In the past, most companies frequently treated field services as a cost center. The focus for field service was to deliver quality service to the customer, do it efficiently, and stay within the limits of the service agreement. Under existing models at the time, service revenues were a fraction of the revenue from the capital equipment, in fact, many technology companies didn't bother to separate revenue from services. But as companies move from these old B2B Level 1 and Level 2 models to the new B4B Level 3 and Level 4 models, the potential to drive significant revenue from field services has become a new focus for technology companies. More and more these days we hear technology companies saying things like, “servicing our installed base is becoming the biggest revenue growth opportunity.”
The Shift from Products to Services
We believe that as revenue from products and equipment levels off due to limitations on technology, innovation on the supplier side, and increased focus on outcomes coming from the customers, revenue generation will shift from products to services for most technology companies.
Three important shifts are creating significant revenue generating power for field services:
The shift from technical support provider to trusted business partner.
The shift from customer satisfaction to total customer focus.
The shift from price negotiation to value recognition.
However, unleashing this power requires companies to create new capabilities within their field service forces.
How Field Service Can Lead This Transformation
Two factors position field services as the ideal group to lead this transformation.
First, field services already has access to decision makers at their customers and, in most cases, they have a reputation as a trusted business partner. TSIA research indicates that field service people are at their customer sites on average 70 times per month. And, unlike salespeople, service people are generally regarded as people whose sole purpose is to address the customer's challenges, rather than generate more revenue.
Second, field service people have intimate knowledge of how their products are used to generate outcomes, in other words, how they create quantifiable value for their customers.
Ways Field Services Can Harness this Revenue Generating Power
Based on our experience working with technology companies who have begun to harness this power, we believe there are three skills that field services must have in order to lead this transformation:
First, field service people need the ability to understand and address customer needs at multiple levels.
Second, they need the ability to think and act proactively in the interests of their customers.
Third, and perhaps the most important new capability, is to achieve outcomes and agreements with customers that balance the requirements of customers with the interests of the supplier.
About the Author
Paul Hesselschwerdt is president of Global Partners. Paul has been a senior executive in consulting and industry for more than 20 years. He has worked with companies in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Together with the Global Partners team, he has designed and implemented programs in sales and marketing, Total Customer Focus, leadership, management development, and project management across a range of industries, including health care, pharmaceuticals, biotech, consumer electronics, and high-technology. Paul’s career began in finance and accounting, and half of his professional life has been as a finance director and CFO for industrial, life sciences, and global media companies.
Paul’s clients have included ASML, GE Healthcare, Merck, ST Microelectronics, AREVA, Alstom Power, Schneider Electric, Sherwin Williams, and CRANE Corp.
Paul is a graduate of Boston University (BSBA) and Babson College (MBA), and has unique expertise in applying his knowledge of business and finance with his understanding of adult learning. This enables him to create and deliver programs that are business-focused and achieve sustainable results.
Contact Paul at [email protected].