Unlike other industries, the service sector has been at the digital forefront for many years, with organizations delivering digitized customer journeys and dynamic workforce management strategies. Looking at the road ahead, however, service companies still have more work to do in an already digitally mature sector.
Five key trends will mold the future of service delivery for the next 12 months and beyond:
Customer service is a mirror of employee experience. Customer experience will remain a key differentiator in 2022, but for many service organizations this period of workplace disruption will also bring a greater awareness of employee wellbeing. In the year ahead, more businesses will shift their focus toward enhancing company culture, leadership and employee value proposition, career development, and much more.
Organizations will be forced to take responsibility for getting more creative in how and whom they hire. Leaders will need to do more in the form of mentorship, encouragement and recognition. Companies are realizing that the stellar customer experience they aim to deliver is impossible without engaged and satisfied employees. In 2022, service organizations must do what it takes to understand what employees need to be happy, and they must work tirelessly to deliver that.
From a technology perspective, software has the potential to act as a great enabler or massive deterrent. This is evident not least in the ability of workers to efficiently carry out their jobs, but even more so in the satisfaction levels created by the software. A platform that offers an intuitive user interface and consumer-grade experience while also providing meaningful insights, with access to remote resources at the touch of a button, will significantly improve employees’ experience.
Employees get in the right headspace with mental health support. For many years, mental health and employee wellbeing weren’t getting enough attention in the workplace. Then the global pandemic raised the issue on a larger scale, with employees experiencing varying degrees of stress and trauma. For frontline service workers and their leadership, the necessity of in-person work exacerbates the stress of the pandemic.
While remote assistance, deployed adeptly by companies like Munters as the pandemic began, has proved an invaluable tool in helping to minimize unnecessary on-site visits and fostering easier internal collaboration, it can’t replace the need to deliver on-site service. As such, service organizations need to continue evolving their service-delivery strategies to utilize tools like remote assistance, while also accepting the responsibility for playing a more active role in supporting employee mental health.
While the efforts to normalize the topic of mental health in the workplace have begun, we have a long way to go. There’s ample room for improvement when it comes to how these discussions are handled, which resources are available and how they’re used, how leaders lead by example, and how we deal with the realities of providing a safe place for employees who are struggling.
Digital becomes part of the business DNA. To stay competitive in today’s market, digital transformation should no longer be seen as a one-time solution, but something that service organizations can consider as part of their business identity. Digital as a part of a company’s identity means it’s within the business’s DNA — a part of every conversation, function and role.
Companies are turning to digital to streamline internal operations in a way that enables the best customer experience as well as operational efficiency. And it’s being used externally, as a part of a company’s value proposition. As a business masters the foundational level of capability, it looks for layers of sophistication and intelligence to add.
Servitization and outcome-based business models are set to become the winning customer-experience combination. Customer demands are evolving, and it’s time for service organizations to keep pace. Today’s customers no longer look for service offerings, but instead seek knowledge, product experience and perspective on how the business can do better and deliver meaningful result to customers.
Whether we refer to this evolution as servitization, the move to delivering outcomes, as-a-service or the subscription economy, it means that service organizations need to re-evaluate how they’re doing business, and how they’re talking about service. (Hint: it shouldn’t be an “offering.”) Companies need to equip themselves with the technological underpinnings that allow for guaranteed outcomes and need to be reconsidering their identity — moving away from manufacturer of X or servicer Y to a provider of (insert your differentiation here).
This evolution isn’t possible without first releasing all legacy thinking and habitual practices, and focusing objectively on what customers are seeking. It’s also not possible without the technological sophistication that allows for impeccable asset intelligence and data collection, optimal utilization of resources, a seamless customer experience, and the ability to derive business intelligence that feeds new value propositions.
Sustainable service takes center stage in the circular economy. With the growing realization of how much more effort we need to be putting into saving our environment, and new standards and regulations being introduced around the globe, there’s a lot to discuss around sustainability. More specifically, there’s an immense amount of opportunity for service organizations to introduce new offerings, as well as a natural fit in how a focus on sustainability lends itself to the benefits that servitization introduces in terms of longer-lasting products and a more circular approach.
Climbing the digital maturity ladder in 2022: It’s time service organizations built on their successes. Throughout 2022, all five areas discussed here will continue to enhance service delivery. For the many organizations that embraced digitalization before the pandemic, now is the time to continue their progress and exceed customer expectations at every service touchpoint.
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