‘Customer Success’ at May 24th event

The Service Community event at Oracle exceeded the expectations of many new community members. ‘Real Talk by Real People’ said one senior manager and another ‘It’s unusual to go to an event where people talk openly, discuss issues and don’t try and sell to you!

So thank you to all the attendees for the great feedback. The event itself lived up to the traditions of great informative presentations together with robust and insightful discussion.

Our host Steve Earlsham from Oracle started the afternoon with a frank and personal insight into his own organisations transformation from Product Support to Customer Success. What became clear from the discussion with Steve and some of his Customer Success team members, is that the Customer Success organisation for Oracle is not a passing fad. It is a fundamentally new way of managing customers ensuring their success with Oracle products through a an organisation driven by a balance of customers KPI’s as well as internal measure such as revenue and loyalty. This new approach has been driven by the move to SaaS type business models, where customers can more easily change providers. Hence ensuring customers recognise the value their suppliers provide has become key to retaining customers. Many industrial companies could learn from this model for success!

Mark King, Global Services Director from Pitney Bowes then carried on the customer success theme, when he shared their experiences of moving to more of a Self Service model (shift to the left) and in parallel increasing Customer Satisfaction. His colleague, Stephen Ly (Business Support Manager) explained how their machine business has commoditised, resulting in significant service margin pressures. Based on an idea from a service technician, who observed that many of the service work orders could be solved remotely or with a lower level of technical support, Mark and his team set off to explore the opportunities. Having identified a range of work orders, he and the team collected all the technical issues and actions that occurred on these work orders over a short time period. They then pulled these observations into a set of work instructions, which their centralised customer support team could follow. They found that indeed many issues could be resolved remotely or by the customer themselves. Rather than using the saved time to cut heads, they used the time to create new revenue streams, so reversing the negative trends on their margins. But what about customer satisfaction we asked. As in this day and age, many customers have become used to, and indeed want immediate actions on their problems, so Customer Satisfaction in fact went up. This was a great example of not only empowering a team to think creatively, but also how through a careful well thought through process, ideas that initially might seem challenging, can be brought to success.

And on the topic of new ways of thinking, Dave Gibson shared his many years of experiences with Sun Microsystems and later Oracle, in outsourcing mission critical support to 3rd party providers. Again, a strategy that most service directors would shy away from, fearing a loss of intimacy and control of what is happening in the customer base. Dave showed us how it does not have to be this way and there are different ways of running a High tech service business. He explained that there are two key areas to get right:

  1. Engineer skills: It is important that they have the right skill levels and that the partner organisations develop a pipeline for their people development. For example a structured training programme, where engineers are certified at different skills levels is the basis of such a programme.
  2. Balanced Score Card: We hear a lot about balanced score-cards, but it was fascinating to discuss in detail how to develop and use one. In particular ensuring that all measures are balanced to help faster the business behaviour we are looking for. For example first time fix rates with ‘reopening ‘ or repeat works-orders.

These are the two key models he used to successfully manage the relationships with his partners. You can download his presentation Outsourcing to 3rd Parties

Field Service Solution providers always promote the transparency their solutions offer on KPI’s and the accessibility of their solutions through ‘Cloud Based’ infrastructures. Kris Oldland, Editor from Field Service News shared 3 years of recent research he has undertaken on this topic. Key findings he highlighted were:

  • There is a definite trend to shift from On-premise solutions to the cloud. It is increasingly becoming the norm, but not as quickly in Field Service as in other parts of the business.
  • That key drivers for choosing cloud solutions were scalability, easier remote access and less reliance on maintaining an IT infrastructure
  • However those that were using cloud solutions cited that the key benefits actually realised were functionality, costs and productivity.

Download his presentation Cloud research 2014 – 2016

And finally Ian Cockett followed up on last appearance at the Service Community 18 months ago where he talked about the real life challenge of service transformation in a medium sized capital equipment company. This time he continued his story, the high’s, the lows and the lessons learned. Indeed it is very rare to have an open discussion on the management challenges of transformation with an audience where many have had similar experiences. It is never as smooth as you might be led to believe when reading case studies or attending conferences and this discussion re-enforced this belief. The reality is that a service touches all aspects of the business and results in a major change programme. Hence typical of such a change programme, critical is having clear objectives and leadership support that will see the project through the 3-5 year journey. His presentation can be downloaded Leading Change in After-Sales Support – Service Community May 2017 

Many thanks to Oracle for hosting the Service Community in their Customer Centre at Reading. Our next event is provisionally planned for the 3rd of October so perhaps put a place holder in your diary. If you would like to contribute a presentation or your facilities, please let us know by contacting me on info@service-community.uk