02-02: Bala Shankar
Chair: Yit Sean Esther Chong
How can Product Companies Excel in Service?
The dominance of services is visible everywhere – from economies to companies to sales channels to customers’ doorsteps. Several companies have specialised in the past almost exclusively in ‘products’. They may excel in technology or design or materials or manufacturing related advantages without the required sophistication in ‘services’. This was par for the course in a certain era. Unfortunately, not anymore. Service has not only proved to be a business with better margins, it has also gradually become the chief source of competitive advantage where products tend towards commoditisation. Thus the new value engine is ‘service’. Services have also expanded in scope, thanks to customers’ spoken and unspoken demands.
How can the product companies migrate to an effective service strategy and delivery?
Companies have already started responding to this trend in many industries. Some have made decisive shifts and others have stumbled along the way. In order to jumpstart to a service identity, many companies have opted for the acquisition route. Does that change the DNA of the company sufficiently? What new challenges are to be tackled when service revenues start to overtake the product streams or worse, when product divisions lose the star status that they may have enjoyed? What are the resulting organisational and people dynamics? How does one decode the full range of service scope in a given context? How should such companies develop the service edge and keep evolving? These are several interesting questions.
The paper will dwell into this subject in four areas – strategic intent, organisational transformation, new frontiers of customer management and high performance service culture. Appropriate conclusions will be drawn from the arguments and examples leading to broad recommendations. Case studies and anecdotal illustrations will be brought into support the hypotheses propounded in the paper. The scope of discussions will be industry and market agnostic, although there will be a gentle bias towards B2B landscape. The concepts will apply equally to companies that are yet to embark on this journey as well as those who have implemented a service transformation strategy for some years with varying degrees of success.