One of the biggest challenges integrators face in today’s market is trying to build out an effective and efficient service team. It turns out this is a fundamentally different challenge from building out an effective project team, something most integrators do very well.
Many of the people we speak with at OneVision see this as a relatively straightforward resource challenge.
“If I could afford to hire a full-time dedicated service team, then I’d be all set.”
While this is partially true, our deep experience in service has shown us that simply throwing money at the problem will not yield a path to success. Even if you do have the financial resources, you need to know how to find the right people, properly train them and create an effective service process.
Hire, Train for EQ
The first challenge is, of course, hiring the right people. Many integrators think the number one factor to look for in a client-services candidate is direct industry experience. While this is clearly an important consideration, don’t forget that tech support isn’t always about the tech.
This is a broad topic – beyond the scope of this article – but in short, a person with a high EQ is very good at identifying, and appropriately reacting to, both their own emotions and the emotions of others with whom they interact. This high EQ is a critical component for success when dealing with clients in an emotionally-escalated situation.
An experienced technician who also possesses a high EQ would clearly be a great addition to any service team, but they can be difficult to find and expensive to hire.
An alternative is to promote or hire someone with less industry experience but who exhibits the EQ skills that are so important to the service process. They’ll need training on a few hard skills including an understanding of your core products and a firm grasp of signal flow, but for a service technician, the soft skills are arguably the most important.
These skills include proper communication techniques, providing emotional acknowledgement, setting expectations, and handling combative situations; these are attributes that contribute to a truly great service tech.
Lay Out the Process
Once the right people are in place, the next biggest challenge is to build an effective service process (we included some tips here). The first step to operationalizing this process is to employ a good ticketing system.
At OneVision we found that Zendesk best fit our needs, but there are lots of great choices including Service Manager, an Ihiji-built product designed specifically for this industry (full disclosure, I am an investor in Ihiji).
Setting up a phone number and email address dedicated to support are also critical steps. Having these in place will greatly aid in monitoring and managing service demand.
Internally, having an instant communications tool such as Slack or any other IM platform will also help your Service Team with efficient information flow, a vital component of providing good service.
In an industry that has been so focused on building strong project teams for decades, building out an effective service team can be a deceptively difficult task. The nature of service work requires an individual to possess a unique mix of hard and soft skills.
Additionally, there must be strong systems in place to help organize the overall chaos and general urgency that are present in an environment focused on client-services. Finding and training the right people and building the systems to support them can be a real challenge. But the end result will be a service team that wows your clients time after time, making the sale of RMR and premium service offerings a no-brainer and locking in your hard-earned business for life.