How to create a process flow for a repair service

Hey guys and welcome back to our online series where we’re answering questions from you. We’ve got a secret session in store for you, where we’re talking specifically about service.

We've had a question come in from Ralph in regards to helping out with the formation of his organization’s process flow.

What we're going to do is going to map out the operational process flow for an area of his organization that takes customer equipment and customer property, does its respective service - a repair - and then puts it back out to the customer. So this particular business takes hydraulic pumps, and does service and kit repairs on hydraulic pumps, but this sort of model I'm about to do could apply for mechanical workshops where you're servicing customer’s cars, or anything that you're taking from the customer and you're looking after it and then giving it back. It could apply to hairdressing salons, so a client comes in, and you look after them, you pamper them, and you send them back.

So, Ralph, your business is pampering the customers equipment, and you're looking after those valuable assets and that amazing equipment that your customer is out there using on their job sites, on their industrial sites, in their plant. You're looking after it, you're pampering it, you're giving it a service or a freshen-up, and then you're sending it back out.

As my little six-year-old says, ‘Daddy the car’s going into the doctor.’

So, what we're going to do is quickly map out a little process flow of service provision in that instance, but more importantly, this particular process model relates to any of you that are dealing with customers’ items, equipment, parts, all those sorts of things.

We've got marketing, and I'm just going to overlap them, we've got sales, and we've got finance. They're all other operational parts of the business that support what we're moving into in here, which is obviously the service part.

So this is in-house servicing, and in this instance, it's equipment. So in this in this particular example Ralph asked for, it's all about servicing hydraulic pumps and equipment. So what we've got over the over here is a couple of other processes that I imagine that you've got to get equipment to you. Now why is that important? Ralph's business is made up of in-house and on-site. Now in-house, in this instance, means that you can have much better equipment, much better controlled conditions, and you can look more scientifically, if you like, or more accurately at the work that you're doing for the particular customer.

So that's why the gear and the equipment is coming to you, instead of you setting up an amazing truck and going out on-site. Now, there would be some equipment that you just can't bring to your factory. Freight it, turn it around, move it around on couriers and trucks and transport so that's why we've got a factory. So, this is happening in a factory. There's a couple of processes that we need to be thinking about: we need to consider transport. We need to think about check-in; this is where the possession transfer is happening. So, we've got transport: is it the customers responsibility for the transport? or your responsibility for the transport? You’ve got pick-up, obviously, check-in, and we've got the service aspect. We're going to transport it, we're going to check it in, we're going to do the work now, and that the work is a diagnostic.

In this instance, I think what I understand Ralph from your business, is that the transport is being arranged independently of the customer it's coming in and checking in.

If you look at some of our previous videos on YouTube, we’ve talked about storage and dispatch. So, if we're thinking about this in terms of a process flow, what can happen to upset your customer? We're talking about your quality system in this instance; what can happen to upset your customer at any of these stages.

Now, at each of these stages, the first question is: one, poses a risk of potentially upsetting the customer? What could go wrong?

If I use Apple iPhones as an example: you get an iPhone, and you walk back into the Apple store after 12-months and it's not working, more often than not, Apple’s got a policy that says in essence, ‘give us another 100 bucks and we’ll give you a basically a brand new phone’. That's typically the sort of warranty exchange process, so it really does depend on whether you sold the product in the first place to the customer.

Generically when the process runs smoothly, the diagnostic happens and your technicians might say, ‘Well, it’s only really like 20 things that can go wrong’, so in most cases - like 90% of cases - it's one of these 20 things. We've got a kit for it, we know what we need to do, we know the testing, and then we can send it back on its merry way working in operational for the customer.

So what could happen in each of these processes to upset a customer? To cause damage to the customer's property? It's important to protect the customer’s property. The third consideration is: ‘Is there anything at each of these stages where we can't we can't complete the service. We can't transport, check-in, we can't diagnose, we can't source parts, we can't do the work, we can't do the tests, we can't do the checkout, we can't do the transport. It's important to understand the potential scenarios where those things can happen. So what we're trying to do ultimately is prevent - this is about a preventive strategy - things going wrong as part of this process. Now in the previous video Ralph, you'll remember we talked about the five W's and an H. So there's one W up here which is Why, and then the rest is Who, What, When, Where, How.

It’s all about developing a matrix. Who, what, when, where, how, so we can map out what our process is. Who needs to do what, and that's the matrix: the responsibility matrix that we talked about. And you guys can start to figure out talk to the people responsible for each of these stages, or the person responsible for the whole process. They can in turn start mapping out a plan.

Get it captured as version one if you like, get a draft down, keep checking it and then maybe after a period of time as you start to improve your business, making your business more efficient by looking at this process and saying hey there's a couple of steps that we could improve.

Your business is going to become more efficient; the more times you look at improving this, it's going to be more cost effective to run, more sustainable, more profitable, and ultimately easier for everybody in terms of them knowing what they need to do to run this process. Now that comes back to this question of why? This is our cause, this is a this is our amazing cause to have customers confident that they can rely on us to get their equipment back on deck, and back operational as quickly as possible so they can continue to run their businesses and do their cause, the thing that they're very passionate about.

So it's very supportive very amazing supportive process because you're there like a surgeon that's keeping that equipment in good, working condition that’s critical to your customers’ operations in a timely manner.

So Ralph, I hope that's helped. That's a little on the operational process flow. In terms of building out your quality management system: think about what things you might be able to measure. At each of these stages, consider that the people that do the tasks will have more control as you elaborate on the process flow. There's a good example to be found in Southwest Airlines. There's a case study where their CEO talked about paying bonuses to all the staff, when they had a month when every single aircraft for Southwest Airlines ran on time.

Simon Sinek's talked a little bit about it with 'Start with Why'. Your team has to know what is the ultimate objective, so they’ve got motivation to get the equipment operational back to the customer in a timely manner. The guys sourcing parts: they've got the facilities, the resources, the forecasting, the tools, equipment, to source parts. The people doing the diagnostic, that there that's the right engineers and technicians that have had the right training. Make sure the people doing the check-ins are collecting the right amount of information, so the equipment is protected when it's being transported.

If it's tested, and it's checked out, obviously you want to also get some feedback from your customer on the service, so the customer can make suggestions about what can be improved in the process. I'm sure your technicians are amazing, and they can fix absolutely anything, but it might be that the time, or the budget, or the costings that might be the issue that customers might have might make them upset. It's important to be asking that question up there.

So Ralph, there's a little process diagram, I hope that helped you. If

you've got a business out there and you want a real-time example of what your process flow might look like and I can put some ideas out there for you so you can have a think about it, reach out to us here at Best Practice.

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