April 2014 - The Service Council

Smarter Services Symposium Day 2 Wrap-up: Do you know what defines Customer Success from the Customer's POV?

By John Carroll | Perspective | No Comments

Last week, Sumair Dutta commented with his perspective on Day 1 of the Smarter Services Executive Symposium. Day 2 of the Symposium was even more jam-packed with content, as it was the one full day worth of activities given the event’s structure (½ Day – Full Day – ½ Day). I’ll focus on the high-level takeaways, as well as, briefly talk about a very sentimental and special guest speaker presentation delivered over the course of dinner as we closed the day.

The theme of Day 2 was “Customer Strategy” (Day 1 Analysis: “People”, Day 3 Analysis: “Innovation” forthcoming), referring to the manner in which organizations are designing the overall customer support strategy resulting in delivering customer success. Book-ending the day as our beginning and end of day keynote presenters, were best-selling authors Ron Kaufman, Chairman and Founder of UP! Your Service, the “Official Culture Development Partner” of The Service Council (“Uplifting Service”) and Frances X. Frei, Harvard Business School (“Uncommon Service”). Both delivered entertaining presentations with a consistent message; those that embed service and customer support within the fabric of their organization’s culture will win. Ron challenged guests to think about service in a broader fashion; that every human interaction we have is an opportunity to “serve” someone and how winning organizations are creating a culture of service (service your customers, your colleagues, employees, partners, etc.). If you think about that for a second, wouldn’t the world be a happier place if we subscribed to this notion? Frances challenged guests to think about the fact that organizations who win by competing on service, are successful because they accept imperfection (i.e. pick what you can do well and recognize the things you can’t do well). She gave many examples of organizations who have embraced this model of imperfection including:

  • Commerce Bank (most important = convenience & customer interactions vs. least important = price & product range)
  • Southwest Airlines (most important = low prices & friendly service vs. least important = extensive network & on-board amenities)
  • Wal-Mart (most important = low prices & selection vs. least important = sales help & ambiance).

Following Ron’s morning keynote presentation was Rusty Walther, Vice President, Global Escalations Management & Customer Experience at Hewlett-Packard, whose comical (Rusty, you missed your calling), yet practical discussion on “Case Studies In Failure: The Cost Of Recovery” touched upon the importance and significance of customer failure (which Rusty reminded us is often times much greater than the initial sale). Rusty had a tough act to follow (Ron Kaufman never disappoints), however, left us with many key takeaways from his decades of experience managing service and customer support, including 5 top ways to lose a customer, which included:

  1. Bad breath is better than no breath.
  2. Arrive at the party with an ugly date.
  3. Take a ride on the kill and ignore loop.
  4. Get lost in your tech support hierarchy.
  5. Embrace de-centralized control.

Rusty closed his discussion in style with a David Letterman-esque “Top 10 things you don’t want to hear when calling HP Tech Support” with #1 being “Please hold while I transfer you to Mrs. Whitman’s (Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett-Packard’s) Attorney…” Rusty also reminded us of the very simple notion that Customers want you to win or else they wouldn’t have bought from you in the first place. Over the course of lunch, we broke away from main stage presenters and engaged in case study driven workshops to create an experiential learning environment. The Service Council extends its gratitude to our Sponsor+ Partners who supported each of their respective breakouts, including:

  • Customer Experience Management, brought to you by Lionbridge
  • Field Service, brought to you by ClickSoftware
  • Service Globalization, brought to you by Genpact
  • Service Ready Workforce, brought to you by FieldSolutions
  • Service Revenue, brought to you by ServiceMax
  • Service Transformation, brought to you by Etherios

Each of the sessions held moderated discussions aided by “what if” scenarios and case studies. During one of the workshops, “Service Revenue Growth: Building a Relationship between Service and Sales”, guests were given a mock scenario of a company in distress (i.e. commoditization was impacting pricing of both products/services, sales didn’t want to sell service and was giving it away for free, culturally speaking service did not want to sell service, etc.) and being given the task of growing service revenues by 20%. It was an interesting discussion, which talked about many debatable (e.g. should service sell) and non-debatable topics (e.g. the importance of information & data accessibility, field technician enablement/empowerment, establishing a 360° view of the customer, etc.) with each of 4 tables within the session establishing their own suggested path to achieving management’s objective of growing revenues by 20%. During our Smarter Services Executive Symposium Recap Webcast being held on April 30th @ 11:00Am EST (registration), we plan to review each of the breakouts and resulting takeaways in greater detail.

The afternoon brought a panel session back in the main room on a topic which The Service Council has witnessed an increase in importance and prioritization by service and customer experience executives, “Personalizing Customer Experiences via Segmentation and Other Strategies”. The panel featured executives from Fidelity Investments, Samsung and WMS Gaming, a Scientific Games Company and the discussion centered on understanding customer preferences and behavior (“Customer Journey Mapping” is something all organizations should better understand and on Day 3, we welcomed Mark Groveunder, Vice President, Customer Service at Acer who discussed “Customer Effort” which will be included in our Day 3 wrap-up, which was also part of the panel discussion). The second panel session was a debate, which featured two organizations taking opposing views on whether or not they supported service selling. While one debater supported service selling, the debate voyaged to an area of even territory as both debaters supported a culture of collaboration between service and sales, with service being an enabler and often times the whistle blower to alert sales of the opportunity (again the issue of real time visibility of data/information was brought up as a key point whereby one of the debaters argued in a model where service is compensated for lead identification, a strategy where leads are purged rather than communicated real time often results in a lower conversion).

Following Frances entertaining end of day keynote, guests joined us for dinner where we had the great pleasure of welcoming Richard “Dic” Donohue, the Boston MBTA police officer injured in the manhunt following the Boston Marathon tragedy last April. The Service Council honored Dic as the recipient of the 2014 “Smarter Services” Award for his courage. Dic told his story of how he developed a life-long relationship with a smaller hospital in the Boston area, Mount Auburn Hospital, who was instrumental in saving his life (and his continuous rehabilitation) when he was given a 2% chance to live. It was emotional, inspirational and quite relevant given the focus of the event (Defining & Delivering Customer Success).

These were just some of the key takeaways from Day 2 of the event. Stay tuned for Day 3 Analysis in the coming days.

Do You Have a Service Business without a Product? Snippets from Day 1 of our Smarter Services Symposium

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | No Comments

Our third Annual Smarter Services™ Symposium concluded on April 10 and its taken a while to assimilate all of the key thoughts and findings shared at the event. I’ll do my best to recap some of the key takeaways from Day 1 and subsequent posts will touch on Days 2 and 3.

The theme for the 2014 Smarter Services Symposium was ‘Defining and Delivering Customer Success’ and the focus of Day 1 was on ‘People’, referring to those who are directly involved in delivering customer success. Before we got into sessions touching upon changing workforce dynamics, workforce engagement, career paths and more, we had the privilege to host our Advisory Board for our quarterly meeting.

Some of the takeaways from the meeting:

  1. While service needs to be the mindset of all employees in the organization, the service organization needs to be able to deliver profit as a stand-alone.
  2. Along the same lines, the entire service business needs to know where profitability comes from. This profitability awareness needs to extend to the front-line
  3. Dedicated service functions around IT, sales, product management, and engineering are key to ensuring service profitability.
  4. Remote monitoring and self-service tools are the future when considering predictive service and customer empowerment.
  5. The success of remote monitoring and self-service investments is significantly tied to how you communicate the role of people (employees) in these investments.
  6. Knowledge management plans that focus on transferring knowledge from the technicians or contact center agents to internal portals to online and searchable knowledgebases (for both employees and customers) are going to be essential to support the future of service. (More on People below)
  7. Customer re-education around value of self-service is necessary.
  8. As opposed to fearing third parties, it is essential to embrace a third-party service ecosystem to enable a focus on value-added service delivery.

In addition to these thoughts, here is a shortlist of takeaways from the first day’s sessions.

  • The millennials are coming (next wave of workers and customers) on a global scale
  • Organizations need to put together a talent plan that addresses the needs of current service workers as well as those of the next wave of workers. These plans have to deal with:
    – Hiring
    – Training
    – Career Paths
    – Engagement and Purpose
    – Knowledge Retention
  • Employee retention and engagement is key to business success.
  • Technology that can be used to improve training programs is a critical need for service businesses. In some instances, training cycles can last up to five years and organizations are concerned about the cost associated (financial and competitive) with employee turnover.
  • Front-line service workers can’t just be technically or mechanically savvy, they need to focus on the needs of their customers. While most workers want to build relationships with their customers, quite often the push from organizations to complete tasks and to comply with administrative requirements comes in the way.
  • That said, depending on the work being done, not all service workers are directly interacting with customers. Sometimes they are just involved in fixing, replacing, or installing and in these cases efficiency is key.
  • As an organization, it is vital to learn what it is that you do best and what customers’ value in their interactions with you. What you do ‘ok’ can and should be outsourced to partners.
  • Organizations do a horrific job of branding around what they do as opposed to what they sell.

These were just some of the key takeaways from Day 1 of the event. A number of these findings will influence the areas that we look to cover in our research over the next 12 months.

If you were at the show, I would appreciate your takeaways from Day 1. If you weren’t able to make it, please feel free to join in our post-event recap webcast on Wednesday April 30 at 11am Eastern (Complimentary Registration).

The Four Factors Impacting Decision Making Around Mobile in Field Service

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | No Comments

The Service Council’s (TSC) field service and business trends research highlights a continuing appetite for mobile solutions in field service. This doesn’t just tie to new purchases of mobile applications or hardware, but also touches upon the expansion of the role of mobility in field service organizations. Based on interviews and discussions with more than 200 organizations over the previous 12 months, here are four primary factors influencing decision making around mobile in field service:

1 – Evolving Service Organization Strategy – The top goal for service organizations in 2014 is to support new revenue opportunities. As such, the top goal for field service businesses is to identify new opportunities for revenue growth. However, most mobile or field service investments made in people, technology, or process change, are directed at cutting cost and improving productivity. As a result, the value placed on these investments is tied to objectives that are not prioritized at the strategic level. This disconnect is a major challenge and organizations are finally beginning to look at the customer-oriented and revenue implications of field service and mobile investments. We at TSC have developed a concept around Mobile Maturity in Field Service that can be best summarized as:

TSC’s Mobile Maturity Model highlights the various stages of enablement that organizations focus on when making investments in mobilizing their field workforces.

Level 1 – Replacement Stage

  • Value: Time to Cash and Error Reduction
  • Empowerment: None

Level 2 – Productivity Stage

  • Value: Task Completion and Productivity
  • Empowerment: Low

Level 3 – Enablement Stage

  • Value: Resolution and Revenue
  • Empowerment: High

2 – Data Creation and Consumption – Our research shows that all levels of the field service organization need access to better insight. This starts with those in the field but also extends to back-office stakeholders as well as to field service management. Mobility, from a technology perspective, enables the creation a greater volume of performance data, the assimilation and analysis of which can lead to more contextual information delivered at all levels. Since every resource (person, vehicle, part, equipment) is now a source of data, organizations have a larger network of real-time information available to analyze and deliver to key field service decision makers.

What also needs to be considered is that the need for information in a mobile-ready format extends to more than just the group of field workers. Managers, leaders and even customers are looking for access to field service performance and in most cases they are looking for this information on their mobile devices.

3 – Consumerization – The rising interest in consumer devices for field service represents the first wave of consumerization. Now we see consumerization taking shape in the expectations around when, where and how data is delivered to field service stakeholders. As consumers, we (as field service stakeholders) can all access apps to get context-rich information and quite often we don’t even have to seek this information, it is delivered or pushed to us tied to our location, time of day or some other factor. Why can’t this experience (self-service and context-aware) be replicated in the applications relied upon for field service work? With this is mind; we anticipate the increasing focus on the development of enterprise app stores with applications available for employees and customers alike. The purpose of these applications will be to provide these field service stakeholders (managers, employees, and customers) with an increased level of ownership over and visibility into the delivery of field service.

4 – Workforce Dynamics – One may argue that Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) as a movement fits into the Consumerization bullet point highlighted above. In field service, employee demand is partly responsible for the evaluation of a BYOD philosophy, but it is much more tied to changing workforce dynamics especially around:

  • An aging field workforce and the needs of the next wave of service workers
  • Strategic reliance on outsourced partners or contingent labor for the provision of field service

These dynamics will have a significant impact on mobile investments as organizations look to use mobile tools to empower and engage their field ambassadors.

What factors are impacting your mobile field service strategy? We would love to hear if the factors highlighted above are pertinent to your organizations.

Further details on these four factors can be found on Mobile Outlook podcast.

2014 Smarter Services™ Executive Symposium: How Did We Do?

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | No Comments

As John Carroll pointed out in our blog yesterday, the 2014 Smarter Services™ Executive Symposium Is In the Books and its time to evaluate what can be improved on for next year’s event (More information will be shared on next year’s Symposium during our recap webcast on April 30th at 11am Eastern). Proclamations of outstanding, world changing, revolutionary, and best event ever are common when describing the event, but all of those are mine and I’m sure that I am a little biased.

Fortunately, our audience was extremely active in providing feedback on what we can do to improve the event. To summarize some of the scores:

On Day 1 – April 8 (Focus on People)

  • 97% of evaluators took away actions that they can apply to their respective businesses
  • 100% found the sessions to be relevant with 67% stating that the sessions were ‘extremely relevant’.

On Day 2 – April 9 (Focus on Customer Strategy)

  • 96% of evaluators took away strategies that are applicable to their respective businesses
  • 82% found the sessions to be ‘extremely relevant’, 100% found the sessions to be relevant

On Day 3 – April 10 (Focus on Innovation)

  • 88% of evaluators had actionable takeaways
  • 100% found the sessions to be relevant with 62% stating that the sessions were ‘extremely relevant’.

Overall, 63% of evaluators gave us a 9 or 10 score when asked about the likelihood they would recommend the event. Thirty-one percent (31%) were passive as per the traditional Net Promoter  (NPS) scale and the remaining 6% indicated that we had work to do in order to attain their loyalty and advocacy.

These are great numbers for the Service Council team and we are particularly proud of the high percentage of evaluators who are able to take away actionable insights that can be applied to their own service and customer management businesses. That said, we have a lot of work to do to continue to make this the marquee event for the service and customer management executive.

Relevant topics for us to feature (in our agenda and at the 2015 event)

  • Compensation structures for service workers
  • Future roles of service
  • Service in an electronic world
  • Customer Effort Score (to build on what Mark Groveunder from Acer presented this year)
  • Lean principles for service
  • Product management for service

That’s just a shortlist of ideas from our attendees and we look forward to learning more over the coming weeks. On a final note, this was our first event in Boston after two Symposiums in Chicago. With regards to feedback on timing and location, the following word cloud represents some of the top answers (Note: Boston had a good representation at this year’s event).


WordCloud Source: www.wordle.net

Watch out for post-event blogs from us regarding the content shared across all three days of the event. Also, if you missed the event, make sure to log on to our post-event recap webinar on April 30th. Register here

2014 Smarter Services™ Executive Symposium Is In The Books

By John Carroll | News | One Comment

Last week we hosted our 3rd annual Smarter Services™ Executive Symposium at the Hyatt Boston Harbor Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts. The votes have been tallied and this year without a doubt was our biggest and best yet (we plan to publish the feedback we received on the interactive format in a blog shortly).

There were many notable highlights from our keynote speakers including best-selling authors Ron Kaufman (“Uplifting Service”), Frances X. Frei (“Uncommon Service”) and Bob Kelleher (“Creativeship”), as well as, from our guest speakers and moderators including Mark Groveunder, Vice President, Customer Service at Acer, Rusty Walther, Vice President, Global Customer Escalations & Customer Experience at Hewlett-Packard, among others. We will be summarizing the key takeaways in a multi-part blog series over the next several weeks leading up to our April 30th Symposium Webcast (complimentary registration here).

A special thanks to our partners who helped support the 2014 Symposium, including:

  • Sponsor+ Partners: ClickSoftware, Etherios, FieldSolutions, Genpact, Lionbridge & ServiceMax
  • Sponsor Partners: AT&T, FieldOne, ServiceSource & TOA Technologies
  • Contributing Partners: Copperberg (Europe), Field Technologies (North America), Service Management (Europe), UP! Your Service (Asia Pacific) & Worldwide Business Research (North America)

Lastly, a very special thanks to you, our community. We are grateful to have you as Customers!

Please help us celebrate by commenting below and also by sharing your own story with the hashtag #smarterservices by way of Twitter. The past 3 years have been truly amazing. Thank you for your continued support!

Competition Fuels the Service Transformation in Europe

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | No Comments

The Service Council’s (TSC) service market outlook research for 2014 highlighted that increasing competition was tabbed as the top challenge for organizations looking to emerge from years of financial and global economic uncertainty. This competition was initially felt in the sale of product and equipment but is now increasingly being felt in the service and support space as more organizations are vying for profitability on the service side of the business.

For European organizations polled by The Service Council in a recent effort on Service Transformation, 30% report that competition is a major factor fueling an increased focus on service and support. The other top factor for European organizations is the need to open up net new revenue opportunities. As such, 70% of organizations have an initiative in place to raise the level of importance placed on service and support. In fact, nearly 50% of European organizations indicate having a formal initiative in place to transform their service businesses. Therefore, these organizations aren’t just talking about transformation; they have actually enacted initiatives in order to change the way that service operates within the organization. For these organizations, the focus of transformation is to:

  • Increase customer-centricity and customer commitment
  • Increase profitability via new service revenue streams and improved resource planning
  • Evolve service delivery and consumption models

To enable a successful service transformation, European organizations highlight the following factors and attributes as being essential:

  1. Executive leadership and ownership of service to build and support the service business case
  2. Customer insight and feedback to truly understand the desired customer-focused outcomes of the transformation
  3. Service-centric culture in the organization to support service-oriented initiatives and plans
  4. Well-defined service business plan to map out the requirements and expectations at every stage of the transformation
  5. Engaged service workforce that takes a stake in customer success and can identify opportunities for improvement with regards to customer relationships and revenue growth.

More than 60% of organizations with an initiative in place indicate that they have been transforming service for more than 12 months and the table below highlights some of the strategic changes that have been made with regards to service organization structure and oversight. Overall, the move to a more profit-centric service model is supported with executive ownership and accountability for service. In turn, this leads to an increased focus on dedicated service resources from sales, operations, marketing and IT, essentially wherein service is actually treated as its own business.

Table: The Progress of Transformation in Europe


Source: TSC Data 2014

Other areas of transformation in service for European organizations center around increased collaboration, greater accountability for profit-oriented metrics, and a evolving focus on performance-based or usage-based service relationships. While these are still relatively early days in the path to transformation, European organizations are taking swift steps to position themselves as the partner of choice in an extremely competitive marketplace.

Forty-three (43%) of European organizations currently view research and development to be the biggest driver of competitive advantage for their organizations. Nearly 60% believe that service and support will be the primary driver of competitive differentiation in three years. This is a significant shift in the mindsets of these organizations.

Keep an eye out for more data and analysis on the ongoing transformation occurring globally. To learn more visit the Research and Data page on www.theservicecouncil.com

Note: A copy of this post appeared on PTC’s Product Lifecycle Stories blog.


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