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What do you mean I still need a service contract? Demonstrating the value of case avoidance

By Dr. Adam Krob

This week, I received the renewal notice for my air conditioner’s service contract.  I live in New Orleans and air conditioning is pretty much a requirement for most of the year.  My yearly service contract is a small price to pay for reliably cool air in the summer.  The service contract reminded me of my time at Tulane University where, among many other jobs, I was responsible for data center operations.  My operations manager was a true believer in service contracts (I am willing to wager he bought a service contract on his office chair after the warranty expired!).  One year, we were reviewing his budget and I questioned one of the service contracts.  For the entire previous year, I hadn’t seen field services for this printer at all.  I pushed back on the contract—what were we paying for, anyway?

Your field services team is focused on improving services all of the time, right (or you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog post)?  Remote monitoring and troubleshooting tools are making your team much more efficient.  Feedback to the product teams is working the kinks out of software and hardware before they cause significant failures in the field.  PM (Preventative Maintenance) is becoming more effective, predicting demand spikes for equipment and allowing your team to use their judgment to prevent a customer failure, entirely!

This was precisely the story that my operations manager related to me.  He had been working closely with the printer field services team and had substantially reduced the number of onsite visits.  More importantly to me—we had many fewer failures.  The problem was that I (the one paying the bill) didn’t know the value that the field services team delivered.

The good news is that there is a simple way to demonstrate this value: a zero dollar invoice.  List all of the value-added services your team delivered in the past year.

  • How many remote support sessions resolved a problem without an onsite visit (reducing downtime)?
  • How many automated triggers notified you of a problem before the customer noticed it?
  • How many PM activities prevented equipment failure before it happened?

Send out a real invoice that nets to zero dollars.  You can show the value of the work you are doing to avoid calls service calls—preventing your customers from losing time, money, and reputation.  Better yet, putting together this invoice will generate more ideas of how to help your customers from their perspective! 

Try a zero dollar invoice with one of your best customers and get their feedback.  Total cost to you, $0.

For more than two decades, Dr. Adam Krob has studied and evaluated IT and customer support structures.  While his career spans numerous areas, his core focus has always been the optimal alignment of support with the institution’s goals and the use of knowledge management strategies, such as KCS, as a tool to achieve these goals. Dr. Krob is a pioneer in enhancing overall perceptions of service, and in the transformation of service from a reactive to a proactive enterprise. He earned his MA and PhD in Political Science from Duke University, and his MBA from Tulane’s Freeman School of Business. He lives with his  wife  and daughter in New Orleans.

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