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By Lindsey Kromm, Director of Client Services

If you haven’t had a chance to read The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn, this is your sign to grab a copy right now!  The book is about a passionate mail carrier named Fred who goes the extra mile in his job and is one of few books that every working person should read, regardless of whether you are in the service industry. What some may see as a mundane job, Fred transforms into an extraordinary opportunity to affect the lives of his customers, personalizing their mail handling, treating them like friends and even on occasion watching over their homes.   

I read this book shortly out of college as a newly hired CPA and have gone back to it many times throughout my career for inspiration and to reset.  My career has been spent almost entirely in customer-facing roles, and most recently leading a service organization at a growing technology company.  While doing some strategic planning and finding myself getting lost in a sea of metrics, processes, and roadmaps, I was recently drawn to revisit this book to stay rooted in some of the principles of service inspired by  Fred, which include:  

  • Principle 1: Everyone makes a difference 
  • Principle 2: Success is built on relationships 
  • Principle 3: You must continually create value for others, and it doesn’t have to cost a penny 
  • Principle 4: You can reinvent yourself regularly 

Inspired once again by this story, I challenged my team to think about their own personal purpose for working and was pleased to discover that our principles are very much aligned with the principles of this exceptional mail carrier.  Here are a few examples: 

 

Fred Factor Principle 1: Everyone makes a difference

Terso Service Team Principles:   

  • “To make things right”
  • “To exceed expectations”
  • “To make things happen and make an impact”
  • “To improve healthcare” 
Evidence in Action: 

Our service team is a combination of field service ‘boots on the ground’ and remote support professionals, and it sometimes takes a village to get things right.  We recently had to tag team an in-field troubleshooting service which resulted in our engineer staying late at a hospital site on a Friday night, which also happened to be Valentine’s Day! Meanwhile, back in Madison, our remote support team also stayed on the line to make sure that the device was fully operational and communicating before the weekend. Our team was there every step of the way to make sure that the product could be accessed through the weekend, and that the healthcare professionals could focus on what really mattered – their patients. Our partner sent the following message to thank the team: 

“Good morning everyone!  Just wanted to send a quick ‘Thank you’ to Dylan for spending his Friday evening (and Valentines) with the IT team at La Crosse.  Dylan, thank you so much for working diligently to get the connection in place.  Even though they didn’t have to use any product over the weekend, knowing they could easily open the cabinet was a relief to them.” 

" While these principles may stem from the actions of one individual, they can be felt throughout an entire team and serve to propel that team forward. "

Fred Factor Principle 2: Success is built on relationships 

Terso Service Team Principles:  

  • “To make the customer feel heard, happy, at ease”
  • “To let a customer know we care”
  • “To pay it forward and give back to others” 
 Evidence in Action: 

In working with one of our newest partners, we ran into a handful of unexpected roadblocks through the procurement, project management, and delivery of our RFID devices.  Our internal product development, production, engineering, client services and procurement teams rallied together to figure out the root causes and how to prevent these issues from happening again in the future. We invested in the concerns that might be present for the partner and shared solutions. Because of the solid foundation and trust we worked to build before and during these issues, we received the following response: 

“Mistakes and issues absolutely happen and I have nothing but praise for how your team handled them.   Super responsive and at no time did I have any doubt it would be otherwise. You’re a great partner to work with and I have immense trust in that.” 

 

Fred Factor Principle 3: You must continually create value for others, and it doesn’t have to cost a penny

Terso Service Team Principles: 

  • “Create convenience and give the customer time back”
  • “Help the customer with their problem, even if it doesn’t benefit us”
  • “To protect what is most important to the customer”
  • “To help people make things easier”
  • “To solve problems, fix things” 
Evidence in Action: 

The quote below was from an implementation lead from one of our strategic partner accounts. He was relatively new to his organization and was tasked with implementing four ambient cabinets at a VA Hospital.  During his installation, he ran into issues with the first three cabinets and wasn’t sure where to turn.  He reached out to our Lead Field Service Engineer, Tyler, and was able to determine that the error was on the partner side in setting up the connection to Jetstream, our IoT platform.  Nonetheless, our Tyler Neelis, showed his capacity to be a ‘Fred’ that day, and here is the quote to prove it: 

“… I just wanted to pass along my thanks and an affirmation for his work. He was invaluable to me and ended up identifying our issue (which was on [our] side, basically the cabinets were never added to Jetstream.) As an implementation Lead, I’m not really equipped with the knowledge to have done what he did, just wanted to pass along my gratitude for his time and work.  I think he spent at least two hours with me on the phone and he had to really dig into the issue to figure out our problem, not something he should have had to do but I’m thankful nonetheless.  That’s all, I just wanted to let you know that he pretty much saved my day yesterday.” 

 

Fred Factor Principle 4: You can reinvent yourself regularly

Terso Service Team Principles: 

  • “To open up the customer mind to new ideas”
  • “To achieve personal growth and learn”
  • “To feel secure” 
 Evidence in Action: 

During the first few months of COVID in 2020, one of our field service engineers decided to spend his new-found bandwidth learning and developing his skillset in PowerApps, Dynamics and other Microsoft platforms to automate and streamline his work.  Fast forward a year, and this individual is now one of the key contacts with our strategic customers and has continued to find ways to automate reporting for both internal and external use.  In fact, our main contact at our parent company, which is also our longest standing customer, sent over the following email in response to some of his automated reports and the way he provides information: 

“Wanted to mention Mike is a great addition to your team; I’m really enjoying working with him!” 

Mike also received the following accolades from our internal Director of Manufacturing: 

“I just had an awesome power BI training with Mike. I know we all know that he is a power BI wiz, but he did such a nice job explaining the program to me – super helpful. Just wanted to share!” 

It is an inspiring moment when, as a company that is in a state of growth while serving industries that are constantly evolving, we are still grounded in our mission, our vision, and our brand promise. That when I stop to do a gut check, to pull my head out of the weeds and ensure we’re on the right path for Terso and for our customer’s success, that I can see such profound similarities between a book that is acclaimed for being the pinnacle of making an impact.   Im proud to say there are a hundred more examples of Fred-like service delivery at Terso, where my team and colleagues have demonstrated their commitment to service, building relationships and developing themselves. While these principles may stem from the actions of one individual, they can be felt throughout an entire team and serve to propel that team forward.