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:
- Bad breath is better than no breath.
- Arrive at the party with an ugly date.
- Take a ride on the kill and ignore loop.
- Get lost in your tech support hierarchy.
- 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.