A Copernican Revolution in Field Service: Is Your Customer the Center of Your Universe?
Working in the Field Services industry, I encounter a lot of companies operating in a traditional manner: a steady and firm hierarchy is in place and the main focus is on internal process improvements to reduce costs and increase profits. And although I do understand why these companies want to tackle those issues, in my opinion a big issue – maybe the biggest! – is not being addressed in that type of organization.
Before describing the “big issue” that many companies tend to overlook, a bit of background is in order.
Over the past few years, when I’ve visited seminars and conferences in the IT or business world, I’ve heard everyone talking about how the marketplace is changing. The trends I’ve observed that are driving these changes tend to fall into four major categories:
- Globalization, leading to more and greater competition
- Deregulation, leading to a faster overall pace in conducting business
- Knowledge acquisition, leading to workers knowing as much as managers do (maybe more!)
- Technology implementation (especially Internet-enabled tools), leading to savvy customers
Every company reacts differently to the challenges presented by these four trends. Some will merge or acquire other organizations, or they’ll reorganize, downsize, innovate, impose stricter management guidelines – you name it.
A Revolution in Field Services
The problem is that while their ideas and activities might help address the challenges posed by globalization and deregulation, for example, their ideas and activities for managing change don’t address what I think is the most daunting challenge in the marketplace today: technology-savvy customers who demand better products and services at competitive prices.
Savvy customers are everywhere – in the field service industry as well as in retail, hospitality and travel industries. Individual consumers and business customers alike are generally well-informed and smart about competitive offerings, and they’re demanding when it comes to product quality, service and support.
In essence, customers are what businesses are built around. To properly serve them in today’s rapidly changing marketplace, I think that companies need to re-define their mission in two ways:
- Become more agile. Adopt an agile way of structuring the organization and adopt an agile mindset. Agility is the key to responding to a rapidly changing playing field. (In future blog posts, I will write more about organizational agility.)
- Become more customer-focused. Your customer becomes the center of your organization – in a sense, your new boss.
Consider what Steve Denning writes about focusing on the customer in a Forbes article entitled "The Copernican Revolution in Management." The idea behind the article is that when Copernicus figured out in 1543 that the sun wasn’t rotating around the earth, but instead, the earth revolved around the sun, it led to a shift in economics and brought on social and political change. Applied in the business world, the customer and company change roles, with the customer representing the sun and the company rotating around it.
Your Customer is Your Boss. It’s Just a Matter of Perspective
And, so, I come back to my first paragraph. With all the focus on improving the operation through strategic planning and cost-efficiency measures, we in the Field Services industry often forget to put the customer first. Because this is still an unresolved issue in many Field Service organizations, those that do embrace the “customer is at the center” concept will drive important innovations in management, marketing and technology in Field Services in the (near) future.
Of course, focusing on internal performance metrics is imperative, but don’t overlook the customer! Make sure that the customer is the central focus as you rethink and rearrange services and processes. Know what the customer wants and figure out how he or she can best and most efficiently be served. Because nothing can change as rapidly as your customer’s wishes, make sure that your services and processes can adopt and change with them. Your new boss will accept nothing less from you!
Does Your Company Need to Be More Customer-Focused?
If you have questions about how to become a member of the Copernican Revolution, we’d be delighted to demonstrate how that can happen! Simply tell us that you’d like to become more focused on your customers, and we’ll show you how to delight them by listening to their needs serving them efficiently and following up to ensure their expectations were met (or exceeded!). Shoot us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org), call us (240-403-6001) or request a demo of FMP360.