Transforming Your Business? Four Questions to Ask your Service Team

If you missed last week’s PTC Live Service Exchange, you missed out on a great opportunity to learn from a wide variety of service leaders from different industries and revenue strata. The discussions were quite informative and resonated with me as many of the best practices shared are also seen in our research at Aberdeen. Whether you were able to attend the event held in Boston or you missed out, the discussions on stage, in workshops, and in the hallways have led me to think of four questions that we should be asking our service teams and leaders everyday:

Are you putting your customers 1st in everything you do?
This seems like a simple question, but many times the service organization prioritizes its own needs, like efficiency, cost reduction, or revenue generation. However, unless we continue to create products and services that customers want (and want to pay for), we will lose out to competitors who are more than willing to create this value. One service executive from a heavy equipment manufacturer exemplified the mantra we should all have, “The customer may not always be right, but they should always be 1st!”

Do you listen to your customers AND service team?
“Evolution & disruptive service change must be linked to listening to customers & your service team more,” said a VP of Customer Service at a large high technology manufacturer. The voice of the customer is often relegated to feedback surveys which explore the depths of product functionalities or ease of use. But what about the ease of doing business with the service organization? It is important to remember that the service team is often closest to the customer on a day-to-day basis, but they are often forgotten when organizations look to better understand the needs of the customer. We need to ensure that we create an environment of sharing, both the good and the bad, so we can continuously improve the service experience.

Have you linked compensation with performance measurements?
Over the two-day event there was a lot of discussion about building a service culture. This was emphasized as a way to transform the service business into one that would not only improve the customer experience but also drive the profitability of the business. But how can we get there, quickly? One senior service leader of a large North American equipment manufacturer stated “Match compensation to KPIs which are agreed upon.” The last point is key. To drive true change the front-line must be on board to evolve service.

Do you think M2M and IoT is all about the machines?
There was plenty of discussion and excitement at the event around the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine-to-machine (M2M) connectivity. This is a topic that has been building some momentum over the past year partially because it is enabled through some really cool technology, i.e., refrigerators that are smart, cars that know when they need service, and cows that warn you when they are ready to be milked! However one senior service executive captured the importance of this movement, “Key to the future of service is remote resolution. Connected machines are great, but customers care about resolution.” If we can’t resolve customer issues, even the greatest technological advancement is just another trend which will fade away. The value of IoT is in its impact on delivering proactive and predictive service to customers.

As a service leader, these are just a few of the questions which you should be asking every day you step foot into your office. Many best practices were shared at PTC Live Service Exchange on how to tackle these challenges and I look forward to continuing this discussion.

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