Perspective Archives - The Service Council

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

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

By Aly Pinder | Perspective | No Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 If you need further information, please feel free to contact our team below.

For Attendance Inquiries: Ray Morley, Director of Member Success,, 603-289-6492
For Speaking Inquiries: Sumair Dutta, Chief Customer Officer,, 262-649-8721
For Sponsorship or Other Inquiries: John Carroll, Chief Executive Officer,, 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 If you need further information, please feel free to contact our team below.

For Attendance Inquiries: Ray Morley, Director of Member Success,, 603-289-6492
For Speaking Inquiries: Sumair Dutta, Chief Customer Officer,, 262-649-8721
For Sponsorship or Other Inquiries: John Carroll, Chief Executive Officer,, 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: 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 to learn more.

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

By Aly Pinder | Perspective | No Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aly Pinder
Director of Member Research & Communities

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

By Aly Pinder | Perspective | No Comments

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

For the nineteenth installment, and week 23 of 2017:

Aly’s pick:

Topic: Zappos & a Culture of Customer Care
Source: Forbes (

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

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

Sumair’s pick:

Topic: Taking Safety Seriously at Tesla
Source: Inc. (

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

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

If interested in viewing our latest data and insight, please visit: We have also released our event calendar for the rest of 2017, please visit to see what’s on the calendar and how you can participate.

We would love to have you become part of our research panel. If you would like to, please visit 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

Sumair Dutta
Chief Customer Officer

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.


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

By Aly Pinder | Perspective | No Comments

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

Sumair’s pick:

Topic: The Customer-Centric Lego Rebuild
Source: The Guardian (

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

Aly’s pick:

Topic: USPS and the Customer Experience
Source: The Buffalo News (

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

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

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Sumair Dutta
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