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.

Product as a Service

When we need light, we buy a bulb. When we need a hole, we buy a drill. It is so engrained in our thinking to own products whilst we actually need the outcome. More and more we see upstart businesses cater to this “new” demand. They sell a product as a service (PAAS). How are you preparing your organisation to sell your product as a service?

“We move water”

At the After:Market 2016 event in Wiesbaden a German manufacturer of pumps introduced his company with the words “we move water”. With those simple words he set the stage for his PAAS business model. Selling the pump is not his goal; it is a means to start an outcome-based discussion with his client. In doing so he enters in a conversation where he truly understands what drives his customer.

“If you make a fantastic long lasting products, how do you earn money when the market is saturated?”

Because the conversation goes beyond the pump, he has created a new business model where he earns money with moving water. The additional benefit is for the environment. Instead of designing your product for repeat sales you will wind down a track where you deliver outcome at a minimal material/ energy footprint.

Transforming legacy business is possible

Understanding the effort it takes to transform a legacy business, University of Cambridge professor Andy Neely asked the panel of the Field Service Summit 2017 in Warwick what successful transformation examples should encourage others to follow suit. Both Boeing and Philips demonstrate you can have best of both worlds. They serve customers in a hybrid model. Via one business unit customers can buy the product in a legacy CAPEX/ OPEX mode. Via another business unit customers can buy the output/ outcome of the product. Depending on his propensity, a customer can choose between a jet engine and a “power by the hour” propulsion solution or a bulb and a “pay per Lux” illumination solution.

“Do you need a bulb or are you in need of light?”

Dialogue inset is a freely edited transcript of VPRO Tegenlicht documentary “don’t own, enjoy” November 8th, 2015 (Dutch). A variant of the message in English can be found here.

Why should you explore PAAS

It may scare corporate executives and sound very blunt but exploring PAAS is a “do or die” message. If you don’t do it, somebody else will. At best it is your current competition and you can see it coming. For the worst, you will face competition from newcomers starting with a clean slate.

Record labels were so focussed on holding to their CD product revenue stream and deliberated so long on legal download options, they were decimated by services like Spotify.

How do you assess your organisation?

“Products are meant to deliver a solution.”

Using a more positive approach: the more you understand how the outcome of your products generates value to your customer the more you establish yourself as long term partner in both a profitable and sustainable way.

Where to start

In the example of Philips Lighting, a small team beyond the radar of product based business model executives designed the “pay per Lux” solution. Upon demonstrated success with a launching customer the new PAAS solution was put in the spotlight.
Setting up a sandbox environment with servitisation minded people is essential, as you will be in for a paradigm shift:

  • When you sell Outcome there is no title passage of the Product. This means the product remains on your balance sheet.
  • As supplier you will be responsible for and remain in control of all CAPEX and OPEX cost components.
  • You need to understand your customer to define a “pay per use” earnings model.

Understanding cost

In the Philips Lighting dialogue the customer asks for a Design, Build, Finance, Maintain and Operate solution. This DBFMO framework can be used to understand total cost of ownership.

Design and Build lead to the commissioning of a Product. Maintaining the Product safeguards the Output of the Product. Operating the Output provides an Outcome. The Outcome generates Value.

Maintain and Operate are stated in terms of OPEX. When adding Finance services to your portfolio, you can transpose Design and Build CAPEX into OPEX too.

Design-for-Operate

With PAAS the total cost of ownership shifts from customer to supplier. As a result the supplier is incentivised to throw in all his expertise to continuously optimise product, output and outcome.

In order to make pay per use profitable all cost elements of DBFMO need to be designed in unison. Call it design-for-operate. Where design-for-service supplements design-for-manufacturing, design-for-operate augments the former two.

“Business models based on breaking products should not be accepted”

Pay per use

Where design-for-operate drives towards minimising waste and cost, engineering the right pay per use model determines your revenue. This is where entrepreneurship and partnership kicks in.

Pay per use is a bi-directional handshake between supplier and customer that takes it to the next level compared to a typical sales-purchasing relationship. Instead of a cost/ revenue conversation about products and output your dialogue will evolve into an outcome based profit/ value handshake.

Your customer will help you define the pay per use drivers. If you really understand his business and you are confident in the capabilities of your own organisation to generate outcome that makes your customer succeed, your customer will be inclined to enter into a partnership to make you succeed as well. As a result de pay per use drivers will be fair, sustainable and durable to both parties.

Don’t own, enjoy

Ownership comes with responsibilities. Why should a customer have to carry the risk whilst the supplier is the expert in both understanding and influencing risk. A PAAS model is the ultimate form of “back to core business”. The supplier managed DBFMO, the customer uses the outcome to generate value. In return the customer pays for use.

Does pay per use really work for both parties or do words like partnership, fair and sustainable sound altruistic? The IT industry does give us insight into what is to come. Because SAAS solutions are available for consumers as well, first hand experience is changing our perceptions, attitude and decision-making regarding cost and value.

Published in Field Service News issue #xx (July/August 2017 and website

What service managers should know about sales

Service is probably the single largest contributor to an organisations profit margin. Service has the most lasting and trustworthy relationships with customers. Still, in the board it is a sales game. If service wants to lead, it has to understand sales.

In the boardroom

Corporate Challenge
Corporate Challenge

Let us be witness of a business plan review meeting:

  • Exhibit A: our targets are more ambitious than our current performance.
  • Exhibit B: we face increased competition, increased customer volatility and shorter product life cycles leading to declining market share and diminishing attach rates.

Now suppose the CEO invites you, the field service manager, to pitch a solution to this non-sustainable situation. Are you prepared? Will your message and vocabulary resonate with the board members?

For as long as I can remember, field service managers bring a message of reality. About healthy and sustainable profit margins. About attach rates and trusted relationships.

What do you think the sales manager brought forward as solution? A message of hope: “if we introduce a new model, add a new feature or drop the price, we will regain market share”.

“When it comes to choice, a message of hope prevails over one of reality.”

What makes the clock tick?

The ugly truth of corporate economics: it’s all about sales and success is measured in revenue figures. Add to that the sales perception that after-sales does not exist without an initial sale and you know the picking order is set. To complete the picture, factor in mind that most CEO’s have a sales background.

“Sales first, then after-sales.”

Sales targets

Sales is a big numbers game. Product hero’s playing with capital expenditures. Going for the win is putting in a peak performance in a short period of time, balancing effort and reward. Asking sales to include Opex related propositions in the sale does sound altruistic considering that doing so complicates, lengthens and may jeopardise the sale.

What about profitability? In the sales mind-set profitability is not a driver or performance indicator. Not because they don’t care, far from that. Because in most customer organisations the decision making unit for both Capex and Opex are different entities optimising their own silo.

“Profitability, who cares? Certainly not sales.”

Funnelling leads

Sales vocabulary uses words like suspect, prospect, lead and qualification. Elias Lewis has put these words in context in 1898 when he conceived the sales funnel. This funnel is engrained in every sales process. It is in the DNA of sales people to convert leads into a sale.

“What we need? Leads, more leads and qualified leads.”

Qualification

One of the most important steps in the sales process is the qualification of a lead. Here sales balances effort with reward. When service starts feeding the funnel, it is crucial to know the difference between a lead in the eyes of a field service engineer and a lead according to sales.

In the eyes of sales service-leads are a big bag of small peanuts. Converting those requires a lot of effort with small reward. For sales to follow-up on service-leads, those leads need enrichment and qualification.

Window of opportunity

Though the clock ticks sales, typical sales solutions to the corporate challenge fail to reverse declining market share or do so at the expense of profitability. In both cases the course is not sustainable.

This is good news as it provides the opening for the field service manager to come forward with his ideas.

“Growing sales is an operational process. Growing your business is changing your business model.”

Find the right tune

Although ideas have been voiced for many years at field service conferences, they will be new for sales once rephrased in sales vocabulary. It will become a customer touch points game with roles for hero’s and ambassadors. It is the perseverance of sales to get to a customer on board. It is the caring mindset of service to keep a customer happy. It is their joint effort to come up with new business.

“Find the right mix between sales DNA and a service heart to develop new business.”

How will sales react? As long as the field service manager doesn’t gloat over his profit contribution and trustworthy customer relationships … and sales can stay in the lead, then sales will go along.

“Field service managers can lead by following.”

Published in Handy Little Book for service Managers (edition 2017) and website

Demand generation: A Groundhog day experience

The profit contribution of services compared to product profits has been the subject of many workshops over the past decade. Still, achieving a true shift in sales focus is a “Groundhog day” experience writes Coen Jeukens, Service Contract Manager, Bosch Security Systems

At the Copperberg April 2016 UK Field Service Summit service industry experts had their own groundhog day experience when discussing the “Demand generation” topic: what can the service manager do to go beyond the daily break-fix mode towards cross and upselling.

In five consecutive rounds the same discussion was reiterated varying the contributing industry experts. The individual rounds revolved around common convictions like:

  • Should we dilute customer trust created by service engineers with potential alienation when stepping into a commercial role;
  • Service is about helping customers, not selling to customers;
  • Service and sales have different counter parts and decision making units;
  • What is a meaningful incentive for service people to spot sales revenue and vice versa;
  • Service and sales people have different DNA.

When looking at the discussions at an aggregate level, demand generation is possible when taking the following recommendations to heart:

  • Use service engineer more as a brand ambassador than sales-lite;
  • Empower service engineer to become a hero on site;
  • Incentivise customer feedback instead of monetizing prospects/ leads;
  • Feed customer feedback into marketing function;
  • Creation of a “product” development function for services;
  • As service manager, do not boast yourself as being a profit centre, but emphasise your contributing role in co-creation with sales.

The service engineer as brand ambassador

Comparing the amount of customer touch points and level of client trust, service engineers do have an edge over sales representatives. Though it sounds tempting to dual use service engineers as sales-lite, don’t do it.

Engineers gain their stature through technical competence and stamina to prolong the operational performance of a piece of equipment. As such the engineer is the perfect ambassador for brand loyalty.

Engineers gain their stature through technical competence and stamina to prolong the operational performance of a piece of equipment. As such the engineer is the perfect ambassador for brand loyalty.

In analogy with politics, the ambassador is an important player in a multi-faceted sales game: the ambassador provides intelligence, sales translates intel into leads and deals, while fencing the ambassador’s neutrality.

When contemplating to add a sales role to service engineers, do balance the risk and reward. Bear in mind that from a decision-making unit (DMU) perspective the service engineers’ counterpart is the end user and not the asset owner/ buyer. At best the end user will decide on OPEX matters.

When it comes to CAPEX the end users’ role diminishes to that of influencer.

Hero on site

Other reasons not to mingle sales and service objectives are the differences in DNA and aspirations. A sales representative strives to become trusted business advisor in order to generate long-term revenues.

A service engineer by default has a long-term relationship, a high level of trust and an advisory role. The service engineer wants to be the hero on site, he wants to be able to help.

As a hero on site and brand ambassador, the service engineer can use his stature to open doors and generate leads on two levels:

  • OPEX leads: consumables and wear & tear components
  • CAPEX leads: generate demand for new offerings

Empowerment is the key on both levels:

  • OPEX leads: It is easy for a service engineer to convince an end- user to buy small maintenance related components. It makes him a hero if he can supply and install them right away. Any “delay” in conversion of lead into sales not only deteriorates the sales momentum, it also affects the hero status of the engineer.
  • CAPEX leads: In his default mode, the service engineer will try to fix the existing equipment compared to suggesting a replacement or new buy. When hinting towards the latter, the service engineer puts his hero status at risk because the conversion of the lead into a sale falls outside his control. Nothing is more deadly for a hero than raising an expectation he can’t deliver.

Incentivise customer feedback

Frequent customer touch points and a high level of trust put your service engineer in a unique position to be the eyes and ears of your organisation. Capitalising on that position requires a multi-tired approach.

In analogy with the concepts of “big data”, capturing the sensory output of the service engineer is step one. The interpretation of that data into a lead is step two. The conversion into a sale is step three.

When the collection of data is driven by an intended use for sales, you may not only miss out on many subtleties of customer feedback, but also bias the observation with short-term gains.

Apart from asking your service engineer to collect specific data that is not in his DNA, you may also risk the neutrality of your ambassador/ hero.Ideally you may incentivise your service engineers to collect customer intelligence and feedback regardless of its conversion into sales.

Feed marketing

Information collected by service engineers is a valuable addition to the data input of your marketing function. Once in your marketing process it augments existing data and will result in better quality leads.

Better leads are more prone to be picked up by sales. Follow up by sales will make the service engineer feel taken seriously.

Not only will this boast his hero on site stature, he will also use his trust with the customer to make him decide positively on the sale.

Knowing service engineers have access to high quality and individual customer intelligence, using that information may also inspire you to rethink the workings of marketing.

Markets are less homogeneous than a decade ago. New technologies and the growing importance of customer experience will even further individualise customer behaviour.

Services development function

Acknowledging declining profit margins and fierce competition on products, transitioning to a more customer/ services centric earnings model is the logical way to go. The customer intelligence and feedback from your ambassadors and heroes will become vital in understanding his needs.

Where your products development department can tell you everything about your products and their roadmap, any service engineer can tell you how your customers use those products and how customers experience their use.

The combination of product and its use open up new sales opportunities. As use is the dominant factor, the appearance of the offering is customer specific.

Setting up and embedding a services development function in your organisation will enable you to add service revenue streams in an efficient manner.

Your service engineers will be the prime suppliers of input to your service development function. Similarly to proving input to your marketing function, the engineer and customer will feel appreciated when they receive feedback that their information is taken seriously.

Service as contributing centre

In achieving demand generation, adding sales roles and goals to the service department may sound as a logical thing to do. The profit contribution promise may even tempt you further.

Apart from the considerations in the previous paragraphs, beware that the creation of a secondary sales channel does invoke competition between the sales and service department. A competition that more likely will emphasise differences and prejudice than seeking the common ground.

Success lies in positioning your service department as a contributing centre. Let sales be in the lead. Use the traction of the sales department to get organisational and CEO buy in.

Make sales the internal hero by feeding them with high quality service engineer data. Empower your service engineer and make him the external hero.

As finishing touch, invest in a service marketing and services development function. Sales and service seek the commonality and acknowledge each other’s strength.

Published in Field Service News issue #13 (July/August 2016 and website