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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.

Symposium Series: Our 2017 Speakers

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | No Comments

Our 2017 Smarter Services Symposium is less than 2 months away. Last month, I previewed the theme for our 2017 event and now I’d like to do a brief introduction to some of our announced main stage speakers. We anticipate announcing a few more over the course of the next week.

Once again, the agenda for the event is built on the theme of Invigorating Service Journeys, essentially bringing together operational, customer-focused, and commercial journeys.

The following speakers have been confirmed for participation at this year’s event:

For Day 1 (September 11)

  • JOE QUITONI, Corporate Director, Culture Transformation, The Ritz Carlton Leadership Center
  • GREG SHARP, Vice President and General Manager, IMS Division, STERIS Corporation (TSC Board Member)
  • JOHN SHALABY, Vice President, Continuous Improvement, Stericycle Compliance Services
  • BOB FEINER, Senior Vice President, Global Services, Dell EMC

Concluding Day 1, there will also be a special visit from several Chicago-based world champions. More soon…..

For Day 2 (September 12)

  • JOHN ROSSMAN, Digital and IoT Strategy and Execution Leader, Author of The Amazon Way
  • RUSTY WALTHER, Vice President, Global Escalation Management, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (TSC Board Member)
  • SONYA LACORE, Vice President, Inflight Operations, Southwest Airlines
  • BRIAN DENNIS, Fmr. Vice President, Customer Experience, Kohl’s Department Stores
  • MARK GROVEUNDER, Vice President, Customer Service, Acer Corporation

For Day 3 (September 13)

  • JEFF SMITH, Vice President, Service Operations, Brady Services
  • BRUCE BREEDEN, Leader of Service Operations, Fairbanks Scales (Author of The Intentional Field Service Engineer)
  • KATIE MARTELL, On-Demand Marketer and TEDx Speaker
  • As mentioned earlier, we have several more announcements planned for the coming week. We’re also going to be spending some time introducing what each one of these great speakers is going to be covering at the Symposium. This week, we’ll be publishing blogs introducing John Rossman and Sonya Lacore.

    If interested in learning more about the Symposium, please visit our event homepage. You may also contact me directly at sd@servicecouncil.com to learn more.

Symposium Series: Invigorating Service Journeys

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | No Comments

We are now 3 months away from The Service Council’s Smarter Services Symposium (Sept 11-13, 2017, Learn More). Last month, we took a few minutes to introduce the theme for the event, Invigorating Service Journeys, on a preview webcast (Access On-Demand). In discussing the theme with speakers and prospective contributors, I’ve realized that we seem to have hit a nerve. Let me explain.

The theme for this year’s event is Invigorating Service Journeys. While it works as a stand-alone theme, it does build on the themes of past events while staying true to our broader foundational research principle of Smarter Services. The core of Smarter Services is that the forces of customer satisfaction and business profitability are not adversarial but actually work hand-in-hand. It makes business sense to satisfy, retain and grow your customers. Many have pushed this message in numerous flavors but I vividly remember this concept being shared by Joe Pinto from Cisco Systems at my very first service event nearly 15 years ago. Joe spoke of the importance of taking a customer lifecycle approach and comparing customer acquisition cost with customer retention cost. Joe continues to share his vision at service leadership events.

In reviewing the results of our 2017 service strategy and leadership benchmark, we’ve identified that leading organizations (Service Champions) are those that have embraced the concept of service journeys. For these Champions, service success isn’t limited to operational efficiency, customer-centricity, or commercial success. Its about bringing all three of these together to ensure the delivery of value to the customer, the service network, and to the internal stakeholders in the organization.

In building their service strategy and portfolios, most organizations start by tackling the operational aspects of service delivery. They then mature to focusing on customer-centric activities, typically with an initial foray into customer surveying or voice of the customer. The more mature organizations then review customer feedback and begin to re-evaluate the portfolio of service products available to customers. Bringing these three areas of focus together is the sweet spot, and thats exactly what we’re looking to investigate this September.
Definition of Service Journeys

If you are interested in Invigorating your Organization’s Service Journey, I encourage you to join us in September. You can:

  1. Request the Agenda (Link)
  2. Register for the Event (Link)
  3. Share Your Story (Link)

If you can’t wait till September, and you’d like to learn more about Service Champions and their business maturity, I encourage you to participate in our Service Leadership and Strategy Benchmark for 2017. To do so, please join our service leadership research group and you will receive an invite to participate in the strategy assessment.

JOIN THE LEADERSHIP & STRATEGY RESEARCH GROUP

Your Machines are Talking. Now What?

By Sumair Dutta | Perspective | No Comments

Data must drive action. Otherwise, all the strides that your organization has taken to get connected to equipment in the field have been taken in vain. Internally, other stakeholders will be frustrated that the connected journey isn’t yielding any results. More importantly, your customers and partners will wonder about all the value that was promised.

We can’t assume that assets and equipment are connected. While it is easier and cheaper to connect from a technology point-of-view, there are still significant security challenges that need to be addressed when looking to remotely capture performance and health information from a serviceable piece of equipment. Yet, organizations have made progress in developing a connected infrastructure, especially when it comes to net new assets. The major selling point has been value for the stakeholder to who connectivity needs to be sold.

While our research points to increasing maturity around connectivity, we still find that most organizations are in the early stages of acting on the connected data that they have. In a simplistic manner, we find that service organizations embark on 4 stages with the aid of connected data:

Analyze

At the very core, most service organizations are trying to go from right-to-left, with the right being a field service interaction, and the left being a remote resolve. In that, organizations need to be able to analyze performance data to appropriately resolve service situations when they arise (or even before they do). An analysis of service events, as driven by the products being serviced themselves, can provide organizations with a priority list of actions and investments that they can make when addressing their service response portfolio.

Respond

Eventually the hope for most organizations is to predict future failure and service events. That is a nice vision, but one that will continue to be out of reach for most even with their connected infrastructure. The issue isn’t tied solely to technology, but also to the service resources and business models available to deliver predictive service. That said, there is a great opportunity to deliver value in reactive service and support. A better understanding of the service issue can drive a better experience for the customer. This isn’t only reflected in response times or first-time fix, but also in the ability of the service organization to guide the customer through the service event. Enhancing the customer experience around service events continues to rise to the top of the action list for service business leaders.

Predict

We spoke about going right-to-left from a field support model to one with a greater incidence of remote resolves. There is another version of right-to-left that is desired by service leaders, one which involves the creation of a service event prior to its occurrence. To accommodate this, organizations need to understand and isolate the leading indicators of pending service occurrences and then have the infrastructure in place to resolve these issues prior to their occurrence.

Evolve

The first three stages are transformational in how service is delivered. Yet, they don’t significantly transform the interaction and consumption model for customers. As service organizations get a better handle of service events, service needs, usage patterns, and usage preferences, they can begin to tailor products and services to different types of customers. In this, these organizations need to evolve to focusing on the utility that their customers desire, as opposed to relying on the standard product-service purchase/transaction.

I’ll be talking about these four stages on an upcoming discussion with leaders from Microsoft and PowerObjects on June 14 (Register). If interested in learning about the connected service journeys that organizations are taking, I’d encourage you to join in.

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