By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service
For every few conversations I have with companies successfully embracing a new business model or evangelizing the potential of service evolution, there’s one cringeworthy discussion that reveals some sort of limiting belief holding that company back from successfully transforming service into the competitive advantage it can – and should – be.
I get it, change is hard. Legacy thinking is daunting to overcome. Stale leadership can be a huge barrier to innovation. The operational changes required to appropriately address customer expectations and digital transformation are cumbersome. But the potential of service transformation has proven itself, and the need to evolve is pressing.
Here are seven limiting beliefs I’ve heard individuals share – either of their own, or of their organization’s leadership – that it is time to move beyond:
- It’s not who we are as a business. I’ve heard this in relation to a product manufacturer servitizing and embracing the As-a-Service potential, or in relation to a service organization shifting to an outcomes-based, guarantee-oriented service delivery. Do you think that perhaps this belief is one Blockbuster held when Netflix came on the scene? It may very well have been. Just because what you’ve done historically has worked, or even is working, does not mean it isn’t time for a change – and the identity of your business can evolve.
- We’ll watch and see. This is a company that is hedging its bets – it wants to see if a certain type of transformation is proven, and then will join the bandwagon. There are a few issues here – first, the benefits of modern service models are proven. Second, by the time you wait until you’re comfortable, it may be too late in terms of your competitive advantage.
- Our customers won’t go for it. Or, our customers will continue to do business with us because (fill in the blank). If your service evolution is geared toward better meeting your customers’ needs, they’ll go for it. If they don’t, you are likely positioning an evolution geared toward your needs as a benefit to them – and they know the difference. And if you think today’s customers will continue to do business with you in your traditional methods no matter what, you are naïve. Customers expect a lot, and if you don’t change with the times – they will go elsewhere as better value propositions pop up.
- That’s the service division’s responsibility. Innovation is the entire company’s responsibility, and innovation through service is no different. The existence and acceptance of operational siloes is a huge barrier to not only service transformation, but digital transformation as well. Companies need to create more cross-functional teams, more cohesive strategy, and put more focus on the customer journey versus any particular division’s “job.”
- What if we fail? Companies who are leading the charge have embraced the fact that failure is inevitable on the path to success. They have created a culture where fear of failure is eliminated and learnings from failure is encouraged. This promotes greater creativity among employees and prevents complacency. The focus becomes less “what if” and more “when” – companies put systems in place to fail fast and small and recover stronger and better.
- We’ve already invested in X, we have to make it work. Technology is the great enabler of service transformation, but unfortunately sometimes organizations have made an investment that simply doesn’t meet their needs – or can’t evolve into what they need as they grow and change. You can’t force a square peg into a round hole and being realistic about whether your existing systems meet your needs is important. Trying to build upon a cracked foundation is a recipe for disaster, so no matter how tough a pill to swallow you have to ensure your digital infrastructure meets your transformation goals.
- The frontline workforce are executors, not innovators. In a break-fix world, a mechanically skilled technician who could show up when needed and get the job done was a win. In today’s service landscape, customers want more – and the role of the frontline is changing. Interactions are shifting from transaction to relationship and repair to trusted advisor, and while this may require some upskilling or even a change in who you hire into frontline roles, it’s an essential aspect of service transformation. When you begin to view your frontline as an integral part of your service growth rather than an afterthought, you will realize their power in helping the company innovate. Their firsthand customer interactions and the perspective those provide make them a wealth of knowledge in helping shape strategy.
These are just a few of the limiting beliefs that quickly come to mind, but I am sure there are many more. The sooner we can let these beliefs go and seek inspiration from the companies and leaders who are embracing the opportunity to innovate, to create a more modern company culture, to fully leverage digital, and to reinvent themselves and their companies to keep pace with change, the more success stories we’ll have to share.