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Having been in the business of providing software for service organizations for 25 years, I would say that all service organizations overlap business process for 50% to 70% of their activities.

When the product doesn’t work, someone needs to do something: go there & fix it, or send the product back, or send a part for the user to fix it, etc. Doesn’t matter if the product is a medical imaging device, a gaming machine, a piece of computer equipment or a door. And at the simplest level, who went, what did they do, can we send a bill or collect money are the building blocks of a service process. Such are the links in the Service Chain that most service organizations would easily recognize.

And what about the balance of activities, the 30% to 50% that does not overlap?

Those activities are the links in the Service Chain that are the unique bits of a service operation. Sometimes they arise from the particular properties of the equipment being serviced. An example would be gear containing radioactive materials, which require special tracking and handling. Government regulations (think medical devices) require certain process steps not needed in refrigeration repairs. The customers may be the cause of specialized service chain process (again, government as an example requiring special security clearance for access).

Even if you see the product you are servicing as a commodity, the unique bits might be how you differentiate your service from the competition. This ‘special sauce’ makes your service chain unique and, we expect, more valuable.

So here are a few questions to ponder regarding your service chain:

  • Do you understand the basic links in your service chain that are the same or very similar to your competition?
  • Can you identify at least two unique links or processes that are a) repeated frequently enough to be significant and b) are an opportunity to make money?
  • Are you making money on those processes?

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