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Customer relations in brownfield maintenance

Contractors have as tough a job as anyone when it comes to customer management. They’re experts in a field that the consumer rarely understands, or wants to.

So what happens when you uncover a problem with a piece of equipment, and need to convince the customer it’s important and needs to be fixed? The first thing they’ll ask is, ’What happened?’, then ‘How much is that going to cost?’, and finally ‘Why is it so much?’. 

Here’s where it gets hard, because this type of inevitable interaction corners the contractor into a ‘pushy salesperson’ role, rather than a ‘helpful partner’; you’re already starting from behind. The further it goes on, the more it risks jeopardizing the customer relationship. That’s HARD.

The customer is in control

Unfortunately, this is nothing new. It's just part of servicing maintenance contracts and calls. They’re the biggest sellers, hands-down, but there’s inherent risk and cost in provisioning them. Notably …

  • Service revolves around each independent customer’s schedule, which can create fluctuations in your business cycle
  • Approving billables relies on the customer to both understand the problem, and internally conceptualize the cost (or effectively communicate it to the decision maker)
  • The more you bill, the more wary the customer can grow

On top of all this, some customers are starting to onboard their own Building Management Systems (BMS), to better understand and take ownership of their equipment and assets, squeezing out contractors. Like most Cloud technology, a BMS is a way for the customer to translate what’s happening in the real world into data that can be readily understood and provide peace of mind. Knowing what’s going on gives them control.

Equal opportunity

By the same principle, increased knowledge about an asset may also give the contractor with an opportunity to capture more control over the relationship, providing insurance against their margins, and new freedom in how to best monetize the relationship. A simple way to drive that knowledge ─ remote monitoring.

With wireless sensing devices becoming inexpensive, and only ~10% of most brownfield equipment connected to the internet, industrial and commercial contractors can use remote monitoring as a guiding star to modernize their service models, and beat their customers to the punch.

A plethora of new choices

Retrofitting customer equipment with sensors gives you control over the business relationship.

  • Insight into customer assets, ensuring less surprises in your team’s schedule
  • Influence on the customer reaction towards billables, bolstering their understanding and confidence in your service
  • Flexibility in how you use and dispatch different technicians and service personnel
  • Monetization of new services, like automatic parts ordering for customers based on asset data
  • Reliance on your business, providing new knowledge that you control

Translating it all to the real world

If this has turned on any light bulbs for you, you are not alone. The trouble most contractors seem to have is “figuring it all out”. That’s where we come in, implementing remote monitoring into your service without sucking your resources and patience dry.

Knowing more about what’s going on gives you the control. Seize it while you can.

— Graham Hall