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September 30, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

4 Real-World Roadblocks to Service Revenue Growth

September 30, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

4 Real-World Roadblocks to Service Revenue Growth

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By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

Mid-September I attended the Service Council Symposium in Chicago, where I facilitated a workshop on the barriers to service revenue growth. The workshop had a great turnout with lively conversation. Everyone in the room shared a common desire and need to grow service revenue. This desire is born not only out of every company’s pressure to do more and make more, but also out of demands from customers. Those demands can cause significant frustration for the service organizations intended to fulfill them, but they are also representative of an incredible opportunity for those that are ready, willing, and able to step up to the plate.

However, those at the workshop commiserated that while the opportunity is clear, the outcome of revenue growth isn’t exactly easy to achieve. During our time together, numerous individuals shared some of their specific frustrations and challenges so that everyone in the room could weigh in (and also feel a sense of community in knowing they aren’t alone in their own challenges). While each person’s situation was unique, there were some common themes that surfaced during the conversation that I’ve categorized into four common roadblocks to service revenue growth.

#1: An Inability to Innovate

Reality is, many companies struggle with doing things differently than they’ve always been done. And in the experience economy, and on the path to outcomes-based service, that’s a problem. The inability to innovate can trace back to a variety of root causes – a lack of acknowledgement that customer needs have and are changing, resistance to new ways of thinking, not being willing or prepared to do business based on relationships versus transactions, and even simply not having the right mentality and skills internally to adjust. Whatever this looks like within an individual company, the first step on the path to creating new revenue from service is to do something differently – and that requires a common understanding that change is both needed and desired, and a willingness to innovate and evolve.

#2: Lacking Foundational Technology

Again, this challenge looks different from company to company. But another common theme is somehow lacking the technology to meet customer needs. This can be lacking proper systems to manage service in a way that results in poor efficiency and productivity, which not only dissatisfies customers but also is a foundation that is cracked and impossible to build upon. Or this challenge can be lacking the next-level functionality necessary to create new service offerings or provide insights that customers are willing to pay for, such as IoT and advanced data analytics. Companies also sometimes struggle even with solid technology in place when it comes to the adoption necessary to achieve the intended value. Getting your technology stack in order and having a plan for how you need to build upon it, is imperative to revenue growth.

#3: Operational Silos

While many companies have recognized the strategic potential of the service function and now treat it as such, there was evidence in the room during this workshop that some yet have not. A company with operational silos will have an incredibly difficult time adopting a culture of true customer centricity, which is essential for revenue growth. To capitalize on the opportunity that exists in service, companies need to be aligned from the top on what that opportunity looks like for them, how they need to innovate and evolve to reach that potential, and how functions will need to work together to meet the needs that exist. For some of the folks in the room, there were tales of friction between product and service, service and sales, service and IT, and so on. With the need for service experiences to be seamless and smooth, friction like this is detrimental to satisfaction (and growth).

#4: Skills Gaps and Compensation Misalignment

The final common theme is around having – and harnessing – the talent to grown revenue. For some, this is a capacity problem – they barely have enough service talent to meet the current (basic) needs of their customers and maintain an acceptable degree of satisfaction, let alone focus on new service offerings and growth. Others have service talent but are struggling to determine what that looks like in a more consultative/relationship-based role. Some of the attendees have a commission-based structure in place for their technicians that works well, others shared stories of experiments gone wrong within their organizations – this illustrates the fact that determining not only the right skills, but the appropriate incentives, is a challenging task. Finally, two of the folks in the room were in marketing roles, which we discussed is a relatively new advancement for many service businesses, but likely key in the effort to create and market new offerings and in turn grow revenue. If you’re facing any of these challenges, know that you aren’t alone. The stories shared in the workshop were met with eager head nods and “me too’s.” However, the potential for service is far too large to not fight through these roadblocks and determine your path to revenue growth. We’ll be here cheering you on, sharing any insights we think are helpful in your efforts, and showcasing successes to help you realize it can be done.

September 26, 2019 | 6 Mins Read

Use Your Words — The Bots Are Coming

September 26, 2019 | 6 Mins Read

Use Your Words — The Bots Are Coming

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By Greg Lush

"Use your words" was often said to me growing up as a young child. Now, it is not what you think — I was a relatively good kid. My identical twin and I formed a unique language that only he and I could understand. For those moments when my brother and I were not bickering, we would communicate using these words, which compelled our parents to remind us to "use our English words.” Our older sister was pretty good at interpreting, she would correlate the bundling of letters, often forming words, to our actions. Essentially, she was understanding our utterances and creating intent, not too different than the natural language processing engines we are just now starting to enjoy as part of our digital landscapes.

If you or your team are the ones tapped to introduce BOTs and Cognitive Speech services to your organization, welcome to a fantastic ride. Assuming you have been following along my prior posts, you should be good to go. A stronger engine does not exist than BOTs to wrap all your enterprise data into a nice package which is accessed by simply asking a question. Do you remember years ago when you waited for the newspaper or the morning news to understand what the weather would be like today? Now what do most of us do? Ask our digital assistants, "Hey XYZ, what does the weather look like today?" Did you feel a bit awkward asking a computer a question? It is interesting when I visit with folks, they seem to ask simple (and limited) questions to computers, almost like we are not very sure how the computer would like us to form the question to seek the proper response. Often we throw in words that we think the BOT will understand forming sentences that we would never verbalize to another human being. For crying out loud, stop the madness! With BOTs, and especially those more sophisticated approaches integrating natural language processing, you should be comfortable asking it a question just as you would a colleague. How the BOT is configured is critical, and your automation targets should be clearly defined and as narrow a scope as possible. Consumers of this technology are not forgiving, they will try once and if the return is not relevant, will often discount the value and may never ask the BOT a question again. Understanding that the sentence seems a bit dramatic, make sure that you have meaningful content which has been trained, repeatedly. You will only have one chance to impress! Three approaches are provided that will help you get started, they are organized by level of complexity.

1. Questions and Answers

Who has not heard of a frequently asked questions (FAQ) list or forum? Interestingly, back in the 70s a book was written suggesting the power of contextual, per software screen assistance known as Electronic Performance Support Systems (EPSS). Crazy to think that just in recent years the FAQ or Help screens have evolved past functional, and often disconnected from business need, contextual references and guidance. Although many computer users are disenchanted with Help, and they may refuse to return, this is a great opportunity for the simplest level of computer automation with a BOT. Take those FAQs and Help screen contents and work them into a question/answer-based BOT sequence. Add a bit more sophistication by adding natural language processing so you can encourage users to get comfortable asking questions as they would to a trusted colleague.

Delivery of the BOT content can vary widely between text messaging, web pages, embedded within Intranets, etc. For me, if I am asking questions regarding the use of a computer it is always easier receiving that information on another digital tool. Texting responses, with specific instructions or details, seems to work very well. Recipients may then use their phones to ask questions and the computer/tablet to run through the steps or advice. Most BOT engines will connect to an inexpensive tool like Twilio or other SMS service, providing dedicated numbers in a medium that most are comfortable, texting.

2. Business Process

"Let's not boil the ocean" is an idiom often said when enthusiasm meets the pragmatist. Those close to me would say I lean closer to the enthusiasm or dreamer role; however, do not hesitate to refer to me as a pragmatic technocrat. Much of my career, after I came in from the field, was filled with business process assessments. Heck, you need a few different skills to help an organization evolve into a digital enterprise. A passion and curiosity of available technology tools; listening and question asking skills, the ability to see the big picture, and business process mapping. Once high-level business objectives and strategies are mapped it is important to break these down to micro-process improvements. No business, at least that I have ever seen, is not in need of some type of business process engineering. I suppose two books, which you may find interesting, have influenced my perspectives for years, they are:

  • The Goal [Eli Goldratt]: a book read by many in manufacturing; however, the concepts suggested applying to every business. Eli discusses and provides examples of the "theory of constraints," suggesting that you focus on and resolve one constraint, a new constraint will appear. A never-ending process of continuous improvement.
  • How to measure anything [Douglas Hubbard]: fantastic book for anyone and reminds us that anything can be measured.

Deploying process modification within a business without clear objectives and points of measurement is a fool’s errand. When it comes to BOTs and process automation this could not be more important. Sure, many things within a business could stand shoring up; however, which will have the greatest value on your investment? In a perfect world your first process automation target will fund future BOT and process re-engineering efforts. As a friend and former co-worker used to remind us; make informed and deliberate decisions. Prioritizing the business value and potentially choosing an area of improvement which is not that "sexy" is a reality you should be willing to accept in order to be successful. If you only hunt elephants, you may starve while tripping over the rabbits.

3. Industrial IoT

For years my work has been focused on elevating the conditions for the last mile of the field workers. One of my favorite areas of digital interest has been around taking advantage of the consumerization of equipment-based digital fingerprints. Many refer to this as IoT or the Internet of things. While the concept of IoT is not new the amount of information which we are collecting, essentially based on the affordability of the event producer, is tremendous. However, we now must make this information actionable in a meaningful and relevant way which compels a different outcome at the point of service. This interaction with the field worker is the area which has piqued my interest regarding the use of conversational bots.

Sometimes people confuse these bots with sophisticated search algorithms, this is not the area that had any interest to me. Instead, the bot, in my mind, can be used to take advantage of and make meaningful the correlation between a multitude of transactional systems (work order, accounting, CRM, etc.).

Transactional systems can reside either within or outside of your computing environments. One of the greatest advantages, which struck me immediately, was the ability to simply carry on a conversation with a field worker. In the background predicting and guiding the field worker through bots-based responses. Why should a field worker be concerned with what system they must enter this… or go to find that?

As you begin to explore the technology which offers this humanistic conversation-based approach, you will also realize that our possibilities are endless. Not only can we apply these bots, and their underlying algorithms and machine learning routines to field workers, but also apply it to sales, project crews, etc.  Anyplace that we need to correlate and leverage transactional systems in our daily working routines. So, are the bots coming? Yes, I believe in the next few years we will see bots everywhere performing small functions and helping us consume multiple perspectives; so, we as humans can make better decisions.  Are you ready?

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September 25, 2019 | 1 Mins Read

Creating Alignment Between Field Service & IT

September 25, 2019 | 1 Mins Read

Creating Alignment Between Field Service & IT

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More from Chicago, as Sarah sits down with Charles Hughes, VP of Technical Site Services at Acuative, Tim Spencer, SVP and General Manager of Service Operations for Bunn, and John Barr, Head of IT in Americas for Kone. The panel shares their experiences on where IT and Service Management meet.

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September 23, 2019 | 5 Mins Read

4 Reasons Why Your Service Supply Chain is Failing

September 23, 2019 | 5 Mins Read

4 Reasons Why Your Service Supply Chain is Failing

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By Tom Paquin

Last week at the Service Council Symposium, I had the opportunity to host a roundtable discussion with several service leaders on the topic of the service supply chain and reverse logistics.

As we went around the room and each person shared the current state of parts management across their organization, I couldn’t help my surprise at the immaturity of some of their systems. This reinforced a belief that I’ve had for a long time: When businesses are thinking about service transformation, they’re not thinking about service holistically. They’re thinking about the binary relationship between customers and technicians, and, because of that, the operational underpinnings that actually make a service business work—like parts—are neglected. Is that true of everyone? Obviously not, but this roundtable represented service leaders with not just the forethought to attend a service technology summit, but also the forethought to sign up for a reverse logistics roundtable. Imagine what this looks like for the service leaders who opted to answer emails rather than attend the session! I wish I could say that there’s a long list of “To-Dos” that came out of this session, but what it pretty starkly illuminated, instead, were some of the failure points that businesses were running into. Here are some key elements that will have a negative effect on your ability to manage your service supply chain effectively.

You Don’t Have a Clear Path to End-of-Life for your Serviceable Assets

They don’t make them the way that they used to, right? Apparently so, since some businesses are still servicing 75-year-old machines with cast iron parts manufactured in a warehouse that was converted into condos in 2004. Because of this, organizations are forced to carry excess inventory on-hand (since they obviously can’t reorder these parts), which stretches the concept of “aging inventory” beyond the average lifespan of most mammals. That is an extreme example, but consider the other extreme: Cell phone manufacturers sunset their assets after five years. That means that each year, as the number of skus or service parts increase for new products, you drop close to the same number of skus for end-of-life. Perhaps we can find a happy medium between five years and seventy-five years. Here’s an idea—Each year, increase the part value for repair parts by, say 5% for each part used, and set an additional rule that, once a repair costs 50% of the price of a new machine, that product is automatically sunsetted. With that, you’ll clear inventory space, and you’ll sell new units!

Your Technicians Are Hoarders

I recently reorganized a drawer in my kitchen. In said drawer, I found thirteen wooden spoons that my wife and I have apparently accumulated over the years. We registered for exactly one when we got married, bought several of them, and have received more than one as gifts (thanks?). I was thinking about that, as one member of the roundtable told me that some of his technicians touch certain parts exactly one time a year, when they run inventory on their trucks. The kicker—this organizations’ #1 reason for failed first-time resolution? The technician didn’t have the parts they needed on the truck. Fixing this requires thoughtful internal governance—and a good piece of parts management technology—to make sure that if parts aren’t used in an allotted time, they’re offloaded to a warehouse, sent to a higher-volume branch, or returned wholesale, clearing up shelf space for parts that they will actually use. There are a lot of variances to this that are worth discussing, including peak seasons and routine visits, but that’s why it’s important to have a complete picture of your service business.

You Have Dealer Disconnect

There are two different types of dealers that we’ll talk about here. One would be the dealers from which you are buying parts, the other is the dealers who use your parts to conduct service. We will start with the latter of the two. When you work with a dealer network, in many instances, they’re buying service parts from you, at which point the parts might completely leave your system. There’s a lot of trust, then, that they’re delivering on aftermarket service appropriately. And that’s fine, but as the old adage goes, Trust, but verify. The solution, generally, is to gain some oversight into the operations of your dealer network. The silver bullet is having them employ an extension of your parts management system. That can be like herding cats, sure, but if you start small and build out there is a proven pathway to success, there. Now on to the former: When you’re being supplied with parts from a dealer, there are some complex ins and outs to consider. For example, one leader talked about how they have a system to manage parts brought in from all dealers except for one. For that one dealer—they purchase parts only when they need them. This creates a massive logistical asynchronicity that serves to arbitrarily inflate time to resolution for any repair that requires one category of parts. They do this because of the cost-prohibitive nature of the one line. They simply can’t afford aging inventory of that part category. The solution here is smarter forecasting, which will help to mitigate aging inventory. Buy what you know you’ll need each month, get it in your system, and make it available on demand.

You Lack the Right Tech

We’ve tiptoed around this over the course of this article, but I’ll leave you with one last story from the conference. A utility company, who oversees a global network of branches, dispatches a person to do cycle counts once a week to reorder parts. Well—not real cycle counts, as much as they look into each of the 300 bins that parts are in and make sure they’re at least half full. When I heard that, I nearly fell out of my seat. Imagine how simple it would be to make that process so much more efficient from an accuracy and manpower perspective with technology. A fuller, more accurate, and more automated picture of parts management and reverse logistics has the capacity to make a huge impact on your bottom line. As we often say around here, though, technology in and of itself is not enough. The managerial will, and technician buy-in is key to ensuring that the pieces actually work. Parts management in particular is tricky because any break in the chain breaks down the machine, and often requires multiple stakeholders be involved, often some from outside of your business. Because of that, any tech implementation should be managed with a solid implementation partner. There are many other things that we can discuss beyond this, such as parts disposal, refurbs, and how your inventory is distributed, but I know that for many businesses, they can’t have those discussions until they feel comfortable that the basic underpinnings of parts management are in place. Start there, and plan to build on it.

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September 18, 2019 | 1 Mins Read

LIVE From Chicago: Creating the Future Workforce

September 18, 2019 | 1 Mins Read

LIVE From Chicago: Creating the Future Workforce

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Onstage at The Service Council Field Service Symposium, Sarah is joined by Stephanie Borowski, President & CEO of GPS Educational Partners, Eric Reisner, Vice President & General Manager of Hobart Service, Maria Pallotta, Chief of Staff, Canopy Lawn Care, and Roy Dockery, Vice President of Customer Care, Swisslog Healthcare. The group shares their insight, experiences, and recommendations for finding, recruiting, and retaining service superstars.

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September 16, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

Women in Field Service: Stake Your Claim, Seize The Opportunity

September 16, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

Women in Field Service: Stake Your Claim, Seize The Opportunity

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By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

Tali McRee joined DISH Network right out of college after applying for a position with the company because she thought the job description looked really interesting. In her five years with DISH, she’s advanced pretty quickly through positions to her current role as Business Operations Manager III in which she’s responsible for coaching and development of Business Operations Managers and Analysts, along with determining resource planning strategies for DISH’s In-Home Services department as well as overseeing all products and communication delivered from the company’s Command Center to all internal and external business partners.

I asked Tali if she had considered a career in field service before she came across the DISH posting, after studying economics and political science in college. “After college, I wanted to stay in Denver, so that was the main focus of my job search. I applied for the operations analyst role at DISH because I really enjoy solving problems, and that’s what the job entailed. The job description didn’t mention the words ‘field service,’ and if it had, I wouldn’t have known what that term meant,” she says. “No one talked about the industry in school, so it wasn’t a career path I’d envisioned.” Despite the unfamiliarity of the industry she was joining, Tali quickly fell in love. “I truly enjoy the work I do at DISH – it’s a wide variety, which keeps me interested and engaged at all times. I love solving problems and creating new opportunities, and it’s continually changing,” says Tali. “The industry is almost completely different than it was when I joined just five years ago – there are new divisions, changing business processes, different skill sets needed, and much more to come. It’s an exciting time to be a part of the field service industry in general, and DISH specifically.”

Don’t Overthink It

While Tali clearly has a passion for the work she does at DISH, she acknowledges that being a woman in field service isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. The reality is that while DISH is working diligently to diversify, it is still – like nearly all field service organizations – male dominated. “About one third of the people in my division are women,” says Tali. “And that’s in an analytics division, not even the field. The great news is that we’ve been getting more diverse – in the past two and a half years, we’ve almost doubled the number of women in our division, but we still have a ways to go.” Tali has refused to let these statistics intimidate her, and rather faces her challenges head on. “My biggest challenge is just that I myself will overthink things,” she says. “When I’m the only woman in the room, I’ll get in my own head and wonder, ‘Am I doing a good enough job?’ It forces me to harness my own confidence and forge ahead, which in many ways ends up being a really good thing.”

Creating Greater Diversity & Embracing Field Service Opportunity

DISH is actively working to create and celebrate greater diversity among all aspects of its workforce. In fact, Tali has been involved in re-writing some of the job descriptions for role within her division to ensure they are appealing to a wider range of candidates. “It’s important to us – our division and DISH – to hire the best possible candidate, period. We worked to remove some of the wording in our postings to be less subtly gender coded so that we are sure we’re casting the widest net of qualified applicants.” DISH also has a Women’s Network, with around 1,500 members, which Tali is a part of. “Anyone can be a part of the Women’s Network, and it offers opportunities for collaboration, support, and mentoring.” Tali is thrilled she landed in field service, where she feels there’s a wealth of opportunity. “My accomplishments speak for themselves, but it doesn’t hurt to stand out a little. DISH is very fair – if you have the best idea, you win. Period. I love that I feel I am a part of making or breaking the success of DISH operations. I love this company, and it’s thrilling how many new opportunities are arising. There are roles now that didn’t even exist six months ago, and that pace is only speeding up. It’s a really fun time to be a part of DISH, and this industry.”

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September 12, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

What’s Your Undiscovered Opportunity with Digital Transformation?

September 12, 2019 | 4 Mins Read

What’s Your Undiscovered Opportunity with Digital Transformation?

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By Greg Lush

I have referenced this luscious quote a thousand times: "Have you replaced your employees’ bicycles with Ford F150s and wonder why they still only drive on bike paths?" Our past can influence current behaviors in both negative and positive ways. The so-called comfort zone, which many individuals stay within for various social-economic reasons, is weighted heavier towards the habits which do not always move us forward. Unfortunately, innovation is often curtailed when the comfort zone represents your boundaries for experimentation. What is the significance of this chatter? Undiscovered opportunity requires individuals to think about things completely different and be willing to fail along the way (a place where many institutional employees are not comfortable). It is only at the apex of the "I know it can do X" where we will unlock these undiscovered opportunities.

Let's start with a simple example from the service industry. Successful service companies will often have a blend of scheduled and unscheduled work. Scheduled work is anything which we can plan for, typically a maintenance contract or a project. Unscheduled work, on the other hand, might be comprised of service calls or other emergency activities. Understanding the patterns of your field workers will assist you in maximizing your profit by dispatching those workers closest to the job sites. For years intelligent scheduling programs had been in existence using GPS coordinates for the worker and the destination. Instead, if we look at this a little bit differently, we may seek to understand the driving patterns of the worker, the worker cost, familiarity with the job site, and relationship with the client. These variables will give us greater perspective and allow us to choose the optimum resource. In order to execute such a plan, we would need to connect to various systems and create algorithms which balance the weight of each input to obtain the optimum output. Just over the last few years this capability is now within financial reach. Yet, as with many parts of the business, we are burdened with our own legacy. Certainly, you have heard the idiom; people, process and technology:

  • People: If the systems that you are dealing with are older than say seven years, people will be a larger factor then you might expect. Our digital landscape is changing at record pace. Just a handful of years ago if the enterprise wanted any deviation from the provided software, it often meant customization. While often partners help build the customization, there is generally an individual, or a team of people, who have come up with a design. Often, this deep-rooted sense of ownership, which during the initial build was expressed as passion, now may become roadblocks when faced with impending change.
  • Process: I will never forget my first corporate CIO job. The president of the organization knew that I had come from a smaller service company and he advised me to dream like never before. Initially I was a bit perplexed as I, most likely similar to you, have been passionate about what I do for many years. Yet as we discussed his comment further, we began to unpack the reality of how we think about innovation. If our budget was always $100, then our brain would be thinking of things, often as a state of compromise, to achieve our objectives and goals within the $100 budget. Essentially, we are limiting ourselves as we rationalize decisions. For many, this can be crippling to the organization and ironically to your career. You must learn to get into a head-space which allows you to see everything that is possible, and once at that place, then whittle them back.
  • Technology: It is convenient to consider the technology components as investments made in the past are, frankly, a real bear to just abandon. So many things are tied to these decisions which often extend far past the actual technology. As a matter of fact, if technology was the only factor we considered, 99% of the systems would be replaced as they have obvious shortfalls. Unfortunately, that is not the world where most of us live; so in order to maintain our sanity we need to keep looking towards the future. Decisions made today will have greater impact than ever before. For instance:
    • APIs: choosing or allowing software companies enter your eco-system who do not have the capability to provide APIs (in 2020) is just crazy.
    • Common data approaches: Microsoft, and other software manufacturers, have provided the concept of a data hub within an organization. All system data, either from a transactional system, form, collaborative tool, or even email should be made accessible by other applications as required. Keep in mind that undiscovered opportunity takes the data side, UI, analytics, etc. Create the hub and spoke with the common data environment right in the middle.

Rooting out undiscovered opportunities must become a daily activity. If you believe that information is not a single dimension, then each time you speak with someone about automating their process or enhancing their digital habits, you should ask them what else would make this perspective smarter. People are so accustomed to thinking about things in narrow lanes you must constantly be pushing on the outside of the box to see what else is possible. For me, a crawl, walk, run, approach has always worked well. Time after time I have seen people overcomplicate the ability to extract real value from their organizations. This is the third step of the hierarchy, so you have already obtained their trust and have their digital habits practicing contextual computing approaches. You will be in the perfect place to have a frank conversation with the business owner, "If you had one thing that could compromise your ability to hit your numbers, what would that be?" The response will be a lot different if you leap frogged the suggested steps from this book. Trust is KEY and your fastest path to providing relevant, and pragmatic solutions to solve business challenges.

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September 11, 2019 | 1 Mins Read

From Behemoth to Startup: Lessons Learned in Field Service Excellence

September 11, 2019 | 1 Mins Read

From Behemoth to Startup: Lessons Learned in Field Service Excellence

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Hector Pascal, formerly with Coca-Cola and now with startup Bevi, chats with Sarah about the similarities and differences in how to achieve field service excellence in a large organization versus a startup.

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September 9, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

Beyond CX Talk: Realizing the Monetary Value of True Customer Centricity

September 9, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

Beyond CX Talk: Realizing the Monetary Value of True Customer Centricity

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By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service

Customer experience (CX) has been the buzz of the service circuit for a couple of years now. While I see some companies really getting it right and putting a true, authentic focus on their customers – I also see a lot of companies jumping on board the latest buzz word and claiming a level of customer centricity that quite frankly is BS. It’s easy to say you are hyperfocused on CX and have a culture of customer centricity; it’s far harder to put these claims into action.

Part of the disconnect is that true customer centricity must happen from the top down – everyone needs to be aligned on the value that can come from focusing your efforts around the customer experience. At Field Service Amelia Island last month, Sophia Williams, VP and General Manager, Telecom and Technology Business Unit, NCR gave a great presentation on how “CX is a new form of currency.” Her points did an excellent job of illustrating exactly why companies need to take this focus seriously (and some tips on how to get it right). What Sophia discussed is that CX is not just a “fluffy” thing – it has real monetary value, and when tackled correctly can produce real financial results. She highlighted the disconnect between CX talk and CX action by showing a stat that reveals while 80% of companies feel they deliver superior customer experiences, only 8% of customers agree. “This is an opportunity for everyone in the room,” she said. “This is where competitive differentiation happens.” Sophia went on to review some data that illustrates the payoff focusing on CX can have. A stat from IDC showed that 93% of tech buyers say CX will have a greater influence over future purchase decisions. CEI says that 86% of consumers will pay more for a better CX (I know I will!), and Bain & Co. shows that companies with industry-leading NPS achieve 2x CAGR and 15% lower costs. Socializing metrics like these is an important step in getting company-wide alignment that a true CX focus is not only important, but will have financial impact. Once you have a common understanding and are committed to this journey, what’s next?

Sophia shared some great advice with the audience. First, realize that you can’t carry out a positive CX with unhappy employees. “A company’s brand is determined by its CX, and in order to deliver the experience you want, you need happy and engaged employees delivering the experience,” she says. Second, get a good understanding of where you’re at and where you want to be when it comes to CX. “Chart out what a solid CX looks like, and what an exceptional CX looks like so that you know what you need to do to progress from good to great,” says Sophia. Also understand that to progress and really master the CX, you have to put your money where your mouth his. You will need to put a CX program in place and align the organization to deliver consistency and make improvements. Finally, appreciate the value of feedback – and always take action on it. “Feedback is a gift,” says Sophia. “If you ask customers for input and they provide it but never hear back from you, they won’t continue providing it. You need to listen, take action, and respond. Since we’ve implemented a 100% closed loop system – meaning we reply to all feedback – we have 70% response rates.” Customers want to know their input is valued and appreciated, and the biggest way to show this is to communicate with them – let them know collectively what the feedback was and what’s being done with it. It’s important to know that true customer centricity can’t be achieved if you don’t master the art of collecting and acting on customer feedback. While CX isn’t a new topic, it is an area that I think is ripe for improvement for many organizations. And, as Sophia pointed out in her session, an area of focus and investment that can have great payoff.

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September 4, 2019 | 1 Mins Read

Service Growth in a Mature Market

September 4, 2019 | 1 Mins Read

Service Growth in a Mature Market

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Greg Parker, Director of Services at Thermo King, caught up with Sarah at Field Service Amelia Island to share his industry wisdom and give tips for growing in a mature market.

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