Honeywell Aerospace products are aboard many of the aircraft in the EBACE static park. Adrian Paull, VP for customer and product support, talks to Brendan Gallagher about the company’s moves to give operators Web-powered fast-track access to the advice and information they need
“The last time I looked, there were about 50,000 phone calls coming in from customers every month, and each and every one of them is being answered in less than seven seconds on average – that’s like night and day compared with where we used to be.” Adrian Paull is a happy man, and he’ll be happier still when initial implementation of his company’s powerful new customer support arrangements is complete in the middle of next year.
British-born Paull is the Honeywell manager charged with putting teeth into the customer-centric strategy first ordained by chief executive Rob Gillette. “Not long after his appointment he saw that we were too complex, too difficult to do business with,” says Paull. The resulting overhaul of the company’s organisation started at the beginning of 2005 and was complete in the middle of that year.
Since then Paull and his team have been working to sharpen up the way the company responds to customer enquiries, developing a combination of Web and phone capabilities designed to come closer than ever to the Holy Grail of first-call resolution. “In the past the aerospace industry has been dominated by engineers focused on design and development, and with less interest in support,” he says. “At Honeywell we’re aiming to differentiate ourselves through our great customer and product support.”
Paull is certainly walking the talk when it comes to harnessing the Web to cut down the time and effort that customers put into getting their technical questions answered. He’s there with his own blog in the front page of the Honeywell Aerospace site, right next to the link into the MyAerospace customer portal, which gives access to technical publications, product catalogues, order status, parts prices and stocks, and other key information.
MyAerospace was created by rationalising a patchwork of 60 older sites. It isn’t just a bigger database, though – it’s a smart way of giving customers a helping hand, and before long it’s going to be smarter still. “The portal is the customer’s first resort, though we will of course always offer a voice alternative to customers who prefer to talk to someone right at the start,” says Paull.
But what about the customer who’s happy to go straight to the site, only to find that his problem is unique? The solution, says Paull, lies in the use of something called “extraction protocols”.
“We’re moving towards getting answers to all the more straightforward enquiries on to the portal, leaving the smaller numbers of trickier ones to be handled on the phone by our customer support agents,” he explains. “But the danger with that is that someone might go in through the Web to try to accomplish something quite complex, only to end up frustrated. So we’re guarding against that by building ‘bell-ringers’ – the extraction protocols – into the site to spot one-off enquiries and prompt the customer to use the online chat facility or phone an agent.”
Underlying the drive to make the portal more sensitive to customer needs is a parallel one to make it more ever more knowledgeable. This is based on the implementation of two major IT/communications tools – the Honeywell Aerospace virtual network and a knowledge management system.
The virtual network is a software platform allowing the individual agent to search for colleagues who are specialised in a particular system and then start an instant-messaging exchange in order to get an answer to his current customer enquiry. All such exchanges are captured electronically and then fed into the knowledge management system.
“We take the call from the customer, the agent engages with others through the network, finds the answer and gets back to the customer with it,” says Paull. “Then we take all that the learning from the technical issues that have come up during the day and add it to the knowledge management system.”
These developments are already beginning to change the behaviour of the Honeywell Aerospace technical operations organisation, Paull says. “When a customer calls in, the agent can enter keywords that bring up the kind of questions that have already been asked in that area. Then he can supply the answer, along with other related questions and answers.”
Paull and other senior managers have access to the system, allowing them to hear the agents in action and view the screens they are working with. “It’s a very rich experience for someone in my position,” he says. “The lessons we learn flow into our process of continuous improvement.”
Honeywell’s new customer support arrangements are still a work in progress, but the end of the first phase at least is now in sight. An intelligent call routing system will go live in July following extensive trials and installation of the necessary infrastructure throughout the technical operations organisation.
A planned second phase will see data streaming off in-service aircraft and into the customer support databases. “We’re keeping further details under our hat for the moment,” says Paull. “But I can say that we’ve already successfully trialled this capability.”
Source: Flight Daily News