Notes from ClickConnect North America
San Diego hosted ClickConnect North America this year (Sept 10-12), and I had the privilege to attend, which enabled me to network with and learn from over 150 organizations across a variety of industries regarding their field service plans and strategies. Some of the thoughts and discussions paralleled those at ClickConnect Europe in May.
Here were some key takeaways:
- All Employees are Responsible for Service and Marketing – This echoes my first takeaway from the Europe event with the add-on of everyone in the organization playing a role in the marketing of the organization’s brand, whether they know it or not. Good customer service, proficient account management, convenient billing or payment options and more; all of these areas support marketing initiatives especially those that are tied to retaining customers. In addition, satisfied or happy customers not only tend to spend more with their supporting organization but they also recommend products and services to their peers. In essence, these customers become an extension of marketing. Our 2012 State of Service Management research (January 2012) shows that those organizations satisfying 90% or more of their customers see significantly higher retention and revenue rates when compared to those who only satisfy half their customers.
- The Role of Automation is to Enable a Predictive Service Model in order to Driver a More Customized Customer Experience – Our research has consistently highlighted the reactive to predictive transformation of service organizations to increase customer satisfaction but also to reduce support costs. This transformation is driven with the aid of better product, service and customer information, without which it becomes extremely difficult to predict or plan for a service event. When considering the transformation spectrum from reactive to responsive to preventive to predictive and solutions oriented, perhaps there is the need for another step that highlights a customized service solutions approach tailored to the wants, needs, buying patterns, usage trends and preferences of the customer. As service organizations are able to capture, analyze and review vast amounts of customer, product, and service information with the aid of software and other tools, they should be able to tailor solutions (not just service offerings) that increase the value delivered to their customers.
- The Concept of Small Data – With all the talk of Big Data and Analytics to unearth customer and business trends, there probably isn’t room for another quirky buzzword around information management. However, in the quest for a customized service program (mentioned in previous bullet point), organizations need to pay attention to little nuggets and preferences that are available on customer interactions, whether solicited or not. While Big Data allows for (supposedly) improved business strategy by allowing organizations to manage and process vast amounts of data, small data allows organizations to establish personal relationships with customers and prospects.
- An Integrated View of the Customer is Essential – A number of presenters at ClickConnect, especially those from Xerox, Telus, and American Water spoke about the need for an integrated view of the customer across the entire organization in order to maximize the value delivered per customer interaction. This is true not only across service, sales, and marketing, but also across product management, engineering, finance and more. In our State of Service Management research (January 2012), 97% of Best-in-Class organizations indicated that they were working to develop a fully connected organization where service, sales, marketing and other functions worked collaboratively by sharing data, information and systems in order to build on and improve current customer management processes.
- Never Underestimate Change Management– Aliant Energy had a wonderful presentation regarding their change management program when moving from a manual service delivery process to an automated one. This was extremely vital given workforce dynamics and preferences (and resistance to change). The program was structured around the following pillars:
- Give them (field workers) time to get ready
- Give them a reason to change
- Get them involved
- Give them a product that works
A structured and employee focused approach enabled the organization to maximize the return from its investment in field service technology. These pillars are similar to those relied on by the Best-in-Class in Aberdeen’s 2012 Mobile Field Service research (July 2012). With the aid of employee buy-in and cross-functional collaboration in solution selection, deployment and management, the Best-in-Class are not only able to see greater returns in key service metrics with the use of technology, but they also experience shorter implementation times with key service automation solutions.
As you can see, it’s hard to be brief when summarizing all of the trends that were discussed while at ClickConnect given the diverse group of industries and organizations represented. Also worth noting is the fact that this was the biggest ClickConnect event yet with over 150 organizations present. Coupled with ClickSoftware’s estimate of hitting $100m in annual revenue by year end (mid-range guidance from Q2 2012 results, at 22% CAGR over the previous five years), this is an indication of an active field service automation market, one with extreme interest in the robust portfolio of solutions offered by ClickSoftware. From a product and strategy perspective moving forward, Click expects to:
- Continue to expand on the options available via the ClickAppStore in order to build on the current mobile platform
- Extend the functionality offered by the ClickRoster solution to workforces inside or outside the four walls
- Provide extended cloud-based offerings to the enterprise and SMB markets