Our service department is a headache and as a small business that can spell disaster. Employees take more time than necessary to complete jobs, other times they skip parts of what they’re supposed to do. Some folks are often late, others forget to clock in. We need to change things around. Do you have any advice on how we can fix the issues in our service department?
Thoughts of the Day: Start with a top down assessment of your business. Set excellence as the standard. Review your technology and make updates. Make sure to use metrics to speak with facts about what’s going on. Build up teams to support what you’re trying to accomplish.
Start with a top down assessment of your business and your service department.
As the business owner, the buck stops with you – but the standards for other employees are also set by your example. Understanding failures in service needs to start with a top-down review of the leadership. Here are some things to ask consider as you’re reviewing yourself and other members of the leadership team: How well do we:
- Take the initiative to get processes up and running
- Manage a team that is productive, efficient, and successful
- Develop and train employees to make sure they are constantly improving and growing
- Take an active role in resolving conflicts or addressing pain points
- Address any issues at the time that they occur
- Provide positive and negative feedback to the team – remaining positive even when things are difficult.
Look at the leadership of the service department itself.
- What is done to reward people who perform well?
- What happens when things go wrong?
- What happens if a person is underperforming?
Some managers are uncomfortable confronting problems. Others build relationships with the people who work for them and then play favorites regardless of how well or people are performing. Some managers are not able to think on their feet, unable to brainstorm creative solutions when needed.
Spend a few days in the field. Listen in on calls. Watch what happens at the beginning and end of the day when people clock in and out. Sit in on staff meetings. Make sure your leadership is leading their team correctly.
Set customer service excellence as the company standard.
Make your expectations crystal clear. Define what excellent customer service means to your business. Whether you like it or not, customers call the shots in today’s business landscape. Customers are more likely to stop doing business with a company due to a poor customer service experience – even if they need the service or product you offer. Great customer service can be a revenue generator, and often customers will spend more money with a business if it means they will get great customer service.
Look for examples of people going above and beyond and share them with everyone. Work with your team to bolster their customer service skills. The top qualities of good customer service include problem solving skills, patience, high emotional intelligence, clear and effective communication skills, and a proactive mindset. Recognize and reward those people in your service department who do what’s expected and then some.
Learn how to get set up for success in the service department so everyone starts the day on the right foot.
Getting people out the door on the right foot can help reduce tension, and increase customer service levels. Make a checklist.
- Do people have the right parts on their trucks when they head out for work?
- Is there a complete list of job sites ready to go first thing in the morning?
- Are people arriving early for work so they can get organized for the day?
Write down the examples of when the people in your service department do a great job
Use those stories to create memories you can share with the team. Take a picture of a customer thanking an employee. Take pictures of a great worksite – clean, well-organized, happy people doing work they love. Post those pictures everywhere – in the office, in your trucks, in the area where people come in to get tools and parts, on social media.
Take time to review the technology you’re using in your business, and in your service department.
It might be time to update your technology. Take time to assess where the service department failures and issues are happening. Map out the customer journey from closing the sale to servicing the customer. At what point, or points, does your journey has a pretend customer get stuck or slow down. These might be areas where an upgrade in internal software and tech could prove helpful. There are plenty of software solutions out there for internal ticketing systems, dispatching software, and other solutions to help streamline your service department.
Use metrics within the service department to make sure leaders are using facts to discuss what’s going on.
Inspect jobs where the work isn’t completed according to schedule and standard. Look for patterns.
- Are there types of job that take longer than planned? Consider increasing the time budgeted to complete those types of jobs.
- Are some jobs more complex, and require more trained personnel? Look at who’s getting assigned to do what work and make sure the level of skill matches the job requirements.
- Figure out what might be structurally wrong that can be contributing to the problems.
Define your service standards and promote them.
You can measure what’s happening in the field. For example of some things to track in the service department
- track the percentage of jobs completed without need to return
- Percentage of jobs completed on time
- Percentage of work with / without customer complaints.
Track things for a month or two, then set goals for improving the results. That’s your new standard.
Make a daily checklist for each service person and ask your manager to hand it in every day. Keep track of how well-prepared people are. Look for patterns when things don’t go right.
Build up teams to support what you’re trying to accomplish.
If your management isn’t leading in the direction you want, consider retraining or replacement. No internal candidates? Start an external search now.
Look for internal candidates who get what you’re trying to do. Get them training them as leaders as well as technical staff. Give them opportunities to head up a group and see if they can lead that group to better results.