By Sarah Nicastro, publisher/editor in chief, Field Technologies
Markem-Imaje is a giant Dover Corporation company that specializes in printing and marking technology. The company operates in 30 countries direct, and has a team of 850 field technicians. I recently interviewed Jack Rijnenberg, director of global customer service at Markem-Imaje, about a major transformation the company is undergoing. Markem-Imaje is in the process of standardizing its field service processes, and technologies, worldwide.
I am working on another article that will discuss the technology aspect of their story in detail, but as we were discussing their project, I was struck by the weight of such a major change. The company isn’t just applying a new technology to automate some of its field work; it is truly changing much of how its technicians operate. When I asked Jack about the difficulty of such change, it was clear that this hasn’t been an easy, plug-and-play project. I invited Jack to join me here to talk with you about how Markem-Imaje is tackling some of the complexities and challenges that come with its major field service transformation.
Field Technologies: You have 850 technicians operating out of 30 countries, all of which were using different methods and technologies. The decision to standardize all of this couldn’t have been made lightly. How would you summarize why Markem-Imaje felt it was important to take this on?
Rijnenberg: Our key accounts are truly global and expect consistent quality service driven by a true service quality system all over the world. Creating a baseline of standard work, standard processes, standard tools, and a global deployed service quality system are the key cornerstones for creating customer satisfaction and establishing a customer experience that goes beyond market standards.
Field Technologies: I can imagine the pushback when the project for standardization began. Would you say it was better or worse than you expected? How did you handle those early concerns? What planning went into the initial communication of this project?
Rijnenberg: I would say that in principle, even when the whole organization agrees on the service vision, the mission, and the targets — and even agree on the main steps to establish those targets — the deployment is always hard work and requires a disciplined execution of companywide agreed action plans. I cannot say that it was worse than expected, as we had realistic expectations going into the project. We know that companywide implementations require a disciplined execution and a circular performance measurement of a well-designed and dynamic change management program, so that is what we planned for.
Field Technologies: How would you define your change management strategy?
Rijnenberg: In a nutshell, the strategy was to have selected stakeholders identify the true current states of each individual country and service organizations’ service processes, then clearly define the future state of what the processes should look like. From that point, the stakeholders needed to articulate the detailed process and sub process gaps that existed in terms of tools used, changes of activity, changes of culture, and changes of organization. Then we worked to formulate the action plans to close those gaps and make sure that we were constantly measuring performance, communicating clearly, and celebrating successes.
Field Technologies: We discussed the fact that change management is really a continuous improvement effort. What areas do you focus on for continuous improvement?
Rijnenberg: Our key driver is to manage the service department as a true profit center. In order to be successful on this we have to make sure that our service offering and delivery is adding value and satisfying our customers. We need to ensure we create an excellent customer experience. Adding value means that we have to create the right service products, as well as making sure that we eliminate the waste and inefficiencies in our service delivery processes. Our main KPIs are structured around these principles.
Field Technologies: If you could offer one piece of advice to a company undergoing a similarly major project, what would it be?
Rijnenberg: There are no short cuts in change management projects. Make sure that you follow the right steps from getting top management engagement, determining how your company will measure performance, and aligning proper rewards. Ensure that you take the time to communicate and engage the organization throughout the whole project, and accept that sometimes you need to invest more time in certain change management steps in order to enjoy an acceleration of performance and results afterwards.