May 2013 - The Service Council

5 Key Takeaways from the 2013 Smarter Services Symposium – Part 5

By John Carroll | Perspective | No Comments

In wrapping up our 5 part recap series for the Smarter Services Symposium, I have more of a question or a challenge for our service business leaders as opposed to a recap. (Parts 1,2,3 and 4 can be found here). There were other takeaways around partner involvement, service ecosystem development and more that did come to the forefront, but its worth talking about this concept in the spirit of carrying on our discussion.

Takeaway 5 – Keep it Simple

Executives such as James Mylett from Johnson Controls, Bob Johnson from Sprint, and Cary Williams from Mettler-Toledo discussed the importance of simplifying service, both in regards to the employees delivering service as well as the customers seeking it. James Mylett spoke of a service simplification project at Johnson Controls where the organization worked on making it easier for front-line employees to get their jobs done with better tools and information and less administrative tasks. Similarly, Bob Johnson highlighted that the priorities for his business (at all levels) are to:

  • Serve
  • Solve
  • Satisfy

A mission such as that makes it easy for all to buy in with regards to the focus of the company (See Takeaway #1).

How do we go about simplifying the service discussion and make it less transactional and more relationship-oriented? Our employees are committed to delivering service and quite often as organizations we get in the way. Our customers want an easy way to get issues resolved and quite often get caught up in a quagmire of transferred calls, inaccurate information and more. I recently read an article on a system that Google used to simplify their search experience. Can some of these thoughts and principles be applied to concepts of service design and service experience mapping? Please weigh in if you have looked to simplify your service and the steps taken and challenges that have come in the way.

To walk through some of the key presentations at the Smarter Services Symposium, please visit our event page.

To learn more about the Service Council and ways in which you can connect with other service leaders, please complete the Service Connect membership enrollment form and a concierge will be in contact with you to discuss enrollment.

5 Key Takeaways from the 2013 Smarter Services Symposium – Part 4

By John Carroll | Perspective | One Comment

Here is part four of our wrap on the 2013 Smarter Services Symposium and it features a discussion area that hasn’t been touched upon in previous events and forums. (Parts 1,2,3 can be found here)

Takeaway 4 – The Importance of Account/Engagement Plans for Service Customers

When customers are handed off to the service side of the business, quite often interactions with them are treated as transactional. Even if an organization is focused on being more preventive as opposed to reactive, there is still a transactional nature associated with that preventive visit.

A number of organizations at the Smarter Services Symposium talked about developing engagement plans with their service customers. In most instances, these plans were built around the lifecycle of the piece of equipment being serviced and/or the service contract in place. These plans were generally built around 3 year rotations. Core to these plans was a described set of activities aimed at checking in with and delivering value to the customer regardless of the need of service, etc. For instance, one of the presenters talked about sales agents setting up a calendar of client visits at the beginning of the year and being evaluated on their ability to make these visits. In certain cases, service business leaders chose to visit their key clients a couple of times a month in order to ensure that customers had line of sight to the service executive to share feedback. The technician level feedback shared during these visits was extremely valuable to the service executives who are quite often not able to live a day in the life of the service worker.

Since service organizations are now being tasked to drive more revenue for their business, these account plans not only create a stickiness factor with the customer with the hope of driving engagement, they can also alert the service and sales organizations to additional services that can be offered to the customer (e.g. Lifecycle management services focused on disposal and replacement at end-of-life can deliver additional revenue for the servicing organization while removing a significant headache for the client). At the bare minimum, an account management approach during the service phase of the customer creates greater visibility into renewal dates and deadlines and allows for a more proactive approach on renewals.

In addition to the other takeaways tied to executive stewardship and workforce buy-in mentioned in earlier blog posts, organizations need to consider the following to develop a lifecycle plan:

  • Get Sales Buy-In Prior to the Creation of this Program
  • Track renewals and services at the asset level but build a program at the Customer level
  • Educate customers on wider array of available services on a frequent basis, not just at the point of need.

Do you build service account plans for your customers? I welcome your comments below:

To walk through some of the key presentations at the Smarter Services Symposium, please visit here. Also, if you were at the Smarter Services Symposium, please spend a few moments to provide us feedback via our post-event survey.

To learn more about the Service Council and ways in which you can connect with other service leaders, please visit our Service Connect members portal.

5 Key Takeaways from the 2013 Smarter Services Symposium – Part 3

By John Carroll | Perspective | No Comments

Part three of our wrap on the 2013 Smarter Services Symposium takes a look at one of the biggest topics of discussion at the event. (feel free to read Part 1 and Part 2)

Takeaway 3 – Power to the People

Every single presentation at the 2013 Smarter Services Symposium focused on the topic of service-ready or customer-centric people development, both as a challenge and an opportunity.  Most sessions and discussions featured the realization or proclamation that ‘People are our product’ and that the delivery of excellent service cannot be executed on with an unengaged and insufficiently motivated workforce.

Service business leaders are well aware of their evolving role as coaches, mentors, and inspirers for the service-ready workforce. As Larry Wash from Kone put it, “My role is that of an HR manager.” Therefore, top service organizations are keenly evaluating investments that can be made in workforce management. This isn’t limited to just the folks at the front lines, but also to managers and service executives who may be in charge of motivating and inspiring the service workforce in the near future. Workforce management for the assembled service leaders was more than just an exercise in hiring or scheduling, but one that addressed the following attributes:

Workforce hiring

  • Locating necessary talent
  • Decision making around skills to hire for
  • Leveraging assessments of highly productive and effective service agents and managers


  • Developing training materials
  • Leveraging training tools to provide a richer training experience
  • Tailoring training information based on skills, capabilities, and prior feedback
  • Building on the job training programs and updating training materials
  • Focusing on executive training channels


  • Determining resource requirements for forecasted service work
  • Selecting an optimal mix of workers – full-time vs, part-time, employees vs. contractors


  • Shift and task scheduling
  • Providing the tools for time and expense, benefits and other management

Performance Management

  • Tracking performance on key service metrics
  • Injecting sales KPIS for service agents
  • Compensation models for service leads and sales


  • Measuring employee engagement and translating the results
  • Building engagement via programs
  • Managing dis-engaged workers
  • Building coaching and mentorship programs


  • Dealing with an aging workforce
  • Knowledge management issues
  • Extending the inherent knowledge of skilled and top performing workers

This is just a shortlist of areas that service leaders are looking to invest in to ensure the effective execution of a customer-centric vision. I can assure you that these pain points weren’t as acute 3-5 years ago and we are seeing a very large shift of focus towards the people side of the business. In fact, our upcoming research agenda will focus heavily on topics tied to workforce management in service. (Email Sumair Dutta, our Chief Customer Officer, on your thoughts on potential areas of coverage)

Is your organization focused on a broader set of workforce management challenges? I welcome your comments below:

To walk through some of the key presentations at the Smarter Services Symposium, please visit here. Also, if you were at the Smarter Services Symposium, please spend a few moments to provide us feedback via our post-event survey here.

To learn more about the Service Council and ways in which you can connect with other service leaders, click here.

5 Key Takeaways from the 2013 Smarter Services Symposium – Part 2

By John Carroll | Perspective | No Comments

In continuation of our wrap up of the 2013 Smarter Services Symposium, here is the second key takeaway for organizations looking to become more customer-centric. (Part 1 can be found here)

Takeaway 2  Executive Buy-In is Key

As a Service executive, or an individual working with a service executive, it is vital to set the tone with regards to customer-centricity. While a service leader doesn’t build a service-oriented culture, the team does that. A service leader who doesn’t embrace the service-oriented culture or makes decisions that indicate that his or her intentions are otherwise, can greatly come in the way of the acceptance and growth of a service-oriented culture.

Every session at the Smarter Services Symposium, from Wayne Peacock’s on Day 1 to Cary Chapman’s to close out day 2 (followed by the fireworks show, inside joke between Cary and I), talked about the impact and importance of a bought-in service leader.  In most instances, service leaders indicated that their biggest role was to create an environment where their service team members, and more, could be successful in satisfying the needs of their customers.

Some noteworthy quotes on the topic:

  • “Give people the space and trust to innovate and be accountable.”
  • “We focus on leadership and culture as my primary job is to build an environment where people can be successful.”
  • “If we are in the service business, our product is our talent. My role is that of an HR manager.”

For those service leaders looking to build a service-oriented environment, a few ideas to consider:

  • Walk a mile in their shoes (managers, technicians, front line agents)
  • Challenge service employees to solve business issues (cut cost, improve service repair procedures, etc.)
  • Don’t be afraid to share the financial results of service work (positive or negative)
  • Personally recognize exemplary work (in-person or phone call, not an email)
  • Work collaboratively with HR to build a service-ready workforce. Focus on hiring, training, coaching and engagement practices
  • Embrace employee feedback and make sure to act on it
  • Develop a service leadership bench that embraces the customer-centric visions.

What are your thoughts on the role of a customer-centric service leader? Look out for Part 3 in this series.

To walk through some of the key presentations at the Smarter Services Symposium, please visit here.

To learn more about the Service Council and ways in which you can connect with other service leaders, click here.

5 Key Takeaways from the 2013 Smarter Services Executive Symposium – Part 1

By John Carroll | Perspective | No Comments

We just concluded our second annual Smarter Services Executive Symposium in Chicago where we hosted over 225 service business executives. Over the three days of workshops and case studies, we heard from many service visionaries such as:

  • Wayne Peacock, EVP, Member Experience at USAA
  • Bob Johnson, Chief Service and IT Officer at Sprint
  • Larry Wash, EVP and CEO at Kone Americas
  • James Mylett, VP & GM, Field & Business Operations, Service NA at Johnson Controls
  • Renee Cacchillo, VP, Service Delivery at Safelite AutoGlass

The theme of our event was tied to the concept of connecting with your world as a path to engaging customers and developing a portfolio of smarter services. All of the sessions talked about the concept of customer-centricity and the tools needed to focus on value driven to the customer. As a result of this customer value focus, organizations experience a trailing effect on key operational and financial metrics. To turn it around and focus solely on operational metrics leads to a loss of focus on the customer.

Over the coming week, I will focus on 5 of the key takeaways from the event focused on the idea of connecting with your world. I look forward to your comments and feedback with regards to my list and encourage you to add your own.

Takeaway 1 – Developing a Customer-Centric Mission is Key

The shift to customer-centricity cannot be limited to the service organization. Such initiatives, while well intended, lack the resources to truly change the way that an experience is delivered to the customer. The transformation requires buy in from the entire organization, beginning at the top. Therefore, it is extremely vital that business leadership talk the talk and walk the walk regarding customer-centricity. That’s where a customer-centric mission comes in handy.  Wayne Peacock from USAA put it best, “We needed to restructure around the needs of our members and their families, as opposed to the limitations of our product family. Our members weren’t coming to us to buy auto insurance, they needed help in buying a car, a house in order to enrich and improve their lives. Our mission was to embrace their needs and enrich their lives.”

It is vital to ensure that everyone in the organization shares in and embraces the mission. This extends to partners who need to be relied on in the delivery of the customer experience. Here are five questions to ask when considering the creation of a customer-centric mission and the implication of that mission on the organization:

1- Who are our customers and why do they work with us?

2- How easy is to for our customers to engage with us?

3- Do we understand the experience at every touch point with the customer?

4- What impact does our performance have on our customer’s customers?

5- Who is delivering the experience? Do they have the information/tools necessary to do so?

Stay tuned for the next few takeaways. Click here to learn more about Service Connect Membership.

The Service Council Smarter Services Symposium is in the books!

By John Carroll | News | No Comments

This year’s theme was “Smarter Services: Connecting With Your World”. We held a spirited discussion with the Advisory Board on Monday afternoon (before our cocktail reception at Michael Jordan’s Restaurant & Grill). Some of the hotter topics discussed included the connection with your employees with the mission of establishing a company-wide customer orientation. Many of our Advisory Board members are experiencing significant growth and referenced service talent acquisition (finding and hiring the right talent to support the growth) and succession planning (replacing aging workforce and/or capturing their knowledge) as two of the top issues they currently face.

A full analysis will be posted soon and speaker presentations will be available at our website in the coming days.

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