The best part of my work is helping clients to become more successful.
The successes are measurable: converting more customer inquiries into actual business, improved process efficiency or a small adjustment in the way a customer’s question is answered.
The best clients are the ones who actually implement a consultant’s recommendation.
A few months ago, Bruce Britland, service manager for Christian Heating and Air, in Southampton, Pennsylvania vented about their technicians’ incomplete paperwork habits. The company will be transitioning to tablets out in the field, but in the interim, paperwork is the reality.
Partially completed service invoices result in customer confusion, wasted time, rework and morale issues.
“I’ve shown them, trained them and begged them,” said Britland, “but they still aren’t catching on.
My assessment was that technicians might get enthused when learning about the latest technology, but paperwork does not excite.
“We need to change the motivation,” I suggested. “Perhaps technicians would learn if they knew they’d have to teach .” Experience has taught me that being in the front of the room, as the instructor, is almost always a learning experience.
I suggested to Britland that a large, laminated poster board of their service invoice be created. The lamination would enable a technician to write on the service invoice with dry erase markers. This way, the poster board could be re-used weekly.
“Next week, ask a technician to stand up front and complete the service invoice for a particular service call,” I recommended. “Give him the customer’s contact information, a symptom, unit history, PMA status, parts replaced, etc. and then ask him to fill out the poster board completely with the help of his coworkers.”
“Can employees teach?” wondered Britland. We’d soon find out.
Each week, a different technician stood up front and explained how to complete the service invoice while the other technicians yelled out their suggestions. Lots of laughter and learning ensued.
Can employees teach?” wondered Britland. We’d soon find out.
“How is the service invoice training going?” I asked during a monthly site visit. “Great,” said Britland. “Our worst offender’s paperwork is 100% better.”
Improvement is measurable. Less rework transforms a service department from reactive to proactive. Britland is happy.
On that day, I introduced a new instructional design method called “The Sweet Spot”.
Technicians were grouped into teams of 5 or 6 and asked to discuss three service behaviors (among many) that could culminate into a Sweet Spot. “You must be able to indicate why only 2 of those behaviors wouldn’t be enough,” I instructed. This 15 minute flipchart exercise surfaces provocative thinking, group discussion and innovation.
One group’s flipchart illustrated the desired outcomes and one technician eloquently described how all 3 behaviors are necessary to achieve the Sweet Spot.
On that day, I introduced a new instructional design method called “The Sweet Spot.”
Christian’s technicians are smart and they know how to teach. My role is facilitation – to guide them down the correct path. A PowerPoint slide of 20 Sweet Spot ideas gave technicians usable resource material.
Employees learn more when they are engaged.
Sometimes the best way to learn is to be the instructor. The pressure of being up front and wanting to look successful among peers can be a motivator.
The best technicians understand the importance of educating customers too. A customer’s curiosity and subsequent questions set up a relationship-building opportunity.
The best service managers delegate more – and not just in terms of work-related tasks. These managers delegate the training to their employees knowing that when employees teach, they’re learning more.
Stories like are exactly why we created our Service Management 101 DVD. It’s loaded with insightful tips to keep the operation running smoothly.
Soon, the spring conference season will commence and I will be sharing more service innovations in the USA and Canada.