Many manufacturers have yet to understand how customers best adopt new remote service offerings. They get so hung up on, “will our customers let us do it?” The real question is, “How do we communicate the value so our customers want it?”
Even if the first introduction of remote service is about efficiency and cost reduction, which is often the case, there are many aspects that benefit the customer. In fact, one of the best things about remote service is that just about anything a service organization does to reduce costs with remote service, there is a corollary effect that has measurable benefit to the end-user.
For example, let’s say a manufacturer uses remote service technology to diagnose a problem before dispatching a technician. In some cases, they may even be able to avoid the dispatch altogether and save significant costs.
The end-user in this case just got the equipment back up and running in record time. In fact, you can measure the difference in “time to equipment recovery” with and without the remote service capability. This difference translates to an increase in your customer’s productivity – or, whatever they deem is valuable to having running equipment.
A big key here is that the new remote offering is focused on “support” and not really a “value-added service.” From a best practices standpoint, this is as it should be.
When it comes to increasing equipment uptime, I argue most end-users are more than willing to accept being connected to the vendor. Some even demand it. The mistake manufacturers make is overlooking the importance of properly communicating the value of the “support” offering to customers. This is especially true when the primary motivation for doing remote service is reducing service costs.
I can count three manufacturers off the top of my head who are stuck with deployment because the end-users want discounts on the service contract because the offering only appears to benefit the vendor. What is so appalling is that they give in and offer discounts for the connection. Obviously good services marketing is missing in these cases.
A question I get quite often is, “Fee or Free? Should we give the offering away or charge a fee for it?” The answer is very clear if the nature of the offering is to reduce your service costs – GIVE IT AWAY!
It is not a good strategy to commit to cost reduction within your organization that depends on your customer to purchase something from you. If they choose not to buy, you have just shot yourself in the foot to reduce your own costs.
Remove all barriers to acceptance, communicate what it means to the end-user, and get as many customers connected as possible. No matter how good your offering is, you won’t deliver any results if you are not connected to a large percentage of your installed base.
Save the value-add (fee based) services for when your customer has become comfortable being connected and has had a chance to experience the goodness of remote support. By this time, you will already have them hooked.
Only then will they be ready to “hear” about new services that can benefit them even further.