It’s that time of year when service leaders take stock of what their organization did well — and how it can improve next year. Chances are, that assessment begins and ends with revenue. Tempting as it might be to consider splurging on expensive new technology or rolling out a massive reorganization, such drastic measures likely aren’t the best way to boost revenue.

Instead, keep it simple. We asked seven service experts for one simple strategy that will make an immediate impact on service revenue. Here’s what they had to say:

1. First Step? Ask Customers for More Details

Dave Carevich“Ask clarifying questions upon receiving a service request. Don’t accept the simple, ‘My compactor isn’t working’ as the description from a customer. Ask them what sounds they hear, what they observe when they try to operate it and more. They aren’t experts on the equipment, so guiding them with the right questions makes them more comfortable in helping you diagnose the problem. Our team of experts are then often able to determine the most likely issue and send our technician with the right parts so they can fix it in a single trip, improving our first-call fix rate. This has allowed us to free up our technicians to handle more work orders per week to improve revenue while improving our customer satisfaction.” — Dave Carevich, director of business development, McKinley Equipment

Sumair Dutta_The Service Council2. It’s Easy: Follow up on Leads

“The quick answer is to develop a simple process to log service-generated leads and ensure sales follow up on those leads in 24 – 48 hrs.” — Sumair Dutta, chief customer officer, The Service Council

3. Call the Customer Before Rolling a Truck

Ragsdale“Have the field tech call the customer before going onsite. Not only can an experienced field tech sometimes resolve problems over the phone that a support agent could not, they will also know what tools, parts and knowledge they will need when they get there. One phone call can prevent trips, shorten time onsite by showing up prepared and eliminate second trucks rolls for missing parts.” — John Ragsdale, VP of technology research, TSIA

4. Field Techs Know the Sales Opportunities — Listen

Web“Service leaders need to realize that they have a revenue-generating machine sitting right in front of them — their technicians! If you help them understand that they are trusted advisors then they can cross sell and upsell with very simple changes in processes. Have a process that makes it simple for a technician to pass on leads, and reward them for identifying leads that turn into a sale. The majority of companies aren’t doing this today.

One comment for any salespeople out there: If I gave you $10 for marketing and asked how many machines you could sell, I’d bet the answer would be none. But if I told you to use that $10 to take a technician to breakfast and have him or her help find sales opportunities, I’d bet you would get that investment back a thousandfold.” — Dave Hart, VP of global customer transformation, ServiceMax

5. Don’t Leave Money on the Table

Vele_Galovski“I recommend that field service organizations compare their contract mix and revenue mix to ensure that:

  • There is not any unintended discounting of offers. Your revenue mix for premium contracts should be higher than the contract mix.
  • They have a sufficient mix of premium contracts, but not too much. If all of your contracts are premium, then nothing is premium. It’s an opportunity to further differentiate.

If either scenario is in play, it’s time to have a conversation with your sales and marketing team. You’re leaving money on the table.” — Vele Galovski ,VP of research for field service, TSIA

6. Measure. Measure. Measure.

Pollock“The strategy should follow the ‘Measure, Assess, Adjust and Track’ process. Whether you’re looking at overall service operations, or individual components such as warranty management or parts/inventory management, start by measuring where you stand today, how you got there and where you’re likely to end up if nothing changes. Second, assess what needs to be changed, upgraded or replaced. Third, make the necessary adjustments to facilitate — and expedite — change. Fourth, track your progress over time as you implement new or revised processes or technologies. The process should be a virtual continuous loop to foster continuous improvement that goes directly to the bottom line.” — Bill Pollock, president, Strategies for Growth

7. Show Customers the Love

Blumberg“Increase the frequency and volume by which customers purchase services. Purchase frequency is measured through contract renewal rates and volume by contract attachment rates. Field service leaders can take steps toward increasing both though consistent communication and persistent follow-up. Customers must be reminded of the value of the services provided, when contracts are up for renewal, and if there are any special incentives for renewing early. It’s the simple things like a courtesy phone call or visit, thank you card, small gift, newsletter or special offer that let customers know you value their business.” — Michael Blumberg, president, Blumberg Advisory Group