Customers love uptime — those periods when the equipment is running properly — and you’ll rarely hear from them when things are moving smoothly. But as soon as a machine let’s loose a loud pop, bang and whiz, you’ll get a frantic call asking why your company’s equipment is so bad.
Too often I meet end users who follow the “run it ’till it breaks” maintenance plan. Their in-house mechanics are firemen who must respond to the latest emergency situation, while the OEM service provider is the expensive cavalry called to save the day. The result? Expensive operations and periods of zero production from equipment. It’s any service manager’s nightmare.
That’s reactive service, and it’s my least favorite situations to deal with as a senior supervisor. Downtime is costly and ineffectual for everyone involved — and for service leaders, it means dealing with stressed technicians and angry customers.
Making the Switch
No fun, right? Nope. That’s why, when I took over my service department, my first goal was to transition from reactive to proactive service. I made the switch by following several steps, including:
- Rethink and reassign job responsibilities: This can increase employees’ ability to perform other tasks. For example, I now have an inside sales supervisor to handle all spare part and kit sales. Separating that from the service supervisor position has allowed me to better focus on service strategy.
- Share knowledge: Ensure techs and engineers alike are properly equipped with the tools and knowledge base access that’s necessary to perform their duties, at the expected pace. What’s more, a lack of accessibility increases reaction times — and being ahead of the curve is how my team stays proactive.
- Set proper expectations: Change the goals and objectives of field service techs. For example, making first-time fix rates (and no call-backs) a weighted KPI for technicians can greatly increase their productivity and attentiveness.
- Work closely with sales and marketing: Work with non-field service groups like sales and marketing to ensure that they are offering customers what they truly need, and transmitting it internally to avoid company-paid change order and punch list items…
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