December 2016 - The Service Council

Will 2017 Finally Be the Year of the Customer?

By Aly Pinder | Perspective | No Comments

Customer service should not be a reaction to a bad review or negative tweet or something for just one department of your organization. Service excellence demands that we live and breathe a culture of ‘customer first’ every day.

As we close out 2016 and look forward to a new year, this is a time to reflect, recharge, and prepare for 2017. Across our research, this year the customer and their expectations have become the #1 driver for service organizations. And I don’t see this changing in the new year.

There are trends converging which lead to my confidence. Even in our B2B worlds, we are all consumers who have interactions in our daily lives which we take to the office. The experiences we have with Uber and Amazon are now expectations we can’t forget when we look at our SLAs on the maintenance contract or our warranty on that $1M piece of equipment.

This importance of service, and more so quality service, has become a differentiator for businesses. Whether reading about a UK department store or listening to a hotel chain at this year’s Smarter Services Symposium, the customer comes first. And those companies that have considered this to be a tagline or empty motto, are going to be in for a difficult year ahead.

But how can we turn this idea of “customer first” into action? This isn’t a simple task as it demands building a culture which is led by management, employees, processes, and technology. But that UK department store shared three easy tips which I think we should all embrace.

Go the extra mile.

We all hope nothing ever goes wrong. That a piece of equipment we bought never fails. Or that we will never be stuck on the side of the road needing that tow truck. But things happen. In customer service, it is less about the failure and more about the response. Customers don’t expect 100% uptime, but they depend on the service organization minimizing downtime when there is a failure. And organizations that excel at customer service will not only resolve the issue at hand, they will go above and beyond to ensure the customer has a good experience. Bringing a hotel patron a soda or umbrella while they wait for a cab, offering a client a meeting time on your holiday, or a grocery store which co-locates other services you can have a one-stop shopping experience all deliver above and beyond the stated services in a contract.

Show your customers you care.

The competition for service dollars has become quite intense. Manufacturers, third party service providers, contractors, and customers themselves all vie for favor and the job. So no longer is meeting the stated expectation of a service contract good enough for most of the customers out there. With options comes an opportunity, both for the service organization and the competition. It is up to the service provider to demonstrate this relationship is truly a partnership of shared goals and expectations and not just another service contract with SLAs. A cable company that welcomes it’s technicians to spend extra time while on site to help a customer find a lost stuffed animal not just fix the issue on the work order, a support agent who helps a customer prepare for a job interview, or a service organization which lives its social responsibility message – these are all opportunities to show your customers you care. Caring may seem like added operational cost, but in 2017 showing your customers you care may be the difference in a renewal or having to find new buyers.

Your employees are your most important customer.

Your customers buy things from you. But your employees are often the reason your customers buy again or renew a contract. So, a focus on your team IS a focus on your end customers. Engaged, incentivized, and happy employees are often more likely to go the extra mile for customers. Employees are your brand and often your product. Service, unlike products, can avoid commoditization because of employees – each different, with different skills. Tapping into the unique value of your employees to support your customers is a way to stay ahead of the competition. You are the only one with your team, make sure they know they are key to the success of the business.

Service isn’t easy, but we must strive to excel. In 2017, we will have a dedicated research group tied to customer experience and the initiatives that executives look to implement to wow their customers. If you would like to join this research group and share or would like to refer a colleague, please send me a note. I hope 2017 is a year we will all remember for the great customer experience stories we have had and have delivered.

Aly Pinder Jr
Director of Member Research & Communities
The Service Council or @pinderjr

What’s New in 2017? Ritz Carlton Culture Workshop & More

By John Carroll | News, Perspective | No Comments

As we put a close on 2016, we felt it was necessary to briefly, yet appropriately, thank The Service Council community (you) while calling attention to major milestones reached this year and those to come in 2017. In 2016, we’ve achieve so much with your support, including:

  • Research Panel grew to 33,000 global customer support executives.
  • Solution Partners grew to 20 of the leading technology innovators across their respective domains.
  • Advisory Board grew with the additions of newcomers Mike Romeo (VP of Field Operations at Xerox Technical Services), Danilo Elez (SVP of Service, Americas at KONE Corporation) among others.
  • The Service Council Team grew with the addition of Aly Pinder announced as Director of Member Research & Communities.

To our Advisory Board, Solution Partners, Contributing Partners and to the broader Research Panel Community, it is with a tremendous amount of gratitude that we thank you for supporting The Service Council in helping to foster the community and information platform we aim to create to the global services, customer support and customer experience community. With your support we are filling this promise.
As we wrap 2016 and usher our way into 2017, The Service Council team is anxious to hit the ground running with several new initiatives we feel will continue to broaden our value to the community, including:

  • Research Groups organized around 9 categories (Leadership & Strategy, Field Service, Parts, Data, Customer Experience, Sales & Marketing, Workforce & Talent, Safety and Technology). We feel this will assist in building sub-communities with specialized interest around certain functional and strategic parts of the customer support organization.
  • Subject Matter Experts organized by Research Group and recognized for expertise/experience in a certain area of the service and customer support business but also for their willingness to support their peers through facilitated dialogue supported by The Service Council.
  • 2017 Smarter Services Symposium announced to be held September 13-15th in Chicago (Swissotel).

We are very pleased to announce that the Ritz Carlton Leadership Center will return to the 2017 Symposium. At last year’s Symposium, we welcomed Joseph Quitoni, Corporate Director of Culture Transformation at Ritz-Carlton, who delivered an impassioned speech on Memorable Customer Experience. This coming year, Ritz-Carlton will both address the main conference delivering a keynote presentation while also hosting a Culture workshop which attendees can partake in. We encourage you to RSVP early as this workshop is sure to be in high demand. To reserve a seat, please follow this link and Ray Morley, Director of Member Success will assist in confirming.

Thank you once again for an outstanding year and wishing you a happy holiday!

John Carroll
The Service Council or +1.617.717.8300

Star Wars, Customer Service, & Me!

By Aly Pinder | Perspective | No Comments

It’s coming on Christmas, time for a Star Wars movie! Rogue One hits the screens on cue, and fans old and new are enjoying the latest chapter, in the most messed up chronological tale ever told!

Each new release sparks enthusiastic conversations, about story lines, characters, feelings of nostalgia, and even annoyance and frustration.

The frustration comes from disappointment and unmet expectations. Some fans were just let down, and others felt a greater pain.

Customer Can be Another Way of Saying Fan

As with this type of “fanatic”, your customers must be embraced and listened to. These are your advocates who really care. Those that are quick to get excited and even quicker to get angry. The important point is, that, they are providing you with valuable feedback, insight, and advocacy. All of which you can act on.

For example, in my new role as Member Success Director here at The Service Council, I had to ensure that prior to the 2016 Smarter Services Symposium, that each attendee coming, had a pre-event success call. The goal was to understand their roles and responsibilities tied to Service, their expectations for attending, who they wanted to connect with, and what they wanted to take away and bring back to the workplace. These attendees are not just our customers, these are fans of TSC and of service.

The conversations yielded great information. This feedback helped me to know that I was helping to meet their needs. At the event, I met and talked with a variety of Service professionals across the US, and Europe. Wherever they were from, each one told me with fervor the projects they were working on, their goals, needs, and challenges. In turn, I got excited that I could help make connections with people there, from the information gathered prior to the live event.

In Service, It’s All About the How

On site, I had the privilege to make introductions for folks wanting to understand how a service training program was successfully launched. How to roll out a Customer Service team. How to recruit top talent in the field. How to promote a successful workforce culture. How a service application was successfully implemented with their existing ERP system. How, was the key word.

Following the event, we conducted post-event success calls to find out if our “fan’s” needs had really been met. These conversations were equally as important, as they provided insight to their experience, positive and negative, if their expectations were met and helped us make improvements for the 2017 Smarter Services Symposium.

We’re very excited for next year, because we feel that with the insight gleaned from our fans we might just be able to wow and not disappoint. Nearly as excited as my 9-year-old son as we head out to see Rogue One. I won’t have to ask him if it lived up to his expectations, he will let me know!

Ray Morley
Director of Member Success
The Service Council or @raymorley

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