Aly Pinder - The Service Council

3 Trends I Didn’t Expect to See – Service Parts Leaders Discuss 3D Printing

By Aly Pinder | Perspective | No Comments

In August 2017, I felt like I was able to prove that the case around 3D printing for service parts management had been made (post here). But I may have been a bit premature in my assessment.

As noted in my earlier post on the topic, several organizations such as Hewlett-Packard, NASA, the US Navy, and the US Coast Guard have displayed the real-world efficacy of 3D printed service parts. However, in a recent research survey of service parts executives, early results showed that less than half could foresee their organizations using the technology within the next 5 years, let alone have a pilot in place in 2018! This number, though taken from an initial sample, was surprising to me as these service leaders noted a number of disruptive challenges facing their service parts businesses which seem ripe for 3D printing to help solve.

Chart – Most Disruptive Challenges Facing Service Parts Leaders in Next 12 Months

TSCData-2017-P-3DPSPM-Figure1-Challenges

As listed in the above chart, service leaders are trying to navigate a world which is unpredictable, costlier, and more demanding. So why aren’t more service organizations and manufacturers kicking the tires on 3D printing or at least thinking this will be an option for them to improve customer service, decrease the cost of moving parts across a complex service network, or mitigate the uncertainty of fluctuations in future service needs. Three lessons jumped out at me as I looked through the data from the service parts leaders who chose to share their thoughts on the topic –

1- A reduction in inventory is not necessarily the driving factor for an investment in 3D printing. Service parts executives noted that the reason they would explore an investment in 3D printing was to Improve responsiveness to customers and increase satisfaction levels. So, in thinking about what might drive a decision to invest in this technology which as noted by our early results may be cost prohibitive, the cheaper option is to prioritize incremental improvements in the current resources to support parts movement across the network (i.e., mobile visibility in to parts available, better routes to get to the problem faster, better triage and diagnosis). The leap into the future of 3D printing still remains too much for these parts leaders to bite off on when other fixes are more tangible and cost-effective.

2- Solutions still aren’t business ready, at least in service. More than 80% of our initial sample of service parts leaders either felt solutions weren’t ready or they didn’t quite know yet. That comes in stark contrast to the marketing materials and excitement displayed regarding the topic. The service community often takes a wait and see approach to new technologies. The investments can be too large, the time to deploy too long, and the risk of failure too high for many service organizations to jump into new endeavors that have yet to be proven out. We still see organizations managing a field team from a whiteboard or spreadsheet. To be business-ready, these service parts leaders expressed concerns both about the technology (i.e., quality of printed materials, cost) but also about their internal capabilities to support such an investment. The latter is a challenge that won’t be easy to fix quickly and takes a strategic vision from service leadership to cross.

3- The problems 3D printing solves aren’t top of the list of critical challenges for service parts leaders. When looking at the barriers noted by this initial sample of service parts leaders to investment, I expected that service leaders would state the technology is too expensive or they didn’t have the resources to execute (which they listed). But I didn’t expect to see that a number of service leaders noted that they didn’t think this investment would actually solve a problem they felt they currently had. For the technology to gain traction it must solve problems that are top of mind for the service parts leader, otherwise, 3D printers will be relegated to a piece of cool technology and not become a priority when service parts leaders allocate budget around their key initiatives.

The exuberance of tech geeks, marketers, and analysts like myself regarding the technology of 3D printing can’t be overstated. The promise and the value seem to be there. But as noted above and in recent data, this initial sample of service leaders still struggle with making the connection between promise and value for today’s service parts organization AND gaining the necessary momentum to bite off on the investment. To close this gap, I think service parts leaders need to further explore the technology, the price of 3D printing solutions need to come down a bit, quality of printed parts has to be proven, and the market must communicate how 3D printing solves the specific pain points of the service parts leader and technology buyer. But despite the skepticism and numerous hurdles to increased investment, the interest in the subject continues to be high amongst service parts leaders and I plan to continue to gather data points and take the pulse of the market. So stayed tuned in…

And if the topic of 3D printing for service parts management is of interest to you or a colleague, please take the 10 minutes needed to share your thoughts in this survey – https://www.research.net/r/tscp3d2017. I will be publishing some additional insights in a report later this year.

As we exit 2017 and enter another year, please do let us know topics you are interested in or you feel need more insights from The Service Council Research Team.

Don’t Outsource Service Excellence, Deliver Value with the Aid of Service Partners

By Aly Pinder | Perspective | No Comments

In field service not much changes year to year, right? Life for the field service organization is something breaks, send a technician out, fix the problem, and move on to the next work order.

But the field service world is changing. Two trends, in particular, are leading to a new world for the field service organization: the desire to deliver value-added experiences to customers and service being delivered through a partner network. Recent research from The Service Council (TSC) highlighted that a top priority for field service leaders was the desire to improve the experience being delivered to customers, as noted by 74% of respondents. This concept of an experience brings into focus a need by service organizations to engage customers beyond what is listed in a Service Level Agreement (SLA) and create on-going partnerships with the customer to ensure mutual value is received. This is where the second trend noted earlier adds a layer of complexity, this value is often delivered through a degree of separation from the manufacturer or service organization. Third party service providers, dealers, and contractors are more involved in the service experience of today. TSC research highlights that 76% of service organizations and manufacturers rely on third parties for the completion of service work. These convergent trends of customers demanding more value while manufacturers lose control of the service that is being delivered require a new look at service. This new service world depends on a number of things to work well, but to get a start I will highlight just three which stand out to me as imperative for service success:

1- Work together to create a mutually beneficial long-term plan which addresses the needs of all stakeholders. As noted earlier, with three-fourths of OEMs and service organizations working with partners to deliver service, there is a need to ensure they work with their partner network to create a strategy which incorporates the needs and desired outcomes for all parties. Historically, the relationship between service provider and OEM was based around the installation of equipment which transferred ownership of the customer to the service company until the next piece of equipment needed to be sold to a customer. But this washing of hands by the OEM is changing as they realize the need to maintain a line of sight into the customer experience. For example, TSC field service research highlighted that the top priority for Service Champions was to improve the field service experience being delivered to customers. The interdependent partnership between the OEM, the service organization, and the customer must be built on an understanding of what the customer wants from the service experience. All three groups need to have a long-range plan in place to ensure everyone benefits from the partnership and all groups have visibility into the value being received and delivered.

2- Align the metrics and ensure visibility for all. Too often, metrics are internal facing as opposed to looking at the metrics which impact the service ecosystem (i.e., service partners, end customer, suppliers). As service networks and the number of service partners grow and transform, so should the KPIs that measure service performance. This also requires an improved focus on performance visibility across all stakeholders in areas that are most relevant to them. OEMs need visibility into the service experience being delivered and confirmation resolution has been achieved, service partners need visibility into changes or enhancements in the product, and customers need visibility into when and who will be providing resolution of the problem. This is important as in order for the manufacturer to be focused on product reliability and sales, they must have visibility into when service calls are initiated, what was the problem (i.e., factory defect, misuse), and if the customer is satisfied by the response. Without visibility across the network to performance, the OEM may be blind-sided when they look to sell the next piece of equipment, or the service organization may be overtaxed by a spike in services calls as they were unaware of a defect.

3- Make sure the end customer knows who to call when something goes wrong. As service partner relationships evolve, often the name on the equipment or product is not the name on the van that shows up to fix it when it breaks. Regardless of service provider choice, the end customer should have a seamless experience when requesting or needing service as the customer doesn’t really care who shows up to fix the problem. Delivering a seamless experience that is aligned with the OEM’s service brand is difficult to accomplish if integrations between systems and process flows are disjointed.

As we continue to see more manufacturers leverage service partners for the execution of service to the end customer, the attention paid to this service ecosystem will only grow and become more crucial to the shared success of all groups. The relationship between a manufacturer and its service partners is not something to be considered insignificant or trivial. These parties must work together to create a sustained value position to the end customer. Otherwise, they are bound to only see the short-term gains and miss the longer-range impact to growth, their business, and success.

Has the Business Case Been Made for 3D Printing for Service Parts, Yet?

By Aly Pinder | Perspective | No Comments

The promise of 3D printers revolutionizing service is still science fiction for many. We may have thought we would be there already based on the hype in the news or on Twitter. But as noted 3 years ago, actual use cases of 3D printing for the field or service parts are still rare. In 2014, TSC surveyed 175 manufacturers and service organizations and noted that only 3% of sampled organizations had capabilities around 3D printing, with another 7% building the business case for investments in the technology. For these organizations, 3D printing has shown the ability to go beyond the manufacturing floor or engineering where it’s primarily used to support new product development. In service, 3D printing can support repair operations, end of life parts management, and replacement of parts which are not readily available on site or near by.

This relatively slow adoption curve highlighted earlier resembles other innovative technology leaps of the near past (i.e., Augmented Reality, wearables). However, unlike those other technologies, 3D printing seems stagnant in a perpetual state of wait and see. So how do we get past this state of neutral and hit the accelerator? To find out, I interviewed a few executives who have taken that leap. Here are 5 takeaways from my conversations:

1- Look at 3D printing as another tool in your toolkit, not the only tool. Cost can force service leaders to elevate the uses of 3D printing beyond the appropriate level. This should not be the case. This technology should be leveraged to support use cases where fitting. Don’t look to 3D printing as a silver bullet to solve inventory management problems. 3D printing technology shouldn’t be expected to replace proper parts planning and partner management. Based on an analysis of part scarcity, criticality, or price, an organization might find the opportunity to use 3D printing as a solution in their overall inventory management processes. 3D printing technology provides service leaders with the catalyst to re-evaluate parts usage, as better understand if in fact there is a business case. While the technology might precede the actual business case, it does offer a point in time for companies to analyze their service parts holdings and usage.

2- Give the technology to the front line and let them explore the possibilities. Innovation should be rooted in practicality. You should ask yourself, “does this solve a problem?”. Thinking of 3D printing technology as cool misses the point, and could end up as an expensive toy for the engineering team. Allowing the service team to recommend uses to problems they face every day is the path to maximizing the value of the investment. Mandating the use or isolating the technology in the back office will cap the ability to see how this tool can support service and useful innovation.

3- Break the barrier between IT, engineering, and the service team. Often 3D printing capabilities are viewed as an IT or engineering function for new product development or manufacturing. Though true, 3D printing can also support replacement parts and service. But in order to maximize the opportunity, service must be included in the discussion. For those organizations that are using 3D printing in their manufacturing processes, there are lessons that can be carried over to the service parts arena which could help lower the cost pressures and learning curve. This technology also demands quite a bit of IT involvement, and thus requires IT and service to be in complete alignment. IT and engineering should spend some time with the service team to better understand their needs and how 3D printing can support service. Opening a dialogue and creating opportunities to collaborate around the technology will spark limitless ideas which might actually solve real problems faced by the service team.

4- Explore other industries to understand the possible. The use case for 3D printing may not be evident in your industry as evidenced by the low adoption numbers listed above and in previous TSC research. But looking at how organizations from other industries are using this technology may open your eyes. For a sample of the possible, check out here, or here, or learn from this innovative team. On land, in the sea, or in space, organizations across a diverse set of industries and environments are exploring this technology. Remove the mindset that you’re not ready or this won’t fit your business. If these organizations and industries which aren’t immune to regulations and cost pressures can make 3D printing technology work, you should be able too.

5- Bring support services to the discussion. The excitement found in 3D printing can quickly turn into a strategy of let’s print everything. But it is important to be mindful of which parts can or should be printed. In industries where multiple suppliers manufacture the parts on the equipment, service needs to be mindful of which parts are proprietary and which can be recreated. Also, in highly regulated industries, service leaders need to be aware of which parts can’t be printed due to regulatory restrictions. To ensure the promise of 3D printing can be properly executed, IT, product design, legal, and partners must be engaged and a part of the process. Again, having a strategy means more than just thinking about the future applications of this technology. You need to ensure what you plan can and should be done to avoid roadblocks, delays, or lawsuits down the road.

3D printing is still early days. However, the promise is there for the taking for companies that are willing to take that leap. But too often, we let skepticism thwart our imaginations. I hope to take away some of that skepticism and apprehension, so look for more from The Service Council on this topic as we will hold a Smarter Services Webcast in October on 3D Printing’s Impact on the Service Supply Chain. If you are interested in learning from some leading-edge service organizations, please register for the event.

Aly Pinder Jr
Director of Member Research & Communities
The Service Council
ap@servicecouncil.com
818-590-5373
@pinderjr

Don’t Let the Complex Stop Your Success – Four Steps to Avoid Service Supply Chain Failure

By Aly Pinder | Perspective | No Comments

The service leader of today has a lot on his or her plate. Just a few years ago, he/she was primarily expected to manage a service team to efficiently and cost effectively deliver service per Service Level Agreements and service contracts. Show up on time, resolve the issue, and move on to the next job.

But, today the service leader is now looked upon to drive at revenue opportunities and wow customers with an enhanced experience at each interaction. With often contradictory goals, service leaders can’t be blamed for looking for a new line of work. But to their credit, service leaders and their front-line employees love what they do and take the delivery of excellent service on as a challenge not a burden.

However, the complexities of the service supply chain (i.e., parts visibility, variety of parts, lack of internal focus on service) have made these goals of delivering customer value more difficult, but not impossible. Customer-centricity demands more than just the establishment of a Voice of the Customer (VoC) program from the marketing department or the sending out of feedback surveys after customer service calls. Service organizations and manufacturers must come to the realization that in order to deliver exceptional experiences, functions beyond the field or customer support team must be aligned and accountable for their role in the delivery of service. Specifically, stakeholders in the service supply chain must recognize the impact that they have on customer experience. In the past, the service supply chain which includes service parts planning, forward and reverse logistics, repair, and inventory management, was not looked upon for its impact on the customer. Service parts were typically managed by the supply chain group or business function and the tools to manage parts were primarily concerned with containing costs and enhancing visibility. This mindset is outdated.

To connect the service supply chain with the support organization, service leaders must focus on four critical areas:

Revisit the Metrics of Success
As the focus of service leaders has evolved from being primarily operationally focused to become more customer-focused, so too must the metrics that determine success. Fill rates and probabilities of stock outs are important to measure, but organizations must review a hierarchy of metrics that touch upon operational results, customer outcomes, and commercial success. Is a secondary truck roll required because the technician didn’t have the right or a good part? Did a customer call in to the contact center because the part on their new piece of equipment was defective? Service leaders need to understand how all of these metrics tie together to ensure that they are driving at the right results.
TSC-HS-DataSlide-AP
Respond to the Information Needs of the Team
Customers expect faster and better service. The complexities of the service supply chain make this challenging. At the core of this challenge is information and the confidence that key decision makers are basing their actions on the right information. This requires an integration of information silos. For example, effective parts planning requires the planning tools to pull information from case management and field service execution systems. Similarly, effective parts execution requires that inventory solutions are integrated with field service scheduling and dispatch.

Retool the Service Technology Infrastructure
The tools that have supported the service supply chain have provided only a partial view into parts. Service parts management accounts to more than just parts tracking or inventory management. The dynamic nature of customer expectations and the need to balance suppliers, partners, and a field support team demands a more robust technology infrastructure which is specific to the needs of service. The solution and technology infrastructure for service parts must be able to be scalable to support new regions, product lines, and customer types, accessible by multiple groups, and flexible to changing needs of service.

Rethink the Service Strategy and Team
Where do parts sit within the organization? This is a question that hasn’t been resolved for many organizations just yet as highlighted by 40% of organizations managing parts within service and 32% under supply chain. But whether service parts are managed by supply chain or by the service function, there needs to be dedicated processes, dedicated resources, and a dedicated strategy to support its success. Parts and the service supply chain touch upon too many aspects of the business to be siloed. Organizations that fail to prioritize service parts and integrate the discipline into a broader customer support framework will suffer.

If you would like to explore more of the trends regarding the topic of the service supply chain, feel free to listen to an on-demand webinar I participated in with service leaders from Becton Dickinson and Lexmark here. When you download the webinar recording, you will receive exclusive access to a recent report from The Service Council which further highlights the challenges facing the service leader regarding parts management and what they need to do to excel. Finally, if you would like to join the on-going discussion of parts management and the service supply chain please join our research group of Parts Leaders. As a member of this research group you will be able to benchmark your organization’s maturity against your peers and gain access to research highlighting a path to improvement.

Aly Pinder
Director of Member Research & Communities
ap@servicecouncil.com
@pinderjr

Friday Service Recap: Tesla, Safety, Zappos, Culture and More Customer Service Stories for the Week

By Aly Pinder | Perspective | No Comments

Every week, Sumair and I will post our most interesting customer service minded stories for the week as part of a Friday recap. We’ll comment on one story each and then add 3 others for your review.

For the nineteenth installment, and week 23 of 2017:

Aly’s pick:

Topic: Zappos & a Culture of Customer Care
Source: Forbes (https://www.forbes.com/sites/micahsolomon/2017/06/12/tony-hsieh-spills-the-beans-the-one-word-secret-of-zappos-customer-service-success/#2c8d95d81acc)

Commentary: Customer service is not a department. This is not a new tagline or a wholly unique idea. The impact of the customer experience has become a focus area for many organizations, and the realization that service is something that must be engrained in the DNA of the organization has gained steam across a number of industries. Many of these organizations come to this realization as the result of changes to their competitive environment which has forced them to re-evaluate the way in which they woo customers. This is not the case for Zappos and never has been. And, I know I highlighted Zappos during our seventh installment, but Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO, has long been one of the leaders I have admired as being forward-thinking in regards to creating a customer-first culture, and I couldn’t resist sharing another glimpse into their story.

A few years back I had the pleasure of touring their new headquarters in Downtown Las Vegas. What was most intriguing was their customer centric mentality wasn’t just plastered on posters across the office or a focus on their employee blog, but a part of every aspect of what we saw within that building and everyone we met. From the tour guide who took us around the office, to the employees that were still “working” when we showed up, to Tony’s desk which was right there amongst the other employees (no corner office), we felt the vibe of customer-first. Too often we think a customer-first mentality needs to focus solely on the client-facing staff, but I would argue that as shown by Zappos it must start at the top and become entrenched in everyone’s mindset across the entire organization. We should all take a page from Zappos and look at customer service not as something that can be measured by a score but as part of the value that can be delivered by anyone within the organization to show customers we care.

Sumair’s pick:

Topic: Taking Safety Seriously at Tesla
Source: Inc. (https://www.inc.com/justin-bariso/elon-musk-sent-an-extraordinary-email-to-employees-and-taught-a-major-lesson-in.html)

Commentary: In speaking about this with several service leaders, the jury is out on if this is good or poor leadership. It’s good because it shows the leader’s passion for the topic and how safety truly is an executive priority. It’s poor leadership and it points to unsustainable growth and development practices, ones that aren’t supported with the right processes. I tend to see this as good leadership, as employees are driven by an emotional leader, one that is willing to invest his/her personal time in ensuring that their basic needs are met. That said, emotion will only go so far. An emotional response without an appropriate long-term fix will reduce the impact of the next emotional response. Safety, as a topic, requires executive sponsorship and direction. If it’s a priority at the top, it will be a priority at all levels of the organization.

Our Three Other Articles
1- Leveraging Your Brand’s Digital Presence for Customer Service Initiatives (HuffPost, 6/15/17)
2- Amazon delivers a new standard of retail and customer service (Orlando Business Journal, 6/15/17)
3- Apple Undercuts Facebook in the augmented reality platform war (Tech Crunch, 6/13/17)

If interested in viewing our latest data and insight, please visit: http://info.servicecouncil.com/recent-content-and-events. We have also released our event calendar for the rest of 2017, please visit http://info.servicecouncil.com/future-events-2017-sys to see what’s on the calendar and how you can participate.

We would love to have you become part of our research panel. If you would like to, please visit http://info.servicecouncil.com/tsc-join-a-research-group and select the area(s) of alignment. (* Participation in research groups is reserved for practitioners only. Consultants and technology solution providers are not allowed to join and will be referred to other ways of getting involved.)

Till next week.

Aly Pinder
Director of Member Research & Communities
ap@servicecouncil.com
@pinderjr

Sumair Dutta
Chief Customer Officer
sd@servicecouncil.com
@suma1r

The USPS, First Female Postmaster, Lego, Camping and More Customer Service Stories for the Week

By Aly Pinder | Perspective | No Comments

Every week, Sumair and I will post our most interesting customer service experience minded stories for the week as part of a Friday recap. We’ll comment on one story each and then add 3 others for your review.2
For the eighteenth installment, and week 22 of 2017:

Sumair’s pick:

Topic: The Customer-Centric Lego Rebuild
Source: The Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jun/04/how-lego-clicked-the-super-brand-that-reinvented-itself)

Commentary: According to Forbes magazine, Lego was the most powerful brand in 2017. This is incredible considering the struggles that the company was going through in the early 2000s. There are multiple reasons for this turnaround documented in the article, but the one factor is most interesting is the concept of “Camping with Customers” wherein Lego conducts one of the largest ethnographic studies of children in the world. What’s really interesting about this customer-focused approach is that the company not only studies what toys kids want to play with, but they also spend days and days in understanding the ebbs and flows of their customers’ lives. In other service scenarios, this would equate to not only learning about how customers use your products, but how the products fit into the overall routine and livelihood of the customer.

Aly’s pick:

Topic: USPS and the Customer Experience
Source: The Buffalo News (http://buffalonews.com/2017/06/08/postmaster/)

Commentary: When you do a word association with the United States Postal Service, customer service is probably not one of the terms that comes to mind. And, this sentiment is coming from a son of a postal worker. But the USPS is one of those public services that is riddled with inefficiencies and gets a reputation for not being the most customer-friendly institution to work with (i.e., long lines, increasing prices, fewer services being offered). But what this article highlights is one leader’s focus on delivering high levels of service experience not only to the customer but also to employees. This incoming postmaster has figured out that in today’s competitive environment, you win with customer service and engaged employees. Historically, in industries that have had monopolies or few competitors, the customer experience was less of a focus. But now regardless of the number of competitors, customers have options and service organizations need to be mindful of this factor. The citizens of Buffalo should be ecstatic that they are getting someone who values customer experiences because that mindset means they will also receive value and innovations. When service organizations listen to customers, the good organizations work to improve the product or the service.

Our Three Other Articles
1- Apple unveils Business Chat, which brings customer service and shopping into iMessage (Tech Crunch, 6/9/17)
2- How plant-protein brand Vega uses Instagram for customer service (DIGIDAY, 6/6/17)
3- Harvey Nichols’ marketing boss on transforming the brand through a focus on customer experience (Marketing Week, 6/2/17)

If interested in viewing our latest data and insight, please visit: http://info.servicecouncil.com/recent-content-and-events. We have also released our event calendar for the rest of 2017, please visit http://info.servicecouncil.com/future-events-2017-sys to see what’s on the calendar and how you can participate.

We would love to have you become part of our research panel. If you would like to, please visit http://info.servicecouncil.com/tsc-join-a-research-group and select the area(s) of alignment. (* Participation in research groups is reserved for practitioners only. Consultants and technology solution providers are not allowed to join and will be referred to other ways of getting involved.)

Till next week.

Aly Pinder
Director of Member Research & Communities
ap@servicecouncil.com
@pinderjr

Sumair Dutta
Chief Customer Officer
sd@servicecouncil.com
@suma1r

LiveWorx 2017 Recap: Two-Part Series – Service Takeaways

By Aly Pinder | Perspective | No Comments

Last month, I attended PTC’s LiveWorx event in Boston, MA. Once again, this event brought together technology vendors, systems integrators, manufacturers, service organizations, the analyst community, and academia, to explore the possible as it pertains to the Internet of Things and other innovative technologies. This year was headlined by a few announcements which will be detailed by my colleague Sumair Dutta (check back for his thoughts on the event). But, I wanted to focus on the Service impact and takeaways I found from the conference pertaining to service parts management, field service, and the customer experience. Below are my three main takeaways:

Service Parts Management captured the lion share of time regarding service transformation.
This should come as little shock as over the years PTC has acquired several organizations with strong offerings in this service parts space including Servigistics, MCA Solutions, and Xelus. Though those acquisitions go back a few years, PTC is still determined to lay out the strength of their industry-specific capabilities:

o Simulation – This year’s event highlighted an increased spotlight regarding service parts simulation. During this session, an executive from Philips Healthcare which uses a PTC partner supported solution for simulation discussed not only the solution which enabled some interesting analysis techniques and modeling (i.e., Monte Carlo Simulation, network assessments) but more importantly for me was the customer talked about the team behind the data analysis. We continue to see investments being made not only in technology to support better analysis, but service-specific teams to make this data actionable for service. Recent TSC research showed that in order to improve parts focused metrics like fill rate or inventory turns, organizations needed to focus on better planning. The need to improve planning for service across a more complex service supply chain is one of the reasons that there is a great deal of interest in simulation for parts management. The emergence of analytics for service parts is a brave new world which I am interested to see evolve as machines get smarter, customers demand more flexibility in service interactions, and customer feedback comes from a higher variety of channels. With investments in teams and technology for service parts analytics, I expect to continue to see more advanced modeling and analysis come to service in future events and discussions.

o Pricing – At this year’s LiveWorx, parts pricing was centered around the connected asset with a discussion regarding supplier management and the link with pricing. A link was made between the data from parts failure gleaned from the IoT and how that could be used to not only adjust prices based on the scarcity of available replacements but also allowed service organizations to go back to suppliers to have a data-driven discussion around quality. These discussion points went well beyond the argument of moving past a cost-plus pricing model, which I believe has been settled, to explore the impact that pricing has on profitability, supplier relationships, the customer, and the field’s ability to deliver resolution.

A New Service Focus on the Manufacturing Floor Enters the Spotlight.
At past LiveWorx events, service often focused around solving an equipment failure (or predicting one) in the field. Key industries this approach focused around where heavy equipment manufacturers, medical device manufacturers, and aerospace and defense. But announced this year, PTC is looking to provide tools to support both service in the field and also move to a focus on the manufacturing floor. The PTC team feels its history in PLM, CAD, and Product Innovation will provide an integrated approach as to service needs delivered inside a manufacturing facility. There are specific requirements a facilities manager must abide by regarding servicing assets which make this focus an opportunity for PTC (i.e., quickly notifying design of failure modes). It seems like this is a natural progression to expand offerings to an install base which has unmet needs. However, I do think in this environment which is often already rich with ERP players, will demand PTC be cognizant of supplanting solutions already in place which is an area they haven’t wanted to play in. Also, a focus on the manufacturing shouldn’t mean PTC turns away from a field service market which continues to search for solutions that enable technicians and support teams to better service customers efficiently while driving the customer experience and revenues.

The Field Needs a More Prominent Role in the AR/VR Discussion.
In year’s past, field service as it relates to technicians fixing things in the field was more substantially featured. This prominence could be perceived a result of many of the customers of PTC coming from heavy equipment and manufacturing industries where equipment was out in field locations. But at this year’s event, as noted above, the focus has come inside the walls of the manufacturing facility. I see a lot of promise and activity in field service across OEMs and service organizations. In recent research tied to Augmented Reality, nearly two-thirds of organizations are evaluating AR for their service teams. These organizations are looking to improve field service performance support, diagnosis of failures, and remote support. The focus on the manufacturing floor is important, but I think the field is still a fertile ground for innovation broadly speaking but also when we specifically think about the future of AR and VR. At last year’s event, the killer app for AR was Service and PTC has the opportunity to show more use cases of service organizations using AR to promote field outcomes and value being delivered to the front line.

This year’s LiveWorx was once again a fun exploration of the future of technology for service organizations and manufacturers. I do think there is an opportunity for PTC to tie technology innovation closer to the service leader’s roadmap when thinking about getting the right information to the field team to solve more complex problems. The service story took on a lesser role at this year’s event compared to the Manufacturing use case. I would like to see more examples of how PTC service customers are leveraging the solution to deliver resolution and service outcomes. AR and VR show promise, but still being early days with this technology we need to ensure the service story connects the dots both on the manufacturing floor as well as out in the field for service.

Aly Pinder
Director of Member Research & Communities
ap@servicecouncil.com
@pinderjr

Friday Service Recap: JetBlue, Facial Recognition, Right to Repair, Self-Service and More Customer Service Stories for the Week

By Aly Pinder | Perspective | No Comments

Every week, Sumair and I will post our most interesting customer service and customer effort minded stories for the week as part of a Friday recap. We’ll comment on one story each and then add 3 others for your review.

For the seventeenth installment, and week 21 of 2017:

Sumair’s pick:

Topic: Is Customer-First Just a Smokescreen?
Source: The Low Down / Motherboard: http://www.thelowdownblog.com/2017/05/apple-verizon-caterpillar-and-consumer.html

Commentary: Right to Repair laws are being proposed and contested all across the country. Recently, New Jersey announced (link) that it was considering the pursuit of repair laws similar to those considered in New York and 10 other states. Similar laws have been shot down in Minnesota and Nebraska. This battle by manufacturers and service organizations against open repair policies is extremely interesting and points to the large market opportunity in the service and repair space. On the other hand, we see a great deal of manufacturers looking to open up more self-service resources for their customers as they look to provide better access to information to customers. Yet, this self-service information primarily pertains to account management and other requests that are costly to field in the support center or via field service dispatch. When it comes to profitable part sales or repairs, manufacturers want to limit the options and choice available to the customer for a variety of reasons (profitability, quality, reliability, and more). While one would normally assume that choice of repair options is what’s best for the customer, this might not always be the case.

I’d be extremely interested to get your thoughts as service leaders and as consumers…..Do respond with your opinions on the right to repair.

Aly’s pick:

Topic: JetBlue and Facial Recognition Boarding Process
Source: CNet (https://www.cnet.com/news/your-next-jetblue-boarding-pass-might-be-your-face/)

Commentary: Airlines have been in the news a lot lately. But, thankfully, this isn’t another airline gone wrong story. The article above actually looked at an airline being proactive in an attempt to solve a customer experience frustration – the boarding process for a flight. JetBlue is piloting a program with US Customs and Border Protection to leverage facial recognition and biometric data to get you on your flight without a physical boarding pass (either printed or mobile). I commend Jet Blue on their attempt to use available technology and data to speed up a process which rivals the example of a customer service call where you must re-enter information multiple times when you know the customer support agent already has your information stored in their knowledgebase. By the time you get to your gate, you would have already checked in online with your confirmation number, gone through security checkpoints with valid identification, and been seated in front the gate probably accessing wi-fi through your mobile device.

I don’t know if speeding up the boarding process by a few minutes will really improve my experience with the airline as there are so many other points to drop the ball along this journey (i.e., lost baggage, delayed flight, a seat back tv which doesn’t work), but at least JetBlue is trying. And, I have to commend them for attempting to ease customer effort.

Our Three Other Articles
1- Brands unclear who should take responsibility for customer experience (Marketing Week, 6/1/17)
2- Swedish bank SEB is using a ‘cognitive agent’ for customer service (DIGIDAY, 6/2/17)
3- Restaurants, bars adding technology to enhance customer experience (ABC7 News Chicago, 6/1/17)

If interested in viewing our latest data and insight, please visit: http://info.servicecouncil.com/recent-content-and-events. We have also released our event calendar for the rest of 2017, please visit http://info.servicecouncil.com/future-events-2017-sys to see what’s on the calendar and how you can participate.

We would love to have you become part of our research panel. If you would like to, please visit http://info.servicecouncil.com/tsc-join-a-research-group and select the area(s) of alignment. (* Participation in research groups is reserved for practitioners only. Consultants and technology solution providers are not allowed to join and will be referred to other ways of getting involved.)

Till next week.

Aly Pinder
Director of Member Research & Communities
ap@servicecouncil.com
@pinderjr

Sumair Dutta
Chief Customer Officer
sd@servicecouncil.com
@suma1r

Friday Service Recap: Aribnb, Partner Apps, Video, VR, AR and More Customer Service Stories for the Week

By Aly Pinder | Perspective | No Comments

Every week, Sumair and I will post our most interesting customer service minded stories for the week as part of a Friday recap. We’ll comment on one story each and then add 3 others for your review.

For the sixteenth installment, and week 21 of 2017:

Aly’s pick:

Topic: App Partnerships Focus on the Customer Experience
Source: Fast Company http://bit.ly/2qkG9Sh

Commentary: Third party applications and partnerships might just be the future for service organizations. Just think Apple. They allow third-party developers to create innovative applications and provide them a showcase on their platform. This frees Apple up to focus on future products, services, and their particular strategic advantages. In this article, Airbnb sees an opportunity to expand the value of their service to customers without the risk of new app development. This model will have an impact on the service industry as the consumer world continues to provide it with ideas and innovations. Why recreate the wheel when you can just partner? As barriers to innovation such as the move from on-premise to cloud infrastructures and mobility become more prevalent, service leaders will begin to look outside of their four walls or IT department for the next great service app. Obviously, industries like A&D or healthcare may be a bit slower to adopt this model, but I think we will see partnerships like the one Airbnb has embarked on enter the service world in the future.

Sumair’s pick:

Topic: The Mother of All Demos
Source: Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mother_of_All_Demos

Commentary: This is not necessarily a customer service story. This week at PTC’s LiveWorx, I was listening to any and all sessions that covered the topic of Augmented Reality or Virtual Reality. On one of these sessions, I was introduced to the Mother of all Demos, a name given to Douglas Engelbart’s demonstration in December 1968 where he showcased some of the basics of modern computers several years before they became the norm. What blew me away was the success of the video conferencing piece of the demo. We still struggle with video conferencing and video-based collaboration, but it seems like video will be a growing trend when it comes to collaboration within members of the service organization and between the service organization and its customers.

Our Three Other Articles
1- Starbucks Alienates Baristas in Its Effort to Improve Customer Service (Inc., 5/23/17)
2- Customer service secret to Weber Motor Company’s longevity (Victoria Advocate, 5/21/17)
3- Citizens Expect a Consumer-Quality Customer Experience (Govtech Works, 5/24/17)

If interested in viewing our latest data and insight, please visit: http://info.servicecouncil.com/recent-content-and-events. We have also released our event calendar for the rest of 2017, please visit http://info.servicecouncil.com/future-events-2017-sys to see what’s on the calendar and how you can participate.

We would love to have you become part of our research panel. If you would like to, please visit http://info.servicecouncil.com/tsc-join-a-research-group and select the area(s) of alignment. (* Participation in research groups is reserved for practitioners only. Consultants and technology solution providers are not allowed to join and will be referred to other ways of getting involved.)

Till next week.

Aly Pinder
Director of Member Research & Communities
ap@servicecouncil.com
@pinderjr

Sumair Dutta
Chief Customer Officer
sd@servicecouncil.com
@suma1r

Friday Service Recap: Succession Planning, Future Service Leaders, Alexa, Credit Cards and More Customer Service Stories for the Week

By Aly Pinder | Perspective | No Comments

Every week, Sumair and I will post our most interesting customer service minded stories for the week as part of a Friday recap. We’ll comment on one story each and then add 3 others for your review.

For the fifteenth installment, and week 20 of 2017:

Sumair’s pick:

Topic: Succession Planning at the Leadership Level
Source: WSJ https://www.wsj.com/articles/succession-planning-in-a-family-business-1494381780

Commentary: On a recent conversation with one of our Advisory Board Members, we touched upon the topic of talent. We’ve had many discussions around talent and workforce management, particularly tied to the aging workforce. But this conversation focused on talent and succession planning at the service leadership level. The Advisory Board Member was interested in understanding what service companies were doing to build the next crop of service leaders. We brought this topic up on our regularly scheduled Research Advisory Board meeting held on May 18 and got some interesting feedback on how prepared service leaders felt about the next crop of business leaders. The conversation featured 3 major takeaways:
– Succession planning is not an event (as per the article). It must take place at all times and at all levels of the business
– Future leaders must be prepared for the role that will be vs. the role that is.
– Governance and process are central to ensuring that future leaders are consistently being evaluated

We’ll be hitting on the topic of succession planning in our 2017 service workforce and talent survey. If interested in participating in that project, please join our workforce and talent research group (http://info.servicecouncil.com/tsc-join-a-research-group).

Aly’s pick:

Topic: Alexa and Paying Your Credit Card Bill
Source: Engadget https://www.engadget.com/2017/05/12/amazon-alexa-american-express/

Commentary: What is the cost of cool technology? Sometimes the sticker shock associated with the purchase of something such as a set of Bose noise-cancelling headphones, a Viking grill, or Amazon Echo may give you pause. But the value of these products, beyond their stated goals for quality and heightened experience, comes down to your perceived ROI. This article details how American Express will soon provide Amazon Echo customers the ability to monitor credit card activity, pay bills, and check a balance. As a recent buyer of an Echo, I am now constantly in search of more applications to that will further integrate Echo into my normal life. Maximizing my investment is a way to validate the purchase. And if this validation fulfills a need like paying a bill, my purchase in this product transforms from a luxury-only item to a more practical product. As seen in recent research on Service Success in 2017 trends (http://info.servicecouncil.com/report-2017-service-success-reg), service organizations will excel this year if they empower their customers with the right data and capabilities to improve their own experiences. This TSC report highlighted how a key initiative for service organizations will be to improve ease of use and reduce the effort for the customer. My Amazon example also highlights the impact of the service network, manufacturers and partners have a symbiotic relationship which demands shared goals and value creation. American Express can enhance their customer’s experiences by creating an integration with Amazon and vice versa.

Our Three Other Articles
1- Dish Offers Customer Service App in Spanish for Smartphones and Tablets (CED, 5/19/17)
2- Nordstrom Customer Experience Influenced by Multiple Touch Points (Loyalty 360, 5/18/17)
3- Systems upgrade causes shipping delays for L.L. Bean (Portland Press Herald, 4/24/17)

If interested in viewing our latest data and insight, please visit: http://info.servicecouncil.com/recent-content-and-events. We have also released our event calendar for the rest of 2017, please visit http://info.servicecouncil.com/future-events-2017-sys to see what’s on the calendar and how you can participate.

We would love to have you become part of our research panel. If you would like to, please visit http://info.servicecouncil.com/tsc-join-a-research-group and select the area(s) of alignment. (* Participation in research groups is reserved for practitioners only. Consultants and technology solution providers are not allowed to join and will be referred to other ways of getting involved.)

Till next week.

Aly Pinder
Director of Member Research & Communities
ap@servicecouncil.com
@pinderjr

Sumair Dutta
Chief Customer Officer
sd@servicecouncil.com
@suma1r

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