From Services engineer to Services ambassador

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From Services engineer to Services ambassador

 

Last decades IBM moved from being a hardware supplier to a Services company. Services is not only generating higher margins than hardware, but - in addition - customer prefer paying for Service rather than for look-alike machines or tools.

Customer satisfaction is coming from maximum production uptime, productivity increases, costs reductions, better control over operational risks or the ability to offer proven benefits to the customer’s customers. If you - as a supplier -  are able to positively impact these business ambitions thanks to your outstanding Service levels, these customers will buy your products and they will stay with you. As a summary, Service excellence leads to customer loyalty, not the quality of your products. Product quality is a condition sine qua non to be or stay in the business. ‘Where are the Chinese cars?’ Exactly, in China!’

As a consequence, Services have evolved from ‘cost’ centers – to support the sales of products – to ‘profit’ centers.  Customers will pay (more) for your Services if you are able to prove value to their business. More often we see Services proposals with some pieces of hardware included.  An example is ‘Pay-per-click’ offered by Copier companies.

In parallel, the role of Services professionals (e.g. Pre-& After-Sales engineers, Consultants, Project managers, Service Delivery managers or Project managers) is also in transition. Services professionals are very task-oriented. They install, maintain or repair technology, or in other words they fix problems. Today, these Services professionals ‘should’ also be people-oriented. ‘If you fix the problem, and you also fix the customer, that customer will buy more from you!’ Services professionals become the ambassadors of your company. The good news is that Services professionals are well positioned to grow into this Services ambassadors’ role, since they …:

- Are more frequently at your customer’s premises than your Sales;

- Are the eyes and ears of your company;

- Have credibility because they are not supposed to sell. There’s no ‘Account Manager’ of ‘Business Developer’ appearing on their business cards;

- Create a ‘positive’ atmosphere after each intervention; (cfr. They fixed a problem)

- Will identify more cross- and upselling opportunities at your existing customers.

How do these Services professionals themselves perceive this expected behavior change from task-oriented experts to more people-oriented ambassadors? In general, people show resistance to most changes, to the uncertainty or to the potential failures. However, if Services professionals are ‘revalorised’ in their responsabilities, the initial push-back will melt as snow under the sun. ‘Recognition’ is the key-word to cultivate ‘permanent’ behaviour change amongst these technical experts by …:

- Setting up an incentive program: ‘Ambassador of the month, of the quarter, of the year;

- Including lead-by-example ambassador’s behaviour in their yearly performance plan and evaluation;

- Creating a gifts catalog;

- Creating visibility in your CRM: # of leads created per Services professional.

 

As a conclusion, Services organisations are currently in full transition to more professionalism, in their operating processes as well as in the skills of their collaborators.