Improving customer support

 - November 29, 2006, 9:08 AM

Honeywell Aerospace is giving both its own staff and its customers the tools they need to ensure consistently good product support, according to Adrian Paull, vice president of customer and product support. He explained that the goal is that regardless of how customers contact the company, they should be able to do so as simply and quickly as possible, and Honeywell’s support team should have everything they need at their finger tips to resolve issues quickly and efficiently.

Paull said the company is seeking service improvements through three channels: new Web access with streamlined customer portals (Honeywell currently has 50 to 60 different Web sites); consolidation of parts and service order management from different call centers; and improved responsiveness among the company’s worldwide support network.

“It shouldn’t matter whether a customer uses the Web, a call center or a field service representative [to seek support from Honeywell]; there should be uniformity and consistency in the way we respond,” Paull told EBACE Convention News.

On the Internet front, Paull’s team is rapidly prototyping Web-access starting with the Honeywell sites that get the most traffic and linking them to a common portal, adding functionality at the same time. It has started with access to technical publications and next will tackle the portal for checking the status of repair orders online.

Improving customer support has been a key objective of the comprehensive restructuring that Honeywell went through last year, which relates directly to improvements in Web access for customer services. “Previously, there were 12 different enterprises and the subdepartments of each of these had its own Web site,” said Paull.

The project that Paull and his team are engaged is backed by top Honeywell Aerospace management. After Rob Gillette became its new president and CEO he quickly surveyed customers about the changes they wanted. “They told me that Honeywell wasn’t always the easiest company to work with,” he commented in July 2005. “Clearly that has to improve.”

Among the other improvements is a new toll-free “800-number” that will work from a menu-driven process for customers to get help. Paull is determined to get rid of the corporate “phone-tree” syndrome where customers must punch in an endless succession of numerical options or repeatedly explain their situation to a succession of staff members. By the end of this year, Honeywell customers should have their own code numbers allowing them to connect to someone who can help immediately and who has all the information they need. As an interim step, the company has introduced a common “800 number” which automatically reroutes calls from previous access numbers.

Honeywell’s support staff will be using its Atlas (aerospace total account system) customer relationship management tool which allows them to access a full array of data about each customer’s operation and to quickly access the various sources of support available within the company. “This will be more like a concierge service,” said Paull, implying that staff will have greater authority and resources to get customer requirements resolved quickly and effectively.

At the same time, Paull’s team is working closely with Honeywell’s service centers to improve the availability of spares. There’s no point having 21st century communications technology if the spare parts seem to take another century to arrive where they are needed, he said. “Rob Gillette wants us to be world-class in product support,” said Paull. “Everything we have requested [in a multimillion-dollar investment program] has been approved and the appropriations are taking place.”