Focus on service at Tech Systems Inc.

Service calls monitored by senior staff
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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

DULUTH, Ga.—Tech Systems Inc., a $35 million privately owned systems integrator based here, had a good year in 2012. Top-line revenue increased in the single digits, and bottom-line revenue grew by double digits.

“It’s the best we’ve had in years,” Larry Simmons, TSI VP of client services, told Security Systems News.

For the past decade, the company, which is a PSA Security owner, has focused solely on “what our service goals are and what the service opportunities are,” Simmons said. If a customer is not interested in “a strong service offering, we don’t waste resources [on that job].”

By modeling the company processes “100 percent around services,” TSI is “very close to achieving our goal of being able to cover 100 percent of our operating costs [with] recurring revenue,” Simmons said.

So what’s TSI’s secret? The primacy of service is ingrained in the culture, Simmons said. Take, for example, service call policy: If service techs want to leave a job site without completing a service call for any reason, they must go through a “regimented escalation process before they can leave.”

The request must be approved by a regional manager, a director, and ultimately by the CEO or Simmons before that tech may leave the job without finishing.

“Before they declare failure, they must speak to Darryl Keeler [TSI CEO and owner] or myself, but we rarely get a call because our guys know what to do,” Simmons said.

And, the protocol is the same for all customers. If you differentiate among customers, the service philosophy will be compromised, Simmons said.

“As far as our people in the field are concerned, whether a client has two readers or 2,000 readers, the process is exactly the same,” he explained.

TSI’s service program is called FOCUS, and the company reports some impressive results.

“In 2012, TSI responded to 16,467 FOCUS-related service calls. We only failed to either achieve response time or functionality 30 times, giving TSI a 99.99 percent success rate. Our success rate has not dropped below 99.7 percent over the past three years,” Simmons said.

TSI has $500 on the line for each call. “[We guarantee] a $250 credit memo if we fail to respond in the agreed-upon response time and a $250 credit memo if we fail to achieve 100 percent functionality before leaving the site,” Simmons explained. 

TSI has gone to extremes to ensure that it does not have to make that $500 payment. It has flown parts and personnel across the country at great expense rather than declare failure.

Occasionally going to that extreme makes all employees take the company’s service model seriously, Simmons said.

Tech Systems has 164 employees across the country. Headquartered here, it has other brick-and-mortar offices in North Carolina and California. Employees elsewhere work from virtual offices.

This quarter, the company will be rolling out initiatives that support its service capacities. Details of the new initiatives have not been released, but they will involve more hand-held devices for service techs and more automated processes for key customers.