With a lack of resources and skilled technicians, dealers face enormous challenges in delivering high-quality service to their customers in an industry where service delivery is core to customer satisfaction. The technician shortage is costing the average dealership $6 million annually, or about $300,000 per technician opening, according to the Associated Equipment Distributors industry group.
These challenges with resources and labor shortages come at a time when customer expectations are higher than ever. Project timelines are critical and scheduled or non-scheduled service downtime can become a critical blocker to job completion. Service can make a difference.
When evaluating how to improve a service department, it’s important to spend some time in the customer’s shoes. In an anonymous industry survey of construction companies, respondents expressed the need for service providers to better understand and complement their business. These were the top 3 attributes construction customers wanted to see in their equipment dealer:
- Partner to the Business: “Know my business and my fleet so I don’t have to explain details every time I call. Exhibit good internal communication within the dealership so everyone is on the same page.”
- Easy Collaborator: “I don’t have time to be constantly following up on a service repair or on maintenance schedules. Do it for me and communicate often.”
- Expert & Advisor: “I need to count on my Dealership to give me advice on machine health, preventative maintenance, or unscheduled repairs.”
Unclear View into Service in Progress
In a review of service processes, a leading equipment dealer was using 10+ disparate systems to manage its customer service delivery, including everything from whiteboards to spreadsheets to various OEM-provided information sources. Because of this, the dealer lacked a comprehensive view into its service work in progress.
There were significant challenges at the administrative level. The right information was not available at the right time to technicians, resulting in rework and increased travel. Work orders being held up for any reason were not easily managed, causing delays in scheduling. Promise dates were missed without proper communication to the customer. Work orders were left un-invoiced after completion of the work due to a lack of visibility and controls. Technician productivity was compromised as a result of poor scheduling. The business was faced with lagging employee productivity, unhappy customers, and lower service profitability. With so much data to process, the dealer was not alone in their challenges.
Comprehensive Visibility in a Unified Workflow Solution
By turning to a cloud-based comprehensive service workflow solution, the dealership gained clear visibility over their service department. The unified workflow showed all work in process, integrating with their enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform and optimizing data entry for their service department.
The solution simplified time entry for technicians and captured symptoms, correction data, fault codes, and repair history for improved troubleshooting and triaging of repairs. With the help of prioritized tasks in customized, role-specific dashboards, access to a digital library of technician knowledge, and mobile capabilities in the field, technicians had the information they needed on-demand to make efficient and timely repairs.
The dealership was also more able to personalize service delivery. Logs of customer interactions catered service interactions with the customer, including through customer preferences around communication via phone, email, or text. Automated internal alerts and intuitive scheduling templates about promise dates ensured that the service department met its commitments.
Having an end-to-end solution for service delivery empowered the employees of the dealership through highly visible workflows integrated with customer information, machine detail and health monitoring, and planned services or emergencies. With the unified digital workflow in hand, the service department was focused on eliminating downtime for the customer, increasing efficiencies, and improving profit margins.
Service Teams Focused on Revenue Drivers and Customer Satisfaction
Having all aspects of service delivery managed in one system freed up employees who were previously tied up with low-value tasks to play a key role in driving revenue-building opportunities forward. The dealer transformed their business in the following areas:
- Improved planning with a complete line of sight into repair timelines
- Eliminated confusion and significantly reduced search times with a single system that united all relevant information
- Increased customer satisfaction by simplifying communication and capturing contextual inputs like complaints, causes, and corrections on each repair
- Boosted productivity and job satisfaction by giving technicians their own dashboard and mobile app for time entry, interaction with other technical resources, and access to information needed for the repair
Improving the Service Experience as a Business Strategy
This approach to a workflow-driven “everyone’s on the same page” service experience is key to achieving operational excellence as part of an overall dealer strategy. The goal of any dealer management team should be to remove obstacles to customer and employee satisfaction. By shifting strategy away from supporting multiple disparate systems to an integrated technology platform that leverages legacy systems, service teams and dealers can quickly and cost-effectively advance operational excellence.
Clifford Neufeld is a Digital Media Strategist at Uptake Canada, a cloud-based software company that provides purpose-built digital workflow solutions to heavy equipment dealers.