Chris Gera | 01.09.19
Summary >

Recently the Service Council conducted its annual Service Leader’s Trends survey. Preliminary results of this year’s responding leaders (n=100+) has us excited about efforts across the global service ecosystem. Here are a few themes we are particularly excited about…

1) Focus Your Innovation:

Annually the Service Council conducts a Voice of the Field Service Engineer (VoFSE) survey. We hear direct feedback and input from frontline employees. And while they dislike administrative tasks, searching for information and manual processes, they also strongly dislike the feeling of the flavor of the month with the consistent test environment and merry go round of latest greatest mobile technologies. Ensure you are aligning your service vision with your technology plan and that your field staff is engaged with the effort every step of the way. In order to best serve your customers, make sure you treat field staff like your customer in your Innovation efforts. Innovative service leaders are driving employee engagement efforts and using their field engineers’ experiences and feedback to help identify opportunities to improve their technology, processes and systems. Are you fully engaged with your Innovation sources…your customer and your front line service teams?

2) Bullish on Technology Investment:

Service Leaders in this year’s survey are aggressively investing in technology with 66% indicating that they will be increasing their investments this year. And 1 out of 5 will increase it by over 10% from last year. This investment is indicative of the continuing urgency to deliver higher customer satisfaction and more service revenue (which are the number 1 & 2 most important metrics for service leaders this year). They are positioning themselves to create the flexibility to provide proactive & predictive service, knowing what their customers want and when they need it before the customer even knows or suffers a failure.  By updating their technology stack and integrating those platforms to operate seamlessly they are gaining deeper insights into how best to serve their customers. Technology investments are aimed at making service delivery more intelligent and information-enabled through further automation and putting their abundance of data to use.

3) Don’t Let Line of Business IT drive the Service Technology Roadmap Strategy:

In prior years, investment in systems, platforms, and infrastructure for service delivery were typically defined, prioritized, selected and funded by the IT leadership team. Service Leaders are now evolving this approach that puts the customer (internal & external) at the center of the strategy. They are defining and driving the conversation leveraging the financial, operational, customer and people performance data available to them.  They are the ones bringing the IT and Finance teams to the table to discuss investments, potential revenue streams and ROI. It’s clear that IT needs to be involved in the IT strategy roadmap…but don’t defer, instead focus on the voice of your customer and operationalize the extensive data available to build out your IT strategy for service and company success.  The selection of a great solution partner can assist with your planning and execution strategy. Take the time to define what’s important to you as you evaluate potential partners for fit and capability.

4) Customer Satisfaction & Revenue:

Service Leaders transitioned into new revenue models in 2018, creating new services by getting closer to their customer to truly understand what matters most to them.  For 2019, Customer Satisfaction has jumped to the top slot at 46% of the Service Leaders stating it is their #1 metric. This represents a seismic shift from its 29% and fourth position in 2018, by overtaking service revenue, service margins and response time. Service revenue…the top metric last year at 46%...fell to the number two position for 2019. It’s still very important capturing 43% of the survey responses, compared to 46% last year.   We have heard from an increasing number of service leaders the desire for their business to better connect with their customers. At our 2018 Symposium, bestselling author Joe Pine (“The Experience Economy”) shared that customers are now taking their personal consumer experiences delivered by Amazon, Uber, Zappos and others and are elevating their expectations for similar experiences in their commercial service transactions.

5 Opportunities Every Field Service Leader Should Seize in 2019 - Customer Satisfaction Chart.png

5) Planning now for the next 5 years:

Strategically, the long view has service leaders focused on the following areas:

5 Opportunities Every Field Service Leader Should Seize in 2019 - Planning Chart.png

The focus for the coming years remains steadily focused on the customer and the experiences that are being delivered. The most successful service organizations today already have processes in place to measure the customers experience.  The need for engagement with your customer base will continue to be very important to your service organizations long term success. The ability to evaluate what your customers are telling you, as well as a strong understanding of the market and your competition have to be inputs that define your service innovation plans.  “Listening ahead” as I’ve heard one leader refer to it …is the ability to hear what your customers “desired” service experience is. It is a capability you need to ensure is core to your team now, otherwise risk getting left behind. 

2019 presents exciting opportunities for service leaders to have a deep and far reaching impact for their customers and their organizations. The successful leaders will be the ones that can capitalize on these opportunities.  Stay connected to learn how some of your peers, and Field Service Champions, are taking action to deliver on their full potential. And take the time this month to participate in our 2019 trends research (survey). Plan to attend the webcast on Wednesday, January 10 where John Carroll and I will share more findings from this year’s survey. Register now to learn, share, and take action on these opportunities in front of today’s field service leader.