Leveraging service as a strategic weapon requires the right attitude and superior discipline. Only organizations with a “service first” mentality can even hope to create a service advantage. But that’s not enough. You must combine that with superior discipline in executing against something like Clicksoftware CEO Moshe BenBassat’s W6 questions: Who does what for whom with what where and when?
Having previously written on the Three Keys to a Winning Attitude for a Service Business (strategy, posture and culture), let’s focus now on discipline.
On one level, BenBassat’s W6 merely take basic milestone management up a notch beyond what is getting done by whom when. However, when it comes to service delivery you do need more than basics. While manufacture planning concerns scheduling machines and materials, service planning requires more sophisticated time management and skill optimization.
BenBassat’s first “aha moment” was sparked by his work helping the Israeli air force assemble its annual schedule. The existing process involved “putting four smart officers in a room and not letting them out until they had a solution” to optimize planes, fuel, exercises, and people’s time. This took months, literally. Instead, BenBassat built a software solution which leveraged artificial intelligence to do what the officers did – but in minutes.
We’ll leave it to BenBassat to explain the software, focusing here on applying BenBassat’s W6 logic to your service planning, regardless of the problem you are trying to solve.
- For Whom?
Begin with the client of your service. This is another form of the BRAVE leadership question “Where play?” Note that the more demanding customers are not necessarily the highest priority. “First come first served” and “The squeakiest wheel gets oiled first” are not value-creating strategies.
With the client in mind, get clear on what services you are going to provide – and not provide.
Service is delivered by people with unequal skills. As BenBassat experienced in his work with utility companies, the skills required to install are different than those required to repair. Find the person with the right skills and temperament to deliver the specific service required.
4. With what?
Service requires resources. We’ve all experienced plumbers assessing a problem and then leaving to retrieve the required parts. To properly leverage service, ensure your people have the tools and materials they need when they need them.
There’s been a fundamental shift in where some services are delivered. Sometimes it still makes sense to go where the need is (e.g. doctor house calls). Other times, it’s better to have the need brought to you (e.g. hospital operations). Make a considered choice.
Not all service requires immediate delivery and delivering ASAP is expensive. In many instances, the monetary cost advantages in batching service delivery outweigh the customer satisfaction cost of delay.
BenBassat’s W6 Who does what for whom with what where and when is a valuable framework which can be used to leverage service as a strategic weapon – especially if one combines discipline with the right attitude in terms of strategy, posture and culture.
And in today’s competitive economy, where many companies can no longer rely on product or pricing as a differentiator, it is the service experience that is influencing buying decisions.
This is a good example of a build on step 7 of The New Leader’s Playbook: Exploit Key Milestones to Drive Team Performance
The milestone tool is straightforward and focuses on mapping and tracking and what is getting done by when by whom. High-performing team leaders take that basic tool to a whole new level, exploiting it to inspire and enable people to work together as a team!