By Bill Pollock, president & principal consulting analyst, Strategies For Growth
There have been a great many changes in the global service community over the last decade or two. Things just simply are not the same today as they were just a couple of years ago — and that’s good! Technology has advanced, customers have become both more knowledgeable and more demanding with respect to what they want from their service providers, and most service organizations have taken additional steps to automate their service processes and bolster their service delivery capabilities.
In an effort to continually improve, one thing will always remain constant – and that is the need to interact with your customers.
In recent years, a majority of service organizations have moved from a traditional cost-center approach to running their service operations to a profit-center approach in an effort to improve the bottom line. As a result, we have seen many organizations transform themselves from a back-office function to a front-office business function, including representation at the executive level in the organization. Different organizations have gone through this evolution at a varying pace, depending on the market segments they serve, the demands of the customer, and the intensifying competitive environment.
In addition, we have seen most customers transition from primarily buying equipment to buying solutions, which has increased the need for customization and the development of professional services to deliver what the customer wants and needs. This has brought the global services community up to the level where most companies are now positioned to provide a palette of services and choices for the customer that meet their evolving demands and create both a stronger business partnership, as well as new business opportunities.
This is especially true in a high-technology, connected services environment, as we see a much stronger trend in the development of long-term partnerships with customers, typically beginning with the initial contact by the sales team. However, this requires that the organization has in-depth expertise to develop customized solutions early in the sales cycle, regardless of whether this is at the equipment, software, or acquisition/financing portion of the cycle. As such, the focus remains on the customer, and delivering the solution that meets their needs and requirements.
Regardless of the size, type or geographic coverage of your services organization, the following represent some of the key areas where customer interaction must be planned for – and executed upon:
Since every service organization is different and highly dependent on the market in which it serves, some of the above-mentioned issues might not be particularly problematic – but they are food for thought. We have seen these trends taking hold in different segments of the global service community, and they might just be applicable to your organization as well. In any event, it never hurts to look for new ways to strengthen your customer relationships and thereby improve your competitive advantage in an otherwise highly competitive global marketplace.