August 2017 - The Service Council

Symposium Series: Southwest Airlines’s Sonya Lacore on Customer Centricity

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | No Comments

The Symposium nears – 5 weeks to the day. Last week we introduced one of our keynotes John Rossman and today we’d like to feature Sonya Lacore from Southwest Airlines.

Welcome Sonya

Last month, we were pleased to welcome Sonya Lacore, Vice President of Inflight Operations from Southwest Airlines, to our Day 2 keynote roster that focuses on customer-centricity. Sonya has been with Southwest from 2001 and started there are as a flight attendant. (Her Southwest Profile)

What Will Sonya be Sharing?

On her session on September 12, Sonya will be sharing her thoughts on what customer-centricity means to Southwest Airlines. The airline is often renowned for its operational efficiency and employee friendliness and Sonya believes that the latter makes all the difference in creating a differentiated service and customer experience. She’s quick to bring up that every employee should understand what their function is. This relates to what they do on a day in and day out basis, and it’s something that can be acquired via education and training. What creates a differentiated service or customer experience is the ‘essence’ of an employee’s role. These are the intangibles that lead to an employee considering what else can be done to improve a customer’s situation.

For those in service leadership, Sonya believes that there are three vital questions that need to be top of mind:

Who are your customers?
This goes back to internal vs. external customers. Its key to understand that a service leaders time need to focus on employee empowerment to support customer strategy.
What do your customers want?
Listening to internal and external customers is key to understanding what they value. Delivering on that value is where service leaders need to invest their time and energy. If the gap between what we deliver and what our customers want is large, then the service leaders mission is to bridge that gap.
Have you given your customers something to talk about?
Customers will talk whether you like it or not. What you can shape is what they will talk about. Negative talk can do irreparable damage to a brand, while positive talk can create

How Can I Join the Symposium to Hear Sonya Speak?

We can’t wait for Sonya’s session on September 12 at the Smarter Services Symposium. She promises to share more about the past and future of customer-centric behavior and why she believes that personal interactions become more important in a world where customers are less and less ‘conversational’. If you’d like to hear Sonya at the event, we encourage you to research the event and join us in Chicago.

To learn more about The Service Council’s 6th Smarter Services Symposium, please visit our event page at www.servicecouncil.com/symposium2017. If you need further information, please feel free to contact our team below.

For Attendance Inquiries: Ray Morley, Director of Member Success, rm@servicecouncil.com, 603-289-6492
For Speaking Inquiries: Sumair Dutta, Chief Customer Officer, sd@servicecouncil.com, 262-649-8721
For Sponsorship or Other Inquiries: John Carroll, Chief Executive Officer, jtc@servicecouncil.com, 617-717-8300

Unable to make the Symposium this year, but would like to stay in the loop of what’s discussed? Then feel free to save your seat for our post-event webcast (September 21 at 11am Eastern) here.

Symposium Series: The Amazon Way with John Rossman

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | No Comments

As we near the 2017 Smarter Services Symposium (Register Here), we wanted to introduce you to several of our keynote speakers. Today we focus on John Rossman, Managing Director at Alvarez & Marsal and Best-Selling Author of two books on The Amazon Way.

Why we Approached John?

Service expectations are getting consumerized. For all service businesses, the experience that is delivered to customers is evaluated not only against others in the space, but also against the likes of companies like Nordstrom, Zappos (also Amazon), USAA, Ritz Carlton (also at the Symposium), and Amazon. These companies are trailblazers in service and support and we strive to share the perspective of these leaders at the forum that is our Symposium. Our research continues to indicate the growing importance of customer experience as a differentiator for service and support businesses.

At the 2016 Smarter Services Symposium (recap report, blog, webcast), discussions on innovation centered around customer experience and most innovators were looking at aspects of the Amazon experience to model their own strategies and investments.

What Will John Be Sharing with The Group?

John is the author of 2 well reviewed books that talk about The Amazon Way. His first book chronicled the 14 leadership principles that are central to Amazon’s overall culture and philosophy. Principle 1 deals with obsessing over the customer, which is appropriate given our event focus on service and customer journeys. We wont give away the 13 other principles, but they will provide a great roadmap for service leaders who are looking to inject a greater level of customer-centricity into their businesses.

If you can’t wait till September, here is a short preview.

When Will John be Speaking?

John will kick things off on Day 2 (Sept 12, 2017) at approximately 8:30am Central. Day 2 of our event focuses on customer-centricity and customer journeys and is supported by Day 1 (Operational Journeys) and Day 3 (Commercial Journeys). Attendees to the session will also receive a copy of John’s book The Amazon Way: 14 Leadership Principles Behind the World’s Most Disruptive Company. These books are being made with the support of our Sponsor Plus Partner ClickSoftware. John will also be available to sign a few copies of his book.

How Can I Join the Symposium to Hear John Speak?

To learn more about The Service Council’s 6th Smarter Services Symposium, please visit our event page at www.servicecouncil.com/symposium2017. If you need further information, please feel free to contact our team below.

For Attendance Inquiries: Ray Morley, Director of Member Success, rm@servicecouncil.com, 603-289-6492
For Speaking Inquiries: Sumair Dutta, Chief Customer Officer, sd@servicecouncil.com, 262-649-8721
For Sponsorship or Other Inquiries: John Carroll, Chief Executive Officer, jtc@servicecouncil.com, 617-717-8300

Unable to make the Symposium this year, but would like to stay in the loop of what’s discussed? Then feel free to save your seat for our post-event webcast (September 21 at 11am Eastern) here.

IFS Expands its Service Management Capabilities, Enters the Customer Engagement Game

By Sumair Dutta | News | No Comments

Today, IFS (a member of The Service Council) announced the acquisition of mplsystems Limited (mplsystems) and Field Service Management Limited. (See Press Release). Both acquisitions are intended to strengthen the Enterprise Service Management and Field Service Management capabilities of IFS.

In this blog, we’ll speak more of the ramifications of the mplsystems purchase. Field Service Management Limited is a current reseller and implementation partner of IFS in the UK and this acqui-hire is intended to bring FSM implementation experience in house and to strengthen IFS’s implementation and professional services teams.

The acquisition of mplsystems is interesting as it brings new functionality to the IFS service management stack. While there is minor overlap of field service capabilities between mplsystems and IFS, there is major additive functionality afforded via mplsystem’s focus on the omni-channel customer engagement center. In addition to having the staple tools for call handling, email management, social media integration, and workforce management, mplsystems’s claim to fame is in the simplicity of its solution and the ability for customer organizations to provide agents with a simple desktop of relevant customer interactions to resolve customer inquiries. IFS also informs us that mplsystems is investing heavily in Artificial Intelligence in order to:

  1. Improve the contextual relevance of customer information available to service agents when interacting with a customer
  2. Leverage natural language processing capabilities to enable customers to develop service assistants or ‘bots’

This is an interesting move for IFS as previous service acquisitions have focused primarily on the field service and asset management, a natural extension of the core ERP and EAM solutions delivered by IFS. With this, the ideal customer has always been and continues to remain a manufacturing organization that has assets in the field that need to be repaired, replaced, or maintained. In terms of functionality, customer engagement has not been a traditional focus or solution area addressed primarily because it hasn’t been a top priority for manufacturers globally. Most manufacturers care about uptime, efficiency, and productivity in their asset-oriented service models and IFS’s solution was built to offer those capabilities. As a result, customer engagement was typically managed by the customer’s CRM of choice.

That said, manufacturing organizations are changing, and so is IFS. IFS’s move from traditional field service into customer engagement is in the opposite direction of moves made by traditional CRM providers such as Salesforce and Microsoft. These providers have recently taken a keener interest in expanding the field service capabilities of their CRM solutions and in marketing towards a more integrated service management suite. These organizations feel an increasing amount of pressure from customers and prospects to bring the likes of customer engagement, customer support, and field service management together to reduce the burden and complexity of piecing together multiple solutions while ensuring the delivery of a more integrated experience to their customers’ customers.

Our research of service and manufacturing companies continues to show the greater interest in customer experience management (Figure 1, from TSC’s 2017 benchmark of service leadership and strategy). In addition to improving customer listening and voice of the customer activities, CEM initiatives are focused on improving the ease with which customers have access to service, support, and pertinent information.
Leadership 2017 Initiatives

In late 2016 research on customer experience management, the following were the primary objectives of customer experience initiatives at service organizations.

  1. Reducing hold and wait times at time of contact
  2. Connecting customers with the most appropriate service agent on contact
  3. Consistently listening to customers (outside of VoC)
  4. Making it easier for customers to find pertinent information

The following were prioritized outcomes of CEM initiatives:

  1. Improving customer visibility into the status of service events
  2. Ensuring customer communications are carried over regardless of channel
  3. Improving notifications for customers around a service event
  4. Making it easier for customers to connect with the service organization

In field service management, there is an increasing focus on the experience delivered via field service resources (Figure 2 – From TSC’s 2017 Field Service Management Benchmark). While there continues to be a consistent focus on efficiency and effectiveness, there is an increasing amount of attention being paid to the field service experience. Call it FSEM – field service experience management. As in the case of the CEM initiatives identified above, the intent of FSEM is to provide customers with greater access to information and with more control over their field service events.
Field Service 2017 Initiatives
At our 2016 Smarter Services Symposium (2017 event page), every single session had a reference to how the Amazon or Uber-effect was impacting customer expectations. These statements were being made not only by retail or transportation businesses, but even by those in the areas of industrial manufacturing, facilities management, or medical device manufacturing. Organizations are no longer competing against their traditional foes for customer mindshare, they are competing with the likes of Uber and Amazon in the delivery of the best customer experience. In a world where customers can choose lower cost service providers, the customer experience delivered becomes a vital differentiator for service and manufacturing organizations. In our opinion, IFS’s move to bring in mplsystems is a recognition of this trend and a step in the right direction.

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