EBACE Convention News

Raytheon Focuses on Human Face of Product Support

 - November 28, 2006, 8:57 AM

Back in 2000, customers were not thrilled with Raytheon’s product-support performance, and neither was the airframer itself. Ed Dolanski was brought in from retail giant Wal-Mart and over the past six years he has made significant progress by pushing through new processes and technology.

Now Raytheon’s management is redoubling its efforts to climb business aviation’s customer support league tables, with the appointment of former Beechcraft president Randy Groom to the new, more senior, position of president for global customer service and support. Dolanksi has moved to a new position in another part of the Raytheon group.

“Now the focus will be on people and relationships because we touch the customer at every step of the way [in product support],” explained Groom. He has placed a magnifying glass over the interaction between the Raytheon customer support teams and their customers. For example, operators are surveyed 90 days after an aircraft is delivered, and again after 180 days, to find out whether any aspects of product support need improving.

For all the 21st century technology that Raytheon now boasts, Groom finds himself looking back to the days when Beech Aircraft matriarch Olive Ann Beech personally oversaw customer support. As a company veteran, Groom remembers those days when customer support was second nature and driven from the very top of the company. “You didn’t want to be between Mrs. Beech and a dissatisfied customer,” he reminisced.

The heart of Raytheon’s product support network is its customer relations management system. This system keeps complete records of every transaction– giving staff all the background information they need to clear up issues and identify emerging trends.

Support issues are color-coded with red being the most urgent, followed by yellow and green. Every Monday at 1 p.m. all red items are reviewed by the entire team under the watchful eye of Raytheon Aircraft CEO Jim Schuster.

Boards indicating the status of aircraft on the ground (AOG) incidents are positioned right outside the offices of the CEO and Groom himself. These serve as ticking clocks to leave no one in any doubt as to the urgency with which they must be resolved–just as if the ghost of the late Mrs. Beech were pacing the customer support area impatiently.

In fact, great improvements in responding to AOG incidents have already been achieved, with resolution times down from 14 days to just one. At Raytheon’s Dallas parts warehouse, red-shirted AOG specialists are empowered to push past other staff to fill parts orders in minutes. Similarly, warranty processing should now take just a day compared with 10 days six years ago.

On this side of the Atlantic, Raytheon is now looking to boost customer support infrastructure in Eastern Europe and Russia, with ambitions to open new service centers there. The manufacturer currently has 17 service centers in Europe, including the factory-owned facility in Chester, UK.

Last year Raytheon opened a new high-tech parts warehouse in Liège, Belgium. More recently, it has relocated Steve Porte, vice president for international support, from Wichita, Kansas, to Milan, Italy, to be closer to customers. From there he manages service centers and field service representatives from around the world.