October 2012 - The Service Council

Will the Mobile Workforce Market Ever Be Ready to Swallow a $40 Tablet?

By John Carroll | Perspective | No Comments

In its October 22, 2012 edition, The New York Times reported that an inexpensive tablet, manufactured by a London UK-based company called Datawind, is being sold in India, designated initially for students in the country’s massive school system.

Called the Ubislate 7Ci, the device is described as “a fully functioning 7-inch tablet, with a touch screen, Wi-Fi capability, a microphone and camera, a headphone jack and a USB port.” According to the Times, “it is pretty much everything you need to be fully functional on the Internet.”

However, there are some relatively minor downsides for the U.S and other markets that have become accustomed to what seems like a never-ending cascade of creature features and the like. For example, the keyboard may be a tad small for the taste of the American market (e.g., the Times cites “big American fingers”), the camera resolution is relatively low, and the software is accompanied by “lots of ads.” However, after all is said and done, it still costs only $40 (US$)!

The Times quotes Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO of Datawind, as saying, “Personal computers caught on in the U.S. when the price got to 25 percent of the average person’s monthly income. In India, where people make $200 a month, that is about $50.” Mr. Tuli knows something about monthly incomes in different geos, as he was born in India, raised in Canada and currently operates his business out of the UK.

While I would hardly imagine the Ubislate 7Ci to meet anywhere near the functional requirements for supporting today’s mobile workforce in the U.S. or the UK (i.e., where it is being manufactured), the question arises, “When will there be an acceptable device manufactured for the U.S. (and other global markets) containing all of the required functionality (i.e., a larger keyboard for our “big American fingers” and, perhaps, a higher resolution camera, et al) and priced well below a top-of-the-line iPhone, tablet or other device. (This is where Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD, can emerge as an key factor.)

Gartner reports that “Google’s Nexus 7 tablet is $199 now, but people are saying it will be a $49 device in a year or two.” Intel’s CFO, Stacy J. Smith, believes that “Content sellers will underwrite hardware costs, so that devices eventually end up being free to consumers.” However, “free to consumers,” of course, will not equate to “free to field technicians” – although costs will ultimately come down significantly, as functionality on these devices continues to increase. In any event, Intel expects to see these types of tablet devices to come to market soon, and it plans to “compete for the business.”

While Datawind is far from being ready to mass market its device, it already sees competition in its own market niche, leading CEO Tuli to believe that the world will soon be “flooded” with “cheap tablets.” The Times further cites that this “could lead to an explosion of novel applications, similar to the online car sales that are moving into Africa thanks to cloud computing.” Perhaps, ultimately, some to support a mobile workforce?

When will it all hit the mobile workforce market in the U.S. and other leading technology geos? Probably first in the less developed and/or lower income geos; but then, look out for the deluge of cheap tablets riding the wave across all geos (i.e., first among consumers, most likely; and then among the services organizations that support them). As such, this will clearly be a another prime example of the B2C market influencing the B2B market during a product’s initial penetration stage.

Until next time, keep your customers satisfied!

The Key to Home Automation is Service

By John Carroll | Perspective | No Comments

One of the headlines on today’s Business page of The Philadelphia Inquirer was “Key to Home Automation is Service” (above the fold). The subhead was “Firms offering tech switch gear for lights, alarms, climate control flourish by catering to customers.”

Remotely-accessed home automation is nothing new to the marketplace, although it has been enjoying a significant rise in sales of late with many home (and business) security and communications companies leading the charge toward “bundling” home automation into existing home communications coverage (i.e., cable TV, Internet, telephone, etc.). In this part of the country, Verizon, through its Xfinity brand, has been making some recent inroads. Others, including some of the more traditional home security and AC (i.e., air conditioning) vendors have also entered the fray (e.g., Honeywell, Johnson Controls, etc.).

The underlying premise behind home automation capability is essentially remote-based. For example, imagine wanting to conserve energy by keeping your heat down to only 58˚ when you are at work, but setting it to rise to a more comfortable 65˚ about half-an-hour before you return home. Even better, if you unexpectedly leave the office early, you can use your cell phone, iPhone, tablet or other device, to change the temperature setting on the fly.

The same process can be used to set the lighting systems at your home (or office) using a handheld device and adjusting the lighting (both inside and outside) as desired. Verizon and others have taken this process one step further by allowing subscribers to also set their television DVR remotely.

The article states that “while the economy may be sluggish, and real estate is recovering in more fits than starts … home automation, apparently, is a growth industry.” In fact, one research firm anticipates the market for home automation products and services to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 60 percent! And that companies including ADT, Comcast, Verizon – and even Lowes – are adding home automation to their customer service portfolios.

But what’s the common element that inter-relates all of these otherwise disparate vendors? You guessed it – customer service! Not the customer service of several years back when, if your home security system wasn’t working properly, you had to call someone halfway across the country to find out who within the company you really needed to talk to – but, rather customer service that allows you to troubleshoot on your own via your smart phone, iPhone or tablet, etc.

The article also describes how easy it is for hardwired sensors to be changed into wireless ones (customers like wireless). New functionality is also being added to home automation systems all the time.

The explosion of iPhone usage has made it simpler than ever for customers to program (or adjust) remotely for just about anything, ranging from setting home lighting schedules to recording Dancing with the Stars. Home security video monitoring has also been around for many years – but now, you can see the screens in real time on your iPad. Another new functionality is the ability to take a snapshot of visitors to your front door through a camera triggered by the ringing of a doorbell.

According to the article, what’s driving interest (and new vendors) into this potentially huge market are basically:

  • Improved connectivity
  • Higher levels of home broadband penetration
  • Use of embedded cellular connections
  • Smartphone apps that empower users to become part of the process

In addition, as always, home automation systems are being built on a strong foundation of security and privacy – both of critical importance to customers.

While the technology is already here; the iPad, smart phones and tablets have empowered (and familiarized) customers with the appropriate tools and technology; and the overarching technology is readily available, what will ultimately lead to the success of any vendor in particular (and the market as a whole) will be the execution of basic customer service principles, such as:

  • Treating customers with respect
  • Being responsive to their needs, requirements and expectations
  • Keeping it simple to use (and pay for; that is, bundling is fine, but don’t make the pricing menu too complicated)
  • Solving problems and completing fixes quickly

Oh yeah, also don’t forget that when you schedule a service call for between 1:00 pm and 5:00 pm on Thursday, that your service tech actually shows up during that time window. (We can talk later about the need to shorten these time windows; although, wouldn’t it be great to schedule, monitor and adjust these time windows via your smart phone or iPad? Are you listening ADT, Comcast, Honeywell, Johnson Controls, Lowes and Verizon?)

Until next time, keep your customers satisfied!

Interview with Bill Pollock at Service Management Expo 2012 (SME 2012)

By John Carroll | Perspective | No Comments
[Reprinted/edited from SME 2012 Website]

At this year’s Service Management Expo we took the opportunity to catch up with Bill Pollock, President & Chief Research Officer of The Service Council™, following his excellent keynote speech at the conference. In his own words the most important thing he hoped people would take away from his speech was the importance of working smarter to build deeper industry relationships.

Pollock is a firm believer in moving beyond the client/provider relationship and, instead, nurturing relationships that reflect true business partnerships.

“You’ve got to enter into a partnership with them, and it cannot just be lip service, it’s got to be a real partnership” he states. “You’ve got to understand what their needs are, you have to understand what happens to them when their systems fail, or when just a device fails. You have to understand the pain they are going through when things don’t work the way they were promised they were going to work.”

Pollock firmly believes that companies who adopt this approach, and position themselves as partners rather than just providers, will see customer satisfaction and customer retention naturally increase.

When asked about the differences in the U.S. & UK markets Pollock commented that whilst in many areas there is little or no difference between the two, one significant disparity was in the level of buy-in from senior management into implementing new technologies, with UK leaders often somewhat less enthusiastic than their American counterparts.

Another area where U.S. service organizations have shown more appetite than companies at home is in terms of the cultural shift of viewing service departments as profit centers. 55% of companies now have this outlook in the U.S. compared to 48% in the UK.

However, as Pollock points out this is a gap that is decreasing year-over-year. Indeed, Pollock believes that within the next five years or so, the gap will have closed almost completely.

These points as well as further insight into Mr. Pollock’s market perceptions, including where he sees innovation in the industry are available for you to watch here.

Weblink to Video Interview: http://www.servicemanagement.co.uk/page.cfm/Action=library/libID=1/listID=44/libEntryID=2090

 

Treating Patients as Customers – U.S. Hospitals Move Toward Smarter Services

By John Carroll | Perspective | No Comments

The Wall Street Journal carried an interesting piece on the front page of yesterday’s edition (albeit under the fold). The headline read, “U.S. Ties Hospital Payments to Making Patients Happy.” Not tied to patient, or customer, “satisfaction”, but to “making patients happy.”

Depending on your political orientation, the “pursuit of happiness” may be defined differently between you, your friends or your next door neighbors; but even the government recognizes that patients need to be both cured (or, at least mended) and made happy.

So, what steps are being undertaken by U.S. hospitals in their respective quests to make customers – I mean patients – happy? The following is what one hospital, Grady Memorial in Atlanta, Georgia, is doing:

  • Recognizing that doctors often walk into patients’ rooms unannounced and begin speaking to them almost immediately, steps have been taken to “teach” doctors how to stop “interrupting” patients and let them have their say.
  • Nurses have recently been given handheld phones, and patients have been given their numbers, so that they can be reached instantly when needed.
  • Patients now have direct access to ESPN cable sports channels, and wild salmon has been added to the hospital menu.

While it may be arguable why some hospitals are taking this tack along with Grady Memorial, one thing is clear – if they don’t, there will be penalties to be paid!

For example, according to the Journal, “Nearly $1 billion in payments to hospitals over the next year will be based in part on patient satisfaction, determined by a 27-question government survey administered to patients. Hospitals with high scores will get a bonus payment. Those with low ones will lose money.”

Among the specific questions covered are:

  • How often did doctors treat you with courtesy and respect?
  • How often were your room and bathroom kept clean?
  • How well did doctors (and nurses) communicate with you?
  • Were you provided with information about what to do during your recovery at home?
  • Was your pain always well controlled?
  • Did the staff always explain medicines before giving them?
  • Did you always receive help as soon as you wanted it?

Most questions are answered using a scale of 0 to 10 in order to obtain a mean rating or score.

However, doctors and nurses are not convinced that “the customer is always right.” (By the way, are you?) The Journal reports that “Patients sometimes arrive armed with treatment ideas culled from the Internet and can leave unsatisfied when the doctor won’t give them what they want.” Donna Barnett, a senior nurse at Grady, cites “a patient who had a hemorrhagic stroke and recovered swiftly enough to walk out of the hospital about a week later.” However, “on the survey the patient complained that meals were served cold and gave Grady low scores.” According to Ms. Barnett, “It makes you want to throw your hands up!” Sound familiar?

Nonetheless, this initiative is clearly gaining traction in the healthcare industry. John M. Haupert, CEO at Grady Memorial claims, “I don’t know anybody in my field who isn’t totally preoccupied with it.” Dr. Rhonda Scott, Grady’s Chief Nursing Officer elaborates, “You go to Disney for a great vacation experience. You go to Ruth’s Chris for a great dining experience. Do you think it is a great experience when I tell you have stage-four cancer and you may be dead in three months?” From the patient’s perspective, there’s got to be more.

Disney? Ruth’s Chris? Healthcare? What U.S. hospitals are now facing (whether voluntarily or not) is the fact that they are dealing not only with patients, but with customers as well – customers like Disney’s or Ruth’s Chris’ who are all looking pretty much for the same things: a specific solution for their respective needs (e.g., a vacation get-away, a great dinner, required medical care), built on clear and responsive communications, and resulting in a feeling of peace of mind and satisfaction that they are getting what they want (or need).

By treating patients as customers, U.S. hospitals have now entered onto the same playing field that traditional services organizations have been dealing with for generations. Customers expect to be satisfied; and they expect to be made happy. But, they are not always right.

Admittedly, this program focuses more on patient satisfaction than on medical procedures or patient monitoring. As such, it reflects both the best and the worst of customer (i.e., patient) satisfaction measurement in that there is a distinctive difference between the quality of medical/healthcare performance vs. customer satisfaction (i.e., not too dissimilar to the distinction between product quality and after-market service quality).

Many hospitals have been treating patients as customers for some time now. However, for those hospitals that are just beginning to move toward Smarter Services – welcome to our world!

Until next time, keep your customers – and patients – satisfied!

Contract Renewal Rates Are Critical to a Steady Service Revenue Stream

By John Carroll | Perspective | No Comments

The Service Council™’s benchmark survey on “The Role of Service Culture in Driving Service Revenues” (conducted in September-October 2012) has identified contract renewal (and attach) rates as among the most effective tools for driving service revenues. In fact, not only revenues, but profitability, customer satisfaction and new service product development as well. Let me explain.

The top four (4) sources of service revenue as reported by the survey’s more than 500 respondents are:

  • Service performed under Service Level Agreements (SLAs), or contracts
  • Service performed on a Time & Materials (T&M) basis
  • Sales of SLA / service contract renewals
  • Sales of service parts

The common thread among all of these sources is simple: Once you have the customer in your grasp, you can depend on it over the long haul to contribute additional revenues through add-on offerings including extended warranty contracts, contract renewals and parts sales. Even T&M customers typically come back to you because they have already purchased your products and/or services in the past.

The key to success, however, may be evidenced more in terms of which services organizations are, in fact, promoting and selling contract renewals. For example, overall, the mean contract renewal rate among survey respondents is 54%. However, this percent jumps to 67% for organizations currently realizing service profit margins of 30% or greater; and up to 76% for those offering self-renewal contracts. However, as is generally the case in business, one size does not necessarily fit all.

Where does your organization fit into the overall spectrum of contract management? Well, it could be at anyplace along the overall continuum. However, one thing still remains clear. Nobody should have a better shot at capturing additional service revenues from your customers than your organization. They are essentially yours to lose – and you may lose them if you do not have effective contract attach and renewal processes in place. That is why a majority of services organizations have already taken this route.

Until next time, keep your customers satisfied!

Is What’s Driving the Market What’s Driving Your Organization?

By John Carroll | Perspective | No Comments

The Service Council™’s survey initiative on “The Role of Service Culture in Driving Service Revenues” continues to spin out new – and highly reflective – information on the impact of a strong and pervasive service culture within the organization.

According to the more than 500 respondents participating in the survey, the top three (3) drivers that service organizations must address with respect to generating higher levels of service revenues are:

  • Internal mandate to generate increased revenues
  • Ability to introduce / fund new service offerings
  • Escalating costs associated with service performance and delivery

However, just bubbling under these top three drivers are three (3) more key factors, including:

  • Financial viability / stability of the service organization
  • Market pressures from competitive service organizations
  • Reduced profit margins on products

Which of these drivers impact your organization the most? The top three? The next three? Or, all six (and, possibly, more)?

For all intents and purposes, the top driver (i.e., internal mandate) is pretty much the main stimulus within most organizations. However, it is nearly always predicated on the recognition that the subsequent set of drivers represent the specific contributors that lead to such a mandate.

Nonetheless, it should be no surprise to anyone that all of the top drivers are essentially bottom line-related factors focusing on such areas as the investment costs for introducing new service offerings (i.e., a means for stimulating increased revenues over time) and escalating costs for merely supporting the status quo.

However, the next set of drivers focuses squarely on other key issues relating to the overall financial viability of the organization itself, and market pressures from competitive service organizations (i.e., that might have already successfully addressed these revenue-generating issues).

Finally, the age-old realization that historical product margins simply do not exist anymore continues to rear its head among senior management. (You services managers have known this for years; it’s about time company management, overseeing both products and services, gets the full picture as well.)

While the information presented above focuses mainly on the drivers impacting the market (and your customers) today, we also need to explore what the key challenges moving forward are, and compare them to the most compelling benefits that can be realized by tackling these issues head on. We’ll address these key issues next time.

Until next time, keep your customers satisfied!

Wal-Mart Becoming More Aggressive (Innovative?) with Same-Day Delivery

By John Carroll | Perspective | No Comments

Wal-Mart has never been one to shy away from innovative or controversial marketing tactics. From its earlier mandate requiring suppliers to utilize RFID technology in all of their shipments, to last month’s “banning” of the sale of Amazon Kindle and e-readers at its 4,000 retail outlets, Wal-Mart is at it again!

However, this time, moreso than in the past, Wal-Mart’s strategy not only takes on its “arch rival”, Amazon, but it could conceivably alter the path forward of the logistics market as we know it today.

For example, on Tuesday, October 9, 2012, Wal-Mart announced that it had begun testing same-day delivery for online purchases in a “handful of cities” in the U.S. It claims that the ability to ship orders to its consumers same-day is predicated on the fact that the items are already located in local or regional Wal-Mart stores. Among the first items included in the same-day delivery test are “toys and other popular gifts.”

The first of the tests were performed in the Washington DC suburbs a week earlier. Requirements included placing an order before noon (local time), and selecting a four-hour preferred window for delivery to the customer’s home address. UPS presently handles all deliveries for the retailer. UPS has much experience in the same-day delivery business, having acquired Sonic Air, the nation’s only same-day delivery carrier at the time, in 1995. Presently, FedEx and other carriers also offer same-day delivery services.

The cost for same-day delivery to the customer is $10.00 per order. This compares to Amazon’s Prime service fees of $79.00 per year (with some additional restrictions).

The Wal-Mart program has been running in Northern Virginia and the Philadelphia area for about two weeks, and was introduced in Minneapolis earlier this week. San Jose and San Francisco are also part of Wal-Mart’s grocery test, but will also join the “toys and gifts” program later this year (i.e., in time for the holidays).

Why is this news important to the services community as a whole? Mainly because it represents just one more area where B2C consumers can purchase and obtain “needed” items same-day. Then, the next day, they go back to their respective offices, put on their B2B hats, and wrangle with their parts suppliers about why their parts order is taking so long to fulfill.

Without necessarily targeting the B2B sector as a specific recipient of the impact of their same-day delivery program, Wal-Mart has nonetheless taken another aggressive (innovative?) step that will serve to raise the bar for the delivery of any “needed” items (i.e., toys, gifts, service parts, etc.) among the B2B customers who were just one of Wal-Mart’s B2C customers a day earlier.

As such, service parts logistics and reverse logistics solutions providers will need to follow Wal-Mart’s progress one more time to see if the program sticks, and if so, how it will likely impact the demands of their existing B2B logistics services customers.

Until next time, keep your customers satisfied!

Smarter Services™: The Role of Service Culture

By John Carroll | Perspective | No Comments

With The Service Council™’s most recent survey initiative on “The Role of Service Culture in Driving Service Revenues” having just been closed earlier this week, I couldn’t help but take a look at the preliminary findings with respect to some key areas of interest.

For example, did you know that only half (technically, less than half, or roughly 49%) of the 500+ respondent organizations currently manage service as an independent profit center (i.e., with its own P&L)? Even more startling is the fact that 25% of respondent organizations are still running service as a cost center within their organizations.

However, perhaps, the most frustrating finding is that while 53% of respondents cite service as “a top priority” currently being well-managed by their respective executives in charge, more than half as many (27%) claim they are “lacking in resources to manage it effectively.” Another 8% report that service is “just one of the many facets of [the] business”, and 8% say it’s used “primarily as a resource for the sale of products (at least they’re being honest about it!).

The survey results are proving the case that the role of service culture is, indeed, important in the organization’s ability to drive revenues – in fact, 90% of respondents believe it to be so (although only 70% respond “extremely important”).

Why do (or should) services organizations strive toward establishing and maintaining a strong service culture? The answer is actually quite simple: The top three benefits of a strong, pervasive service culture (according to half or more of respondents) are:

  • More satisfied customers
  • Deeper partnerships with customers
  • More consistent service performance and delivery

We’ll have more data to report over the next several weeks as we spin out our series of top-level survey findings. Stay tuned to our blog for continuing updates (did I hear anyone mention the importance of Contract Attach and Renewal Rates?).

Until next time, keep your customers satisfied!

2012 Service Management Expo (Birmingham UK) Post-Event Analysis

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The 2012 Service Management Expo held in Birmingham UK in late September was a success on many levels. Representing “Europe’s only dedicated event for field service management,” the Expo welcomed more than a thousand leading UK- and EMEA-based professionals in the service management industry over two days, focusing on the key issues that comprise Smarter Services, including driving efficiencies; providing high-value, low-cost service; and cultivating a service culture to drive revenues.

Participants were treated to more than 20 speakers who touched upon topics including service team transformation, unleashing the hidden potential in service management and investing now for a stronger future.

The Service Council’s opening day Keynote centered on “Smarter Services: Learning from the Leaders”, where Bill Pollock, President & Chief Research Officer, was honored to present highlights from our current benchmark survey on “The Role of Service Culture in Driving Service Revenues.” Key takeaways from the Keynote included:

  • 79% of respondents cite service as a “top priority” within the organization (although more than a third of this response represents organizations that are “lacking in the resources to manage it effectively”)
  • 67% of respondents report that service is currently being managed as an independent profit center with its own P&L, with 25% running service as a cost center
  • Half (49%) of respondents are currently developing and/or improving the specific metrics, or KPIs, they require to measure service delivery performance
  • 40% of respondents are currently in the process of automating existing manual activities

To support the specific findings from the survey, individual case studies were also presented for six representative services organizations on key service performance-focused initiatives including benefiting from call deflection (Acer India), use of technology for expediting revenue recognition (Amtrak), turning information into insights (IBM), impact of Customer Care Teams (Philips Healthcare), customer advocacy (Sears Home Services) and staging a market turnaround (Sprint). More information on each of these case studies is available to members of The Service Council via the Thought Leadership icon on our website (www.theservicecouncil.com).

Our survey was closed earlier this week and the results are being compiled. Stay tuned for several research analysis outputs available in our readership library soon (including the summary findings this Friday!).

Until next time, keep your customers satisfied!

Has Your Organization Embraced A Smarter Services Culture?

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The Evolution of Services

Henry Ford once said, “A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large.” This quote dates to the early 1900’s, and as the founder of one of the leading pioneers in the manufacturing-centric automotive industry (and global economy, during this era), Henry Ford was well ahead of his time. Many manufacturing-centric organizations have and still face stiff margins as a direct result of product commoditization, Low Cost Country Sourcing (LCCS), economic climate pressures and increased customer demands, resulting in a challenging environment in which to compete based solely on product alone. Enter services.

Services, traditionally viewed mainly as a cost of doing business, over time has evolved to be embraced as a strategic profit lever. Roughly two-thirds (67%) of responding service organizations to The Role Of Culture In Driving Service Revenues benchmark survey indicate they view service as a strategic profit center. We have witnessed many noteworthy occurrences over the 21st century of this evolution from a cost center to a profit center. Digital Equipment Corporation’s evolution into a services-led organization began in 1957 with the establishment of its core philosophy, “Do whatever it takes to make our customers successful”. In 1994, 3 years prior to its eventual acquisition by Compaq, services accounted for 46.5% (US$6.3 billion) of total annual revenues (US$13.5 billion). Of course, we’re all familiar with Louis Gerstner’s successful turnaround of IBM, including his Operation Bear Hug strategy, which emphasized “The customer was going to drive everything we did in the company”. (Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?, 2003). When Gerstner left IBM in 2002, services accounted for roughly 45% (US$36.5 billion) of total revenues (US$81.0 billion).

Are Services Becoming Commoditized?

In the book The Experience Economy, co-authors Joseph Pine & James Gilmore address the phenomenon of commoditization in the global economy. Their suggestion is that in sequence, we’ve witnessed how commoditization swallows raw materials and then goods, with services next up on the menu. Pine & Gilmore conclude, “You are what you charge for. And if you’re competing solely on the basis of price, then you’ve been commoditized, offering little or no true differentiation. What would your customers really value? Better yet, for what would they pay a premium? Experiences. The curtain is about to rise on…a new economic era in which every business is a stage, and companies must design memorable events for which they charge admission”. Interesting viewpoint…

Smarter Services

The Service Council defines Smarter Services as a company-wide recognition of the role and importance of service as it impacts customer centricity, satisfaction, loyalty, retention and the overall customer experience. It represents the healthy balance that links issue resolution, service profitability and happy customers; and delivers a consistent and effective customer experience across all channels at every phase of the customer journey.

The Service Index

The Service Council has established a proprietary benchmark framework that services organizations can use to measure the efficiency and efficacy of their service operation: The Service Index. The Service Index measures seven essential factors, including: People, Process, Data, Customers, Parts, Technology and Social Media.

  • People: How engaged are your employees? Are they motivated to be engaged?
  • Process: How automated is your service delivery process?
  • Data: Have you established a repository of / access to data that enables issue resolution? Have you eliminated data gaps, which create profit gaps?
  • Customers: Are your customers happy, loyal and retained?
  • Parts: Are you balancing lean principles with parts availability? Are you realizing profit margins on parts pricing?
  • Technology: Are you realizing the true automation potential of technology? Has your organization embraced the use of technology?
  • Social Media: Are you leveraging social insights to understand brand receptivity, and to proactively/predictively improve the customer experience?

Recommendations: Your Path To Smarter Services

The Service Council recommends global service organizations consider the following actions to embrace a Smarter Services culture:

1)    Establish meaningful metrics to measure service performance (i.e. The Service Index and its impact on Service Profitability: Smarter Services).

2)    Embrace a predictive service model, leveraging social (media) and local (voice of customer/market) intelligence to understand and be more responsive to your market.

3)    Move beyond a one-size-fits-all approach to service: a diverse customer base requires a diverse approach.

4)    Understand the expectations and requirements of specific customer segments, and alter your services in accordance with the current and potential value of those segments.

5)    Avoid overinvesting in specific aspects of the experience and service delivery process that customers do not value commensurately with the cost of delivering them.

6)    Create more predictable customer behavior and, ultimately, higher loyalty and retention within your company’s most important segments.

7)    Foster collaboration across the entire enterprise. Every customer interaction point is an opportunity to impact customer experience.

8)    Embrace Feedback Loops: listen to your customers, employees (regardless of hierarchy), channel partners and the overall marketplace.

9)    Track and trace cost avoidance opportunities (e.g. asset-centric industries: non-serialized components and warranty tracking; and professional services-centric industries: call avoidance opportunities, such as the Sprint case study).

10)  Understand the importance and potential impact of service and lead the Smarter Services revolution!

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