This Post Originally Appeared on CEPro.com on April 19, 2017
Relying too heavily on the knowledge or ability of one person is a risky situation for a business, especially when it comes to your service team.
Does your business suffer from Key-Person Dependency? Often abbreviated as KPD, this term describes the reliance of an organization on an individual who is in sole possession of critical institutional knowledge or subject matter expertise which is vital to your company’s ongoing success.
KPD is not uncommon within home technology companies, and it is especially prevalent when it comes to the client services department. Providing excellent service requires a unique blend of emotional intelligence and specific technical knowledge.
Service team members who possess this mix of skills are highly valuable within their organizations. However, relying exclusively on these individuals to service your clients also presents your business with a substantial amount of KPD risk.
Here are five techniques for mitigating this risk while still providing your clients with excellent service.
1. Consolidate Your Service Communications
It is common practice in many home technology companies for clients to use direct communications with an individual team member to request service. This practice quickly leads to your clients becoming dependent on those personal communication channels to receive the support they need.
Instead, you are much better off creating dedicated channels for support requests. Creating a support phone number and email address (such as email@example.com) for your clients to use for service requests is a simple and effective way to avoid KPD.
By doing so, the methods used by your clients to request support remain constant, no matter who comes and goes from your business.
2. Use a Ticketing System
Another highly effective strategy for combating KPD risk in your service team is the use of ticketing tool such as Zendesk.
Ticketing tools allow for the tracking of service incidents in a highly collaborative manner. By providing this visibility into ongoing service incidents throughout the company, you can avoid losing information trapped in the head of your key service team members.
When used properly, ticketing systems also provide a valuable historical record of past incidents, and what was done to resolve them. This means that if a key member of your service team leaves, their client-specific knowledge doesn’t go with them.
3. Leverage Real-Time Communication Tools
When it comes to written communication, most companies rely exclusively on email. By its nature, however, email encourages siloed communication which is visible to few members of the organization.
Additionally, retrieving critical information from an email system after a key team member leaves can be an arduous task.
Real-time messaging tools such as Slack are a better option for reducing KPD risk associated with written communication. These tools enable faster, more company-wide collaboration on the resolution of service incidents.
They also have the added benefit of being highly transparent and searchable in the event that a key-person leaves the company.
4. Identify and Document Critical Processes
One of the simplest and most overlooked methods of reducing KPD risk is to identify and document service processes within your company.
In fact, at OneVision we believe so strongly in the value of documentation that we are developing an entire “Playbook” on exceptional service for use by our partner network. This is one of the core initiatives of our new Partner Development Group, and a primary reason that I was recently brought onto the team.
Ask your key-person to create simple PDF’s with screenshots outlining fundamental processes such as how to schedule an appointment, create a service order, track hours and send an invoice.
Even a basic set of how-to guides outlining these core processes will go a long ways toward getting a new team member up to speed if your key-person exits the company.
5. Cross-Train or Outsource
Cross-training can be a highly effective method for combatting KPD risk. Encouraging collaboration and having regularly scheduled team meetings can help to spread critical knowledge and information throughout the company.
However, the idea of cross-training within the business is much easier in theory than it is in practice. Most integration firms are staffed with highly-specialized individuals, with overflowing plates. Trying to cross-train your System Designer on proper service coordination techniques, for example, can be nearly impossible given bandwidth constraints.
This is one of the reasons that outsourcing can be such an effective way to combat KPD risk. By using outside firms such as OneVision, staffed with specialists who are focused exclusively on one part of your business, you can vastly reduce your KPD risk. This also frees up internal resources to focus on what they do best, and vastly reduces the likelihood of burnout taking hold of your service team.
Reducing Unnecessary Risk
Client service is one of the key differentiators that successful home technology companies leverage in our increasingly competitive market. If the performance of this vital department depends on one or a few key-persons, then you are leaving yourself exposed to unnecessary KPD risk.
By employing the techniques outlined in this article, you can minimize your dependence on key-persons, while still providing your clients with an exceptional service experience.
Are you a business owner or service manager? Did you find this article helpful? If so, check out this post as well – The 3 Keys to a Successful Outsourcing Partnership.
There are plenty of articles in our blog that you might find helpful. Or even better, use the contact form below if you want help taking your service and RMR efforts to the next level!