Sustainability initiatives often capture headlines after a disaster, or have been used to bolster press showing that a company cares. But is there tangible business value in bringing sustainable initiatives into the service space? I say yes.
In my recent report, State of Service Management: Roadmap to a Profitable 2014 (March 2014), nearly half (46%) of the Best-in-Class (as defined by performance in customer satisfaction, customer retention, and annual improvement in service margin) currently have a service-specific sustainability initiative in place. More telling than current adoption rates is the reason why organizations are looking to sustainability initiatives in the first place –
1.) Need to increase productivity / resource utilization,
2.) Need to enhance speed of service delivery,
3.) Need to eliminate service-related costs.
Service leaders see a clear link between being more socially responsible and driving efficiencies within the service operation. This is no marketing or PR ploy to gain more “likes” or Twitter followers. As seen in Aberdeen’s Sustainability Initiatives in Service: Find the Green report (May 2014), top performers allocated 9% of annual budget to sustainability initiatives as compared to 5% for all others. These dollars are going to programs that improve service for the customer while also positively impacting the environment and efficiency. As much as customers may laud a greener service organization, this cannot come at the expense of exceptional service resolution. And the Best-in-Class understand how to navigate this tightrope. In order to manage service efficiently while implementing a sustainable strategy, the Best-in-Class have adopted a few best practices:
Find Your Green Guru to lead the way – Projects fail without strong leadership which is held accountable for success and failure. This is a blanket statement, but it holds true in the majority of cases. And creating a sustainable strategy for service is no different. Putting a ‘green’ guru in place to create the strategy, manage initiatives, and be held accountable for success or failure is integral to transforming the business. A guru is also integral because without having someONE in place to manage this strategy, it is bound to languish as a nice to have in good times but not essential when budgets get slashed. As discussed earlier, there are tangible benefits to sustainability initiatives in service, and leadership needs to be in place to measure and monitor this success.
Prevent Failures through service innovation – The evolution of service, and namely field service, has led many top performing organizations to move beyond reactive service to more predictive and preventive service. This is where sustainable engineering and programs can come in. These initiatives can creatively find new solutions to old problems, and engineering can build new products that are more serviceable, environmentally –friendly, and fail less often.
Transition to more efficient vehicles – Fleet management is an often overlooked part of field service. But vehicles are quite integral to ensuring field service technicians get from one job to the next. In order to solve both the issue of getting technicians to a customer site and also cutting costs from inefficient vehicles, the Best-in-Class are re-evaluating their fleet of vans and trucks. Fuel costs continue to be a challenge to the bottom line for the service executive, and ever changing global regulations on emissions have forced firms to become proactive in managing their fleets.
The green service firm is here right now. Many of your peers have allocated budgets to create sustainable service strategies. But the reason this is not a fading trend is that sustainability has a real tangible impact on delivering service issue resolution, improving customer satisfaction, and driving profitability. Can you afford to lose out?