Finding Value in Remote Service

Written by: Chris Wolff

Read Time: 2 min

How Do You Sell Something Nobody Wants?  

Let’s face it—no one wants to pay for service, and service leaders are being asked to not only control costs but to raise revenue by selling more. I asked a friend of mine who took a role leading service delivery for a major equipment manufacturer how to sell something nobody wants. She blanked. Maybe congratulations would have been more appropriate!   

Nonetheless, service implies fixing something valuable that is or may become broken. Who wants something valuable that breaks? Nobody.   

But in the real world, important things do break for all kinds of reasons, so service is required by almost everybody. That doesn’t mean we have to like it.  

How Can We Make the Experience Better?  

I put that question to IDC analyst and author Aly Pinder, fresh off publishing a research paper about service delivery. He suggested industrial Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) follow the path set by IT OEMs. The concept of making machines smart and connected to enable remote service over a ubiquitous IP network has been prevalent in the IT world for nearly a decade. In fact, it’s something that laypeople take for granted. 

Yet for makers of industrial equipment, the challenges and stakes are a lot higher. Delivering service in person through expert field engineers and techs has been the norm.  

The pandemic changed the game and gave rise to ad hoc work arounds, many of which stuck. Everyone involved recognized the ability to deliver remote service with confidence and consistency is a business imperative.  

Now, manufacturers and service organizations are beginning to explore new service offerings for customers beyond traditional service contracts and consumable sales.  

Aly cautioned that OEMs shouldn’t underestimate the human factor in delivering and receiving service. We’d all prefer valuable machines that never need to be fixed, and with remote service, your field teams may still be the face of your brand. Delivering service remotely doesn’t mean forgetting the user experience.   

If They Can’t See It, Will They Still Value It?   

John Carroll, CEO & Founder of the Service Council, began studying that question starting in 2009. As of 2023, 5,000 members lean on the findings from his primary research on the attitudes of those delivering and receiving service.  

Much like Aly, John recommended I think about the people first and technology enablers second. John cited the “Silver Tsunami’s” impact, an urgent need to capture the knowledge of the “equipment whisperers” headed to retirement and serve that expertise to the YouTube generation in a format that enables gregarious non-specialists to perform complex tasks correctly the first time. Expert Capture and augmented reality tools integrated with customer experience tracking is key.  

John also spoke about new hybrid commercial models that blend remote and onsite service, offered on a subscription basis, having a positive impact on Customer Satisfaction scores. High CSAT scores translate to renewals, which translate to continued value. His statistics are surprising and encouraging.  

Other Speaking of Service podcast guests, such as Haroon Abbu (VP, Digital, Data, and Analytics at Bell & Howell), Andy Hay (President & CEO, Sysmex America), and Billy Milligan (Solutions Development Lead at Howden) also gave their insights on how remote service has impacted customer satisfaction and the human experience in their organizations.  

In upcoming podcasts featuring guests, such as Sani-Matic, Karl Storz, and Transition Technologies PSC, I’m looking forward to asking how they recommend someone gets started on their remote service delivery journey. Where are the quick wins? What are the pitfalls? Send me questions you’d have me ask. I’ll come back to you!  

Beyond Speaking of Service, don't forget LiveWorx is rapidly approaching! Make sure you also check out the featured guests focusing on field service operations. 

Speaking of Service

Expert guests share their outside view of IIoT and discuss various aspects of service Listen Now
Tags: Industrial Internet of Things Thingworx Remote Service Predictive Maintenance

About the Author

Chris Wolff

Chris Wolff, “Wolffie”, joined PTC in November 2022 to establish a Field Alliance function within the PTC Americas sales organization. As VP of Sales and Strategic Partnerships for PTC Americas, reporting to the DVP of Sales, Wolffie helps PTC sellers accelerate and expand customer value, leading complex ecosystems. She spends her free time mentoring women in STEM, golfing, and cheering the Duke Blue Devils.