagued service reports since the beginning. They are are physical documents that the field service team has to submit to the office or mail from remote locations. This means that there is almost always a delay between completing the report and analysing it to take action.

Can this problem be overcome? With Atom Tracker, we have threaded the fine balance of retaining service reports and conveying information from the field to the office. Using our free android application, your service team can instantly update the status of complaint and pass one the most relevant information to your service manager. They can update managers of components replaced and/or the requirement for new components, customers expectations and activities carried out. They can also add remarks for future reference.

For more information, sign up for your free basic Atom Tracker account today.

Planning Visits and Managing Contracts

How often do you plan your service activities more than a few days in advance? The most effective service organisations, understand the importance of properly planning their teams service activities several weeks or months in advance. Planning, so far in advance, can be extremely time consuming, and difficult to monitor. More often than not, the best laid plans are forgotten and all the effort that went into the planning is lost permanently.

Companies can plan several types of visits in advance. Some of these include:

  • Maintenance contract visit
  • Good will visit
  • Free check up visit
  • Parts promotion visit
  • Maintenance contract promotion visit
  • Payment follow up visit

Defining such visits for your service organisation is the first step towards creating planned visits. On completing this activity, the next step is to identify potential customers and suitable service staff, for planning visits. To begin with, it is usually a good idea to plan just a few days in advance and then progress to weekly, monthly and yearly planning. A few important points to note when planning visits in advance are:

  • Make sure your plan is flexible
  • Planned visits need to have a clear agenda
  • Service team has to be made aware of the plan well in advance
  • Relevant customer history has to be provided to all concerned so as to make the visit more effective
  • Plan based on customer location so as to reduce travel time for service team

You will agree with me that even a highly experienced manager will find all thus extremely daunting and tedious. For any planning to succeed, it has to be consistent and continuous. But most importantly, you have to follow up to ensure that the planned visits are being executed.

Manpower Utilisation

All of the above information might be interesting. But unless you can execute some or all of the ideas in your organisation, it is irrelevant. So how do you get on top of the task of planning and executing planned visits? The short answer – Atom Tracker. We have always known that manpower utilisation is the most important metrics to monitor the profitability of your service business. Increasing utilization and productivity can substantially increase your profitability. Atom Tracker makes it extremely easy to monitor:

  • Pending maintenance contracts
  • Pending mandatory service visits during warranty
  • Planned visits

All the above visit types have their own live tile on our Dashboard, and act as a constant reminder to your service team. Based on the pending maintenance contract visits and mandatory service visits, your service coordinator can create planned visits, very easily using the same methods followed while creating a customer service request, but entering a future date / time. By doing so the visits is automatically classified as a planned visit, and such visits can easily be tracked.

For more information on this and other features, please register on Atom Tracker and try our free Basic pack.

Service Requests

Providing timely service is the focal point of a service business. Every industry has a benchmark for timely service, and you are the best judge of your customers expectations. Some companies follow the time tested method of using a physical register to capture their customers service requests while others use excel spreadsheets to do the same thing. Both these methods are important and have their place in any service organisation. However, they have their inherent weaknesses. Take the physical register for example. There is only one copy and it can be updated only if the person responsible is present in office. It is entered by hand and can be difficult to read for others when reviewing the same. It is difficult to monitor complaints that are remain open for long periods of time. The data cannot be used for understanding the quality / quantity of service provided without the aid of software tools like Excel

Similarly, Excel spreadsheets are extremely sensitive to the formatting of data entered, and can get corrupted easily. There is a high possibility for multiple versions of the file being present making difficult to monitor which is the most up to date version. There are usually no backups maintained and even those that are maintained are dependant on people to ensure that it is up to date. As the quantum of information increases, it will get difficult to monitor and also the system could get sluggish.

Service Request Registration made Easy

New Service Request

So what is the solution? In short Atom Tracker. We have made it extremely easy for users to register a customer service request in just a few clicks. When the customer calls requesting service, your coordinator can easily initiate a service request on Atom Tracker from the service request home page. With searchable lists and options to categorise service requests right from this page, it is easy to capture all customer service requests. There are several other advantages to this model, including but not limited to, assigning service engineers, updating machine details, prioritising, etc. during service request creation.

Once a service request is created it is possible to monitor the status of your active service requests from the pending service request page. For more details, feel free to activate your free Atom Tracker account.

Intuitive Dashboard

Wouldn’t it be great, if what you see is what you need? The Atom Tracker Dashboard does exactly that. It gives you and your team instant insight into your service business. We realised that the best way to do this was using live tiles that not only give you relevant information, but also act as shortcuts.

Atom Tracker Dashboard

Customers, Assets, Employees and MTTR

The Dashboard gives you a glimpse of your service business. The top row of live tiles include details on:

  1. Number of customers
  2. Number of assets owned by your customers
  3. Number of employees that are part of your service organisation
  4. Your organization’s current average response time for addressing service requests

This information is extremely important to your team as it gives them a clear picture of your organization’s service potential at any given time. Clicking on any tile will take you to the relevant page where you can take further review potential in detail and take action to address the gaps.

The MTTR displayed, is an indication of your organization’s ability to resolve customer service requests, and measures your teams overall performance over time. This figure is extremely important, as it helps your team stay focused and motivates them to ensure that the organization MTTR is matching customer expectations.

Pending Requests, AMC Visits and Planned Requests

In the second row, service coordinators have a clear view of the current staus of the service business:

  1. All pending requests for service
  2. All pending contract visits
  3. All pending planned / goodwill visits

This information is critical to help your and your managers plan and allocate manpower on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Each live tile leads directly to relevant pages, where managers can take further action. The pending AMC visits is an especially powerful tool as it is constantly updating based on visits made and when your team utilises this feature, they can easily manage maintenance contracts to your customers satisfaction.

Parts Changes and Parts Requests

The last few tiles in the second row are related to parts business and act as reminders to your team of the need to follow up with customers based on the feedback received from your service team directly from the site. This is another extremely powerful tool when utilised to its full potential as it reduces any lead time between identifying parts requirement and intimating customers by the manager.

Simple Workflow

At Atomfinch we know how important it is for your team to have a simple and intuitive workflow. Atom Tracker was designed to ensure that the process of registering a complaint and monitoring it is as simple as few clicks of the mouse. Through extensive field testing and trials, we have refined Atom Tracker with the features that are most important for managers.

Manage your Service Business

Recording and monitoring customer service requests, planned visits or annual service contracts can be extremely tedious and time consuming. Most organizations still depend on physical registers and spreadsheets to manage their service business. While these do serve an important role even today they are limited by design.

With Atom Tracker, once you feed in the equipment, customer and service team details, you are good to go. Any time a customer calls with a service request, your service coordinator can key in all relevant details, during the call itself. The request can be allocated to a service team member in the field, who will receive a notification on his android smartphone.

The field staff can review the request through the Android App and then chose to accept it based on their current status. The customer location can be identified on Google maps and your field staff can easily find their way using turn by turn navigation. On arriving at the site, your staff can easily check in to the site and once he completes the assigned task, he can easily update the status and checkout of the site.

Your service coordinator can monitor all the pending service requests and also review all visits made. He/she can also add specific remarks to each customer so as to alert the field team on specific activities to be carried out during the visit. In addition, he can also identify potential customers in close proximity for the field team to visit, if there is time available.

We understand how difficult it is to manage your service manpower, so we designed a product that does half the work for you. With quick short cuts to all the important tasks that matter to your service business, Atom Tracker will improve your team’s efficiency and productivity.

Designed for SMEs

Atom Tracker was designed specifically to cater to SME’s. At Atomfinch we understand how daunting and confusing it must be to identify a suitable service tracking product. The segment is over crowded with software products that try to capture all aspects of your business and pay little attention to the issues faced by your service team. More importantly, who has the patience to enter all that extra information just so you can register a customer request for service and meet his expectation.

CRM software tools have an important role to play in large organisations where it is difficult to keep track of past transactions or commitments that the organisation had with its customers. They are designed more from the point of view of sales than service. A service package should be able to link your service team with your customers seamlessly and instantaneously. That’s why we created Atom Tracker.

Remove the Clutter

It is designed with a few key objectives in mind. Firstly, to track your customer‘s service requests. Secondly, to monitor your service team and its effectiveness in serving your customers. And thirdly, to transmit all this information seamlessly between your office and your service team, including your customers requirement for parts. We have removed the clutter, so you can focus on serving your customer as efficiently as possible.

The best part of Atom Tracker is that we have understood the need for creating a tailor made product for the service industry, but also understood the need for providing it at a reasonable price point. In fact, we recognise the need for companies to try and experience our product before committing their organisation to Atom Tracker. Hence we have provided a free Basic package with all the features of our Enterprise package, including lifetime validity, but limited to 5 active users. For more information please visit the Atom Tracker website.

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