The role of service in the Experience Economy

In the Experience Economy, customer service means more than fixing what’s broken. Coen Jeukens of ServiceMax explores what this means for service organizations.

In my native Dutch language, we have an expression “operatie geslaagd, patiënt overladen,” which translates to “surgery successful, patient deceased.” Just because a procedure or process was performed successfully does not necessarily mean it generated a successful outcome. That’s because experience matters.

The ‘Experience Economy’ is a phrase first coined in 1998 in a Harvard Business Review article and later in an eponymous book by consultants Joseph Pine and James Gilmore. It’s based on the premise that businesses must deliberately orchestrate and create memorable encounters for their customers, and that the memory itself becomes the product — or in other words, the ‘experience’. Airlines for example, are not just taking you from A to B on time and at the lowest price, but (hopefully) giving you their distinctive en-route experience.

Valuing the experience in service delivery

The ‘Experience Economy’ states that over time the value of the experience will outweigh the value of the product or service. The implications for service delivery — fixing the product alone — is not enough. You need to ‘fix’ the customer as well.

It’s particularly relevant in service-based industries, because more advanced experience businesses can charge for the value of the ‘transformation’ that an experience offers. But a lot has happened since 1998 and the lines have since blurred. Experience is now intertwined with customer management strategies and more recently the move to outcome-based business models and the rising emphasis on customer success.

To help us measure customer satisfaction, Fred Reichheld introduced the Net Promoter Score (NPS) in 2003. Today you see NPS, CSATCES and CX everywhere. We care about the customer because the product/service itself is moving towards becoming a commodity. To differentiate and assure ourselves of sustainable revenue streams, we need to move upwards. We need to do what customers really care about. This drives many transformation journeys.

From break-fix to knowing what works

For service organizations, this means moving from fixing what breaks to knowing what works.

For example, a global technology solutions vendor had a persistent problem in finding sufficient qualified technicians. As an experiment they started hiring hospitality graduates. Their logic was that with modern tools, it’s easier to teach technical skills to people-oriented employees, than to teach people skills to technology-oriented employees. In other words, you hire for attitude and softer skills, then teach the technical competency. With increasingly vocal customers this experiment not only became a success for the company, it also became the norm.

As industries become increasingly automated we are rethinking the skills our workforce needs. The role of service technicians in delivering positive experiences, human touch, contextual understanding, communication and the slew of softer skills aside from the service or maintenance task, is becoming more important than ever.

As the economy begins to emerge from locked-down restrictions to finding a new level of ‘normal’, customer experience will be the bedrock of service delivery, customer retention and proactive customer management strategies.

Published in Diginomica on July 1st, 2020.

Post-Crisis Handbook – Managing the Backlog

We’ve been talking about disruption for quite a while, but many could not fathom out its consequences or that it would even hit us. Nations, organisations and individuals have discovered that their business continuity plans could not mitigate the impact.

Now we’re past the initial shock, what is business-as-usual going to look like? How do we pick-up and how do we process the backlog created by three months of lock-down?

In the previous chapter of our post-crisis handbook @Daniel Brabec provided four handles that are top of mind when navigating the service world in the New Normal. In this chapter we will focus on managing the backlog.

Perpetual Backlogs

Right now, all focus is on Covid-19 and its impacts. But if you look deeper, you will see that many COVID-related themes have pre-existed in varying degrees; its only now that we look at them through a magnifying glass.

  • Remote service procedures have been around for more than 30 years. Rethinking business continuity plans will likely expedite their adoption.
  • Digital tools allow you to remodel your business processes and simulate the amount and mode of touch points. Social distancing guidelines add an additional ingredient to that business process (re)engineering.
  • Balancing the availability of technician capacity and contracted workload is an ongoing exercise for each service-focused executive. Disruptions and imbalance exist at all times. Only Covid-19 is a major shock, illustrating that business-as-usual balancing mechanisms can’t cope.

Balancing Supply & Demand

For about three months many businesses have seen huge fluctuations in both the volume of work and the availability of resources.

The existing workforce has been confined to work from home, has been furloughed or has taken sick/ care leave. In addition, those that are available have to spend more time on a job for extra precautionary activities. In all, you have less capacity to execute work.

From a workload perspective we see that many jobs have been pushed out. We see some equipment being ‘sweated’ to maximum usage (e.g. medical diagnostic equipment) and others going into hibernation (e.g. aircraft engines). This will have a huge impact on the life cycle of the asset warranting a more asset centric approach.

The Impact of the Backlog

Just try to imagine all the impacts a work-related backlog might have on the business:

  • Compliance: For three months Preventive Maintenance (PM) and Inspection jobs have been pushed out. All time-based schedules and counters will see non-conformity. To what degree can you apply flexibility to compliance dates and how do you manage those shifts?
  • Service Level Agreement attainment: There are many relevant questions that need to be answered in the measurement of SLA performance. How does one measure uptime for e.g. medical diagnostic equipment that has been running 24/7? How do you measure uptime of equipment for furloughed organisations? And How do penalty clauses apply; or is the pandemic considered an act-of-god? And finally, how do you filter/ clean metrics that are impacted by Covid-19?
  • Contract renewal: This possible renewal scenario might play out between organizations and customers. Procurement at the customer may say “We’ve not had the benefit of contracted services for three months, so we will only renew in three months” or “We’ll only renew after completion of the pushed-out PM jobs”. Try to imagine and forecast the impact on your contract revenue streams.
  • Dispatching priorities: How does contract renewal drive the priorities for rescheduling the PM backlog? If you have more jobs than capacity, what jobs get priority and what will be the impact to the above three bullets?
  • Workforce capacity planning: Now we have more jobs than capacity, how long will it take us to process the backlog? Will we strike the backlog, or will we contract additional/ temporary capacity? What jobs will we assign to 3rd party technicians and what jobs will our own people do?

To reiterate, the above impacts are not only related to Covid-19, they are universal and timeless. You might recognise yourself in the synthesis of pre-Covid-19 quotes made by various companies: “At present we can only deliver on 85% of the contracted work due to unavailability of skilled resources. In the execution of work, we take calculated business risks balancing compliance, cost and revenue streams”.

Running Scenarios

Ultimately, the challenge for any organisation is the balancing of supply of resources and the demand of (contracted) work. And as we know by now, we have to be able to handle disruption in various degrees of intensity. This brings us to the requirement of being able to run scenarios.

Some examples:

  • What is the revenue & compliance risk of executing 85% of the jobs versus adding resources to get to 95% execution?
  • What happens to my contract renewals, SLA attainment and penalty clauses when I prioritise pushed-out jobs of gold-contracts over bronze-contracts?
  • Can I use knowledge on capacity availability in my service-sales process when making commitments on execution dates?

In its most generic form, running scenarios will help you making informed decisions on both capacity/ resource management and prioritising (contracted) workload.

The New Normal is Business-as-Usual

So, what is so new about this New Normal? Is it new? Or is it business-as-usual under a magnifying glass? I believe it is the latter. I believe backlog management in the past has focused a lot on the transactional aspects. Now the disruption is visible to all, I believe the time is right to make backlog management a strategic decision-making function.

This article is published in Field Technologies Online on June 22nd, 2020.

Why Asset Centricity Matters

When you communicate with your garage to service your car, what is the first question they ask? Do they ask your name, or do they ask your license plate number? This is at the core of asset centricity. The asset is tracked throughout its life cycle to drive cost efficiency, revenue generation and customer satisfaction.

Know thy Installed Base

One of the first questions we ask to any organisation is what level of visibility they have on their installed base. Do you track your products/ equipment assets beyond point-of-sale?

The rationale is simple. If you want to be efficient in service delivery, you need to know where the asset are and in what state. If you want to drive revenue and satisfaction, you need to know how your customers are using the assets and why those assets are important to them in their operations.

If you don’t know your installed base, your actions will be ad hoc and be at the mercy of tribal knowledge of the people serving that customer.

Schneider Electric transformed their business model from ‘sell and forget” to “sell and service” growing their installed base visibility from 10% to 35% driving service revenue by 11% YoY.

<Insert link to Schneider customer reference>

Recognise the asset

You may know the customer, but if you don’t know the asset you may make the wrong decision. This is illustrated in the entitlement process. Entitlement is the gateway to cost control, revenue increase and customer satisfaction.

  • Leakage: provide service on an asset without warranty and/or contract
  • SLA attainment & CX: over/ underdeliver on customer expectation
  • Attach rates & revenue: miss an opportunity to cross and upsell
The role of Entitlement in Service Execution

Often, we hear organisations say that their knowledge about their assets is not yet at a level to perform a reliable entitlement process, resulting in a lot of corrective actions post work order debrief. Have a look at the Schneider electric video, collecting and validating asset data is a journey.

Tip: if by improving technician productivity the ‘saved’ time does not constitute an extra job per day, you can use the time to take inventory of the installed assets, its state and its surroundings.   

Know the asset

You might know the technical details of the assets you produce. Your maintenance manuals may prescribe what to do under nominal operating parameters. But what do you about how your customers are using the assets? Some may be ‘sweated’ and run at 99% of capacity. Others may be used occasionally only.

Having knowledge about how your assets are being used by your customers is an essential piece of information to define the right action. It will put the service request in context, help in the entitlement decision and support the triage process. It will give your customer the feeling that you’re providing contextual solutions.

Manage the asset

In the car example of the opening paragraph, the dealer focusses on the asset. The asset has a life cycle. In each phase of the life cycle different service and maintenance activities need to be executed … in combination with the usage profile of the asset.

The car may be purchased/ leased by owner A. After a number of years, the asset may transfer to owner B. If the maintenance history would be tied to the customer record, the data would be lost under ownership B. Thus, the reason why more and more organisations adopt asset centricity for life cycle continuity.

This continuity is extremely important in regulated industries. If any time in the life cycle a quality or compliance defect is detected in a series of assets, then you would like to have the opportunity to search an asset centric installed based, instead of sending messages to the owner who did the initial purchase of the asset.

Asset centricity allow you to manage your field change orders effectively. Asset centricity allows you to manage mid-life upgrades. Asset centricity is an equally powerful paradigm as customer centricity. Try to merge them into your business operations.

This article is published in ServiceMax Field Service Digital on April 14th, 2020

Selling Preventive Maintenance as a Value Add

Selling preventive maintenance is not what it used to be. In the old days a manufacturer could use its expert position to prescribe a maintenance scheme. Today, a combination of emerging technologies and pressure from buyers to do it cheaper/ smarter warrant a revisiting of the value proposition of preventive maintenance.

PM = Periodical Maintenance

As acronym we use PM. When talking we utter the words preventive maintenance. But what do we really mean?

  • Planned Maintenance
  • Periodical Maintenance
  • Predictive Maintenance
  • Prescriptive Maintenance

Analysing a lot of service contracts offered by OEMs we still see most of the maintenance is periodical or counter based. Just like the maintenance interval for your car; a PM each year or at 15,000 km.

All those periodical or counter based maintenance jobs are good service revenue for your service organisations But what happens when customers start challenging you? What if the customer has access to knowledge that amends or contradicts the engineering assumptions that led to the definition of your current maintenance intervals?

Buyers seek to reduce maintenance cost

In a world where people are more vocal, we see customers expecting things to work and buyers seeking to reduce maintenance cost. These expectations impact the way we sell service contracts. 

Selling is more straight forward when you can see a direct relationship between the pain and the gain. Such a link is obvious for installation and break-fix activities. But it is less apparent for preventive maintenance. Try to picture buyers asking these questions:

  • What does PM prevent and what is the risk that remains?
  • What is the rationale of the current maintenance interval?
  • Nothing happened last year. What will happen if we skip or delay a PM?
  • Can you dissect the PM job in activities (show me what you do) and is it really necessary to have all those activities done by an experienced/ expensive technician as yours?
  • Can we do pieces of the PM job ourselves?

You get the gist of the conversation and know where it is leading  less cost for your customer at the expense of less PM revenue for your service organisation.

Problem-Fix curve

What complicates the selling of service, is that in most scenarios the buyer and the customer/ user are not the same person. You may convince the user of a piece of equipment to do preventive maintenance, the buyer on the other hand has a different set of objectives. Most likely the buyer will push you on a path towards commoditising and cannibalising your PM services. All in order to reduce cost.

Rediscovering value

To stay ahead of the game let’s dissect PM along the lines of value creation for the customer. High level you can split a PM into three pieces:

  1. The execution of the maintenance activities
  2. The reporting on those activities
  3. The communication and interpretation of the results

Ask your customers to rate the value of each of those pieces. It’s probable that you will find that the business value of PM to a lesser extent is in the execution and more in the reporting and communication.

Maybe you pride yourself in your uniqueness of execution, whereas the customer might perceive it as a commodity. If also reporting and communication are on par, you may face price erosion.

If your customer needs the PM report for compliance or insurance purposes, the value of the report increases. When you consider that PM is often a play of risk and liability, you can price the value of your brand. Example: It does make a difference to an insurer if a yearly PM/ inspection is performed by a triple A company or a middle of the road company.

Communication value comes into play when your customer expects you to be a partner rather than a supplier. 

  • Supplier – “just send me the PM report, I’ll read and interpret it myself. When I need assistance, I’ll contact you.”
  • Partner – “help me interpret the findings and consequences of the PM. How does this impact my business?”.

In the latter situation you can monetise the communication beyond the effort of having a conversation for a couple of hours. PM can thus elevate from an obligatory periodical execution to an instrument of customer satisfaction and cross- and upselling.

Repackaging the preventive maintenance offering

In order to retain and expand your PM revenue stream in a context where the buyers move to reduce their spend, do go in discovery mode and (re)define preventive maintenance. PM is not a singular black box once defined by somebody in engineering with a product focus. Modern PM is a menu of choices (and consequences) for your buyer based on the usage profile of the product, budget and risk.

This article is published in Field Service News Jan/Feb 2020 issue.

Are Service Metrics the New Economic Barometer?

For decades the OECD[1] has been reporting a global productivity decline, while at the same time we see a rise in GDP. This triggers the question: Should the productivity metric should be augmented with more contemporary metrics in policy making and business decisions? Today we see the disruption of anything-as-a-service business models. Its success is powered by underlying service metrics.

Where productivity predominantly focusses on the efficiency of producing a product, service metrics focus on how that product is being utilised. Understanding and optimising a product’s use creates new revenue streams boosting our economy.

Responding to Volatility

Service metrics have been around for decades, only to gain more traction as other metrics fail to paint a complete picture for decision makers. Decision makers face a volatile environment with rapidly changing customer behaviour and technology. Today we must explain to customers that apart from selling an excellent product, we provide services that enable the end user to drive value from that product. Instead of the product being the goal, the product is a means to an end. More and more we’re moving towards buying the outcome of a product over owning the product.

“Velocity and scale of adoption are coming faster, making service metrics (availability, uptime, reliability) strategic to growth & success1.”

After-Sales Has Always Known

Initial product purchase relative to total product lifecycle cost

Research from Accenture[2] shows that between 8 and 12% of the life cycle cost are related to the purchase of a product. The rest of the costs are incurred during the operational phase of a product. It is typically the after-sales department that provides services during this phase. In doing so, after sales has many touch points and has a pretty good idea how the customer is using the product. In performing the services throughout the product lifecycle, after-sales generates many service metrics. The big opportunity is to use these metrics beyond the operational aspects of delivering the services.

Maturing of Service Metrics

The effectiveness of service metrics depends on the maturity of your service organisation. If you only provide break-fix and spare part services in a reactive mode, the available metrics will have a lesser potential to influence your business strategy then when selling output/ outcome-based services. For the latter, having a thorough understanding of all cost and revenue drivers is essential. The common demeanour is that service metrics drive new insights and those insights can be turned into new revenue opportunities. Zeithami[3] et al illustrate in their continuum how your services portfolio will change when maturing and shifting the focus from product to its use.

Zeithami continuum

Installed Base Penetration

Let me illustrate the maturing of a service metric and its impact on your business model. Does your organisation know where products go after they have been sold? Do you keep track of reactive and preventive maintenance activities per installed product? Do you keep track of modifications and retrofits to installed products?

When you invest in installed base understanding and connect the dots with all activities that relate to the installed product, each iteration you generate more insights to do the job better, faster and cheaper. As a result, you build trust and satisfaction with your customer. In return, the customer will tell you more about his business and how you can create more value by means of offering more and upscale services. The more you are connected to the dynamics of your customer, the more reliable your economic barometer.

From Data Consumer to Data Supplier

What you see happening in the example of installed base penetration is that after-sales is transitioning from data consumer to data provider. To deliver basic services, after-sales builds on product related info such as the as-built and warranty clauses. In delivering services, after-sales collects data on the usage of the product creating a wealth of insights from the as-maintained. The insights created from service metrics can feed both product development and market development, resulting in better products and relevant propositions driving sustainable economic growth.

Outcome Economy

On sustainable economic growth, the World Economic Forum[4] describes the outcome economy as a phase where “companies will shift from competing through selling products and services, to competing on delivering measurable results important to the customer”. This requires “a deeper understanding of customer needs and contexts in which products and services will be used”. Service metrics cater to this deeper understanding of both product and customer behaviour. It is technology, digitisation and state-of-the-art field service management tooling that drives the maturing of service metrics in both scale and real-time. Having this data at your fingertips supports situational and holistic decision making. In other words, product related services for commodity buyers and outcome-based services for value buyers.

Service Metrics as an Economic Barometer

Whether it is the maturing of the after-sales domain or the customer shift from owning a product to generating value of its use, service metrics are at the heart of both. The dotcom revolution has shown us that productivity does not have the same relevance in the automated, servitised Industrial Internet business landscape. Today, we live in a data driven economy. He/she who masters data has a competitive advantage. Service Metrics play into that game.

“It’s about unlocking data to turn valuable insights into powerful business outcomes[5].”

After-Sales Paradigm Shift

After-sales traditionally has not been a business function with a voice in strategic decision making[6] – despite contributing significantly to the margin of the organisation. With the growing value of service metrics after-sales has the potential to become a provider of valuable and strategic insights. This is a paradigm shift for the entire organisation. Productivity has its place, but pay attention to the service metrics as an economic barometer.


[1] OECD Compendium of Productivity Indicators 2017, ISBN 9789264273252

[2] Accenture 2001, Equipment Today, Service Tomorrow – the total cost of ownership vision

[3] Zeithami, Brown, Bitner and Salas 2014

[4] World Economic Forum – Industrial Internet of Things: Unleashing the Potential of Connected Products and Services 2018 – Chapter 3: Convergence on the outcome economy

[5] GE Digital strategic focus 2018, Bill Ruth

[6] VansonBourne 2016, The challenges, benefits and future opportunities of field service management

Battery Gate

The dust is settling over Battery Gate. I’ve heard many woes and seen people in disbelief. Is this really happening? Is a mobile phone the only product affected? Social media exploded with conspiracy theories and various law firms have started class actions. What can we learn from Battery Gate?

AppleNews

Sales and After-Sales

A relationship between Supplier and Customer starts with an initial sale. With array of tools Suppliers bid for repeat purchases:

  • Dazzle them: Brand/ customer loyalty
  • Force them: Technology/ customer lock-in
  • Convince them: Maintenance & Value-added Services
  • Help them: Operate & Ease-of-use Services

In the case of the phone we can see multiple types of product related repeat purchases:

 RevenueWhen
New phone$999.00In x years
Extended warranty$199.00Point of sale
Battery replacement$79.00Approx. after 2 years

In this example the supplier drives its revenue figures through product sales and has little incentive to lengthen the life cycle of the product. After-sales revenues even jeopardize future product sales. 

Many OEM’s/ Manufacturers will find themselves in exactly the same position: after-sales revenues are a welcome addition to sales revenues as long as they don’t compete.

Doing the right thing

So, what is “doing the right thing”? In case of Battery Gate consumers got the impression that the supplier was purposefully reducing the product life cycle, thus forcing earlier product repurchases. We’ll probably never know all supplier considerations in their course of action, we do know Battery Gate back fired … to a certain degree. Analysts predict that the supplier may see “mild headwinds” (see inset).

When considering “doing the right thing” from the customers perspective, the concept of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) could come into play: the optimum of both the initial/ capital sale and the operational expenditures throughout the life cycle.

Does this mean we would rather buy a phone with a longer life span and user replaceable parts? I guess here we must make the distinction between “needing” and product and “wanting” a product. If you want the new functions and features you’ll probably forgive the supplier. Your repeat purchase will be the next product. If you need the product to generate output and outcome for your organization, you’ll drive your supplier, or third-party maintainer, to deliver after-sales services.

Loyalty

Would a Battery Gate in your industry impact your NPS and revenue stream? Would the headwinds be negligent, mild or violent? I believe being honest and transparent is your route to loyalty and repeat revenue.

CIO take – Field Service Engineer of the Future

What is your digital roadmap? What technology advancements is your organization utilizing? There’s a great chance these questions are crossing your path. In the Argyle CIO Webinar on the Field Service Engineer of the Future five executives shared their take on technology both as driver and enabler for generating business value. 

At center stage we position the Field Service Engineer. His/ her propensity to work with and embrace technology is a critical success factor in value creation. Though field service may have suffered from under investment or derision, new technology is turning everything on its head. Service is increasingly seen as critical business function.

PerfectStorm

In a way, we see a convergence of many insights molding into a perfect storm. In addressing each aspect, we see a pivotal role for Field Service. This leads us to a Vision for Digital Worker: “The Digital Worker suite of applications enables, empowers, and elevates industrial workers to drive the customer outcomes of productivity, reliability, safety, security, and profitability”.

AugmentedReality

The toolkit of the Digital worker comprises of:

  • Internet of Things
  • Augmented Reality
  • Big Data
  • Predictive Analytics
  • Drones and robots/cobots
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Wearable & mobile devices
  • Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing)

The good news is that these are not technologies of the future, they are available today and providing solutions to the most pressing business issues. Also, the cost of technology is coming at a point where the business case turns positive.

The CIO panel stressed the human component; the interaction between people and technology. Technology can be a very powerful instrument in attracting and retaining talent. At the same time addressing the aging workforce and productivity issue. Tech savy field service engineers tend to recognize the value of technology and thus adoption rates are high.

By2020

When it comes to investment priorities the panel was unanimous on connectivity of assets and how that data collaborates with operations and the field service engineer. Customers value the output and outcome of assets. The new play is about Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). Both cost of downtime and increased earnings capacity of the asset are the main drivers for the investment priority. 

With the value promise of field service and digital technology the final question to the panel was on getting from knowing to doing. Who do we need to convince and/or pull into the discussion in moving forward? The first answer was “everybody”. We’re in a paradigm shift. We have to see it. As CIO’s we have a leading role in driving the transition. As CIO’s we understand tech and digital, we understand the importance and reach. We have to reach out to the business and lead. Through innovation teams. Through a Chief Digital Officer. By being agile. Glad to know Field Service both loves technology and more and more is recognized as a critical business function.

A closing remark from a Field Service Engineer: “Do give me the right tools to be a hero on site. As a result I’ll deliver value”.

Field Service Asia – Is Asia willing to pay for Service?

Sentosa Island was the backdrop for the first Field Service event in Asia. More than 120 delegates came to Singapore to participate in discussions and get a feel of the field service buzz. Many had heard their European or American colleagues talking about the US & EU editions and were encouraged to join the debate.

On the tip of the tongue was this one question: “Is the Asian customer willing to pay for Service?” Closely followed by “on a maturity scale, how do we compare?”

AsiaServiceMaturity

The two questions are interlinked. In the same country and sometimes with the same customer it makes a significant difference how you both define and position service. If service is more focused on the Product, the Asian customer is less inclined to pay for service. This is most visible in the Japanese culture where Product related service is pinned to Quality: if the product breaks, something is wrong with quality … and the supplier must fix it … at his cost.

FSAsiaAttendence

Despite all the cultural differences, most delegates agree that the basic field service business processes are more universal. A product breaks, the customer has an expectation and calls, the supplier fixes the product resulting in a customer satisfaction/ experience. For these service basics there is a lot of transformation going on. 

The transformation specifics unfold in building a business case. Three country specific attributes impact both the cost and the return:

  • Labor cost
  • Geographical spread and logistics capabilities/ cost
  • Local legislation, trade & sector barriers
ServicesScale

At the first Field Service event in Asia delegates have engaged with each other, thought leaders and field service tool providers. There is an overwhelming consensus on the value field service is providing to the organization and its customers. Going home, the promise of service transformation towards the future is even bigger. 

Adding the core message on “ownership” from the TEDx speaker Andrew Bryant, maybe we should rephrase the opening question: “When are we willing to pay for Service”. Make the question personal and dive into your own deliberations. If you can frame your service message more on the Customer side than on the Product side, I believe any customer will pay for Service.

After:Market 2017 – Unleasing Service 4.0

Last week 250 service leaders attended the 11th edition of After:Market in Hamburg, Germany. For a number of years, I’ve chaired this event and presented keynotes. Over the years I’ve seen a change in dynamics both in attendants and topics covered. Not only is aftermarket reiterating its value contribution, aftermarket is also positioning itself at the core of business transformation.

To my great pleasure a growing number of attendees is having job titles like business development and sales & marketing. This year even procurement was present. The sheer observation that other functions are having an interest in service is the equivalent of “likes” on social media. The buzz is out. Service people knew that they mattered, now other functions are recognizing it.

Amongst the participants I detect a drive to unleash service on two levels:

  1. Doing things right – Daily many service people keep our assets afloat and take a pride in helping customers. To keep up with the pace of technology advancement and customer expectations, many service executives are shopping for state-of-the-art tooling.
  2. Doing the right things – Having all the data and touch points in grip, there is a realization that service is sitting on top of a gold mine to adapt/ change the business model. These service executives are shopping for how-to-get-buy-in handles. 

In my presentation “what service manager should know about sales” I mentioned a window of opportunity to initiate business transformation. If your it is the goal of your organization to grow your business rather than increasing sales, then service can lead the discussion by role playing a product-focus-scenario versus an outcome-based-scenario.

During the networking breaks and social activities, you can feel a common sense of direction. Service is working hard to get its act together on the basics. At the same time service is preparing for that opportunity to contribute to and drive the new business model.

At After:Market many speakers have shared their take on servitization, service design, product-as-a-service, digital, IoE and event procurement-psychology. Great and inspiring stuff. Especially when you tie it all together to create momentum to start your own transformation journey.

I’m looking forward to next year’s edition … and to hear from you how you have applied the insights in your organization.