The one technique that can increase customer satisfaction, market share and net
margins at the same time.
In today’s hyper-competitive world companies are increasingly looking for the competitive edge
to increase sales and margins. But one of the most powerful ways to achieve all three
objectives simultaneously – getting it right the first time, is often over looked.
Let’s look first at increased customer satisfaction:
Getting it right the first time requires a wholistic approach to the task at hand: What is
the customer trying to accomplish?
Years ago many organizations introduced touch-point measurements. These measurements
focused on the individual interactions with customers along the provisioning or repair supply
chain. The logic was to measure customer satisfaction with the steps and that by improving
each touch-point or step, the entire process would improve. An often repeated analogy was to
improve each pixel to create a better picture. This helped to an extent but still left considerable
customer frustration as the Harvard study showed. Customers were often the only ones
viewing the process from start to finish, and while they would rate participants in the supply
chain positively, still found the process cumbersome and unsatisfactory.
Research by Harvard University found that the key to achieving customer satisfaction wasn’t
just answering the customers’ immediate questions but understanding what the customer was
holistically trying to achieve. Their study found that ‘a company that manages complete
journeys would not only do its best with the individual transaction but also seek to understand
the broader reasons for the call, address the root causes, and create feedback loops to
continuously improve interactions upstream and downstream from the call.’
Many organizations find that improving customer service can improve their internal operations
by understanding shortfalls in delivering on the whole experience and where the gaps are in the
service delivery process.
First: What is the task looking to be accomplished?
One of the first and maybe one of the most important tasks is accurately understanding what the
customer wants, either with a new order, or in a break-fix situation. In a complicated world, this
isn’t always easy. Customers aren’t always capable of describing what they need or want in a
vendors’ terminology – especially with the complexity of today’s technologies. Customers aren’t
dumb, their lack of expertise in a vendors’ field is why they need the vendor to provide the
service in the first place. In some fields getting the correct information can result in a
considerable expense – especially when gaining the information requires dispatching skilled
resources to an off-site location.
Example: Upgrading a heating system. A prospective client, unhappy with their high utility
bills calls into Jane’s Plumbing and Heating to get their heating system upgraded. The
experienced scheduler answering the call asks the prospective client what kind of heat he has
now. He answers: ‘Forced Air.’ The scheduler then asks: Is the heat source electric, natural
gas or oil heat’ is since it could be anything. The prospective client answers: I have natural
gas and electric bills but no oil bill. I’m not sure what the heating system uses, but the furnace
definitely, has an electric cable going to it.’ Jane’s Plumbing sends out a technician to start the
quoting process only to find that:
The heating system is only a few years old and quite efficient.
The prospective client lives in an older house with single pane windows and little
insulation. Upgrading the heating system won’t help the situation, the prospective
client needs new windows and more insulation which Jane’s Plumbing and Heating
The result: A frustrated client who has reserved time for the appointment yet still has an
unresolved issue. A company resource that was dispatched only to find there’s no opportunity
for business there for Jane’s. The client may also be charged a minimum trip charge. How
could this have been improved? What if the prospective client had a device, tablet or smart
phone capable of video? A 2015 Pew Research study found that two thirds of American
households had a smartphone.
What if the dispatcher had asked the prospective client interested in saving on their heating bill
if they had a video-capable smartphone and then sent them a link they could click on to bring
them into a video conference with the scheduler who could ask them for a quick tour of the
house, checking windows, doors, taking a look at the construction of the house? Although this
would not have resulted in a sale, it would have saved time, a dispatch and resulting costs.
A video conference saves days with a generator install:
I recently had a similar but better experience with a generator install at my home. The
generator install was complete but pending final inspection by the county building inspector.
The inspector, tenured and competent, came out and had questions about the automatic-
transfer switch. He had seen several of this make before, but never one like the one I’d just
had installed. There was no schematic diagram with the install guide left behind by the
contractor, so he was going to fail the job pending a site meeting with the contractor. This would
require more days to allow for an available time and result in an additional charge by the County
for the repeat visit. As the inspector told me this I asked him to wait to see if we could get the
contractor on a video call to work with us. Luck was with us and the contractor was able to join
a video call on my smartphone. The inspector was with me at the transfer switch as we
transmitted video to the contractor. The inspector traced the electrical wires with his finger,
pointing out to the contractor where he had questions. The contractor explained that this was a
new configuration the manufacturer had developed, answering all questions. The inspector
then asked for the schematic from the contractor, which the contractor had electronically and
emailed right then to the inspector who viewed it on his tablet. The result, job approved.
Client, (me) happy, contractor was able to close the job, present me with the final invoice and
recognize revenue faster.
These are just some of the benefits of being able to extend information from a central place to
workers and clients in the field. At Preferred Business Solutions we have a variety of cross-
platform video solutions to support nomadic workers from different manufacturers that can do
this for you. These solutions can integrate tightly with cloud computing services and desktop
as a service to provide you with state-of-the-art capabilities with minimal capital commitment.