News Archives - The Service Council

Welcome to the Advisory Board: Conrad Smits – Head of Global Services & Solutions Delivery, Executive Vice President Philips

By John Carroll | News | No Comments

conrad and logoThe Service Council™ is pleased to announce the appointment of Conrad Smits to its Advisory Board. Conrad replaces his colleague JT Smith who served in the same capacity for nearly 6 years making significant contributions in this capacity to The Service Council™ community and research.

Conrad is globally responsible for the development and delivery of the services portfolio of Philips. I had the chance to meet with Conrad over the last month(s) leading up to his acceptance of the position including a recent impassioned discussion on the topic of Service over a coffee in Boston. I am excited for the community to witness his contributions in his board capacity. He is thought-provoking, a real innovator and his ideas are grounded and steeped in experience having successfully led many businesses within Philips.

As a Board Member, Conrad will service in two supporting capacities:

– In support of Service Council™ Leadership in fulfilling its mission to provide an information and community platform to the Service & Customer Support community.
– In support of the broader Service Council™ community in documenting the successes of Philips Service strategy and assisting in Peer:Peer interactions.

We look forward to many contributions from Conrad moving forward. A sincere welcome!

John Carroll is CEO of The Service Council. John is a frequent author and speaker on the topic of service management and is well-known for his passion for a Smarter Services™ culture. To reach him directly, please feel free to email John at or contact him directly at +1-617-717-8300.

ADP Gets Agile: Acquires WorkMarket

By Sumair Dutta | News | No Comments

On January 22, 2018, ADP announced its acquisition of WorkMarket for an undisclosed fee (Release). WorkMarket, a TSC Customer, has been developing and offering the OS for Work for organizations to manage and support their on-demand labor strategies. Most organizations work with WorkMarket to enable the management of their contingent workforces comprising primarily of freelancers. Other organizations rely on the WorkOS to develop an overview of their entire workforce, whether full-time employee, contractor, or otherwise.

ADP provides comprehensive HCM solutions in payroll, talent, time, tax, and benefits administration. By their numbers, they support the payroll of 26 million employees in the US and 13 million employees outside the US. The company’s solutions are tapped by large global enterprises but are also used by over 400,000 small business owners.

This move marks the first major step by ADP into the gig or freelance economy, something confirmed by ADP during a recent conversation with the TSC research team. Entrance into the space in this manner makes a lot of sense given the:

  • Increased interest in the freelance work model by both employees and employers
  • Need to adapt systems to manage multiple workforce types
  • Attention that needs to be paid to compliance and regulatory needs when managing multiple workforce categories

By every measure, the interest in freelancing and contract work is increasing and raises the reality that organizations will have to manage multiple workforce types in the future. According to Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital report, 66% of companies indicated that their reliance on off balance sheet talent will grow significantly in the coming 3-5 years. Deloitte refers to the blended workforce model as the Augmented Workforce. From a workforce supply side, up to 35% of the US population (as per a 2016 study commissioned the Freelancers Union) is now choosing to freelance due to the agility and flexibility offered. And companies are happy with their freelance workers. In another major research initiative conducted by the”>Aspen Institute on the Workforce of the Future, 60% of 800 organizations polled cited the use of independent contractors in some capacity. These organizations indicated a 95% or higher level of satisfaction with their use of independent contractors and 70% reported that they were likely to increase their reliance on an on-demand and flexible labor model.

TSC sees a greater use of an ‘augmented workforce’ (we prefer the term agile workforce) in field service in the coming years. Field service is an arena where WorkMarket has a strong presence, bolstered by its acquisition of OnForce in 2017. Organizations are facing the need to ramp up their field capacity while struggling to find and train new talent. This coupled with an aging workforce issue is leading to organizations:

  • Leveraging technology tools to enhance the capacity of their existing workers
  • Investigating flexible labor models to manage work that cannot or should not be supported by highly skilled and expensive service employees

In our recently completed 2018 trends research of over 70 service leaders, 51% indicated that the workforce and talent shortage was a major external challenge impacting their business in 2018. As seen in figure 1 below, we see that this leads to internal concerns of being able to meet service demand with existing service resources. More so, service leaders are also thinking about the work allocation to their highly skilled service workforce and augmenting this workforce with a more flexible labor pool.
Internal Challenges for Service Leaders in 2018

In our 2016 research on field service outsourcing, 52% of organizations indicated that they were looking to increase their reliance on contractors in the coming 3-5 years. That said, organizations indicated that they expected approximately 30-35% of work to be managed by third-parties, thereby indicating the continued use of multiple labor models.
Workforce Reliance in Field Service - Coming 5 Years
Organizations continue to remain concerned about the brand and quality impact of a partner or contractor field service technician, especially when the service delivered is poor and not up to the standards of the service organization. Hence leading organizations have taken greater steps to further support their field service partners with:

  • Increased access to product support knowledge and training content
  • Better visibility int
    o service demand forecasts and allocation plans
  • Increased knowledge of direct customer feedback to prioritize service business process improvements

This more integrated approach requires a set of tools to match service work with the available service workforce. The ADP acquisition of WorkMarket is a step in this direction. Those using WorkMarket’s tools to manage their contingent workforces will now have the ability to rely on ADP’s broader solutions for workforce administration and management. ADP’s traditional customers will now have the ability to leverage WorkMarket’s experience and technology to integrate the needs of a freelance or contingent workforce. In addition, WorkMarket’s integrations with the likes of Salesforce and ServiceNow will also allow for improved matching between created work and available workers. This is vital in field service.

We’ve published content on the agile field service workforce (Link) or steps that organizations can take to address the retiring workforce crisis (Link). In both of these research projects we highlight the growing reliance on multiple worker types, a trend that we expect to continue in the arena of field service.

Work sourced in this post:

  1. 1- Deloitte Human Capital Trends Report 2017 –
  2. 2- The Aspen Institute Workforce of the Future Survey 2016 –
  3. 3- Upwork Global Inc., Freelancing in America 2016 –

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 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 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 platform and that Salesforce has its competing Field Service Lightning product. Yet, there is complete commitment from ServiceMax and GE towards the 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.


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 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.

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.

Friday Service Recap: Jeff Bezos on Business Success, Artificial Intelligence, Generation Z

By Sumair Dutta | News | One Comment

Every week, Aly and I will post our most interesting service-minded stories for the week as part of a Friday recap. We’ll comment on one story each and then add 2-3 others for your review.

For the tenth installment, and week 15 of 2017:

Aly’s pick:

Aly was traversing the world this week and will send in his travel report next week.

Sumair’s pick:

Topic: Customer Obsession at Amazon
Source: recode: Link

Commentary: Jeff Bezos’s annual shareholder letter hasnt reached the acclaim of Warren Buffet’s but given all the accolades that Amazon receives, and for the fact that Bezos is now the 2nd richest person person in the world (besting Buffett), its worth a read. There are many interesting areas in this letter, but the one that stands out the most is his focus on customer obsession. I really enjoy this line:

“Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf.”

In our 2017 benchmark survey of service leaders (GET INVOLVED), nearly 6 out of 10 indicated that customer-centric initiatives were their primary area of focus for 2017. While not all of these leaders are looking to invent on their customers’ behalf, they are beginning to understand that success requires more than an obsession with operational efficiency or with product development.
2017 Objectives - TSC Data

Our Three Other Articles
1- Can United Recover (Knowledge at Wharton, 4/13/17)
2- How Companies Are Using AI (Harvard Business Review, 4/14/17)
3- Amazon will pay you to stay home, work customer service (RetailDive, 3/29/17)

If interested in viewing our latest data and insight, please visit:

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

Till next week.

Aly Pinder
Director of Member Research & Communities or @pinderjr

Sumair Dutta
Chief Customer Officer or @suma1r

Friday Service Recap: Tesla, Customer Loyalty, the Banking Industry and More Customer Service Stories for the Week

By Aly Pinder | News, Perspective | No Comments

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

For the fifth installment, and week 10 of 2017:

Aly’s pick:

Topic: Sales practices threaten customer satisfaction in banking industry
Source: HousingWire:

Commentary: A customer’s trust should be invaluable to a service organization. Customer loyalty and advocacy are levels of satisfaction that most service organizations strive to achieve. This article highlights how this trust and loyalty should have been treated with reverence and not like a blank check. The customer and their best interests should always be a priority and not only when times are tough, as was the case after the financial crisis in the banking industry. To avoid some of the issues in regard to a sales team and a customer support team with different goals, organizations must look to create a culture of transparency, collaboration across functions (i.e., sales, service), and a customer first attitude. These three areas combined force a long-term vision of the organization and its responsibility to its customers, and not a short-term return.

Sumair’s pick:

Topic: Tesla Faces Customer Service Hiccups as it Ramps Up
Source: Motely Fool:

Commentary: There are several Tesla customer service stories hitting the web, but the overarching concern is if Tesla can ramp up its service operations to support nearly a half-million new customers in the next two years tied to its Model 3 release. If the company continues to follow its current model of company-owned sales and service centers, then it certainly needs to ramp up its capabilities to effectively meet service needs. This might create an untenable capital situation given the number of stores and employees needed to support a growing mass of customers. In that, Tesla might have to rethink its direct sales and support strategy and adapt a hybrid version where dealers are introduced into its network. The company currently uses certified third-party stores for cosmetic work, a strategy that has led to this current customer service storm.

Our Three Other Articles
1- McDonalds simplifies its Ice Cream machines to Cool Customer Complaints (Inc., 3/6/17)
2- Machine Learning Used to Improve Customer Service (Tech Republic, 3/9/17)
3- DFW Airport named No. 1 in customer service in North America (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 3/6/17)

If interested in viewing our latest data and insight, please visit:

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

Till next week.

Aly Pinder
Director of Member Research & Communities or @pinderjr

Sumair Dutta
Chief Customer Officer or @suma1r

Friday Service Recap: Human Voice, 24-hour Customer Support, Hulu Live and More Customer Service Stories for the Week

By Aly Pinder | News, Perspective | No Comments

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

For the fourth installment, and week 9 of 2017:

Sumair’s pick:

Topic: Human Voice and its Impact on Work
Source: MIT Sloan Management Review:

Commentary: Voice can be a powerful agent, especially when it relates to field based work. We (The Service Council) have previously commented on how voice-based interactive agents can support field service engineers get their work done. Quite often the eye shifts to augmented reality and the impact of that technology on solving field-based issues. We do believe in the long-run impact of AR in the field, the impact will be more significant in the area of training. In saying that, voice-based interactive agents can greatly assist field agents complete basic tasks of order entry and recording without actually having to spend the time on recording those tasks in a mobile application. In our direct-to-engineer surveys, we found that the time spent on administrative tasks was the most significant headache for field engineers in their day-to-day work (Read more here). Removing these headaches can have a significant impact on field-based productivity.

Aly’s pick:

Topic: Hulu adds 24-hour customer support as it goes Live
Source: Reuters:

Commentary: Competition and customer attrition have shown a bright light on the impact of good customer service. This is not unique to the world of TV services such as Hulu, and has led organizations in both B2B and B2C markets to focus on customer experience as a key differentiator. For Hulu, investments in a 24-hour non-stop customer support team should have been a no-brainer and not a result of seeing at times up to a 50% customer defection. But a lost customer isn’t the only threat, poor customer service can lead to negative social media which has a broader reach than just a factor of one. Customer support in the age of social and heightened customer expectations demands that service agents can be reached (across support channels) and they have the right answer when an issue arises. Customer service still seems to be a reaction to unmet customer needs as opposed to a strategic aspect of the service business. Businesses, regardless of industry, need to view support as a strategic differentiator and not something to be added as a response to a growing number of complaints.

Our Three Other Articles
1- Alexa could pick up your next customer service call (CNET, 2/28/17)
2- Great Customer Service Starts with a Clear Purpose (Harvard Business Review, 2/28/17)
3- How to Get Better Customer Service, and Skip the Rage (New York Times, 2/28/17)

If interested in viewing our latest data and insight, please visit:

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

Till next week.

Aly Pinder
Director of Member Research & Communities or @pinderjr

Sumair Dutta
Chief Customer Officer or @suma1r

Friday Service Recap: Data & Hans Rosling, The NFL’s Customer Service Story, and More

By Aly Pinder | News, Perspective | No Comments

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

For the first iteration, and week 6 of 2017:

Aly’s pick:
Topic: The NFL, Customer Service, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Commentary: As we put a bow on another NFL season with the exhilarating or demoralizing (depending on your perspective) Super Bowl earlier this week, it is interesting that the NFL and one team in particular understands the value of great customer service. Four out of the last five years, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have finished #1 amongst NFL teams in customer service. A cynic may say, sure they need to win in CSat because they haven’t been to a Super Bowl since 2003. But I would actually argue that the Bucs in particular and the NFL as a whole understand that they have to win first with a heightened in-person customer experience. The alternative is fans staying home on their couches sitting in front of their own 4K TV and keeping their dollars in their pockets. The Bucs have turned high levels of customer satisfaction year over year into increased attendance. Share of wallet is a concern, even for the #1 sport in the US and the customer experience is how they intend to win. Competition even impacts the NFL.

In 2017, I expect to see more activity around the customer experience and organizations in seemingly non-customer focused industries emphasize CSat and service innovation. Not only are dollars at stake, but also the desire to build life-long relationships with customers. If you think you are not in a customer-focused business, you might just be proven wrong this year.

Sumair’s pick:
Topic: The passing of Hans Rosling
Source: Multiple

Commentary: This isn’t a service story per se. It’s a data story and one that will touch most in analytical professions. It was sad to hear about the passing of Professor Hans Rosling this week. If you haven’t heard of Professor Rosling, it’s worth spending some time on his extremely popular TED Talks. I’ve included one of my favorites below:

Professor Rosling spent a lot of time arguing the importance of data and insight to combat ignorance and bias. While he applied this to socio-economic situations, his wisdom is applicable to most situations. In service businesses globally, there is an attempt to become more predictive. In that, organizations must rely on data and information to overcome biases about customer needs, desires, and expectations. As Professor Rosling states, “The first thing to do when seeking the future, is to know the present.” In a previous talk, he also cautioned against the use of general averages to drive business actions. The action aimed at 20% of a customer base might be very different when compared to that of another 20%. Yet, data is the necessary recipe for strategy.

Our Three Other Articles:

1- Chipotle to tie employees’ pay to customer service in comeback move (HR Dive, 2/9/17)
2- Dish Network’s new ad campaign wants to hear customers’ comments, complaints (The Denver Post, 2/6/17)
3- The Impending Crisis of the Internet of Things (Pacific Standard, 2/3/17)

If interested in viewing our latest data and insight, please visit: We would love to have you become part of our research panel. If you would like to, please visit and select the area(s) of alignment.

Till next week.

Aly Pinder
Director of Member Research & Communities or @pinderjr

Sumair Dutta
Chief Customer Officer or @suma1r

Drones, the Super Bowl, and Service by Machines

By Aly Pinder | News, Perspective | No Comments

The American tradition of watching the Super Bowl is even more spectacular when the game is good (sorry Falcons fans and the throngs of fans that dislike the Patriots). This is one of the last bastions of shared experiences we have in pop culture – where DVRs, cord cutting, and a general cynicism that leads “spoiler alerts” in every Twitter feed!

But this past Sunday night, most of us (based on Nielsen rating of 48.8 or 48.8% of US households watched) got to share in the fun and / or agony of defeat, together. But beyond the spectacle of the game and the comeback, we also got to share in a variety of other pop culture traditions (i.e., commercials, Half-time show). And again, as I’ve said before my posts try to avoid social commentary but instead look at the customer service and service impacts of the things around me.

The halftime show this year was very much so a meeting of technology and entertainment. If like me, you had to do a double-take when you saw the sky behind Lady Gaga light up with the American flag thinking “wow that’s cool CGI”. But I later Googled to find out those were drones!

Drones and the IoT Go Beyond the Cool

The evolution of drones (definition – any unmanned aircraft or ship that is guided remotely) in the commercial and enterprise worlds are beginning to take shape. No longer are these just cool mini-flying helicopters, they now provide the light of a fireworks shows used for entertainment, video surveillance tools for inspections and security, and a new logistics delivery channel for the supply chain. The latter two areas, I think, provide the future promise for the value of the drone – a service being delivered by a machine as opposed to a human.

The Amazon drones dropping off my 2-day shipment at my condo in Boston may not have become reality just yet, but machines are delivering a high quality of security surveillance services now. Connected machines which can capture data and can be operated remotely is nothing new but the applicability in business is becoming far-reaching. Drones are just one in a line of use cases. We’re still in early days for drones being used in everyday service delivery, and I don’t expect that to change any time soon – there are still organizations which are in the process of making the leap from paper-based processes to mobile tools which enable knowledge capture, data sharing, and resource tracking. The future promise of drones might be immense, but there is a lot of work to do to get it past the spectacular and cool to attain the business value some organizations are targeting.

Another connected technology and movement that is very relevant right now is the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things is changing the way we think about the world around us and the role that machines should play in service. Connected machines and products have changed the amount and type of data we can gather in real-time. But what is really important for business, is not the amount of data we are able to gather but the fact that we can have data access in real-time and can make decisions based on the now and not on a report cultivated three weeks ago. And this access to data also enables service leaders to proactively stage resources in advance of failures or contact customers to engage in a different type of conversation – one that occurs before there is a break or equipment failure. Without the connection between customer or operational value being created, the IoT like drones would just be a cool thing and not a valuable technology advancement. We have a current project available for your participation in regard to the IoT journey of service organizations. You can participate in a short survey here and share how your organization is ensuring that IoT isn’t just a cool technology but part of the infrastructure which is driving service in 2017.

Other Predictions for 2017 (this year will be more than just Drones)

I expect that there will be tangible service advancements this year, well beyond those seen by drones and maybe even more than the IoT. A few of my predictions are below.

– Technicians will be asked to deliver more than resolution, and will become partners with customers.
– The walls between sales, marketing, and service will begin to fade away to allow for customized service offerings and better communication of value.
– Engaged service workers will provide heightened a service experience for the end customer.

These are just a few of my predictions for the coming year. To hear more of my predictions and better still the initiatives from two service leaders from HPE and Sterilmed, please listen to our recent 2017 Preview Webcast.

The Super Bowl highlighted the future of technology which will have an impact on service as well as entertainment. But I believe the future isn’t too far off for more tangible service advancements, many of which will be aided by technology.

Aly Pinder Jr
Director of Member Research & Communities
The Service Council or @pinderjr

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