More than a cliché - why service needs to be a team sport

Sumair Dutta Profile picture for user sdutta October 4, 2023
Success is best when it's shared. Sumair Dutta of ServiceMax examines why the same applies to service data - and why organizations who don't work as a team are destined to fail at servitization.

changing room with team sport shirts hanging up © bobby2531 -
(© bobby2531 -

We are never short on leadership cliches and quotes these days but that’s usually for good reason. “Teamwork makes the dream work”. We all love a good leadership and teamwork story, like Moneyball or Coach Carter because these stories touch a nerve within people and organizations. We recognize the traits necessary to succeed.

The parameters for teamwork, of course, are fluid. It depends on the business, the industry, and the culture, but what is becoming increasingly clear is the value of service to entire organizations. Field service engineers – once seen as a cost to any business – have been transformed in recent years due to advances in technology. Rising customer expectations, service increasingly becoming a profit center rather than a cost center, and enterprise-wide digital transformation initiatives have thrust service teams onto center stage. And the thread that provides key value to other parts of the enterprise is service data, which can range from service history, usage data, live equipment data, and more.

Service data can have profound effects on customer experiences and that feeds into every aspect of an organization, from sales through to R&D, finance, and the C-suite. The problem is that not every business recognises this or if they do, they have not enabled the data to touch every department. Data silos or just a lack of data capture or standardization can limit collaboration.

So why is this important? How does this make a team tick?

Firstly, service does not exist in a silo. It is relevant across an organization. With visibility into both asset data and customer data, organizations can create a central system of record for the equipment they service, providing intelligence on how products are used and the overall performance, cost-to-serve, and profitability of a particular asset. While this enables teams to optimize service delivery, it also provides key intelligence to marketing and sales, finance for potential upgrades and contract renewals, as well as product design and R&D to influence future products.

This visibility of data can accelerate service productivity and expand the reach and influence of the service department. Empowering operational, commercial, and strategic teams with key data visibility and insights can drive not just operational efficiencies but also opportunities for growth.

Closing the loop with service data 

It’s relatively well-known that in any industry, the service lifecycle of assets can generate considerably more revenue than the sale of the actual equipment, so naturally, it is important to ensure any service provision is optimized. If it is not, costs will creep up through inefficiencies, which, in turn, could impact customer experiences. This then has a knock-on effect in terms of sales.

The shift towards servitization, where organizations sell outcomes rather than products, is still very much in its infancy but is a good example of how advances in technology within service can redraw the relationship with customers. Asset data becomes vital to any sales and services, and it is in the interests of all parties to ensure minimal downtime. This leads to a re-prioritization, where live data capture, monitoring, and AI-driven analytics become core to customer relationships.

This data can also feed into product design and engineering teams, improving existing products or building new ones that enhance key features required by customers. It’s designing and building intelligently, based on real-world, live data of how products are performing and being used.

This is where teamwork is fundamental to the future success of any organization. As Deloitte suggested in its report Next Generation Customer Service: The Future of Field Service, to transform to next generation field service, businesses need a 360-degree view of customers and assets but that could also be applied to the broader business. Unifying organizations, bringing departments together, and collaborating regardless of location demands centralized and easily accessed service data.

For some organizations, this may seem like a big step. It’s not unusual for teams to still work in relative isolation with data in silos, repeating the idea that if it’s not broken, why fix it? The reality is that any organization that cannot share data openly and collaborate is already broken. The future of service and indeed, the future of any product-led organization will be built on its ability to access product intelligence in real time and predict, as well as react accordingly. That means sharing data across all relevant departments and teams and reaping the benefits collectively. As the saying goes, success is best when it’s shared.

To learn more about the hybrid state of field service, watch our recent webinar featuring Forrester: Why you need a remote strategy.

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