Editor’s note: This post was written by Daniel Brabec and Sumair Dutta, field service experts and members of ServiceMax’s Global Customer Transformation team.
In our current environment, it is easy to focus on the here and now, the immediate crisis that requires our attention and resources. This is true of content published by many of the leaders and experts at ServiceMax and across the field service spectrum. That said, this is also an essential time to take stock and consider long-term sustainability. Is our organization prepared with the right talent, the right tools, and the right information? Do we have the right leaders in place? Do we have a pipeline of leaders with access to the right knowledge and information?
ServiceMax’s Global Customer Transformation (GCT) team recently released its 2nd annual Chief Service Officer Report. The report documents the key themes and talking points captured from our year-long discussions with service leaders globally. The report also outlines recommendations for service leaders looking to navigate their service transformations.
While written to focus on the needs of today’s leader (including an additional COVID-19 section), there are areas that are paramount for those considering the role of a CSO. Of all the areas, these are the top 5 areas that the next generation of service leaders should prioritize.
1. Employee Engagement
Service organizations are establishing a greater level of maturity around customer surveying, but internal employee surveying and listening continue to be ad hoc at best. There is no direct substitute for face to face conversations with front line employees, but surveys and feedback programs can help service leaders take a first step to engaging with their service teams. Listening is only a single piece in a broader employee engagement program, but it can form the foundation of all other activities that need to take place to ensure that the varied needs and interests of service employees are addressed.
2. Customer Value Engagement
While service organizations might be better equipped to calculate their CSAT or NPS scores, they are still in the early stages of proactively engaging in value-related conversations with their customers. Most conversations are reactive around service issues or assumptive around cross-sell or up-sell opportunities.
There is a happy medium conversation, call it customer success, that focuses on event review, pre-empts upcoming issues, and advises customers on steps that can be taken to drive value. These conversations then invite co-innovation opportunities that support portfolio development, new engagement opportunities, and lead to mutual success. For a new service leader, upfront visibility with customers is a great starting point to share such a value-focused philosophy and to get buy-in for a different form of relationship.
3. Internal Stakeholder Alignment
Service is a team sport that requires buy-in from other stakeholders across the organization. Conversely, service owns the value relationship with the customer around the use of the asset and can provide essential information that is priceless to other functions. An incoming service leader shouldn’t assume that other functions are unwilling to support their business, they might just be following business as usual.
Understanding the metrics of success for other groups is a good first step to take. Making service information available that aligns with these metrics is another action item that can be prioritized to chip away at traditional business silos. Once a foundation is built, showcasing the value of additional information on internal and external stakeholders could lead to increased buy-in around process changes, collaborative work, or an improved investment in service.
4. Commercial Framework
Traditional service improvement initiatives have focused on operational areas with little attention paid to commercial maturity. As service takes an increasing role in the value conversation with the customer, it is essential that a service leader has access to sales, marketing, and product development resources that are focused on the portfolio of service contracts and service offerings.
The current iterations of service offerings, and the messaging around these products, might not be reflective of the uptime-focused or outcome-driven engagement models that are desired by customers. Without innovation in service offerings, the service value proposition will get heavily commoditized, leading to reactive pricing-based conversations as opposed to proactive ones focused on value.
5. Digital Roadmapping
The digital toolkit available to tomorrow’s CSOs will be unparalleled. We are just beginning to understand the real value that can be driven by technology foundations such as the Internet of Things or Artificial Intelligence. Yet, many service processes are paper based on their early stages of digitization and its incumbent on CSOs to truly roadmap which digital tools make the most sense given the needs of the organization and its customers.
For example, in the CSO Report, we highlight the importance of data integrity at the installed base level to truly accelerate the impact of today’s tools. Incomplete data will often lead to incomplete outcomes regardless of the sophistication of the toolset available. Therefore CSOs should focus on isolating the data.
More Resources for the Next Generation of Service Leaders
These are 5 critical areas that the next generation of service leaders (and current ones too) should prioritize as they consider taking the helm of a service-driven business transformation. There are other areas of focus too, especially in the development of a talent pipeline to meet service and customer obligations. That said, this is meant to start a conversation between us (the GCT team) and those who aspire to take the service lead.
We are passionate about the role of the CSO and in sharing our collective insight and knowledge to those who align with the profession. The next chapter of the conversation is in development, but we encourage those reading to reach out to us with their ideas, thoughts, and questions. We can be found collectively at or individually at or .
If interested in downloading the CSO report, you can access the latest version here. We are also hosting a series of conversations with service leaders in the new Zoom-driven reality that we find ourselves in.
To access our informal coffee conversations, please visit our virtual events page. To save a seat for our virtual CSO Summit series for 2020, reach out directly to Daniel at .
Watch Our ServiceMax Live Episode on the 2020 CSO Report: