Sarah shares insight from the awards ceremony for the inaugural Hot Topics’ Top 100 Service Visionaries which took place last week at the iconic Abbey Road Studios in London.
Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service Podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. This week I had the opportunity to visit the iconic Abbey Road Studios in London to help announce the inaugural group of awards for the Service Visionaries 100. The Service Visionaries Top 100 List is an acknowledgement of service leaders globally that was created in partnership with HotTopics and IFS. If you're not familiar with HotTopics, they are a London-based firm who are dedicated to creating a community of C-suite leaders across the globe, and they have created these awards in various categories, including chief digital officer, information security, marketing, things like that. Obviously, IFS understands the incredible role that service leaders play in today's businesses and worked with HotTopics to create this first ever Service Visionaries 100 List to recognize and acknowledge the hard work of some of the world's top service leaders. So it was a wonderful experience.
I had the opportunity to record a panel discussion in the famous Studio Three, the main event took place in Studio One. I had an opportunity to speak on stage about why I think the recognition of service leaders is so incredibly important and what a service visionary means. And one of the funnest parts of the day that I was a little nervous about honestly going into the day is at the end of the evening, we all got together in Studio Two, which is where the Beatles recorded a lot of their art and music over the years to record a group song.
So we had a vocal coach that led us in some practice before we dove in and recorded a song ourselves as a group. We had the sound engineer, Paul, who was hilarious and a lot of fun. And I was nervous because I'm no singer, but it was actually a really cool experience and it was just incredible to be in a place that so many artists have been and created amazing music and just incredible moments. So just to think about what's taken place in that building while we were there was just phenomenally cool.
So that being said, I thought it would be worthwhile to record this episode to talk a little bit about not just how cool the day was, of course, but what the recognition of service leaders means to me and why I was so honored to serve as a judge in selection of the top 100, and also why I think it's so great that HotTopics has created this category and this list.
So first of all, what is a service visionary? I think everyone would define that a bit differently, but to me, I think that a service visionary is such an incredible connection point within the business between customers being leader of the frontline teams that interact with customers on a day-to-day basis. They sort of own the ability to have that incredible customer impact, to build those relationships, to provide that brand experience, to create loyalty, to bring customer sentiment in, et cetera. So they are incredibly important when it comes to the customer intimacy that a business has. Of course, they can't do that piece without their teams and the frontline workforce. And so they're also a critical connection point for all of those employees throughout the ranks into the business and to the customers, and ensuring that those teams are engaged, empowered, and understand the importance of the mission that they have and the purpose of what they do.
And then finally, they are a connection of those things into the business. So being able to help evangelize the importance of service within the business and being able to help continue to shift the perception of service from a cost center to a profit center, something that is a key pillar and area of innovation and evolution for companies in so many industries. So I think the service visionary has to be a master prioritizer. There are so many different competing projects, objectives, interests, KPIs, challenges, and they're constantly forced to make sure they are not only addressing the day's most immediate needs and priorities, but also looking ahead and putting the business and the function in a position for innovation and making sure that they are creating service differentiation not only for today, but for what customers will want in the future. So incredibly important role.
We had a conversation in our panel discussion about did the folks there feel that the impact of a service visionary is widely understood at the C-level? And the answer was no. I think that we know that historically, service leaders and the service function have been viewed as important in resolving problems and meeting customer needs when they need a repair or an installation or whatever the company's service is. I think what's still not as widely understood, recognized, or acknowledged as it should be, is that service not only is an incredibly important piece of customer experience, but it is a very powerful source of customer sentiment. We talked a lot about how the intimacy that service teams have with customers is often only leveraged in terms of maintaining satisfaction, not leveraged in bringing voice of the customer into the business in terms of product development, R&D or the go-to-market strategy and developing new offerings and understanding what areas of innovation may be most impactful. So it's respected in the sense of the importance of solving problems, but not necessarily the power of how it can play a role in a company's innovation and evolution.
The other piece we talked about is, of course, companies that still aren't harnessing the potential of service to grow the business and create new revenue streams. So there are certainly companies that are and who understand the competitive differentiation and growth potential of the service function, but there are a lot who still view service as quite frankly, more of an afterthought or that necessary evil, if you will. And so I think really bringing service to the table in not only its impact on the customer experience, but its ability to bring customer sentiment into the business and be a key part of the company's evolution and revenue growth is very, very important.
So this award, I think is such an important step in bringing some of that awareness to the C-level, making sure that they understand the impact that service does have, but more importantly can have on the business.
In the panel discussion that we had, we talked a lot about how service leaders often have so much passion and conviction around how a company needs to transform or innovate, and that comes from hearing so much from customers firsthand. So we talked a little bit about how there are functions of the business who are at the table in company-wide decision-making strategy, et cetera, that are quite far removed from the realities of the customer's business. Service, on the other hand, is intimately involved and often owns those relationships and sometimes doesn't have a seat at that table and doesn't have the opportunity to weigh in on what the company is looking at overall. And I think in the years that I've been in this space, I've grown to really love this community. And I think it is that passion and conviction that comes from seeing the opportunity that exists to make changes, to create new things, to solve different problems from those customer interactions.
So I think we in this community all understand the incredible role of service and the ways in which companies who are recognizing its impact, how it sets them apart. But I think this collaboration between HotTopics and IFS to acknowledge not only these top 100 leaders of 2023, but the category itself, to bring it into the conversation, to be able to have myself, some of the other judges, some of the winners on stage in London to talk about what is a service visionary? What is so important about service leadership? And what does the future hold? It's a very important way to initiate those conversations in the businesses of everyone attending. So I just think it's a great initiative.
Judging was hard. There are so many leaders doing incredible things within their businesses, impacting their individual teams and their company's customers, but also for the industry at large. And I have the privilege of talking to so many of them on a weekly or daily basis, and that's why I love what I do so much. So the acknowledgement of the top 100 is just the tip of the iceberg. There's so many more who are having just as big of an impact and playing just as important a role in their respective organizations. So I hope that as HotTopics does this award again next year, the idea of it will catch on, the nominations will be more and more, and the organization will have an opportunity to recognize another 100 leaders and just continue to elevate the discussion around the critical importance and opportunity of service within each and every business that is part of their C-suite community.
So again, big thanks to HotTopics and IFS for seizing the opportunity to create this category and acknowledge these leaders and appreciate the opportunity to play a role in doing that this year. It was an honor and huge congratulations to the top 100 service visionaries of 2023. I have deep respect for each and every one of you and admire the hard work and passion that you bring to what you do. I know that you and your teams are so well deserving of this acknowledgement, and I hope you take a moment to be proud of not only being a part of the list, but just the impact that you have day in and day out. So huge congratulations to this year's winners. I will make sure we link to that list in the show notes so that you can take a look through who is part of the top 100 this year, and of course, as the award surfaces again in 2024, we will be sure to share how you can nominate the top 100 of next year.
So just wanted to share that with you, draw attention to HotTopics as a community, if any of you're interested in following them. Of course, IFS as the leading service management provider and the brainchild behind bringing this award to such an important stage. And of course, the leaders who were recognized. So thanks for having a listen. I'll link those things in the show notes and we'll talk to you next week. As always, you can find more by visiting us at futureoffieldservice.com. The Future of Field Service Podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more at ifs.com. And as always, thank you for listening.