Evolving Service for Competitive Advantage

The search for the next dollar or sale seems to be an ever more difficult journey for many businesses. Across industries and company revenue strata, the challenge of sustaining differentiation continues to baffle many.

At this year’s Field Service USA event, the discussion amongst senior service executives wasn’t about what was the latest scheduling tool or the next tablet for their techs, the conversation on stage and in the halls was about how we can get closer to our customers and differentiate from our peers. This discussion was not resolved in April in Palm Springs. As seen in Aberdeen’s recent State of Service Management research, the top pressure facing service organizations and OEMs is competition in products and service (52% of respondents, n = 170).

In order to continue the discussion and also the solutions to this challenge, this year’s PTC Live Service Exchange (to be held June 16-17 in Boston, MA) will focus on the theme of Transforming Service for Sustainable Competitive Advantage. Four topics which will be highlighted over the two-day event and which I think you must take part in if you are looking to evolve service within your organization are:

Smart, connected products can lead to service differentiation. The concept of the Internet of Things has sparked much discussion in regard to the value of the connected device or machine. What is the value of a smart machine? Are we smart enough to maximize these innovations? These are a couple questions which will be discussed and answered at the event. But I would venture to say that machines are only as smart as our ability to turn data into insight. The service organization must be able to leverage machine data to improve and innovate service for the customer.

Enhance the customer experience through an enhanced value proposition. Historically, fixing a down piece of equipment was good enough to maintain a client relationship. But in the advent of competition that knows your equipment as well as you, organizations have been forced to find ways to avoid or prevent downtime from occurring in the first place. This problem is even more complex when dealing with mission critical assets across a global network. Information and execution at the time of need is critical to ensure the service organization can deliver excellent service before, during, or after a failure in order to minimize down time.

Establish a customer first culture for the entire organization. Customer service clearly is no longer just about the field service team. The service team will be constrained if it is forced to act alone to resolve customer issues. If marketing and sales aren’t on board to communicate the value of service to the customer, service will be viewed as a throw-in and be held to unattainable / unprofitable expectations. If engineering and design don’t build products with service in mind, the service team will be challenged with fixing problems that are complex which can lead to increased downtime and unhappy customers. Even HR needs to support service, as the aging workforce changes the service team the hiring, training, and compensating of the next service employee will become more important. The entire organization needs to be on board for delivering service or supporting the service team to enhance products and the customer experience.

Make sure leadership is on board for service excellence. On Tuesday, June 17th, I will lead a session which will dissect the mind of the C-level executive in regard to the value they see in service. The bridge between the C-suite and service is integral because without executive buy-in, service will continue to struggle to get the investment and resources needed to grow. In order to gain increased investment, my session will detail the revenue, profitability, and customer impact of service thus making the business case undeniable.

These are just a few of the sessions and topics I am looking forward to participating in at PTC Live Service Exchange this year. If you would like more information on PTC Live Service Exchange please visit the event page.

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One thought on “Evolving Service for Competitive Advantage”

  1. Cindy Elliott says:

    Hello Aly, I look forward to seeing you at PTC Live Service Exchange next week and to your session on Services Leadership. As it relates to the service leadership challenge within most manufacturers today, I’ll be sharing insights from recent Oxford Economics research that suggest the #1 obstacle in the early stages of transformation is that the company culture is still product-centric – affecting about 70% of respondents (~260 companies). Your workshop topic and addressing the leadership “gap” for services innovation is a great starting point to overcome that obstacle.

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