“The customer is always right” is often a quoted by organizations as a way to instill a mindset of service at all costs. But what if this cost is too high for an organization to maintain profitability? At that point is the customer still right?"
Customers historically were right because they were the ones paying for a product or service. But a change is taking place for many service and manufacturing organizations. The concern isn’t necessarily the threat of customers not buying more products, but instead what happens if customers find a new provider as a result of poor service. In Aberdeen’s recent research on Mobile Field Service (June 2013) the top two pressures facing organizations was #1 – customer demand for improved (faster, more efficient) service and #2 – competitive pressures from the market. These two challenges combined made it a priority for organizations to take a long look at the service operation and try to find ways to not only improve to satisfy the customer but also to remain in business. This need to provide more than lip service to the mantra that the customer is always right has led top performing organizations to re-train their focus on delivering exceptional service to customers every time. A few trends highlight this level of service being provided in a new customer-centric world –
- Is anyone home? Are customer schedules taken into account when routing a technician to a job site? This question is beginning to be asked and incorporated in scheduling engines at Best-in-Class organizations. Aberdeen’s Secrets to Optimize Field Service for Better Customer Experiences report (September 2013) highlighted that top performing organizations are 56% more likely than others to schedule technicians based on a customer’s availability (50% vs. 32%, respectively). Any truck roll will be costly, but the costs rise exponentially if a technician shows up and the customer or asset isn’t even available to be fixed.
- Don’t wait until it breaks, fix the issue before it becomes a problem! The break fix model is quite broken. Customers expect more; an equipment or asset failure is a missed opportunity to excel at service for the customer. As more assets become connected and data is captured constantly, organizations have the ability (if not requirement) to proactively service equipment before a failure.
- Meet customer needs without them asking. There will be a time shortly (if not already seen) where some service offerings will be viewed as just another commodity. Aberdeen’s Remote Service research showed how top performing organizations have been able to identify gaps in support as a result of asset usage data, and use this insight to create new value-add services to help improve the customer’s efficiency and productivity. To avoid the trap of being in a market as a lowest cost provider, service organizations need to identify and offer the next service which the customer will value.
The service executive must become an expert at juggling both operational and customer related issues around service resolution. Rising costs of support can become a problem, however cutting costs to the determinant of the customer experience will lead to worse consequences – no customers. It is imperative that service improve efficiencies for the sake of the customer and not solely to generate more profits. Remember the customer is always right!
Aly Pinder, Senior Research Associate at Aberdeen Group
As a senior associate in the customer experience and service management practice, Aly Pinder Jr. researches and explores how service and manufacturing executives utilize technology and implement best practices to improve post-sales service and support processes. Through practitioner benchmarking and analysis of Aberdeen’s research database, he examines how Best-in-Class service organizations are reengineering their service chains for improved performance and increased profitability.
Aly’s coverage areas within the service space primarily cover the following topics on which he has written or co-authored over 40 research reports and bench marked more than 4,000 service executives in his four plus years with Aberdeen:
- Field Service and Mobility
- Service Parts Logistics
- Warranty and Service Contract Management
- Reverse Logistics
Follow Aly at: @Aberdeen_cesm, @Pinderjr