It’s easy to think that we’re always transparent with our customers, right? I used to feel the same way until I led a major MRO turnaround and discovered what I thought was transparency was causing more customer confusion and frustration than ever. Typical customer transparency is often clouded by self-preservation, conflict-avoidance, and company politics.
Moving toward a more authentic customer relationship can be uncomfortable, for sure, but more authentic customer relationships result in customers for life and a deeper level of mutual respect. Play the long game, don’t settle for a quick “get-out-of-jail-free” card that’ll only last as long as a warm bath.
It’s human nature to want to shine the brightest light possible on any negative situation. Through my experience; however, I’ve found that most customers have a sixth sense in calling the bullshit card when they see it. When this happens, and it inevitably does, your personal credibility and that of your MRO takes extra punches to the face, which can create internal panic and can be ill-afforded when performance is in the tank.
Times like this call for an authentic level of transparency with your customers about your MRO’s performance. This authenticity might include specific forecasts of when they can expect repaired parts back, by part number, and by specific dates. Sounds normal, right? The difference is to provide credible data that is not encumbered by what I call “hope-casts” (a forecast that sounds great but has zero chance of occurring).
Your customers must be told the complete unfiltered and non-political story so they can take appropriate actions within their businesses (like integrators and airlines) to mitigate your MRO’s failure to perform. This mitigation often includes purchasing additional spare parts to buffer delays or by realigning their internal maintenance schedules to reduce risk. Remember, your customers will need to take specific actions to ensure they can weather the storm of your poor performance. Mitigating failures and committing to these positive, authentic behaviors will pay off handsomely in the long run, and that’s what you’re going for here.
I recognize that not all customers are created equal and to suggest otherwise would be silly on my part, so focus on the top five to 10 customers initially, then expand your reach as you gain control and MRO performance improves. World hunger can’t be solved overnight, but a solid plan and relentless execution can begin to turn the tide toward winning! With small incremental improvements over time, you’ll awaken three-months from now and be an “overnight success!”
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