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August 26, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

The Case for a Chief Service Officer

August 26, 2019 | 3 Mins Read

The Case for a Chief Service Officer


By Tom Paquin

I know what you’re thinking—The last thing that your business needs is another top-down decision-maker imposing their vision on a staff. But hear me out. I have two questions about service at your business.

Here’s the first: Where does the direction of your service business come from, on the executive level, today? Perhaps, if you’re a pure service business, it comes from product. For others, it may be a function of operations. For others still, it may sit solely with the CEO. Perhaps it comes from nowhere. At Future of Field Service, we’ve seen, interacted with, and learned from service leaders, whose titles included these roles, and countless others. The second question is this: Who makes the go/no-go decision on service technology for your business? Does it come from the same department? When is your CTO, CIO, or VP of BI, brought in to advise? Is there already some degree of incongruence within your business, here? Then a Chief Service Officer may be the bridge that you need to bring everything together. There is, of course, a little more to it than just that. Recent news impacting the service delivery industry is a symptom of a shift impacting businesses globally: Service is becoming the centerpiece of business growth. The 2010’s, for many, was the age of the customer. That mindset evolved over the decade based on several trends, including:

  • A shift away from ownership towards products-as-a-service.
  • An oversaturation of products entering the market from new, global entrants and decreasing barriers to entry.
  • A fundamental shift in the economy away from product-focused businesses towards services-focused businesses.
  • The need to diversify product portfolios with low-overhead add-ons that simultaneously offer value to the customer beyond your competitors.
  • Best-in-class manufacturers, retailers, and suppliers creating pathways towards completely upending business practices with service.

There are dozens of other considerations to go along with these. All of these elements come together to make service an urgent consideration, if not for all businesses, then certainly for most. If you’re servitizing a legacy business, or just looking to enhance the service offerings that you have today, a Chief Service Officer is an ideal steward to help navigate your business through difficult waters. Service is a natural outgrowth of operations, but operations, as a function, is generally oriented towards minimizing overhead. This, traditionally, is a key function of service, but in the new service economy, becomes secondary to making service a growth agent for a business. In that way, service decisions may seem to fit more comfortably on the product side of a business, and for many, that might be enough. For businesses where their products aren’t exclusively service, though, the operational elements needed to make service run properly could weigh down the role. Enter the Chief Service Officer. The position that straddles the operations and product world, interfacing with both sides of the business, making service a continued discussion, and helping bridge the gap between the technical elements of successful Service Management adoption and the actual work of field and back-office employees. So what does the Chief Service Officer do? This will obviously differ from company to company, but on a high-level, here are some general ideas:

  • Own the technology rollout for all of service.
  • Work with product to set rigid parameters for service execution.
  • Develop benchmarks, roadmaps, and dashboard to measure service’s impact on the whole company.
  • Set up and execute on service business development efforts within sales.
  • Own the service management platform, tie it to all areas of enterprise resource planning, asset management, and customer experience management.
  • Make the push that your company provides service because it wants to faster a stronger relationship with its customers.

This is by no means a silver bullet for businesses looking to redefine service, but with the right person, and the right organizational outlook, it could be what sets your business on the track towards end-to-end service transformation.