7 Top Trends from 2018 Smarter Services Symposium

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7 Take-Away Trends from the 2018 Smarter Services Symposium

Service Council’s 2018 Smarter Services Symposium was held in Chicago with 250 delegates representing 100+ service organizations all gathering under the theme: “Service is Humanity”.

Topics included disruptive technology, uberization of the workforce, data analytics, supply chains, employee culture, customer experience, and much more. Here are some of 10 of the top trends we take away from this positive and powerful annual event.

1. Service is gaining in power

The service side of business is enjoying more respect and influence inside  organizations of all sizes. Customer retention now tops new customer acquisition as a source of predictable revenue and profitability. Service innovation in a commoditized world is a source competitive advantage.

Question: Is service a cost center or revenue (value?) center in your organization? Are the service people on your team (who work closest to the customer every day) given the resources and empowerment they need, and the respect they deserve?

2. Business models are migrating from Buy-Sell, to SLA, to Outcome-Based Solutions

More customers don’t want to buy from a price list of products and services, or even contract with Service Level Agreements. They want valuable outcomes and reliable results.

More companies are selling and delivering on this promise and the results, taking responsibility (and liability) for delivering what customers most want to experience, avoid, or achieve.

Many challenges exist for organizations making this transition, including legacy reporting structures, out-of-sync compensation plans, lack of capabilities, and customer and supplier inexperience.

This is new territory for both sides, as solo account managers are being replaced by 6-12 person account management teams. But the trend is unmistakable. Price lists are disappearing. The most important promise is not what products and services you sell, but what valuable outcomes you can deliver.

Question: Do your customers want your prices, products, and service, or do they want the results you and your team can deliver? What business model are you offering today? What must you become to compete and win tomorrow? What your customers value most, right now?

3. The new labor force is not prepared to “do”. The old labor force is not prepared to “teach”.

Many young people enter the workforce skilled in software and online behavior, but clumsy in the physical world of material and machines.

Some companies are creating long-term apprentice-based education programs to close the gap, giving the young a path to acquire new skills and existing workers a way to pass along their hard-won sensibilities. These programs are building competencies and increasing employee retention, especially valuable in today’s dynamic labor market.

Question: Is your organization doing enough to transfer the experience of existing team members and build capabilities in the young

4.  Technology enables more transparency and communication, but that’s not always a net positive.

Integrated technology platforms are generating an increasing flood of robust and real-time information. The impulse to share information and insights sounds like a good idea, but over-communication can be overwhelming.

Progress, performance, scheduling, and status updates are more available than ever before, but does your customer really want to hear all that?

Question: Examine the frequency of communication and intensity of information at each customer touch point. Are you sending messages because you can, or because your customer really wants to know.

5. Employee engagement is an investment for all, not some.

Great employee experience leads to great customer experiences. No surprise there. What is surprising is the lengths some companies go to include third parties as members of the home team.

The Chicago Cubs sets a high standard by providing training, communications, and recognition to those outside the employee base, but inside the customer’s experience. This includes vendors selling food and souvenirs, parking attendants, ticket collectors, and even those who sell seating and host parties on building rooftops outside the stadium.

Question: Do you treat your distributors, partners, and suppliers like inside family members? If their performance affects your customer, can you afford to leave them outside?

6. Experience is a direct economic offering. Transformation is an economic upgrade.

Joe Pine, author of “The Experience Economy”, shared how mass customization is now a commodity. Offering experiences allows you to differentiate, but even experiences are now being copied.

The evolution of service and value is from:

1) extracting commodities, to
2) making products, to
3) delivering services, to
4) staging experiences, to
5) guiding human transformations.

This means taking customers and employees from where they are now to new states of satisfaction, fulfillment, and being. Joe shared many such examples of companies that thrive by taking customers from fat to fit, ill to well, stressed to serene, and anxious to secure.

The imperative to level up in value is here today. Staging experiences and guiding transformations is key to success today, and tomorrow.

Question: Watch this video interview with Ron Kaufman and Joe Pine now on “Creating Expanded Service Experiences”. Which stage of the experience can you improve for your customers?  For your colleagues?

 7. Human empathy and emotions count and can be counted

 In every field from engineering to engines and from infrastructure to insurance, human empathy and emotions are rising as legitimate measures of business well-being and success. The mood of a business relationship can be created and sustained. The emotion of an interaction can be cultivated and appreciated.

Metrics that don’t support these outcomes are losing their power while measures of attitude and interest are rising.

For example, many call centers are moving away from short handling time as a primary measure of success and moving towards first-time fulfillment and customer appreciation as better measures of a contact center’s worth.

Question: Are you measuring and managing to metrics derived from the past, or those that will guide you and your customers to a shared and more successful future?

Which of these trends do you recognize as affecting your business today? Which require more awareness or better effort throughout your organization?

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