January 2017 - The Service Council

Service Sales & Marketing: Tell the Service Story

By Aly Pinder | Perspective | No Comments

Does sales love or hate service? Does marketing care about either?

These may sound like questions to get clicks. But, I honestly think about such things as I evaluate the future of service in 2017.

Service has always relied on other business functions [to do work or get work done], but the inverse hasn’t always been true. The service team needs inventory, operations, the customer support team, sales, IT, engineering and even marketing to efficiently solve customer problems. But this one-sided relationship leads to some missed opportunities; like the creation of products that are difficult to service, sales folk who don’t sell the value of service, or technology investments which don’t take into account the user. As these missed opportunities turn into lost dollars, the importance of re-thinking the relationship between service and other functions is bound to change – specifically, the partnership between service, sales, and marketing.

Marketing Communicates the Service Story to Customers

In current research TSC is working on, organizations see the need to focus on consistently connecting and sharing the value delivered with customers while making it easier for customers to find the information they need. Having a dedicated service marketing team ensures understanding of service but also the importance of communicating the value service can provide. As more organizations see the value and importance of the customer experience and the impact service has on that experience, I expect there to be more of a dedicated effort by marketing to tell the service story of value. Telling the story is one step. But I also believe that there needs to be a service marketing business unit / team in order to achieve the strategic goals of –

– Communicating value to customers
– Making customer aware of the entire service(s) portfolio
– Helping close the divide from service provider to solution partner
– Educating various stakeholders within the customer of importance of action / investment

Invest in a Service Sales and Service Marketing Team

As seen in TSC research, the propensity to invest in resources which tie the sales and marketing functions to service are a priority for many manufacturers and service organizations. TSC data from 2016: 5 Major Transformations Impacting Service Businesses found that service sales and marketing headcount was the second most desired roles to be added to organizations in 2015, only trailing field service. This investment in cross-collaborative resources highlights the strategic vision of a service organization that runs more like product businesses of old and not just a support function – i.e., let’s innovate service offerings, communicate value to customers, and proactively sell the right solutions to the right customers to build loyalty and customers for life. But as these investments in new resources are made, organizations must be mindful to ensure the customer and their experience remains at the forefront of decisions and initiatives. The service team’s first job is to ensure customer issues get resolved, and a service sales or marketing team must always keep that as a priority.

All for One, One for All

The technician can often be viewed by the end customer as a trusted advisor or partner. Where doors are shut or phone calls not returned by sales folks, the technician or service team member has direct access. This accessibility should not be abused. Technicians, as noted in TSC’s Field Service 2016: The Technician’s Perspective, enjoy solving customer problems and the interaction afforded by their jobs. This rapport should be leveraged by sales and marketing to connect the customer to the right products and services for the future. Insights gleaned from service interactions should not be viewed as erroneous technician chatter, but as nuggets of insight from the customer’s mouth. The sales and marketing teams need to work with the front-line service team to gather better insights into customer needs and future opportunities. Techs shouldn’t necessarily be sales reps, but instead an extension of the sales and marketing team to ensure not only resolution of the issue at hand but also a partner is built for life.

Help Us Remove the Divide Between Service, Sales, and Marketing

In a couple of months, we will launch our first benchmark dedicated to sales & marketing and its impact on service (agenda below). If you have a sales or marketing title, we want to get you involved. If you have a major focus on working with service leadership to identify new service products, we want to get you involved. If you take the lead on getting products to market, we want to hear from you. If you instead would like to refer the right person, please also send us a note. The collaboration between sales, marketing, and service will be interesting to follow in 2017, I hope you will join the conversation. Don’t miss out.

Aly Pinder Jr
Director of Member Research & Communities
The Service Council
ap@servicecouncil.com or @pinderjr

Not my problem: Talk to my 3rd Party Partner

By John Carroll | Perspective | One Comment

The Service Council recently concluded a research effort on Field Service Outsourcing and 3rd Party Networks. The effort was initiated with a survey and benchmark analysis was presented during a recent IdeaShare event (Members Only) which featured speakers from Walgreens, MasTec and Whirlpool Corporation. Over the coming weeks, a summary analysis report will be published. (If this is an important topic which you would like to learn more about, please contact Ray Morley at Email: rm@servicecouncil.com).

Greater than 75% of responding organizations reported using 3rd Party Networks for field service support. Maybe the title of this blog caught your attention given you’ve experienced this in your personal life or because of the prevalence of 3rd Party Partners? It certainly applies to a situation I recently encountered. An elevator in my building was taken “out of service” for a period greater than 2 weeks. And while taking the stairs is a logical and healthy alternative (New Year’s Resolution to get fit and healthy slowly fading in my rearview mirror), the preference would be to have an operating elevator.

The interaction began via Twitter, where I voiced my opinion on Otis Elevator’s resolution of the issue (ending my tweet with #FAIL). Kudos to Otis for its social monitoring and the immediacy of its response. Within 15 minutes I received a tweet back and message. And so it goes:


Disclaimer: My message wasn’t a “Do you know who I am”. I was genuinely impressed (silver lining) with how quickly Otis supported my comment on Twitter, a tweet which had negative undertones.

There are a couple of issues apparent in this initial response, including:

    1. The notion that they don’t know who was responsible for our account (Local Partner vs. Otis).
    2. The notion that these organizations were not integrated.
    3. Otis’ lack of capability in providing an accurate status update.

Takeaway: Regardless of Local Partner vs. Manufacturer, it shouldn’t matter. The Customer doesn’t necessarily care about this. That is more of an administrative and logistical issue on Otis the Provider’s end rather than on my end. All I care about is not fulfilling my New Year’s Resolution and hopping in an elevator.

The interaction and the issues continued…


    1. Eureka! Our account is in fact managed by Otis.
    2. An update would be provided “soon”.

Takeaway: Quick access to Customer records to determine who is responsible for managing an account should be enabled across the entire enterprise regardless of who is communicating with the Customer. Otis’ phrasing of this to the Customer should be slightly adjusted (whether we are managed by Otis or Local Partner, we are an Otis Customer). It would have been very nice had Otis provided an estimated resolution timeframe (i.e. Predictive Service).

And the final reply, left me feeling incomplete.


    1. The part is on backorder with no estimation of locating the part through alternative means (I appreciate the attempt to locate through alternative channels).
    2. There seems to be a consistent “blame game” thread here. First it was the Local Partner. Now it’s the Supply Chain Partner.
    3. Still no estimated time to final resolution.

Key takeaway: Otis needs to adjust its messaging to the Customer. At the end of the day, the product which is failing has their brand on it. If they are to entrust 3rd parties to support the care of these products, then they should realize that the efficacy of these networks directly impacts their Customer’s brand perception. From my perspective, to not be able to estimate final resolution time is the largest issue here. I’m still left not knowing when I can get back to not fulfilling my New Year’s Resolution 😉

The topic of 3rd Party Labor Networks and Outsourcing was one of the hottest topics at the 2016 Smarter Services Executive Symposium and we expect it to be a very big part of the Service Executives agenda in 2017 and beyond. If this is a topic of interest for you and your organization, we would welcome the opportunity to speak with you (Contact).

John Carroll
CEO & Founder
Email: jtc@servicecouncil.com
Phone: +1.617.717.8300

Service Strategy Forecast for 2017

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | One Comment

Annual predictions and forecasts are an interesting activity/discipline. I like to think of them as annual affirmations as strategic investments don’t necessarily change year-over-year. In some instances, organizations are looking to expand on what they’ve been doing.

Therefore, in an attempt to guide service leaders who look to us for insight and information on the overall service community, here is a list of focus areas for 2017. You can hear (on-demand link) some of these on a recent discussion that we at TSC were fortunate to have with Rusty Walther, Senior Vice President at HPE, and Tom Schlick, Vice President of Marketing and Engineering Development, at SterilMed. In addition, several of Aly Pinder’s observations are also available here.

In 2017, we envision that service business leaders will look to focus the pillars (see below) of their strategy around 4 major areas.

The Four Areas of Focus:

  1. Increasing Predictability
  2. Enhancing Efficiency
  3. Identifying New Opportunities
  4. Empowering Customers with Access and Information
The Strategy Pillars and Objectives

The Service Council: Service Strategy Pillars and Objectives

These aren’t ground breaking predictions, but let me elaborate on a topic of interest and focus in each.

Increasing Predictability

Focus: Executing on Predictive Models. In our research, we’ve found that most organizations have used investments in IoT or analytics to increase their efficiency. They are finally turning an eye to the predictive power of this information and in building delivery models to support predictive service. Effective delivery models (over-the-air, self-service, remote assistance, partner-based support, field support) of predictive support can be built on the existing reactive infrastructure, but do require an investment in training, communication, and change management. To that end, the service organization needs the support of other business groups, mainly R&D, IT, and Sales and Marketing.
An Emerging Area: Leveraging customer feedback data to predict retention or attrition events.

Enhancing Efficiency

Focus: Better Use of Better Information. Over the past five years, service organizations have made significant investments in mobility to empower the field service staff and in unified desktops to empower contact center staff. In these investments, organizations have focused on making sure that all information necessary was available at the front-lines. The problem was that the information wasn’t available in context, making it difficult for front-line staff to use this information. In that, we do see organizations re-evaluate technology investments to ensure that the right information is prioritized for front-line staff. The figure below showcases the type of information that field service engineers in Europe would like to see.

Outside of technology, we actually see a great deal of investment into the structure and design of training programs and content to ensure that front-line agents are able to act on information that is made available to them.
An Emerging Area: Augmented or merged reality holds great promise in field service as it enhances the reach of a centralized expert model in terms of resources and customers that can be supported.

Identifying New Opportunities

Focus: Installed Base Management. While organizations are always on the lookout for new customers and new services to sell to those customers, there is an increasing recognition of the need to accomplish more with the existing installed base. In this, organizations are focusing their analytical minds on the portfolio of existing customers and the products and services that might be needed to increase customer value.
An Emerging Area: The development of customer care (customer success) teams that enable a consistent communication with customers to uncover pain points, challenges, and opportunities.

Empowering Customers with Information and Access

Focus: Ease and Effort. Ritz Carlton believes that a differentiated experience comes from the ability to surprise and delight customers. In equipment-centric service the word surprise isn’t looked at as a positive. Yet, there is a greater push from equipment manufacturers (and other organizations) to improve the experience that’s delivered to customers. Some of this can be attributed to consumerized experiences delivered by the likes of Uber and Amazon. Organizations we work with are looking to make it easier for customers to do business with them and this correlates with reducing customer angst and effort in seeking and acting on information. We’re just conducting some research on the topic and early (65 organizations) results point to this overall trend.
An Emerging Area: Messaging as a communication channel in on overall interaction portfolio.

The Service Council Research: Customer Experience Focus Areas for B2B Service Organizations (Preliminary Results)

Customer Experience Focus Areas for B2B Service Organizations (Preliminary Results)

Do these align with your objectives for the year? Let us know. As noted earlier, you can access our conversation with HPE and SterilMed here. If you are a service leader and would like to get involved in The Service Council’s research and 2017 benchmarks, please feel free to contact Aly Pinder or myself.

Where is the Chief Service Officer?

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | No Comments

At the always excellent Aftermarket Europe conference late last year, conference moderator Coen Jeukens from Bosch opened the event with an incredible question/challenge. He asked:

“Where is the Chief Service Officer? If service truly is a priority, then where is the Chief Service Officer?”

I have to admit, I didn’t and still don’t have a response. When I started as a service analyst at the Aberdeen Group several years ago, I was fortunate enough to work with Mark Vigoroso (now at NCR) on a report highlighting the “Emergence of the Chief Service Officer”. In this report we argued that organizations that were serious about differentiating via service needed a C-level leader to drive the necessary transformations in the business. These transformations include:

  • Going from a product-centric business to a service or customer-focused business
  • Treating service as a profit center

A major reason why transformations fall short is the lack of internal commitment across the organization. For service to be a differentiator, it needs to be injected into the culture of the overall organization, not just in the service organization. This is why, we argued, that a service leader was necessary. By the way, the fact that service accounts for 30-40% of revenue for many businesses was another reason.

At that early stage, very few organizations had an official CSO role. Yet, we continued to push for that title in our research and work. Aly Pinder, my research partner at The Service Council, was also a key supporter of the CSO movement.

Service transformations are still occurring. In some instances we use the term servitization. And the role of the service leader is extremely important in driving transformation. In fact, in The Service Council’s 2015 work on service transformation, executive leadership and support was cited as the most important pre-requisite for a successful transformation. So, where is the Chief Service Officer?

There are several possibilities as to why the official title has not appeared.

  1. Organizations aren’t really that serious about service and all that we see and hear is me-too marketing. This is the scariest option.
  2. The C-level title for service has been taken on by the Chief Customer Officer. I believe that this is true for organizations in certain industries such as high-tech manufacturing or software. The fear with this option is that sales and marketing get a lion’s share of the focus as they have more of an immediate ROI (when measured by sales dollars). It takes someone who is well versed in service to truly understand the dollar impact of:
    a. Customer loyalty
    b. Service revenue (if you sell service contracts, warranties, parts etc.)
  3. There is someone fulfilling that role but they don’t have a C-level title. I suspect that this is the most likely scenario. I’ve heard good arguments from organizations that they believe that creating an office of the Chief Service Officer or the Chief Customer Officer can be counter-productive as it compartmentalizes the responsibility for service wherein it should be organization-wide. This seems like a cultural issue to me, one that needs the hand of a service leader to consistently communicate and reinforce how every single person working in an organization impacts the end customer.

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t know why we don’t see the CSO title. I’d like to find out why.

I’m going to ask the question to several service leaders on a short webcast tomorrow (Thursday Jan 12, 2017). The focus of the webcast is to capture some service predictions for 2017, but this seems to be an appropriate tie in. Plus Tom and Rusty should have great responses. Please feel free to register and listen in.

If you have an opinion on this, please do submit a comment here and/or feel free to participate in this very short survey on the topic. It would be great to see where the results fall.

The Convergence of the Consumer and the Service Worker

By Aly Pinder | Perspective | No Comments

As we make our way through the first month of the new year, the excitement around the future is palpable. Now, this may be because I am reading a lot of headlines from CES in my Twitter & Facebook feeds. But I would like to think it is because the convergence of technology and ‘real life’ is within reach for many of us. Whether it be the emergence of the Comcast voice remote control entering our homes, the ubiquity of wearable devices on wrists of people of all ages, or the wave of ads from the likes of Samsung and Sony touting VR; the consumer sphere has really embraced technology.

But was does this all mean for service, especially field service in a B2B environment?

Three service areas, in particular, will continue to see the impact of technology and this convergence between the consumer and enterprise worlds in 2017.

The Field
As seen in TSC’s Field Service 2016: The Technician’s Perspective report, the next wave of technicians assume they will be able to use similar tools as in their daily lives. This report found that nearly three quarters of service workers with less than ten years of experience preferred a smart phone as their primary device (as compared to only half of those with twenty years of experience). For organizations with a younger workforce, the expectation of easy to use work applications and devices which mirror consumer experiences will continue to shape the technology investments for the field team in 2017. Furthermore, technicians in this study expressed interest in technologies like the Internet of Things, collaborative video capabilities (i.e., training, live), and also had some positive feelings toward augmented reality. This isn’t to say that paper will go completely away or that some organizations won’t still use enterprise-grade form factors like ruggedized laptops or handhelds, but 2017 will continue to see the emergence of more consumer grade technologies to support a changing workforce which is younger and more tech-savvy. As the workforce continues to evolve (i.e., get younger, Millennial service team), service organizations need to re-evaluate the devices and the technology provided to the field. Technology investments should consider the users and adoption propensity and not solely what is approved by our friends in IT.

The Customer

This may seem like a constant hum in your ears, but customer expectations for improved service continue to rise and evolve. Even though it feels like this has been a threat for years now, the voice of the customer cannot be ignored. As consumer experiences with organizations like Uber, Amazon, and Domino’s Pizza change the way we all view on-demand service, visibility, and omni-channel interactions. All service organizations must take heed.

We have some early data from a current project in regard to Customer Experience, and nearly seven out of ten service organizations see the opportunity for the customer experience to be a key differentiator for their business. These organizations also plan to find new ways to communicate with customers while making it easier for those customers to engage. 2017 will continue to blur the lines between consumer experiences and our enterprise service interactions. Needless to say, the customer is always right! Service organizations should look to emulate best practices from unlike industries in order to evolve with your customers. Stay true to yourself, but understand customer expectations evolve faster than we would sometimes like.

Service Leadership

The technology impact on service leaders should be a no brainer. Isn’t every leader attached to their smart phones for emails or looking at a dashboard on their tablet or laptop to see data in real-time. But 2017 may also see the evolution of this insight as data volumes become somewhat untenable. Time is of the essence, not only because of respective salaries of management but because decisions which deliver results must now happen in real-time. As noted earlier, customers don’t want to wait for service and technicians expect the same speed of information as they receive at home. So, service leaders must continue to leverage technology to get the right data, to make the right decisions, to empower their teams and solve the problems of their customers in real or near-real time.

If you are interested in weighing in on how, as a service leader, you plan to leverage technology in 2017 please reach out to the TSC team. We will be exploring some of the key initiatives for service leadership in 2017 in a benchmark survey later this month. We would love to get your input and learn from your experiences.

Will My Crystal Ball Be Right Come December 31, 2017?

I am excited to see how technology will continue to evolve in 2017. I assume some predictions will be wrong but I have hope that at least in the three areas above technology will help service deliver more to improve the customer experience, help the field deliver service more efficiently, and aid leadership in its decisions in 2017. Coming up Jan 12th, the TSC team will forecast some additional trends we expect to see in 2017. Please join live or listen on demand. Also, in Q1, we will be launching our first wave of benchmark surveys tackling Leadership & Strategy, Field Service, Workforce & Talent, Parts, and Customer Experience. If you manage or have interest in any of these service topics, please send us a note and we’ll get you involved.

Aly Pinder Jr
Director of Member Research & Communities
The Service Council
ap@servicecouncil.com or @pinderjr

Activate Your Service Connect™ Membership Learn More