Interview with our Service Director
At Lucidity, and at CEM, we’re all about people. Customers, teammates, people. If you find and retain great people you get a great company, and if you treat your customers well and give them the highest level of support you build a great business. At the intersection of great teammates and the highest level of customer support is the subject of this blog, the Director of Services for CEM and Lucidity, Mike Freeman.
Q: Hey Mike, how long have you been at CEM and in what role did you start?
A: I have been with CEM for 36 years, Originally, I started with Production building and testing instruments, before moving into Quality Control. From there I moved into Field Service and Technical Support for all CEM products.
Q: How long have you been in your current role as head of service?
A: I have had responsibility for Services for 33 years.
Q: Can you describe the service organization at CEM?
A: Our primary Call Center is located in Matthews, NC and is staffed by personnel skilled in both hardware configurations and applications use of all CEM products. More than 50% of the incoming customer support requests can be handled through our Technical Support center, resulting in a fast turn-around and minimal downtime. For situations where an onsite visit may be required, we are staffed throughout North and South America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia to provide this level of support. In addition, for customers that desire returning products for repair, we have repair depots located around the world to support this activity.
Q: What regions of the world does your service organization cover?
A: We have global coverage for all types of required support, be it preventive maintenance, instrument repair and upgrade or applications assistance.
Q: What types of service do you offer?
A: As I mentioned earlier, we have remote support via the call center, which includes phone or email support. We offer on site assistance when needed and the ability to return systems or components for repair to one of our Depot facilities.
Q: What are you most excited about with the Lucidity products?
A: Well, there is no single reason, really, or at least not one that I can choose. I mean, we have these products that have so many advancements over existing systems; advancements that improve usability issues that customers have just learned to live with on other, legacy system designs. We address the physical size of the system, thereby taking up much less of the valuable bench space in labs; we make replacement of consumable components almost an afterthought item it is so easy; we remove a lot of the variables that can induce errors on other systems, further increasing the up-time availability for the customer. All this and we provide results that are indistinguishable from the currently available products. I think this is a remarkable achievement and one that is going to ring true with our customers. And all these advancements result in systems that are not just reliable, but also easy to perform preventive maintenance and repair as necessary. Keeping downtime to a minimum for maintenance and repair is extremely important, not just to us but to our customers, and these products support that concept.
Q: Where have you traveled in the world for business?
A: OK, this could be a long answer, but I will shorten it. CEM is represented in 93 countries and I have visited a lot of them. We conduct annual training and certification seminars at various locations around the world, so that can entail a good bit of travel! It has been an excellent opportunity to see just how our products are used in different markets around the world and to help develop unique solutions for customer support needs.
Q: What about for fun?
A: This is a question where the answer can be variable, but my favorite activity outside of work is scuba diving. There is just something about being underwater, in near silence with all that marine life, and floating weightless in the blue. As odd as it may sound, I think it is the closest that we can come to flying.
Q: What’s the most unusual thing you’ve seen a customer doing with a product or the most unusual thing you’ve ever encountered at a customer site?
A: Well, I have seen many interesting applications over the years, but I have to say the most memorable one was with a law enforcement agency many years ago. They had developed a unique method of detecting drug labs in their area. They had built a special fortified enclosure for one of our products. They would take sewage samples, prepare them in a special way, and then place them on our instrument. Usually, it ran as you would expect, but on occasion it would explode! When this occurred the user got really excited, because they had achieved their goal: they knew the location of a drug lab within a couple blocks! So, they kept up this process until we were able to convince them there was a less destructive way of getting the same information for which they were looking. I always felt that they did not enjoy our solution as much, but it was more effective, less costly and less shocking.
Q: What’s your favorite part of the job?
A: New challenges, hands-down. Our customers are always finding new ways to challenge old processes, and being a part of the solution is extremely gratifying.