During this past year we have met with more than 100 companies at conferences and in individual meetings, all of whom are in the process of transforming their service organization from a cost center into one that can be leveraged to drive key business outcomes. In our discussions with these service executives, we are seeing 2 key areas that service organizations are leveraging to drive the business outcomes they are looking to achieve.
1. Companies are leveraging their Service Organization and people to identify and/or create new revenue opportunities
Research shows that service people visit customers 75 times per month on average. In some industries, such as healthcare and hi-tech capital equipment, service people are embedded with their customers and are often indistinguishable from the customer's own employees. This access gives service people a wonderful opportunity to become trusted partners to their customers. Customers view their service providers as team members whose primary goal is to help them address key challenges and opportunities. It follows that if a trusted partner service engineer proposes a software upgrade or purchase of a new product that will address the customer’s current problems or prevent future ones, the customer easily agrees. Nevertheless, managers of service organizations consistently tell us that they are frustrated that their service people are not effective at identifying, creating and capturing new revenue opportunities.
Why is this? There are many reasons of course, but the major categories seem to be these:
- Culture. Many service people view their role as one of responding to customer requests, not proactively proposing ways to address the customer's challenges and problems. They rightly insist that if the customer perceives the service person as too 'salesy', the special trusted partner relationship will disappear.
- Time. With the typical 'bandwidth' of today's service person being extremely stretched, where will they find the time (or even the brain space) to think proactively about customers’ needs?
- Roles and structures. Sales has traditionally 'owned' the customer relationship, yet service has more frequent interactions. How can these two groups align their knowledge of the customer, their relationships within the customer and their actions to best benefit the customer and their own company?
- Skills and tools. Typically skills and tools for service have been about solving the customer’s technical problem as quickly as possible. But to enable service people to drive more revenue with their customers, new skills and tools are needed. Ones like Value Analysis, new communication techniques and ways to create empathy with customers are needed to identify new revenue opportunities and strengthen relationships with customers at the same time.
2. Companies are leveraging their Service Organization and people to create a Differentiated Customer Experience
Corporate Executive Board researched four factors that customers use to differentiate their suppliers: Price, Product, Brand and Customer Experience. More than half of respondents identified Customer Experience as the factor used to differentiate suppliers and identify those with whom they preferred to do business.
So what are companies doing to create a differentiated Customer Experience? To start, they make sure that their service people understand that in every interaction with the customer, the primary goal is to understand what the customer really needs – and then to address those needs completely. While it sounds simple, embedding this skill requires a different way of interacting with the customer. It requires a shift in service culture from being reactive to being proactive, and from thinking of themselves as delivering a service to collaborating with the customer to solve problems.
Live Survey - Leveraging Service Organizations
To learn more about what companies are doing to leverage their service organizations more effectively and the barriers they are confronting, Global Partners has launched a brief survey. Through this survey we will collect input from companies that have overcome these challenges and become very effective at leveraging service. We will also collect and share data from those companies that are struggling to leverage their service organizations more effectively. We will share the results of this survey in 2017 on a webinar.
Why take the survey? Here are 3 reasons:
- 1. Survey participants will be the first to get the results, including benchmarks and recommendations
- 2. Survey participants will hear results initially during a webinar in which we will invite them to share their best practices
- 3. Additional research and benchmarking will be conducted on specific topics survey participants are interested in
Take the survey here. Completing the survey takes less than 5 minutes.