Lean Operations

Quality assurance in after-sales - 3 decisive factors

Quality assurance after sales contribution image

In after-sales, consistency is the most important success criterion. You need to deliver consistently high performance to generate repeat sales. That's why quality assurance of after-sales services is crucial.

As the person responsible for service, you are a crucial player in ensuring the smooth running of production at your customer's site. Meaningful quality management is therefore essential. If customers can rely on you, they will not only come to you once, but will also order higher-quality services in addition to the necessary standard services. Value Added Services buy from you.

That's why consistency is the highest asset on the road to a Customer Success Story. Only if you always deliver a predictable performance will you have a lasting and successful customer success story. Customer loyalty.

Advance praise is usually worth nothing in service

The customer's expectation can be far exceeded in one day. But if something goes wrong on the next assignment, previous performance is often quickly forgotten. The negative impression prevails and you have to start all over again to woo the customer. In markets with sufficient alternatives, the customer often simply disappears from your customer file without a comment and is missing from your Expansion of the service business.

So how do you ensure effective quality assurance in technical customer service and consistently keep its performance high? The following three factors are crucial for this:

1. standardized processes are the basis of any quality assurance

Companies often still treat after-sales service very stepmotherly. Unfortunately, service departments often eke out an existence as a fifth wheel whose primary purpose is to somehow keep the customer quiet in the event of a problem.

As a result, many small service manufactories have formed in countless companies, where each service is performed by the employees at their own discretion. One technician uses a centrally provided checklist, another has an adapted one in his luggage, and a third relies entirely on his gut feeling when deciding which components to examine and when and for what purpose. The situation is similar for consulting and commissioning. Service Excellence goes differently!

While a carpenter's workshop may still be able to achieve a price premium over IKEA due to its individual range of services, this is not possible in the After-sales service unfortunately not. Customers expect continuity and don't want a surprise bag. They also rely on fast response times and don't give you several months to deliver your service, like a carpenter.

How to resolve the trade-off between response time and high quality?

Just as Henry Ford developed standardized processes in the automotive industry at the beginning of the 20th century and was thus able to offer higher quality, faster delivery and lower prices, this is also possible and necessary in after-sales service. Nevertheless, methods of standardization in service are often still too rarely considered and in most cases not consistently applied.

The times in which tool-wrench-juggling artists and all-rounders set the tone are over! The primary products to be supported are becoming more and more complex, and so are the associated services. Without standardized performance and knowledge management processes, a company has no chance of delivering high quality independently of its employees. Unfortunately, not every team is made up exclusively of superstars. That's why a few guardrails are needed for how day-to-day business is to be conducted.

2. develop appropriate KPI systems to verify services

However, streamlined and detailed documented processes will be of no use to you as long as they are not lived by the employees. You will certainly have a few pronounced individualists in your service team who don't like to be told how to do their job. That's always part of the job in this field.

It's not everyone's cup of tea to have to deal with 10 different customers and answer for the poor quality of the machines. You can only do that if you're used to having to fight your way through on your own. We want and need people like that in after-sales, because they are good at what they do. But how do we get these characters to implement standardized processes?

Technicians are difficult to control because they work independently and often simply do not operate in the office but at the customer's site. This is why a KPI system is required that records relevant key performance indicators. This is the only way to measure whether process quality meets the company's high standards. Although, of course, any KPI system can also be manipulated by employees for their own benefit, they are the only way to make performance and process fidelity measurable. Global KPIs in particular, such as the Net Promoter Score (NPS) or the first-time-fix rate, are difficult to manipulate.

3. continuous improvement through pain point analyses

Once you have started to measure process conformance and quality of service delivery, the next step should be to continuously perform pain point analyses. Pain point analyses identify where the shoe pinches in your processes. They can be conducted both with your customers and internally.

By surveying external stakeholders, you can capture the external perception of your service department and find out what customers dislike about your service and what opportunities for improvement exist from their perspective. This means that, in addition to the data on service delivery from the KPI systems, data on customers' experiences with your company is also available for improving processes.

Pain point analyses are also useful and correct for internal contexts. They help to understand why service quality is subject to any fluctuations. On the basis of the results obtained, you should then review all your core processes at least every two years and consistently align them with customer benefits. This will enable you to continuously improve process quality and consistently eliminate fluctuations in service quality. Your customers will appreciate the benefits they derive from this.  

Sevice like on the assembly line!

The factors described help you deliver service like an assembly line without compromising quality. This allows you to effectively differentiate yourself from competitors and establish strong customer loyalty. Consider the above steps to develop a strategy for your quality management. This way, your after-sales area will continuously generate revenue and more satisfied customers.

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