Who's Driving? Does your Performance Data drive Real Results
Fast – Faster – Fastest!!! In today’s world of 24-hour news cycles, overnight delivery, and real-time tracking, we’ve been programmed to desire and expect speed in every aspect of our lives. I want my news NOW! I want my Amazon package NOW! I want to watch my Uber as it winds its way to my location - NOW! In business, I need timely, actionable data and fast resolutions to my problems NOW. But when is faster, not better? I’ve been in the field for a long time. Since I can remember, the major data points measured in the industry revolved around how fast you could get to a site and how quickly you could get off that site and on to the next assignment.
I’m a number’s guy. Don’t give me anecdotal “fairy tales.” Show me the numbers. I need to see proof and prove it to myself. I’ll see through faulty methodology in a heartbeat. Many of us are familiar with the “Westinghouse Effect” or “Hawthorne Effect,” often referred to as the Observer’s Paradox. In short, when folks know that they (or a certain behavior) is being monitored and tracked, the behavior will change, regardless of any other changes are present. For most researchers, this is a hindrance that must be accounted for. Regarding employee performance, it’s a powerful tool to improve aspects of our business. The question is, are we using it the right way? If we measure, promote, and extoll the benefits of how quickly we can get to a site, how quickly we can get off-site, and how little each call costs us, we may be missing a big opportunity.
Some of the biggest marketing buzzwords and phrases these days are “deliverables,” “delivering outcomes,” “establishing expectations,” and “positive outcomes.” Customers are learning what carries greater value for them is not how quickly a technician gets to the site. What matters is how long did it take from when the breakdown occurred until when it was put back into service. Lost usability or productivity is our customer’s primary concern. What they (and we) are / should be looking at is performance over time.
So, who’s driving? What we learned from the Westinghouse experiment is that folks will automatically, perhaps even subconsciously alter their behavior when monitored. If we’re tracking response time, repair time, and cost-per-call, that’s what our staff will deliver. They’ll get there quickly and rush through the task with their primary focus being getting off-site quickly. But is that what we really want?
I’ve conducted numerous informal studies over time regarding this. What I’ve found is that those technicians/ engineers who spend more time on each individual call enjoy the greatest levels of customer satisfaction, equipment uptime, repeat business, and the lowest cost per instrument. Hmm, why is that? I visit sites with these folks on a regular basis. What I observe is a more holistic approach to customers and devices. These staff members don’t enter a site with blinders on. Rather than focusing on just the break-fix mentality of the malfunction (with little care for the overall system health), they step back and scour the device for any potential cause for concern. Most often, it’s minor and takes little extra time, effort, or parts. A squeak here, a software blip there, a “not-so-new” belt don’t forget about the potential business leads generated through informal chats with customers that might reveal an unmet need – a need we would be happy to satisfy. Those kinds of interactions are not prudent for someone rushing to get off-site.
So how do we “take the wheel” and drive our business where it needs to go? Let’s deliver outcomes. Rather than focusing on how quickly we get there, lets measure and promote how quickly the device is placed back into service. I cannot count the times or (wish to calculate the cost(s) I’ve encountered) because of a repeat visit to a site by a staff member. How quickly we get there doesn’t carry near the weight of how quickly the device is successfully placed back into service. This forces staff to ensure they are adequately prepared before embarking upon that particular assignment. Rather than measuring cost-per-call or time on site, measure cost-per-instrument. This encourages staff to be more holistic when approaching a repair. This drives lower cost-per-instrument over time, reduced instrument downtime, and increased customer utilization of our products and services. One of the greatest tools I (and sales staff) enjoy is extolling device uptime.
Lastly, the “dreaded” customer survey. I don’t dread them. They’re a gift — an actionable intelligence goldmine. But you must make sure you’re asking the right questions. Questions like “Did my technician successfully resolve ALL my issues?” and “Would you recommend doing business with us to a friend or colleague?” With this data, you can take the wheel.