At ServiceMax, we have the opportunity to interact with some of the most passionate and forward-thinking Chief Service Officers (CSOs). Therefore, it has always been a priority for the company and for the Global Customer Transformation (GCT) team to create forums where our CSOs can get together to:
- Share their ideas and challenges
- Tap into the knowledge of others
- Spearhead innovative thinking in the area of service transformation
In most years, we dedicate time during ServiceMax’s Maximize events to host our annual CSO Summits, but as with most things this year, our CSO Summits are now virtual. The GCT team recently hosted a series of CSO Roundtables on the theme of ‘Rethink Your Operating Model.’ This comes on the heels of events held earlier in the year focused on COVID-19 and Customer Loyalty Best Practices. All of these events in our CSO series are held under Chatham House Rules and we refrain from publishing specific talking points and initiatives. However, we have been summarizing the findings in our annual CSO Reports (2020 CSO Report) and will publish a year-end recap in a few months. From the September session, some of the key themes discussed were:
1. Increasing Support for Self-Service/Self-Repair Use Cases
Service leaders are now dedicating a greater amount of time to support models that consider the variety of personas that might work on or fix the asset. For the longest time, most of their time was dedicated to the field service persona. That said, field-based access may now be limited or reduced and there needs to be a greater consideration for other stakeholders who might repair and support assets. These include customers who might have their own teams or workforces dedicated to completing basic repair and maintenance.
In some industries, these customers or customer-appointed workforces might rely on third parties for access to parts, manuals, or service information, as its cheaper or more convenient. It’s vital for manufacturers to tap into this service model by offering the necessary tools and resources. It not only creates an additional revenue stream, but also provides the manufacturer with additional insight into what is taking place on the asset. As stated by a participating CSO, “We need to be more agile from a customer-facing technology point-of-view.”
2. Remote Support Activities are a High Priority
To augment self-support, there is an increasing desire by service leaders to deliver remote support capabilities. These fall under three primary areas:
- To remotely support customers (or customer-appointed resources) in their service activities via a text, voice, or video-based communication channels
- To use remote tools to capture relevant service and diagnostic information for downstream service actions (customer repair, remote fix, field-based repair)
- To remotely assist field technicians or other field personnel (partners) via text, voice, or video-based channels
Traditionally, the idea of remote support focused heavily on establishing a direct connection to the service asset to capture relevant performance and diagnostic information. These Internet of Things (IoT)-centric initiatives have seen some adoption but continue to face customer-driven or internal organization-driven challenges. In the current COVID-19 environment, some of the customer-driven barriers to connectivity have come down. As stated by one CSO, “We have been battling customers for connectivity for several years. Now, there is a total mind shift.”
That said, remote connectivity to the asset is just one part of an overall remote support solution that is enticing to customers as it reduces asset downtime and potentially lowers the overall cost of service or maintenance tied to the asset. In response, service leaders are strengthening their remote support solutions, not only with the use of new technology, but also by ensuring that the right operational and commercial frameworks are in place. For instance, remote support calls need to be manned by associates or engineers with the right skills to ensure resolution. More so, the impact of remote resolutions needs to be clearly communicated especially if the frequency of field visits is to be reduced, to justify the value of the overall service relationship.
3. Health and Safety are at the Forefront
In some organizations, COVID-19 has raised a new focus on health and safety to ensure that technicians have access to the necessary protective equipment and a safe working environment while also ensuring that customers have comfort with virus-related safety protocols being followed. In other industries, the ongoing focus on health and safety is being re-emphasized given the presence of COVID-19. In these industries, there is a focus on making it easier for technicians to be safe.
These organizations want to build safety into the day-to-day processes of the field service technicians as opposed to placing the impetus on technicians to search for necessary safety-related steps or information. Therefore, safety protocols and checklists, specific to that customer or the type of work, need to be built into standard operating procedures so that work cannot be started or completed without adherence to safety steps. Other steps being taken include:
- Making it easier to report or record near-miss information
- Surfacing safety-related content and videos prior to a particular work task to refresh technicians on safety steps tied to the particular work they are about to be doing
COVID-19 has driven service organizations to be proactive about their safety programs to enable the ongoing delivery of support to customers.
4. Training and Learning Require a Revamp
As in the case of the safety content highlighted above, there is a demand from service organizations to revamp their training and learning content to be:
- Online, preferably in video, and easier to consume
- Context-specific, aligned with the type of asset or work being done
There is a recognition that traditional training models are unfeasible in the current work environment and don’t fit the learning styles of younger generations of service workers. While some training and certification will continue to require extensive hands-on hours, a significant chunk of content can be made available in multiple forms. This allows for the better scaling of training and learning resources while also reducing the time and expense commitment to in-person only training. Organizations are interested in revamping their training infrastructure for all stakeholders, ranging from internal technicians and technical support, to partners and eventual customers.
Those were some of the key discussion themes from our virtual CSO discussions in September. We’d be interested to hear if these themes are similar to those being discussed at your organization. If interested in sharing your thoughts or in joining future CSO events, feel free to reach out to us at or .