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March 5, 2021 | 3 Mins Read

Back to Basics: Making Service a Competitive Differentiator

March 5, 2021 | 3 Mins Read

Back to Basics: Making Service a Competitive Differentiator


By Tom Paquin

This is part of an ongoing series on the state and standards of service management software. Here are the previous articles in the series:

When people ask, “What is Service Management?” the answers usually focus on the obvious: tracking, cataloging, and optimizing service operations for a business (I mean, that’s more or less exactly how I defined it). This is invariably true, and it’s certainly key to successfully running a service business. But it ignores the heart of why service is so important in the first place.

Service software, at its best, is a catalyst for growth, not just in terms of managing systems and processes, but by helping you master complexity and track more elements of your business than ever before—a single source of truth, under one roof.

This level of detail doesn’t just delight customers, it actually offers you the tools to rethink your book of business, and how you package products for your customers. Publicizing these things can often be a challenge. Does your customer really care about any of this? Not if you don’t give them a reason to. They won’t care that you adopted a new outlook, or a new service platform, but if you position your new tools, servitization plans, etc in a way that’s actually compelling, they’ll certainly care.

To do this correctly, there’s ostensibly three steps necessary:

  • Track your success
  • Articulate the value
  • Reiterate the value

Tracking your success is invariably the first challenge, and it’s where smart technology systems can be the difference between success and failure. Spencer technologies uses IFS dashboards built into their service solution to show real-time analytics from support technicians and assets in the field. This actually uses the technology itself to tell a story about how they’re benefiting their customer’s bottom-line. For asset-intensive businesses, this frequently is about unearthing and cataloguing information about assets, then serving them back to customers in a digestible way. No matter what, you can’t effectively derive value without first tracking value.

Now articulating that value goes hand-in-hand with this. We’ve already touched on ways that Spencer has done so within the concepts that they actually use to track, but for other companies, it can be more complex. One brand I know of uses their service successes as case studies—"Look at the value that optimization has offer in terms of uptime for ‘X’ company. What do your uptime numbers look like?”

Given the wide swaths of industries under that big, beautiful service umbrella, a great place to start for inspiration about how businesses do this is through our podcasts. There’s now over 100 stories of service success spread across a diverse set of industries, both business and consumer-facing. Lots of great material to consider.

My last point is the most salient, and as I’ve discovered, the most challenging for companies to focus on—marketing messaging needs to be perpetual. As I learned many years ago from an Forrester analyst, the CEO of a pizza company thinks about pizza every day. Their customers think about pizza when they want pizza. Because of this, they’re likely to miss the salient details of your marketing blitz if said blitz has an expiration date on the side of the package. Sometimes it’s not about meeting your customers where they are. Sometimes it’s about being there when they reach you, with the right use cases and messaging apparatus to validate why you’re the choice for their service needs.