Connected service: Making every customer interaction count

Service Excellence means that we can turn every interaction with every customer into a great service experience, or even a sales opportunity.  

The digital mission in manufacturing is to create experience ecosystems that transform the focus from designing, selling, and servicing complex products to one where the product becomes the platform through which new digital products and services are delivered.
— An IDC InfoBrief, November 2017

The recent research article by IDC is supports our findings in this Revenue Growth Platform book project. Your product is your platform when you cover it with services focusing on its output, and the experience of these services is dividing winners and losers. Is it so simple? At least in its best form consuming the service is easy to 1) find and compare 2) understand 3) purchase and  4) efficient to consume.

We are seeing the best user experience win in many consumer services already and now it is coming to business to business services as well. When there is a product that can provide you effortless experience from the above mentioned four stages, then the winner is probably the one with the smoothest experience. 

So we need to define the connected service building up to this greater customer experience around your products. Your service experience consists of the channels handled and the types of interactions delivered. 

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The technology needed to fullfil great customer experience can be categorised in these four key areas:

1. Base information systems provide information of which your customer is entitled to - typically a CRM  system with contract and service level information. These systems additionally have capabilities to capture orders and manage billing information etc. 

2. Case management systems handle all the channels your customers are guided to use. So those channels can be for e.g. text messages like Whatsapp, online chats possibly even augmented with bots, phone calls, emails, social media 

3. Knowledge base systems continuously grow with customer interactions, which help serve customer better and better.  This decreases customer interaction cots and improves your customer experience. Therefore the better your content is, the better results you will achieve in your service

4. Analytics to uncover areas you need to address to enhance the customer experience and service every day

On top of these, if your products needs regular service and you are selling or sending field engineers to solve customer problems during e.g. the warranty period, you need a field service solution to manage work orders, sales, security and knowledge in the field. If your product is connected, it might be creating service cases automatically based on analysis, then you will need an IoT solution.

While many manufacturing R&D resources are used for customer support,  please note that R&D is not front-line layer of service. You need a proper customer support organization, enabled by technology. R&D is often far away from the front-lines and measured and compensated differently than customer facing employee. Normally R&D should not be interacting with customers as their every day work, but still their intellectual capital needs to be put to work in the front-line. The solution to this is to ensure you have great processes in place to make sure information flows smoothly within the organization from R&D to the customer facing employees. 

With the right technology, roles and KPI's in place, you can make information flow smoothly within the organization and improve customer experience. This is how you build a connected service organization, that makes every customer interaction count.

Should you start building your connected organization now? Yes.

Written by: Sami Lampinen