Friday, February 5, 2016

Evolve, or Disappear

What dissatisfies a Client of a service?

It is rarely bad service in some absolute sense of “bad.”  A customer’s satisfaction is the gap between what is expected and what is received.

Everything is relative. 

A typical service client cannot always tell when a service is performed well.  But, a typical client is very good at sensing disappointment.  In short, the central fact in the services business is a frustrating one: It is much easier to fail in a service than to succeed.

In an increasingly complex world with constantly shifting expectations, an obsession with planning and detail can be more of a hindrance than a help in sustaining high levels of client satisfaction.  It can wed your teams and business model to plans of action that are not working in the marketplace, and that are not reflective of how your business has changed.  Good enough often isn’t in the eyes of the service recipient, despite all the dashboards and metrics.

We can’t let the presence of risk, or the absence of clarity, prevent us from taking action.  Whether that action be an investment, a change of partners, or the retirement of a legacy business model.  Call it innovation if you must, but services-based relationships must evolve or die.  If you’re in the business of delivering a service, you better have a plan to evolve.

The wave across companies to adopt “As A Service” modes of operating – whereby best-effort is replaced with defined and measured service outcomes – is a fundamental transformation of how businesses operate.  It’s a lifestyle change of momentous proportions.

But, it’s a change that will occur purposefully and through phases of change.  With rare exceptions, we’re not talking about a big bang shift in how large companies organize and operate.  We’re chipping away at the familiar, and replacing it with the progressive.

“As A Service” is, increasingly, an expectation of service recipients.  It’s defining “good” for the execution of business functions.  It can’t be controlled or constrained.  It is the new normal for running businesses.

Leaders of corporate Shared Services operations, and providers of outsourced services, are challenged alike to offer new forms of service delivery that reflect the higher expectations of the service recipients.  This is not a matter of waiting for new requirements, or putting a veneer on the old service model. 

What’s expected of those worthy of sustaining services-based relationships is a commitment to market-based “As A Service” offerings.  Your customers are watching.

Peter Allen has many years of operating experience as a top executive and strategic advisor for companies of all shapes and sizes, with focus on technology-enabled business services. He is now Senior Advisor for Alvarez & Marsal, and Chief Evangelist at Peter Allen & Partners.

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