Sunday, 13 September 2015

Creating Customer Value Through Services

In the Cambridge Service Alliance we have long talked about the importance of focusing on outcomes - understanding deeply and intimately what it is that your customer or even your customer’s customer values and exploring how you can deliver this. One of the most powerful consequences of thinking this way is that it encourages you to change the way you think about the boundaries of your business.

Take, for example, Caterpillar - what is it that their customer’s customer values? Imagine, for example a mining operation or a quarry. Clearly the customer wants a safe working environment. Clearly they want equipment that is reliable and productive. Clearly they want minimum disruption to their operations and production schedules. But ultimately what they want is to be able to extract minerals in the volumes they need at the lowest cost. If lowest cost per tonne is what the customer wants, what can Caterpillar do to help their customer achieve this?

Well the first thing is they can recognize that the mine or quarry is a system - to achieve lowest cost per tonne you have to optimize the system and get all of the people and equipment working in harmony together. It is not enough for Caterpillar to be able to guarantee that their equipment has the lowest operating cost or even lowest total lifetime cost. Unless Caterpillar’s equipment works in harmony with the rest of the quarry the customer won’t achieve lowest cost per tonne.

Working in harmony requires coordination - coordination across mixed fleets of assets and equipment. One of the services Caterpillar and their Dealers now offer are quarry optimization services. They use the data coming back off their equipment to help the customer identify production inefficiencies and lost time. Trucks, for example, have sensors in their beds. As the truck is loaded with material, the sensors record the weight of material in the bed of the truck. So Caterpillar knows when trucks are fully loaded. They also track location, through GPS data, so if your data shows a truck is fully loaded, but its GPS position is not changing then its not moving. That’s lost time - once the truck is loaded it should be moving off up the haul road en route to dump its load in the crusher.

There are loads of similar examples. Bose thinks of itself not as a speaker manufacturer but as providing sound distribution systems. Pharmaceutical firms are reinventing themselves as healthcare solutions provides - seeking to find a new way to complete as the development cost of drugs increases and more and more drugs come off patent.

At this year’s Cambridge Service Alliance conference - creating value through customer services - scheduled for the 6th October - we’ll be hearing from three leading providers of services and solutions - ABB, Rolls Royce and Zoetis. Each of them will be explaining how they have managed to develop business models - often enabled by data and analytics - to create value for customers by focusing on the outcomes their customers and their customer’s customers really want.