Magazine Article | May 24, 2013

5 Keys To Becoming A Customer-Centric Service Operation

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

By Sumair Dutta, chief customer officer, The Service Council,,

As the focus of organizations shifts to the customer, here are five points to remember.

We just concluded our second annual Smarter Services Symposium in Chicago last month where we hosted more than 225 service business executives. At the event, I was introduced as the newest member of The Service Council. During my first three days on the job, I got to hear some great information from service visionaries such as Wayne Peacock, EVP, member experience at USAA; Bob Johnson, chief service and IT officer at Sprint; Larry Wash, EVP and CEO at KONE Americas; James Mylett, VP and GM, field and business service operations North America at Johnson Controls; and Renee Cacchillo, VP, service delivery at Safelite AutoGlass.

The theme of Smarter Services was tied to the concept of connecting with your world as a path to engaging customers and developing a portfolio of smarter services. All of the sessions talked about the concept of customer-centricity and the tools needed to focus on value driven to the customer. As a result of this customervalue focus, organizations experience a trailing effect on key operational and financial metrics. To turn it around and focus solely on operational metrics leads to a loss of focus on the customer.

There were five standout takeaways from the event, with regards to ideals needed to truly transition to a service- and customer-centric organization, that I want to share with you.

#1: Develop A Customer-Centric Mission
Mission statements sound kooky at times, but an organization must state its intent to be focused on generating additional value for its customers. Cost-saving plans disguised as customer experience programs will fail to get the buy-in needed from employees across the organization.

#2: Executive Buy-In Is Key
A mission requires a champion, one who isn’t afraid to walk in the shoes of the service technician and truly represent a customer-centric vision. Leaders are also needed to gain buy-in across the organization. Delivery of a better customer experience cannot solely be the mission of the service organization.

#3: Power To The People
Leaders who champion a customer-centric mission also need to focus on building the right team to support this mission. As such, service champions need to serve as HR leaders, motivators, challengers, mentors, and more.

#4: Importance Of Account/Engagement Plans At The Service Stage
Moving away from a transaction-oriented service approach requires the introduction of account plans focused not only on marketing and sales but also on the relationship at a service level.

#5: Keep It Simple
Customers want better service; employees take pride in delivering exemplary service. As such, organizations need to focus on simplifying the service relationship with customers. Value and journey mapping are key tools to understand the level of ease that customers experience as they do business with and engage with the servicing organization.

There were a number of valuable quotes over the three-day event. One that I captured right off the bat was from Wayne Peacock at USAA, an organization long known for its customer focus. In his keynote session, Wayne stated, “We needed to restructure around the needs of our members and their families, as opposed to the limitations of our product family. Our mission was to embrace our members’ needs and enrich their lives.” That really sums up the transition of an organization from a product-focused to a service- and customer-focused business.

If you’re interested in the presentations from our annual symposium, please feel free to visit: http://