News Archives - The Service Council

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

What’s New in 2017? Ritz Carlton Culture Workshop & More

By John Carroll | News, Perspective | No Comments

As we put a close on 2016, we felt it was necessary to briefly, yet appropriately, thank The Service Council community (you) while calling attention to major milestones reached this year and those to come in 2017. In 2016, we’ve achieve so much with your support, including:

  • Research Panel grew to 33,000 global customer support executives.
  • Solution Partners grew to 20 of the leading technology innovators across their respective domains.
  • Advisory Board grew with the additions of newcomers Mike Romeo (VP of Field Operations at Xerox Technical Services), Danilo Elez (SVP of Service, Americas at KONE Corporation) among others.
  • The Service Council Team grew with the addition of Aly Pinder announced as Director of Member Research & Communities.

To our Advisory Board, Solution Partners, Contributing Partners and to the broader Research Panel Community, it is with a tremendous amount of gratitude that we thank you for supporting The Service Council in helping to foster the community and information platform we aim to create to the global services, customer support and customer experience community. With your support we are filling this promise.
As we wrap 2016 and usher our way into 2017, The Service Council team is anxious to hit the ground running with several new initiatives we feel will continue to broaden our value to the community, including:

  • Research Groups organized around 9 categories (Leadership & Strategy, Field Service, Parts, Data, Customer Experience, Sales & Marketing, Workforce & Talent, Safety and Technology). We feel this will assist in building sub-communities with specialized interest around certain functional and strategic parts of the customer support organization.
  • Subject Matter Experts organized by Research Group and recognized for expertise/experience in a certain area of the service and customer support business but also for their willingness to support their peers through facilitated dialogue supported by The Service Council.
  • 2017 Smarter Services Symposium announced to be held September 13-15th in Chicago (Swissotel).

We are very pleased to announce that the Ritz Carlton Leadership Center will return to the 2017 Symposium. At last year’s Symposium, we welcomed Joseph Quitoni, Corporate Director of Culture Transformation at Ritz-Carlton, who delivered an impassioned speech on Memorable Customer Experience. This coming year, Ritz-Carlton will both address the main conference delivering a keynote presentation while also hosting a Culture workshop which attendees can partake in. We encourage you to RSVP early as this workshop is sure to be in high demand. To reserve a seat, please follow this link and Ray Morley, Director of Member Success will assist in confirming.

Thank you once again for an outstanding year and wishing you a happy holiday!

John Carroll
The Service Council or +1.617.717.8300

The Killer App for IoT is Service: GE Digital Acquires ServiceMax

By Sumair Dutta | News | No Comments

As GE prepares for its Mind and Machines Internet of Things (IoT) conference, it added an interesting item to the agenda with the purchase of field service powerhouse ServiceMax for $915m (Press Release). ServiceMax has previously had a footprint in several GE businesses (since Sept 2010) and now GE expects to connect and extend its Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) vision and Predix platform into the field.

It’s long been rumored that ServiceMax would eventually be bought. Initial signals pointed to Salesforce, the platform on which ServiceMax was built. As Salesforce began the pursuit of its own field service journey, most eyes turned to PTC. Yet, $900m or so seems like an asking price that PTC was unlikely to swallow given its wave of IoT and service investments.

Our First Take (of Many)

First and foremost, this is a big field service play. Recent acquisitions of enterprise field service software providers have been in the $400-$500m range and this is quite an investment by GE Digital. GE’s transformation from industrial giant to digital partner has been well documented and the company most recently purchased Meridium and its Asset Performance Management capabilities. Where Meridium excels in enhancing maintenance processes within the four walls of a manufacturing facility, ServiceMax offers a similar value proposition for assets in the field. The same type of machine performance data and intelligence can be used to:

  1. Improve reactive service and maintenance opportunities
  2. Develop predictive support models
  3. Develop new products and services (driven by service information)
  4. Develop new relationship models (output-based, consumption-based)

ServiceMax’s enterprise customers and prospects will greatly benefit from the added investment, especially in the areas of connected field service and analytics. A number of these enterprise organizations are looking for assistance in the development and execution of their IoT roadmap and strategy, and the GE Digital-ServiceMax combination will likely offer the key components in a productized form. (Note: ServiceMax and PTC currently offer a connected service product for which the organizations have recently signed early customers)

For GE Digital, the purchase opens up IoT-ready verticals in medical devices, building services, and Industrial Manufacturing. While many within these industries already have pockets of an IoT strategy (primarily for reactive service or predictive maintenance), these organizations are making build vs. buy decisions on their future IoT roadmaps and are looking for partners to help them get started.

From a broader IoT perspective, GE’s investment points to the fact that improved service and maintenance processes still offer the clearest form of ROI when it comes to IoT investments. While IoT and IIoT holds a lot of promise, very few organizations have really been able to scale into servitized business and operating models. This takes time. For a number of organizations, servitized models only work with products that were designed and manufactured with connectivity in mind. But in a world where customers continue to hang on to legacy equipment, there is work to be done. (See challenges below)
IoT Challenges
Yet, organizations understand the language of efficiency. Field service is still bogged down by manual processes and even though mobile devices are common in the hands of field service teams, most organizations have only leveraged mobile capabilities to replace paper-based forms. A greater use of mobility promises further efficiency gains and this continues to be the major selling point of mobile applications even though the revenue and customer experience ramifications are significant. Most organizations want to get some quick wins from a cost-saving and efficiency point-of-view before they have the bandwidth to invest in other capabilities.

It is the same with IoT. Organizations want to use enhanced intelligence to reduce unnecessary field service visits. In the case where field service is necessary, service organizations want to make sure that first-time fix rates are high. Moving the needle on a first-time fix from low 70s to the high 70s or mid 80s can have significant cost ramifications (as seen from our data below). These are easier, more measurable wins that can be pointed to as organizations collect more and more data to enable more predictive service algorithms. It also offers a greater deal of time for service organizations to implement a digital-first strategy, one where products are designed, manufactured, and sold with connectivity in place.
Cost of Field Service
The vision of IoT is easy to understand. Converting that vision into action has been difficult for a number of organizations for many reasons (unclear and overlapping IoT landscape, poor transformation roadmaps, a lack of connected solutions). Connected service or connected manufacturing products offer organizations a way to reap the early benefits of IoT while focusing in on a long-term digital strategy. We anticipate that GE Digital’s purchase of ServiceMax will offer service and manufacturing organizations the opportunity to scale with focused IoT-enabled products while planning out an overall digital strategy.

We will have additional comments regarding this over the coming weeks. We’re currently in the throes of an IoT-related research project where service organizations are telling us about their strategies to address key IoT-related challenges. If interested in participating, do reach out to me.

Update 1: Had the chance to speak with ServiceMax co-founder Athani Krishnaprasad. I’ve known Athani for a long time and it was great to hear the excitement about the future of ServiceMax, as part of the GE brotherhood. He did confirm that the worlds of field service and asset management (ServiceMax and Meridium) are converging and that GE’s vision is to bring together the manufacturers and consumers of industrial machines with the aid of data. In a connected world, output and performance are responsibilities of both parties and it won’t just be the manufacturer’s field service engineer who has access to service information. The customer (plant manager, facility manager) will also play an increasingly informed role in service decision-making.

Update 2: We’ve spoken to several ServiceMax and ThingWorx customers for their comments on the acquisition. Most welcomed the investment in field service and in ServiceMax’s capabilities but believe that it’s too early to tell. Others were unclear on how the GE Digital-PTC-ServiceMax trifecta will work moving forward. We anticipate that there might be more on the horizon at Minds and Machines.

2016 Smarter Services Symposium Observations: Service is Humanity

By John Carroll | News, Perspective | No Comments

I love to gather my thoughts following our annual Smarter Services Symposium and reflect on the excitement which I believe resonates beyond the event to the broader service and customer support market. My colleagues will cover the strategic and tactical observations stemming from the event in a series of blogs which will be published in the next week+ leading up to next week’s Smarter Services Symposium Recap Webcast (Please Join Us September 27th @ 11am Eastern: Complimentary Registration). To kick this off, Sumair Dutta authored an initial summary blog (Three Days of Service Learning: Three Initial Takeaways). Our blogs and coverage of the event will aim to help you assimilate the ideas, methods and strategies we uncovered at the event which we believe to be groundbreaking.

My observations form the event are more at the Macro-level. In general, Service, Customer Support, Customer Experience is good for Humanity. In fact, it is Humanity. This is something that has been building with me for some time. I wrote a blog about an experience my daughter had at the Dentist claiming this same position (Is Customer Success Good for Humanity?). The answer is unequivocally YES!

At the 2015 Symposium, Erica Javellana, Speaker of the House of Zappos! delivered a keynote presentation (Download WOW! With Service). She talked about many things which have enabled Zappos! to stake its claim as a worldwide leader in customer success. The one story which hit home for me was the night before Christmas and how everyone within the company stops their daily job (executive management included) and answers inbound phone calls from customers attempting to squeeze in last minute shopping. During one of the most glorious, love-filled, however, stressful holiday seasons of the year (December), their entire team does one thing: Serve Its Customers!

At the 2014 Symposium, we welcomed Wayne Peacock, EVP of Member Experience at USAA, who discussed USAA’s support of its Customers (those who serve our Country in Uniform and their families). He discussed a story of a retired military veteran who was suffering from PTSD and how USAA aided in him finding a path back to happiness following his return to civilian life. Our Veterans deserve this support and much more for their sacrifices.

At this year’s Symposium, there were 3 stories told by Keynote & Guest Panelists which continued to raise the importance of Service as a function of Humanity.

Disney: “Snow White & The Lost Princess” (Credit: Doug Lipp, Disney University)
The story goes that a family brought their daughter to a Princess Lunch at a Disneyland Resort. snow-white-3 The daughter, dressed in a new Snow White gown, was of course very excited. As the Princesses entered the Lunch, the daughter, overwhelmed with the stimulation from the noise and activity given she was autistic, ran from the Lunch. This was a normal reaction when she was thrust into situations with too much excitement which she responded to in her usual manner: by launching into a catatonic state only to become more agitated when anyone tried to help her (this period usually lasting 60-90 minutes, or about the length of the Princess Lunch). Witnessing this, Snow White walked out to the family saying, “I understand we have a lost princess.” After adopting the little girl’s body language, not pressing the little girl to correct her behavior, within a few minutes the little girl recovered, and she and Snow White enjoyed an energetic dance on the patio.
Takeaway: How do you and your team connect with Customers during those trying moments?

Panel: “Employee Safety”
We were pleased to host a Panel session on Day 1 tied to the topic of Employee Safety featuring executives from KONE (Elevators), Ledcor (Construction) and RK Mechanical (HVAC). We all appreciate that workplace incidents can have a dramatic impact on Organizations and Customers, but this can also lead to incidents beyond the workplace. Chris Westlake of RK Mechanical shared a story of a gentleman on his service technician staff in a previous role who committed suicide under his management, the result of which was devastating to the family. The Service Council conducted a research effort earlier this year surveying Field Technicians (we will launch a similar survey geared towards the European market in Q4). One of the top 3 answers choices to the question “What is the worst part of the job?” was, “Feeling Isolated”. I was pleased that “Safety” was announced as one of the first of our mini-councils which we will be covering with greater consistency moving forward, building off our H1 2016 research efforts which included an Employee Safety Survey, IdeaShare and Webcast.
Takeaway: We always ask the question “Do you know your Customers?”. I challenge you similarly, “Do you know your Employees?”.

Ritz Carlton: “Joshie the Giraffe”
joshie-the-giraffeThe story goes that a little boy mistakenly left his stuffed giraffe “Joshie” at the Ritz-Carlton he was vacationing at with his family. The heartbroken boy (and Parents), called the resort after returning home. Eventually, the staff found Joshie in the laundry room and his safe return to the boy began. In advance of this, Ritz Carlton took the time to stage Joshie in relaxing and fun moments, enjoying an extended vacation which eased the boy’s mind. Bravo! Ritz Carlton…you not only saved the little boy, but you also saved the parents from sleepless nights, which as a parent of 4, I can assure you was appreciated.
Takeaway: Are you emphasizing creativity as a means to measure the performance of your staff? Qualitative metrics, while often times difficult to measure and subjective, should be equivalently weighted to traditional quantitative metrics (First Call/Visit Fix Rates, Customer Retention, CSat, etc.).

I ask you this: Is your company’s mission statement tactically focused on the problems your products/ services address? Or does it talk about making the World (Employees & Customers) better? And while a mission statement is something to preach, are you practicing it? If not, as Leaders of the Service & Customer Support Business, I urge you to. A culture of Service begins with the example which you set.

The Service Council announced the dates and location of its 2017 Smarter Services Executive Symposium. Please join us September 13-15th in Chicago, IL USA at the Swissotel (Save Your Seat). To inquire, please reach Ray Morley, Director of Member Success (E: or M: 603-289-6492).

Field Service Performance: Consumer Ratings

By Sumair Dutta | News | No Comments

Note: This is the final piece in our blog series on consumer ratings and perceptions regarding field service. The first two can be found here and here (Part 1, Part 2). To learn more, join our summary webinar where we talk about the key research findings.

Drum Roll Please. Well, not to be too dramatic, but we’ve set the stage for the final results from our field service performance appraisal projects. Remember, US consumers are the appraisers.

In determining final scores, we asked consumers to rate their most recent field service interactions. These interactions took place in 2015 as the surveying was done in early 2016. We used a simple 1-5 scale across all areas of evaluation, where 1= extremely poor and 5= excellent.

Pre-Event Ratings

For the pre-event experience, 72% of consumers provided a ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ rating. The remaining 28% indicated that the pre-event experience was ‘poor’ or ‘as expected’. Time of technician arrival was indicated to be the major determining factor of the pre-event rating. Time to receive the field service appointment and the overall length and convenience of the service appointment were also deemed to be important factors in the determination of a pre-event rating.

On-Site Ratings

When it came to the on-site rating, we investigated several areas:

  • Convenience and Effort
  • Effectiveness
  • Experience
  • Value for Money
  • Overall Rating

From an overall point-of-view, three-fourths of the 650 people polled evaluated their field service experience to be ‘good’ or ‘excellent’. Most of the remaining population believed that the experience was ‘as expected’.

The major determining factors when it came to on-site ratings:

  • Effectiveness of field visit (did the situation get resolved). This had an extremely significant impact on overall ratings. In the case of successful visits, 79% of respondents rated their experience as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’. Only 28% did so when the field visit was unsuccessful.
  • Cost of field service visit. In the above areas of evaluation, ‘value for money’ received the lowest scores. However, respondents weren’t only concerned with the cost of field service visits, they were also concerned with the communication of that cost. For instance, those consumers that received a cost estimate prior to their service visit were a lot more satisfied with their overall field service experience when compared to those that did not receive an estimate.

Field Service Ratings - On-Site

Post-Event Ratings

And finally, from a post-event point-of-view, most consumers were fairly ambivalent with regards to the standard follow-up survey process. That said, those that were engaged additionally were much more satisfied with their field service experience. This additional engagement could have been a simple follow up wherein the customer was asked how his or her purchase was working out. Interestingly, those with an additional follow up were also more likely to recommend their field service businesses in the case of a positive experience.

In summary, field service gets a pretty good report card from US consumers. That said, there are significant untapped opportunities to improve the overall customer experience. Most of these opportunities can be realized with small changes to process. That said, it takes a cultural recognition of the importance of customer experience to initiate these changes.

In our opinion, it can no longer just be about effectiveness. Effectiveness is expected. Why send someone out when they can’t fix the problem in the first place? When paired with effectiveness, an outstanding field service experience is a major differentiating factor for field service organizations.

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