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Predictive Service is Just Part of a Proactive Support Strategy

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | No Comments

In organizations that manufacture or service equipment, there is a great push towards predictive service outcomes. With the help of more detailed data, organizations have a greater confidence in being able to predict part or equipment failure leading to a corrective, or predictive, service action.

Most equipment-centric organizations are and should be moving towards this predictive model. Yet, building and operationally executing on a predictive model is one thing, managing the internal and external change that comes with a transformed model is another. Most organizations haven’t figured this out yet. I’ve also begun to observe that organizations seem to equate predictive service with proactive service. To me, this seems inaccurate. Predictive service is and should be part of a proactive service strategy, but isn’t the only component. Desired outcomes for the product and outcomes for the customer are not always the same. Let me explain by sharing three examples of proactive initiatives being spearheaded by organizations in our community.

Proactive Escalation Management

HPE’s Rusty Walther, the VP of Global Escalation Management and a member of The Service Council’s Advisory Board, claims that no one calls him when they’re having a good day. If Walther is on the phone, something has gone wrong and it’s up to his global escalations team at HPE to react and respond to make sure that major issues are triaged and handled appropriately. However, Rusty and his team are now leveraging data to begin to identify future escalations before they happen. With the aid of an internally developed Customer Health Index (based on things that have happened) and a Customer Impact Score (things that are going to happen – updates, alerts etc.) the Global escalation team can isolate those customers that might have future service or business escalations 6 months prior to occurrence. Armed with this insight, dedicated account managers can reach out to and work with the accounts to prevent a future situation. Best of all, now the Customer’s good day is HPE’s good day.

Proactive Communication and Installed Base Management

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a short webinar (listen) on the topic of revenue growth in the aftermarket. Joining me on the webinar was Steve Evans from Hayward Gordon, a manufacturer of industrial pumps and mixers, and Mandar Parikh, VP of Product at Entytle, who has developed an Aftermarket Engagement Platform for manufacturers. Note: Entytle is a TSC partner. Hayward Gordon was looking for an aftermarket revenue boost due to a slowing product market (mining, oil and gas). Therefore, the organization decided to embark on a proactive listening and communication campaign with the aid of the solution provided by Entytle, to identify how its customers were using their products and services. Hayward Gordon prioritized customer outreach to those that owned specific pumps with high-value (high cost of failure) parts. In speaking to these customers, the organization identified numerous sales and account management opportunities tied to service contracts and service parts that helped revenue fortunes but also drove value for customers.

Proactive Quality Control

Not every predicted product failure can be rectified. It might be too expensive to do so or the value of the replacement or predictive action might not warrant the investment in time and labor. This is true for organizations supporting a high-volume of non-complex products or equipment. That said, the analysis of fault codes, part usage data, and repair procedures, can enable organizations to identify and isolate product or part quality issues. The proper recognition of these issues can enable the service organization to:

  • Proactively communicate with its customers
  • Prevent issues from occurring in future product releases

Several organizations in our community leverage this closed loop process to improve product quality and to enhance service outcomes.

The examples above highlight proactive approaches to issue avoidance, to customer communication, and to value generation. While predictive failure information can support the approaches above, it is only a piece of an overall proactive customer management plan.

We’re going to be spending more time analyzing the components of a proactive service strategy in the coming months via research, interviews, and more. If interested in sharing your perspective, please connect with me directly at sd@servicecouncil.com. If you are interested in becoming a research panelist for our proactive research survey (Jan 2018), feel free to contact me directly or to align yourself with our Leadership & Strategy research panel here.

The Agile Field Service Workforce

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | No Comments

No, this is not a blog about an exercise or stretching regime to attain an agile field service workforce. Its more of a discussion about planning for the future field service workforce. In our opinion (as The Service Council) the time is right for service leaders to rethink the field service workforce of the future given the growing options available for work distribution and workforce selection.

Agile, as a methodology, is primarily applied to software development and delivery. It is also being used by several organizations in product development and research. The first principle of the Agile manifesto is to ‘satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.’ While not all the principles of the Agile methodology are applicable to workforce planning and development, the focus on customer-centricity and responsiveness are transferable.

Field service, as a profession, continues to face disruption from enhancements in automation. While service demand for manual field service work continues to remain high and will likely remain high for the short-term, investments in technology are being driven to reduce the need for manual field service intervention or to enhance the productivity of the currently employed workforce. As the current field service workforce ages and retires, service leaders are increasingly looking to automation to replace field work hours before making the decision to hire net new workers.

Where manual intervention is necessary, field service leaders now have an increasing number of workforce options to meet service needs. This becomes extremely pertinent when workforce demand is seasonal or even unpredictable. Being able to scale up or scale down in a short period of time is something that many field service leaders are looking for in the workforce of the future. The options available fall under three major categories:

  • Employee workforce – Full-time field service employees
  • Partner workforce – Authorized service providers, dealers, distributors
  • Extended workforce – Contractors, freelancers, crowdsourcing

To manage the work allocated to these various types of workforces, or to the overall blended workforce, it is extremely vital to best align the type of work with the type of workforce. For work that requires a great deal of skill, technical competence, and training, it might be best to develop a dedicated full-time workforce. Similar work might also be distributed to authorized third-parties in regions and areas where full-time workforce is not available. The extended workforce really comes into play where there is a greater volume of repeatable and ‘simpler’ work that does not require a high degree of training or extremely high degree of technical competence. Other factors must also be considered when aligning work, such as customer importance, customer affinity for service partner, contractual obligations, and more.

From a workforce supply perspective, more workers are considering freelance models as a primary way to work, or to supplement primary income. According to a 2016 study commissioned by Upwork and the Freelancers Union, up to 35% of the total US working population (or 55 million people) is currently choosing to freelance. Agility and flexibility is a concept desired by both employers and employees. And freelancing isn’t just for the new millennial workforce. Many older workers are looking at a freelance model to continue working and supporting their past employers during retirement.

In field service, a blended workforce model will likely be the most flexible path afforded to service leaders as they navigate workforce retirement, automation investment, and evolving customer needs. To maintain a high quality of work, steps need to be taken to ensure that the right type of work is matched with the right type of worker. I’ll be discussing this topic on a webcast hosted by our partner ClickSoftware on Dec 13. If interested in hearing more, please feel free to join (Registration required).

E: sd@servicecouncil.com
Tw: @suma1r

Looking for the Next Great Technology in Field Service, Let’s Not Forget About Mobile.

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | No Comments

Augmented Reality (AR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT) are getting all the love on future technology watch lists. And they should – every organization should have a strategy around these technologies and their impact on business process, organization structure, and customer experience. This is true of manufacturers and others in the pursuit of field service excellence. However, I continue to believe that the most transformative technology for field service organizations in 2018 will continue to be mobile. Mobile can be augmented by some of the capabilities of the other technology systems, but mobile is also essential to enhancing the value of these other tools. Here’s why I believe that mobile remains untapped and must remain on the technology watch list:

Power to the Field

Three out of four field service organizations polled by The Service Council (TSC) have empowered their field agents with mobile devices and tools. I would argue that, most of these investments have been made to eliminate paperwork with the automation of work orders, billing, parts management and more. While this does enhance productivity, there is a lot more that can be done to truly empower field technicians. In a truly mobile system, most of the basic work order and other information should already be pre-filled or easy to fill with the aid of audio or video (enter AI). I have yet to see a majority of organizations actually look to leverage mobile to improve the field technician’s experience via the reduction of redundant form filling (even on a mobile device) or by making it easier to find information. We are just scratching the surface of exposing knowledge, expertise, and collaborative capabilities to field service technicians.

The Mobile Learning Platform

We think AR will significantly disrupt learning and training in the long run, but content on mobile devices will get there first. Almost every organization that we speak to is looking to develop on-demand learning tools that technicians can access on their mobile devices. These tools can be job or task-specific or they can be linked to broader career development objectives and goals. Mobile also allows technicians to record videos of service procedures and share these with the technician community. User-driven content is becoming a sought-after medium as it promotes service resolutions while also encouraging an interest in learning. In the remote world of field service, user-driven content can also help field service technicians feel connected to their broader field service team which develops camaraderie and enhances employee engagement.

The Mobile Customer

In our 2017 trends research, service leaders prioritized the need to improve the customer experience delivered via their contact center and field service teams. In field service, an improved customer experience refers to:

  • For service events. Ease of appointment setting, visibility into technician and repair status, proper billing and invoicing.
  • For the ongoing relationship. Better visibility into asset performance and easy access to self-service (account-related) or self-help (product-related) information.

Organizations, especially those that are more industrial in nature, have just begun to look at self-service capabilities for their customers especially since they recognize the cost and revenue benefits of extending these capabilities.

Data Points

This is the most underrated benefit of mobile. Organizations often believe that they need real-time (and always on) data collection to build predictive models or to feed machine learning systems. The problem is that real-time performance data is hard to get. Even with better connectivity and cheaper sensors, it is still challenging to capture real-time data. In the interim, organizations have the ability to use mobile technology to track every service need and corresponding resolution scenario (parts, skills, knowledge used). All of this failure and resolution information can be used to develop predictive service models. It can also be used to build forecasting models to service parts or to prioritize knowledge and training investments to ensure that the relevant resources are easily available for those who need them.

I believe that AI, AR, and IoT will be transformational in field service. I just think that we have yet to fully experience the transformation yielded via mobile.

I recently spoke on a webinar regarding our research on the four technology areas and their potential progress in field service in 2018. This webinar was hosted by our partners Field Technologies Online and Astea (listen on-demand). I’m happy to debate and discuss the mobile topic further, please feel free to ping me below.

Sumair Dutta
E: sd@servicecouncil.com
Tw: @suma1r

Digital Transformation, Customer Experience, and GDPR – Notes from our European Research Advisory Board

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | No Comments

We were extremely pleased to launch our European Research Advisory Board earlier this year. Our members include leaders from organizations such as BioTek, Canon, Fujitsu, Konica Minolta, Leica Microsystems, LiuGong Europe, Honeywell, IMAX Corporation, Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, Schneider Electric, and Vitec.

On Oct 5 2017, we hosted our quarterly conversation with several board leaders and the following topics were top of mind.

Global Consistency

Large, global organizations are always looking for that fine balance between global governance and local execution. This is vital in ensuring that best practices are shared across geographies while local requirements and needs are prioritized. With multiple language and cultural preferences in compact geographic area (not accounting for Russia), Europe presents a standardization problem for many organizations operating across the region. Yet, there is an increasing focus from organizations to standardize primarily focusing on product portfolio, product pricing, and contractual commitments across the region.

Digital Transformation

While investments continue to be made in the development of connected products and services, organizations are heavily reviewing what can be done with the aid of connected data. Internally, the focus continues to remain on using connectivity to develop predictive and responsive service models, but we see more organizations looking to build new products and services on the foundation of connected assets. Externally the focus remains on using connection to enhance the customer experience delivered to all levels of service customers, with the intent of driving long-term customer commitment.

Customer Experience

Our 2017 leadership and strategy research indicates a greater focus on customer experience from organizations that have traditionally been very operationally-oriented. For most of the organizations on our European Advisory Board, customer-centricity is a key component of their 2017 and 2018 business strategies. The desire now is to convert strategy into action and to measurably enhance customer journeys and overall experience. Immediate or short-term customer experience actions are focused on:

  • Understanding and meeting customer needs (both expressed and unexpressed)
  • Improving ease and effort of interaction, primarily via online services or self-support.
  • Establishing a focus on consistency of experience, from front-line to back office to self-service.

GDPR on The Mind

Our conversation also delved into the upcoming enforcement of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR and its counterpart the Data Protection Bill in the UK) in the EU on May 25, 2018 and the impact of that on overall businesses. Service leaders on our Advisory Board had varying levels of involvement in GDPR preparations but noted that the impact could be significant. Responses were mostly focused on:

Data Privacy Audits are Necessary

For those organizations with a large portfolio of service interactions, it is vital to perform business process audits (kick the tires) to determine which areas of security, data management, and privacy need to be strengthened. In some instances, the use of cloud-based software tools raised the question of where customer data is/would be
stored to ensure appropriate attention to the new regulations.

Initiatives are Led by HR and IT, but Service Does Touch the Customer

At most organizations, GDPR preparation paths were being led by IT (security, governance, data management) and HR (training, documentation). Yet, there was wide recognition of the role that service plays in accessing, storing, and updating customer data, and the potential liability assigned to poor customer data management.

Front-Line Agents Must Pay Attention to Process

As part of current (or planned) audits, there was a desire from leaders to ensure that front-line service professionals, especially field service agents, were trained and updated on the importance of securing customer data and in taking the necessary steps to ensure that customer data was protected and secure.

Compliance Already in Place

Many organizations indicated that their internal data security and privacy standards already met or surpassed those mandated by GDPR and that this initiative was more of a refresher to ensure attention and compliance across the organization.

At the end of November, we’ll get to spend some more time with our Advisory Board and will dive into topics around artificial intelligence, 3D printing, and 2018 business growth. If interested in joining our European Research Advisory Board, please contact:

Aly Pinder, Jr.
Director of Research
E: ap@servicecouncil.com

Industrial Strength Field Service: ServiceMax and GE Digital’s Vision from Maximize 2017

By Sumair Dutta | News | No Comments

Conference season is heating up. On the heels of a very successful 2017 Smarter Services Symposium, I had the opportunity to attend Maximize 2017 in Las Vegas (Note: If interested, you can donate to support the victims of the recent tragedy via the following page). Maximize is the annual user, customer, and prospect conference held by ServiceMax, from GE Digital, and the Las Vegas event was the first of three global Maximize events. Its also worth noting that GE Digital’s Mind & Machines event is scheduled for a few weeks from now and we wonder how long Maximize will continue in its current form. I hope it stays.

My summary notes and takeaways from Maximize are split into two sections.

Section 1: Future direction and plans from ServiceMax, from GE Digital
Section 2: Learnings and Takeaways from customer presentations and sessions.

Section 1: Company and Product Direction

Getting Tighter with GE Digital

Dave Yarnold, CEO of ServiceMax, highlighted that the vision for ServiceMax was to enable their customers to deliver “Zero Unplanned Downtime’.
ServiceMax, GE Digital Vision
In the realm of vision-related statements, Bill Ruh, CEO of GE Digital, echoed that the intent and plan was to enable customers to use GE Digital’s capabilities in Asset Performance Management (APM) to optimize and make the machine more efficient, and to use the capabilities of ServiceMax to make people (field service engineers) more efficient. Both leaders laid out the Predix + APM + FSM vision for GE Digital, one that aligns to our commentary around the acquisition earlier in the year. The combined offering is essential to increasing solution appeal to industrial manufacturing and other heavy verticals where GE Digital has a bigger footprint. We were made privy to the fact that the GE business units have experienced nearly $100M of enhanced productivity because of their usage of ServiceMax and that it was now time for these enhancements to be extended to GE Digital customers. It was also noted that none of ServiceMax’s 107% year-over-year revenue growth included customers acquired via the GE Digital customer list or funnel. The company is currently investing heavily in the sales, marketing, and its R&D infrastructure, to target customers in Industrial manufacturing, Oil and Gas, Energy, Mining, and more.

Vision Drives Product Strategy

Rei Kesai, ServiceMax’s SVP of product, keynoted Day 2 of Maximize and shared how the strategic vision was being translated into product roadmap and release cycles. In Winter 17 (press), the major push was on Optimization in real-time, an area where ServiceMax had originally chosen to partner with ServicePower. In Summer 17 (press), the focus was on the integration between APM and FSM for condition-based maintenance. In Fall 17, the focus will be on Machine Learning and some initial use cases for AI in field service. In my opinion, there was a concerted effort made to show off the enhancements made to dispatch and scheduling, areas that have traditionally been the talk of field service software companies but have recently been pushed into the background while more interesting topics like IoT, AI, or AR get all the attention. To dig deeper into this requires a little review of ServiceMax’s overall journey. When ServiceMax was originally introduced, one of the biggest strengths of the solution was that it was a simple solution built on the force.com platform. In time, the solution built on its initial traction with a great deal of focus on the mobile front-end and the mobile user in terms of UI, experience, and workflow. This was a great way for the organization to attract a growing list of organizations interested in automating field service workflows while allowing for a link with back-end CRM. As the customer base grew, and so did the solution needs, ServiceMax invested heavily in strengthening the back-end of its solution offering tied to scheduling, dispatch, parts, and installed base management. The attempt, echoed in messaging and marketing, was to exhibit that the solution was enterprise-ready for the likes of organizations such as Pitney Bowes, Becton Dickinson, and Johnson Controls.
ServiceMax, Product Roadmap
Now, the desire is to show an industrial-ready solution, which takes us back to the need for scheduling, planning, and work optimization. There is still a great deal of inefficiency built into traditional work triage, scheduling, and dispatch operations. While investments in the Internet of Things (IoT) and AI can assist in the reduction of these inefficiencies, maturity in business readiness is needed to accelerate these results. In parallel, organizations need to continue to shore up their processes which can then be augmented with the aid of various forms of machine, data, and business intelligence.

(Note: We did see a demo of a dispatch console and an updated mobile application. It was also mentioned that mobile updates would be made more frequently as a result of a more rapid innovation cycle. These updates would be decoupled from the back-end force.com updates. In speaking of the mobile front-end, Athani Krishnaprasad, ServiceMax’s Chief Strategy Officer, also spoke of the desire to fine tune ServiceMax’s capabilities to accelerate the productivity benefits to the field. This aligns with our vision of mobile maturity in field service, something that we have written about quite extensively. I can’t agree with this vision enough.)

What About the Customer?

We heard about the optimization of machines with APM, and the optimization of field service resources with FSM, but what happens to the end customer? As the chart below signifies, service leaders are greatly concerned with the end customer experience regardless of the channel of contact (phone, chat, remote, field).
Leadership 2017 Initiatives
This requires some back-end knowledge of the customer and not just the asset being serviced. Customer data and interactions are typically a forte of CRM. Both Bill Ruh and Dave Yarnold claimed that CRM-related functionality will continue to be the realm of partners, with the biggest being Salesforce. The relationship with Salesforce will continue to be a major talking point since ServiceMax is built on the force.com platform and that Salesforce has its competing Field Service Lightning product. Yet, there is complete commitment from ServiceMax and GE towards the force.com platform and there are no secret projects towards rewriting the architecture of the solution on a different platform.

Artificial Intelligence in Field Service

As is the case with Augmented Reality, everyone must throw their hat into the AI game. ServiceMax’s approach is to look at specific use cases in which machine learning, a component of AI, can be relevant to solving major field service problems. From a product point of view, the initial push from ServiceMax is in the field of dispatch to provide dispatchers with predictive service completion windows. I’ll have more to say on AI in field service and support, but the biggest issue I see is that buying organizations see AI as a net new technology purchase that requires a separate bucket of funds and evaluation criteria. For that, an attempt to introduce AI into an organization, especially one that has just been beaten over the head with mobile and IoT, is met with a “we’ll get to that later” approach. If I have it right, AI is more of an infrastructure play for the digital service organization and requires a long-term vision that is supported with short-term incremental investments. These incremental investments focus the removal of challenges in getting work done at the triage, dispatch, or field level. Once these investments have been accepted and become a part of the day-to-day, deeper learning and perception tools will garner interest from participating service organizations.(If interested, do participate in our AI for Service survey here)
AI in Service Usage

Section 2:Session Takeaways

What Happens when All Else Fails?

It was a special treat to hear Gene Kranz and Jim Lovell speak about their time in the space program and during Apollo 13. In the context of Apollo 13, It is commendable to think about all the things that these two individuals and their teams did right when everything else went wrong. It raises an interesting question about the future of field service where field service labor will become increasingly reliant on automation for diagnosis, support, and resolution. Will our field technicians have enough product knowledge (mechanical, electrical, digital) to solve service issues when everything else fails?

LASER Focused

Gary Johnson from Pitney Bowes shared the increasing role that service plays in an overall customer engagement strategy, especially in an organization that is transforming. He also introduced the customer lifecycle approach of LASER – Land, Adopt, Service, Engage, and Renew, that serves as the basis for Pitney Bowes’s investments and decision-making.

Man and Machine

Mark Drummond, President of LiftOne LLC, highlighted the steps that his organization is taking to address the existing (and future) technician shortage in several industries. The average age of his field service workforce is 56 years old and he must ensure that his hiring, training, planning, resource allocation, and automation strategies are aligned to meet the service needs of tomorrow. For his organization, field service automation investments can’t only be made with short-term productivity goals in mind, but they need to account for the longer-term workforce, customer, and organizational needs.

That’s a lot for a short update. If you were at Maximize, feel free to reach out and share what you saw/heard. We look forward to continuing to track the progress of ServiceMax as part of the overall GE Digital family.

Symposium Series: NCR’s Sophia Weatherby Williams on Designing Customer Experiences

By Sumair Dutta | News | No Comments

Our Smarter Services Symposium kicks off in less than 1 week and we’re in the final planning stages. Our thanks to all our great speakers for their interest and dedication to making this the finest keynote line up yet. As mentioned previously, we still have a few major keynote announcements to make. Today, we’re pleased to announce that Sophia Weatherby Williams from NCR Corporation will be bringing down the house as the PM keynote on our Day 2 roster. Sophia serves as the Vice President and General Manager for the Telecom and Technology Business Unit at NCR Corporation.

Sophia’s session will focus on the concept of customer experience design and how NCR has reinvented and continues to re-invent the experience that it delivers to its B2B customers. Customer experience and service design aren’t new concepts, but have typically been embraced to a greater degree in the B2C world. In research conducted by The Service Council in 2015, 20% of respondents indicated that they were focused on customer experience design as a core component of their overall CEx programs.

Whether organizations like it or not, it is difficult to survive now without focusing on the customer experience. And focus on the customer can no longer be relegated to an online survey program. In 2017 polling of service business leaders, changing customer expectations were the most disruptive factor driving leadership action. With that, more organizations were injecting resources into broader CEx practices and processes. We’ve seen an uptick in the focus on Voice of the Customer, Customer Segmentation, and Journey Mapping practices, all which are components of customer experience design.

L-ExternalChallenges

At its core, Customer Experience Design is the practice of designing products/services with the focus on the quality and thoughtfulness of the user experience. Every touchpoint within the customer’s interaction with a product/service is designed to deliver experiences based on the brand’s promise. (Source: UX Magazine, February 2016). There are two important things to consider here. The first is the focus on the user experience regardless of the type of interaction. The 2nd is the alignment of the user experience with the organization’s brand promise. Most definitions of CEx design only focus on the first piece.

We’re excited to hear about NCR’s customer experience journey and how they deliver a Best-in-Class experience to their customers. We’re also looking forward to hearing about the NCR focus on the design and development of unique and thoughtful experiences for its customers. If interested in hearing Sophia’s talk, please join us at the Symposium this year. Attendance passes can be acquired here. If interested in attending a specific day of the event, please feel free to reach out directly to myself or to Ray Morley, Director of Member Services, at rm@servicecouncil.com. And finally, if you won’t be able to make it to Chicago September 11-13, please join our Symposium Recap webcast where we highlight the key learnings and takeaways from the event.

Installed Base Revenue Growth: Lessons from Hayward Gordon

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | No Comments

At The Service Council, we get to track major trends impacting the service areas of manufacturing and other businesses. For the past 3-5 years, we have consistently seen the following priorities rise to the top of the service leader’s list.

  1. Enhance the level of predictability in service operations and customer response
  2. Provide a differentiated customer experience
  3. Support revenue growth initiatives

We find that most organizations now have revenue objectives for their service and support businesses. As seen in the image below, these revenue pressures arise as the organization is looking to combat competition or commoditization in the product side of the business. Service is often seen as a source of revenue as well as a direct contributor to profit margins.
TSC Data - The Focus on Service Revenue
Most organizations, even those with revenue programs in place, continue to struggle with the identification and prioritization of revenue growth opportunities. It’s not that there isn’t enough data to dissect and analyze, it’s just that there is limited guidance on what data to sift through and prioritize. In addition to making sense of revenue opportunities, organizations often stumble with change management in ensuring that revenue opportunities are followed up on by dedicated sales or account management.

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a short webinar (listen) on the topic of revenue growth in the aftermarket. Joining me on the webinar were Mandar Parikh from Entytle and Steve Evans from Hayward Gordon. If you don’t know Hayward Gordon, they are a manufacturer of industrial pumps in mixers and have been in business for more than 60 years. You can hear more about their story on the webinar recording (listen), but it echoes that of several service organizations that we speak to. Their primary customer market (mining, and oil and gas) has experienced and continues to experience a slowdown and the company was looking to service or the aftermarket to uncover new revenue opportunities.

In their pursuit of these opportunities, the company embarked on a customer connectivity program, aimed at being more proactive in understanding customer needs. The intent of this program was to listen to customers and to consistently connect with them to offer value. To prioritize which customers to connect with, the organization contracted with the team at Entytle to review available aftermarket and customer data to identify potential opportunities for contact coverage, parts sales, and more. Once again, more about the path taken and results seen can be captured on the webinar. What I found most amazing (and valuable) were Hayward Gordon’s keys to success. These keys can be applied to most projects, but they become extremely pertinent in projects where data analysis serves as the precursor for a modified approach around customer outreach.

  1. Attain Senior Management Buy In. In any revenue-associated project that touches sales, one must get the buy in of sales leadership. If it’s not a priority of sales leadership, then it won’t be a priority for sales personnel.
  2. Focus the Effort. Hayward Gordon’s initial foray into opportunity identification was too broad, required too much data, and yielded too many pathways. The company found its rhythm when it narrowed down its focus to 3 primary types of pumps with proprietary and high dollar value parts. This allowed to team to specialize its approach to and discussion with customers.
  3. Know Who to Talk To. Different customer stakeholders have different obligations and pain points. The equipment operator cares about different things when compared to a plant or site manager. It’s vital that sales or account management approach the right customer in proactive communication and outreach programs.
  4. Communicate to Change. Proactivity around customer communication and value can’t just be a one-time program. It must be built into the culture of the sales and account management organization. To attain this, it is vital that the organization consistently make its team aware of the value delivered (to the customer, to the organization, to the individual) via an investment in customer approach.

You can hear more of the Hayward Gordon story and see some of our research via the on-demand version of the webinar (listen). If interested in learning more about our research on service revenue or other pertinent topics to the service leader, feel free to reach out to me at sd@servicecouncil.com

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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