Water Well Journal

November 2015

Water Well Journal

Issue link: http://read.dmtmag.com/i/592194

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Page 61 of 90

W e talked last month about how customer retention was the lifeblood of any business, especially your business. There is one extremely important point to make though. Companies don't provide customer service. Employees do. Almost from the earliest days of my career in the capital goods industries, I was struck by the invisible nature of cus- tomer service and the support staff. They just do the work. There's not a lot of drama, no fussing or whining, they just do it. Nike made that their motto. I think that should be ours in product support as well. At all hours of the day or night, all days of the year, these employees—who you entrust with the relationship your business has with your customers—are there. Answering the phone, solving problems, going out in the field to a job. They work on everything to keep your pumps and systems in proper working condition. This job has not gotten easier over the years. It has become more difficult. Technology keeps changing. We've gone from business systems, to telephones, to mobile apps, to telematics. There is an expression: "The more things change, the more they remain the same." Through all the changes over the past 20 years alone, one thing has remained constant: the skills and resources of your support personnel. We might have given them productivity tools to make them more productive, or communications systems to make their lives easier, or telematics to track customer equipment and water systems. But there are a few things I think we have left behind. Training As those of you who read this column regularly know, a colleague of mine, Edward Gordon, talks about the 4.5 mil- lion jobs that are unfilled in America at the moment—growing to well over 10 million by 2020. The education structures are not delivering the work-ready people who are needed for the workplace today. It is truly dis- couraging when I don't believe this generation or any genera- tion of students is better or worse than any other generation of students. I am not blaming the education system alone, but it is true to say something is amiss here. You also know I taught education at a university early in my career, but left thinking I could make a better living doing something else. Something to think about, isn't it? Compensation Too many workers in America today are living paycheck to paycheck. No, I'm not saying you aren't paying enough to your employees. Not at all. I am saying we need to reevaluate the cost benefit for each and every job function. What is it worth to have a satisfied customer? Who deliv- ers the service that causes the customer to be satisfied? I am not here to cast judgment, but I do want to precipitate think- ing. How you compensate your employees is not what moves them to go above and beyond expectations. No, it is pride. It is a personal task these support employees are performing every day. They will work harder to satisfy their customers than they will to satisfy their boss. Stop and think about that a moment. It's true. Why do you suppose they'll do that? It's because the work they do for the customer is personal. Recognition It's amazing how recognition will make a difference in a person's life. Let me pose a question, please. Has any one of you been praised too much? Has any one of you been thanked too much? Probably not. So how about beginning now? Whenever you see someone go above and beyond, acknowledge it and recognize it. Right away. In public. Make a huge fuss about it. Now don't overdo it—your team will know when it isn't sincere or fake. I don't believe we celebrate our successes anywhere near often enough. One of the films we use in our training seminars is called The Sid Story. Sid is a night shift foreman in a machine shop. He has people who fight in gangs but who are extremely com- petitive people. He starts giving out the performance scores to his team on a daily basis. Then he posts the scores on the board. Then he provides rewards to high performers. Guess what? The performance goes from worst to first and the night shift outperforms the day shift. That is something that doesn't happen very often. The company boss thinks it's a great idea and so he intro- duces a new incentive. Any department that increases their productivity by "x" percent will receive a free lunch from the lunch wagon. RON SLEE THE AFTER MARKET IT'S THE SEASON FOR THANKSGIVING What are you thankful for? I say it is your employees. Whenever you see someone go above and beyond, acknowledge it and recognize it. Right away . 58 November 2015 WWJ waterwelljournal.com

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