Our responsibilities are quite clear and straightforward in the product support world.
- Reduce the owning and operating costs for the machine owner
- Preserve the residual value of the machine
- Create and maintain a safe and challenging workplace for talented people
- Provide strong returns for the investors
Nothing too fancy; just plain and simple.
How we do that is the challenge, and it exists each and every day. The hallmark of creating customer satisfaction is consistency, and that is what we have to do daily. You cannot provide outstanding customer service one day and be lousy the next.
That consistency can be a real challenge. After all, we’re human. We have good days and we have bad days. But the management and leaders in your business are not allowed to have good days and bad days – they have to be consistent. They have to have an aura of confidence, like we can handle everything and anything. Nothing is beyond our capabilities and skills. We have to be the same. After a bad phone call you have to pick up the next call with a smile in your voice.
And we have to focus on the machine. It is the performance of the machine that encouraged the customer to buy it in the first place. We were there when the machine was delivered weren’t we? Saw the excitement of the owner of that new machine? Even if they purchased a used machine it is new to them. We walked them around the machine, highlighting key points. We reviewed the owners and operators manual with them. We presented them with a book of the common filters and the contact names and phones numbers for the parts and service and finance departments. You did all of that didn’t you? The start of the relationship with each machine should start that way. Every time. Consistently.
We want to start every owner relationship properly. We want them to know we are there. They don’t need to contact anyone else to look after their machine. And if they have their own mechanics we want to talk about the repair and maintenance programs we have available for them, the extended warranty programs we have for them. We want to show all of our skills and expertise in supporting the machine. Their technician is not our enemy. They have their own technicians because, for one reason or another, the customer thought it was in their best interest. It is up to us to change that if we want more of their business, isn’t it.
Our product support specialists must visit them regularly and consistently, as we talked about last month. If we don’t have a personal visit then we need regular telephone contact. If we do that it is much more difficult for competition to penetrate the account and sell competitive parts and services.
We work with our customer machines until the owning and operating costs exceed the threshold where it would be better to purchase a replacement machine. This is also part of our job. If the owning and operating costs are getting too high, we need to be there for the customer.
With telematics technology, we can track machine performance and thus keep the owning and operating costs at their optimal level. We can see when the air filter is clogged. We get notified when the engine overheats or idles. We can also calculate the cost-peroperating hour for the machine. The more of the machine needs we satisfy with our parts and our labor hours, the more accurate this calculation will become. This is an important number for both the customer and us. This helps us keep the customer a satisfied member of our machine owners.
Our maintenance programs are critical. The more we touch the machine the better. This is where we are like the medical community. You go to see your doctor for your annual checkup. He talks with you, determines changes in your life, sends you off for blood work or other technical evaluations or imaging. (S)he is trying to help you stay healthy and live a long and prosperous life. Well, we do the same. We are help the customer have a long and productive life with their machine.
That’s our sweet spot, from the initial delivery and how we conduct ourselves throughout the relationship up until the trade-in of the machine. Product support may not be as exciting as machine sales, but it is equally rewarding. We’re the reason our customers keep coming back. The time is now.
by Ron Slee
About CED Magazine
Construction Equipment Distribution is published by Associated Equipment Distributors, a nonprofit trade association founded in 1919, whose membership is primarily comprised of the leading equipment dealerships and rental companies in the U.S. and Canada.
With CED, content is king. No fluff, no advertorials – CED just gives AED members what they want to read: business information, industry and association news, plus fresh, original and useful feature articles that they share with their management teams. Our subjects range from rental, product support, sales strategy and customer service to technology, construction markets and legislation – and much more.