Conanicut Marine Services Identifies Strengths and WeaknessesConanicut Marine Services, Jamestown, RI
Written with Bill Munger, Owner
|The trend reporting enhancing annual team goal setting focused on customer needs.|
Any company that is serious about customer service needs to go through this process. You need to know when your guests are happy, but even more so when they're not happy. It was very enlightening. As an owner or manager, you have a sense of what's going on in your business, but this reinforces what you might suspect and confirms whether you're right. This process validated the suspicions that I had. You can have a gut feel - but it's not always right.
As a result of the feedback we received, I was much more confident that we needed to spend some money in a few key areas. This exercise prioritized our issues for us. We were failing miserably in communicating with our customers. Part of the problem is due to the nature of our business: our facilities are scattered, so our front desk has always been handicapped when a customer asks about the status of an issue. It would typically take us several hours, and sometimes a full day, to find out the status and report back to the customer. I took a step back and realized that the issue was more than this - the survey shed some very important light here.
We decided to hire another service person, someone who is very knowledgeable about boat yard issues, and started funneling the more complex jobs to him. We also moved around staff to better use everyone's skills. We then designed a tablet-computer-based system so we could better track planned boat moves and status during our peak hauling and launching seasons. The tablet makes real-time detail available and visible to everyone in our operation. This technology eliminated a ton of chatter over the radio and phone between the foreman and the front desk. That solved a whole heap of problems, and communications between the field, front desk, and customers are much improved. Over time, we intend to expand this program to track schedules and status of all projects.
The process was easy and very cost effective, particularly considering how important it is for management to really know what our customers are thinking. We are getting ready to survey our customers again this spring for the fourth year in a row, and are looking forward to our customers' reactions to the changes we've made.