By Jeff Oskin, president and CEO of Jolt Consulting Group
There are many reasons why excellent service is valuable to a service business. If a company can provide best-in-class service, they will retain customers, attract new ones, and realize financial gains. Not every business is at the pinnacle of providing excellent service today — and that’s okay. To help service businesses benchmark how they compare to best-in-class, Jolt Consulting developed a five-stage Service Excellence CurveSM.
Service As A Competitive Differentiator
Before assessing where an organization lies operationally along the curve, companies must first think strategically about how moving up the curve can benefit business operations, profitability, and positively impact the customer experience.
Building Trust: We all know that great service builds trust. In today’s competitive marketplace, companies must engender trust and loyalty with their customers because, let’s face it, the competition is stiff and readily available. By providing best-in-class service, a company can strengthen the bond their current customers have with their organization and deter them from connecting with a competitor.
Combating Price Objections: Price is only an issue in the absence of value. We hear time and again that a major concern is how price conscious customers are — which is true — but providing excellent service can outweigh price differences. A customer is willing to pay a premium for a service if their experience is top notch.
Operational Consistency: Another critical factor in providing excellent service is consistency, which means the proper people, processes, and tools are in place to continuously provide excellent service. If customers know they will receive a consistent and superior experience each time they contact the service provider, the organization has achieved peak customer care.
Five-Star Ratings Matter: Today’s consumers are hyper connected to each other via social media, they do their homework before ever engaging with a company, and read online reviews to gauge credibility. Today’s “new” consumer journey can be a huge benefit to a business; but only if they offer excellent service and continuously grow those coveted five-star reviews.
In the The Service Excellence CurveSM journey, service organizations are typically not 100 percent in one stage or another and, most times, are in multiple stages for different parts of their service delivery. For example, parts and logistics may be in the Migratory stage, while the technical support call center may be in Innovator stage. Regardless of where a business fits operationally today, our objective is to help clients move up the Service Excellence CurveSM and realize the associated benefits. This cannot be accomplished overnight and there is no “magic bullet.” Accelerating up the curve requires a strategic plan for changes in people, processes, and tools with a critical eye on the potential impact to the customer experience.
The stages of The Service Excellence CurveSM are as follows:
STAGE 1 - Reactive
If daily operations consist of “putting out fires,” having a high service cost, and struggling with finding the balance between overstaffing and understaffing field technicians, companies are at the Reactive stage of the curve. Service is typically a result of a customer contacting the company with an issue or problem that requires immediate action. This stage is holding the company back as they spend more time solving short-term issues and firefighting than strategizing for the long-term.
STAGE 2 - Migratory
While companies have introduced some remote access and diagnostics into their processes, a high percentage of the work is still reactive, not proactive. Communication is still fragmented across the business. In the Migratory stage, companies are beginning to view service as a strategic business segment and as a profit center. With increased financial focus, companies are monitoring service financial metrics and are beginning to actively develop new service revenue streams.
STAGE 3 - Leader
Companies in the Leader stage have remote access to their installed base standard across the organization driving operational efficiencies. Service contract offerings are becoming more important driving proactive service work and repeatable and predictable revenue streams. Companies have laid the foundation for strong operational efficiencies.
STAGE 4 – Innovator
In the Innovator stage, companies are an integrated service organization with a strong commitment to predictive maintenance. A sophisticated technology infrastructure is in place to capture, synthesize, and create valuable intelligence from product data. Service is typically the company’s largest profit center and service contract adoption is widespread.
STAGE 5 – Best-in-Class
The operational and technology infrastructure from prior stages has set the foundation for companies. Performance-based service contracts and a fully integrated enterprise characterize the Best-in-Class stage. Service data is viewed as a critical asset and utilized across the entire organization (e.g., engineering, design, and manufacturing).
Providing superior service creates competitive differentiation, customer “stickiness,” and financial benefits for the service organization. To realize these benefits, organizations strive to achieve best-in-class service delivery; however, many companies have not reached this pinnacle yet. A tool like the Service Excellence CurveSM helps service businesses understand where they are in relation to best-in-class, and provides a blueprint to follow on their best-in-class journey. Moving up the Service Excellence CurveSM requires a strategic plan and changes in the organization’s people, processes, and tools.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Service Excellence CurveSM, visit http://joltconsultinggroup.com/service-excellence-curve-1/