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Turning your support centre into a profit centre

2nd Feb 2017
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Harry Mowat, UK MD, Greentree discusses how finance teams can help turn cumbersome support centres into profitable ventures

The onus on companies to operate efficiently and effectively is critical in the current unpredictable economic environment. But how can companies optimise every part of their business while also making profit? It’s a tough question, but, for many finance teams in the trade services industry, they can find the answer internally. In fact, many organisations aren’t considering how they can capitalise on a fundamental part of their business – the service function.

It’s not just about providing support when a product has been purchased; it’s about demonstrating to the customer that the annual support contract is actually adding value. This is key to customer retention, which in turn can help organisations survive in times when demand for new products slows, or new customers are hard to find.

For many, support functions are seen as a financial and operational strain - where manual processes reign. This amounts to time-consuming processes, siloed information and the finance team having little visibility of job profitability. However, some businesses have taken steps to centralise and automate their support centres, getting a better overview of the job from when the initial problem is flagged through to its final resolution. We’ve worked with a number of organisations who have already reaped the rewards of doing this.

Keeping maintenance cool with efficient scheduling

Adcock Air Conditioning and Refrigeration has completely refreshed its support centre, allowing it to take a more controlled approach to the management of its support function. The company can now schedule routine maintenance outside of the heavy summer and winter periods by using centralised planning boards to allocate jobs. The workforce can maximise the financial return as much as possible by minimising their time between jobs – picking routes and schedules that provide shorter distances to allow them to cover more customers whilst reducing unprofitable downtime.  

Automate for a better operational overview

Another iconic service operator is Aga distributor Edwards and Godding. In automating its service operations, the company has gone paperless, and connected its financial management system with its customer service operations desk. This delivers a better overview of the whole customer service journey, allowing staff to link service calls to invoices, while having live visibility of jobs progressing across the company. Customers receive a quick, flexible service, with payment handled swiftly, while finance staff are no longer weighed down by time-consuming manual processes.

Why automate your service function?

These aren’t exceptions. There’s a great opportunity here for any organisation with a service centre to turn a real profit from it. And if you can rely on your support services to run smoothly, it’s easy to create an additional revenue stream by offering longer-term support packages that can be sold as an add-on to customers at checkout.

The bottom line is the better your business systems can enable your service workers to locate and complete a job, the more time they will have available to bill for additional ad hoc jobs that are still chargeable, on top of routine maintenance contracts.

In any business climate, and particularly in uncertain times, making your support function a revenue stream for your business could be key. And a central pillar in delivering this lies in ensuring that technology automates your processes, making the jobs of your customer service and support staff easier. It will also have the bonus result of driving customer loyalty by improving the overall customer experience.

Harry Mowat is the UK Managing Director of Greentree Software, an MYOB company specialising in ERP software for mid-market businesses


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