Annual predictions and forecasts are an interesting activity/discipline. I like to think of them as annual affirmations as strategic investments don’t necessarily change year-over-year. In some instances, organizations are looking to expand on what they’ve been doing.
Therefore, in an attempt to guide service leaders who look to us for insight and information on the overall service community, here is a list of focus areas for 2017. You can hear (on-demand link) some of these on a recent discussion that we at TSC were fortunate to have with Rusty Walther, Senior Vice President at HPE, and Tom Schlick, Vice President of Marketing and Engineering Development, at SterilMed. In addition, several of Aly Pinder’s observations are also available here.
In 2017, we envision that service business leaders will look to focus the pillars (see below) of their strategy around 4 major areas.
The Four Areas of Focus:
- Increasing Predictability
- Enhancing Efficiency
- Identifying New Opportunities
- Empowering Customers with Access and Information
These aren’t ground breaking predictions, but let me elaborate on a topic of interest and focus in each.
Focus: Executing on Predictive Models. In our research, we’ve found that most organizations have used investments in IoT or analytics to increase their efficiency. They are finally turning an eye to the predictive power of this information and in building delivery models to support predictive service. Effective delivery models (over-the-air, self-service, remote assistance, partner-based support, field support) of predictive support can be built on the existing reactive infrastructure, but do require an investment in training, communication, and change management. To that end, the service organization needs the support of other business groups, mainly R&D, IT, and Sales and Marketing.
An Emerging Area: Leveraging customer feedback data to predict retention or attrition events.
Focus: Better Use of Better Information. Over the past five years, service organizations have made significant investments in mobility to empower the field service staff and in unified desktops to empower contact center staff. In these investments, organizations have focused on making sure that all information necessary was available at the front-lines. The problem was that the information wasn’t available in context, making it difficult for front-line staff to use this information. In that, we do see organizations re-evaluate technology investments to ensure that the right information is prioritized for front-line staff. The figure below showcases the type of information that field service engineers in Europe would like to see.
Outside of technology, we actually see a great deal of investment into the structure and design of training programs and content to ensure that front-line agents are able to act on information that is made available to them.
An Emerging Area: Augmented or merged reality holds great promise in field service as it enhances the reach of a centralized expert model in terms of resources and customers that can be supported.
Identifying New Opportunities
Focus: Installed Base Management. While organizations are always on the lookout for new customers and new services to sell to those customers, there is an increasing recognition of the need to accomplish more with the existing installed base. In this, organizations are focusing their analytical minds on the portfolio of existing customers and the products and services that might be needed to increase customer value.
An Emerging Area: The development of customer care (customer success) teams that enable a consistent communication with customers to uncover pain points, challenges, and opportunities.
Empowering Customers with Information and Access
Focus: Ease and Effort. Ritz Carlton believes that a differentiated experience comes from the ability to surprise and delight customers. In equipment-centric service the word surprise isn’t looked at as a positive. Yet, there is a greater push from equipment manufacturers (and other organizations) to improve the experience that’s delivered to customers. Some of this can be attributed to consumerized experiences delivered by the likes of Uber and Amazon. Organizations we work with are looking to make it easier for customers to do business with them and this correlates with reducing customer angst and effort in seeking and acting on information. We’re just conducting some research on the topic and early (65 organizations) results point to this overall trend.
An Emerging Area: Messaging as a communication channel in on overall interaction portfolio.