Think Tank Sessions: Educating the Client to Succeed with Customer Success

Educating the client may seem odd, but it can often be the case that they don’t even realise they have a problem, or there may be areas that you can help improve efficiency.


As experts in your field, it’s highly likely that your clients don’t know nearly as much as you do. Helping educate the client can help instil customer loyalty by building trust and accelerating value.


“Education is key,” Tony Chapman, General Manager, Customer Services, Siemens Digital Industries explained. 


“A lot of the time, customers don’t realise they’re having any given problem, but you can educate them that the service you provide causes upside benefits.


“One of the things that we look at when we’re building offerings for clients is that as well as the measurable savings, we also look at deemed savings and often this is an education point with a customer,” Chapman added. 


“A deemed saving, for example, would be if a client maintains a machine five times a year, and this equates to ten hours of downtime, which in turn costs x amount in lost revenue.


“If we can reduce that maintenance to twice a year, there is a deemed saving, i.e. a reduction from ten hours of downtime to four hours of downtime, which we can then translate to a tangible cost.


“However, again we come back to who in the customer we are selling to. You have to have the stakeholders in the business who understand that concept and get that written in the contract. Otherwise, we’re back into discussions with a customer whose perception is that they’re now paying for something that doesn’t happen. A customer wants to know why we’re paying for five services a year when you’re only doing two. So it’s an entirely different discussion.”


“Essentially, what we as service providers want to be doing is understanding these various pain points, but then we need to condense that message into a primary contact to say, ‘these are the different pieces that come together.’ So we have a different sales approach; it’s about understanding that challenger sales mentality,” Kris Oldland, Editor-in-Chief, Field Service News replied. 


“But we need to look beyond that as well if we are establishing different service levels within a portfolio. For example, have we got a different mentality with service marketing of different solutions?


“What about at the operational level? Do we need to then carve out a different operational team that the meets the needs of one set of customers? Or can the same operational team tackle a work-order that is outcome based and then move to something that is more transactional – at the technical level the skill set exactly the same, but are there other factors at play?”


“What you typically see as a model is that you have high touch, medium touch and low touch customers, meaning how many touches do you need to have at customer engagement, customer count interaction and service delivery,” commented Jan van Veen, Managing Director, moreMomentum


“It may be that you need some segmentation in your approach and team structures. For example, you may want a remote-only service team for smaller clients who need low touch interactions. Then you may have another team, who are constantly on-site with your high-touch customers – to outline two extremes.


“It doesn’t need to be one-size -fits all approach to service. The solution for your organisation could be segmented with different approaches within your service portfolio.”


“With transactional customers, they want as quick as possible, as light a touch as possible and as low cost as possible,” Chapman added. 


“Those kinds of transactions are more and more being led through web-based interactions and are increasingly less about human touch.


“Whereas when we move into the real outcome space, there are lots of measurements, there is lots of reporting back; there’s lots of continual sales, a lot of customer dialogue, a need to understand the current problem and the problem that comes next for them.


“When you get into a transactional sale, all of that additional effort is meaningless. The sale is completed nine times out of ten before you’ve even seen the customer. They know what they want, know the price they want to be, and just want to get it quickly.


“On the other side of it, the outcome-based approach, the more you need of that type of granular relationship. So it is the middle ground which is getting squeezed. They’re actually divesting, if you like. There is real high end sales with lots of customer contact, and then the other end which is pure transactional. However, the bit in the middle, where the vast majority of sales teams sit, just doesn’t exist much now.”


“Having been on the client-side of things and worked with major service companies over the years like Haliburton and Schlumberger, when you sign a big contract, you have the service provider come in with the sales team, the engineers, senior management etc.” Chris Hird, Editor, Field Service News replied. 


“Then what will invariably happen is that the CEO or someone senior will go in and speak with our CEO. The engineers head off, talking with our engineering team and the accounts and finance people are all speaking to each other. Throughout, they’re all being promised the world. Then I, as the project manager, on the client-side, was often stuck in the middle, trying to piece all these slightly different messages coming through from different business units.


“I’d have the technical team saying this is great, this is not great. Then the finance people are saying something slightly different. So there always a similar but different message coming through from the service providers depending on which part of the business they were coming from and as the user this was always challenging, because then I had to try to piece all the different threads together and report both upwards and downwards within the organisation while trying to keep the messaging constant.”


In the next feature in this series, the group discuss how we as field service providers can make sure we are aligned with our clients, and why this is the key to successfully establishing a customer success model. 


Want to know more and can’t wait? FSN subscribers can access the full Executive Briefing Report from this session via the button at the top of this article.



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