Triangle Of Communication
Most of the clients I work with today have contacted me because they think I’m the “Operations Guy” or the “Staffing Guy,” but when they work with me over time, they come to realize who I really am: the “Sales Guy.”
When I worked in my own family-owned and -operated plumbing, heating and cooling shop, one of the many jobs I had was salesman. Frankly, most of what I was doing as time went along was sales. And I was typically selling at prices anywhere from a third to half higher than my competition and still closing 80 percent of the requests for a price quote that I went on. And that was great, but …
…back then I was just a “Sales Guy” and just selling more wasn’t necessarily a good thing. How could selling more be a bad thing? Well, it was a bad thing when my staff behind me would blow up my sales.
How do I mean that? The install date wouldn’t get booked. Guys weren’t fully trained enough to do the work and to do it on time and on budget. The communications with the customer was shoddy if not downright nonexistent. Installers would head off to the job without the materials they needed to make things run smoothly. Callbacks were high. Customer satisfaction was low.
Of course, when I looked in the mirror, I realized it was me who was setting them up to blow it up because I never documented what I wanted done, never let them know what resources they had to get the job done on time and on budget, and I certainly never let them know what the rewards and consequences were.
That is until everything changed and I knew we had to document the way to do our work. That’s when we created the operations manuals and the training curriculum and training center that ultimately changed things. Now, when I was out selling, it was a good thing.
Everything's ConnectedAs I look back, creating the manuals, training center and training curriculum were important but not nearly as important as learning that each person at work affects the other person either in a good way or in a way that sabotages them.
Fortunately, we had everyone involved in the process sit at the table as we created and documented the way we do our work the right way and that’s when I learned about the Power of the Triangle below:
Years back we would be doing things as technicians or installers and completely ignore the effect we would have on the dispatcher and the customer service representative.
As a result, it was never really clear to a tech what he could expect from the dispatcher and what his obligations were to the dispatcher. The same was true when it came to ignoring that the CSR in many ways sets the tone for the success or failure of a tech before he ever gets out of his truck at a customer’s home.
The odd thing is, once we put everyone at the table during the creation of the manuals, we learned for the first time how we were skipping steps that could make life better for ourselves, our fellow employees and our customers.
Whenever we changed a policy or a procedure in any one of these three, separate manuals for the tech, CSR and dispatcher, we also needed to look at the other two manuals to see what else must change so we all stayed in synch and remained a powerful and cohesive operation.
Want some examples?
How many times have you sent a tech to a job without having told the customer about a minimum service fee? How about not telling the customer about the flat rate pricing system before the work begins? How about not telling a customer that we get paid at the time of service?
When a CSR fails to do these important tasks, it means a tech will have to waste a lot of valuable billable time explaining how and why the company operates this way. All of which becomes a nonissue with a well-trained CSR using a properly written phone script that gets verified and practiced with a lot of phone role plays.
How many times have you sent a tech to a job without having told the customer all the service history? How about not confirming someone will be home prior to running across town to someone who isn’t there to give us access? How about not telling a tech what the procedure is to obtain parts?
Ultimately, the customer suffers because we don’t deliver on our promises.
The key things are to make sure that whatever policy and procedure we have, such as our “General Warranty Policy” or “How to Get Materials to a Tech in the Field,” it is covered in all three manuals. Then, whenever you change a policy or a procedure for one position on the triangle, you need to make sure you change it in the other two positions.
Keep the triangle in your mind and you won’t end up going down a dead end!