Executive buy-in has long been a central challenge in transforming an organization from product-centric to service-centric or customer-centric. Organizations, and quite often the executives at the helm, continue to invest heavily in differentiation via product features or pricing, with a lower priority given to customers who will actually use, adopt, and advocate interest in the products.

A customer-centric transaction doesn’t necessarily mean less focus on product features and capabilities. It means that the features and capabilities built into the product are tied to the needs of the customer. Note, I didn’t say that product features are solely designed based on what customers want or fancy; they are tied to a deeper understanding of customer needs and how you can maximize value.

Deep Understanding of Customer Needs

Innovators such as Henry Ford and Steve Jobs have talked about the dangers of building features solely on customer desires. Ford famously quipped, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses,” and Jobs argued that focus groups wouldn’t help product design, as customers wouldn’t know what they wanted unless you showed them. However, both understood the gap prevalent in the market, a gap that stood in the way of customers attaining greater value.

Twenty percent of companies polled for an upcoming research study on field service challenges highlighted that gaining executive support was a key challenge hindering the continued growth of field-service businesses. If you incorporate field service into a broad service ecosystem and talk about the challenges of enabling a profit-centric view for service organizations, that support rises. For the folks citing a lack of executive support, the four following actions were listed as the most effective in enhancing executive support for service:

  • Provide greater visibility into the impact of service on financial metrics tied to the entire organization (cost, revenue, profit).
  • Provide greater visibility into the impact of service on customer-oriented metrics such as satisfaction, loyalty, and retention.
  • Increase service-generated revenue streams.
  • Drive down the cost of the service business.

Improving the margins in the service business is a sure way to get executive support. Therefore, the combined focus of bullets three and four makes a lot of sense. Just reducing the cost of the business without generating revenues doesn’t seem like strategy focused on growth.

Excerpted with permission. Read the full article at Field Technologies Online.

ABOUT Sumair Dutta

sumair duttaSumair Dutta is the VP of product marketing at ServiceMax. In this role, he helps shape ServiceMax messaging and positioning to support customers and prospects. Previously, Sumair worked closely with leaders of service businesses to define and shape their service vision while working hand in hand with implementation teams to execute on established service plans. Sumair is a thought leader in the field service and service management spaces and has conducted numerous research projects in the areas of field service, customer support and business strategy. He brings more than 15 years of experience in studying, analyzing and guiding field service organizations, first at the Aberdeen Group and most recently as the chief customer officer at The Service Council.