Customer Experience as a “Memorable Event”

pct_434290 ron palinkas field service managementQuite a bit has been written about manufacturing movement in the service field.  This movement called,  “servitization”, has recognized the value of manufacturers providing first line service to customers.  It removes any past layers that might exist between the customer and manufacturer while at the same providing producers direct access to product performance and feedback.  A great deal of debate has surrounded how to tie the value of service to future sales.  The move towards the customer experience performance has played a part in blending the roles of service and sales to promote the concept of the overall customer experience, the stages of which might range from a request for literature, proposals, installation, and follow-on service after the sale.

Waiter torso holding a silver tray with catering dome on a white background ron palinkas field service management

Pie and Gilmore performed some research between the sale of goods and service that accompanies those sales.  They were comparing experiences in the hotel industry, comparing the value of rooms to the value of service delivered by the staff.  I like how they transition from customer experience to memorable.

“…experiences occur whenever a company intentionally uses services as the stage and goods as props to engage an individual. While commodities are fungible, goods tangible, and services intangible, experiences are memorable”

Delivering a memorable experience is what we should all try to deliver to customers.  After all it is what we, as consumers ourselves, would like to have.


Managing Service Organizations: Does Having a “Thing” Make a Difference?

–John Bowen and Robert C Ford


US Marines Brutally Ambushed and Defeated by Norwegian Kids

1360338828140_1360338828140_rA group of US Marines made a terrible mistake and took on a bunch of Norwegian kids, which turned out to be a really, really bad idea.

In the U.S. Marines, doing a mock war in the Norwegian city of Trondheim with the Dutch, Germans and other allies, training in urban combat. My infantry unit was positioned in a large soccer field next to an elementary school. Keep in mind there was no actual combat, even simulated; it was mostly just practicing maneuvers and tactics. But we still looked out of place with weapons and gear, etc. It’s February. In Norway. Cold as hell. Snow up to our knees. Norway obviously has no snow days, so the kids were all in school.

skiingAnyway, so Norway has this most delicious and amazing delicacy, I have no idea what it’s called, but it’s basically a bacon-wrapped hot dog; we just assumed it was called Candy of the Lord. As Americans we were naturally and instantly addicted. You find them at gas stations, and there just happened to be one on the other side of the school where we were camped. A few of my fellow Marines and I requested permission to go to the gas station and we set out on our way.

We made it to right about where the main entrance of the school was, and the doors opened; school was out. There were only a few kids, probably 6 or 7 years old. Lots of talking and laughing. Gawking at us as we walked by, with our guns and huge ridiculous snow suits. One precocious little guy made shooting noises at us. We made shooting noises back.

450x298_q95And then someone in my group. I don’t know who. God help me I don’t know who…

Someone threw a snowball and hit a little girl in the leg.

And those little Norwegian children unleashed hell.

There was a shrill cry in unintelligible gibberish and the doors to the school burst open. School children flooded out like a never-ending flood of something that never ends. Screeching, smiling, sprinting – how the hell were they sprinting?? – little bastards were slinging snowballs faster than the laws of physics should allow. It was like that movie Elf. If you can imagine riding in a fast car in a snowstorm and sticking your head out the window. Now imagine the snowflakes that are hitting your face are the size of snowballs. We couldn’t see a damn thing. We couldn’t run. We could barely breathe. Holy hell….

We tried to return fire and threw one, maybe two half-packed, crappy snowballs that fell apart in the air, arms flailing like limp-wristed fairies. I am from Texas. We were a unit stationed in North Carolina. We were so outmatched and out of our element, it only made them laugh harder. We were cut off from our main forces. We tried to perform a flanking maneuver but they were too fast. I think some of them were throwing rocks!

As for my comrades. I could see them speed waddling in their huge suits back to camp like a messed up pair of white Teletubbies, under withering fire. Screw tactics, screw me, screw the Candy of the Lord, this was survival! I was the slow one in the group. My snow boots were too big but they were the smallest size they had at Issue goddammit!! My Marines had left me behind.

I tried pulling my hood over my head and keeping my head down. No longer content to pelt my defenseless body with ballistic snow, the enemy swarmed me and dragged me down, cackling like a pack of hyenas descending on a wildebeest. I tried to sling them off by spinning. I came out of one of my boots and fell. I began to scream and plead for them to stop but they neither understood nor gave a single Nordic damn. They literally pinned me down with about five kids on each limb. It was then that I actually thought – oh sh*t. I’m really in trouble. My snow-mittens were ripped off and flung into trees. They started shoving snow down my suit. Have you ever had anyone drop an ice cube down your shirt?

Well now imagine someone shoveling handfuls of ice cubes down your shirt. It literally shocked the breath out of my body.

They left me laying like a Family Guy accident victim. Moaning and screaming in the cold. Rifle packed with snow and dirt. Boot buried somewhere. They ran away laughing, jabbering in their crazy language. I lay there trying to figure out just what in the great American hell had happened.


Original Posting

Collaboration Trumps Cost

diebold-incorporated-logoCollaboration Trumps Cost

Diebold reaches for high-level supply chain partnerships that support its strategic goals

When it comes to relationships with suppliers, including logistics service providers, Natali is very clear, “We’re looking for that same sort of relationship with our supply base.”

Diebold’s business may be all about cash—it makes automatic teller machines, card readers and security systems—but its outsourced logistics relationships don’t focus only on cost. It’s not that cost isn’t important, and it is a metric for evaluating performance, but Natali lists a number of other factors driving Diebold’s supply chain strategy and decisions to outsource before reaching cost or cost reductions.

“If all you are going after is cost and you think that’s going to lead to a long-term competitive advantage, you’re wrong,” says Natali. “I want my business partners to understand my ‘end game.’ If all they understand is logistics and they can’t appreciate what I’m trying to achieve, that’s not helpful either.” That end game, as Natali describes it, is meeting customer needs, and Diebold’s core strategies are focused there. It wants partners who can appreciate and embrace its strategies.

Diebold has undergone some transformation recently, including a new CEO in 2005. Positioning operations for the new CEO was less about how logistics could perform better and more about “how does it intertwine with our core strategy,” Natali points out. “We’re focused on critical functional capabilities that are restraining our business strategy and correcting them, whether that is through an internal program or, in the case of logistics, an external partnership.”

Natali offers some factors he considers when making logistics outsourcing decisions:

  1. Fill a resource gap.
  2. Fill a knowledge gap.
  3. Satisfy systems needs.
  4. Speed of improvement.
  5. Gain procurement leverage.
  6. Redeploy key personnel to customer-facing tasks.

In assessing his needs, Natali asks, would any or all of these functional deficiencies inhibit the ability to achieve long-term business goals? And, if the answer is “yes” the decision to outsource is clear-cut.

In addition to aligning on strategic goals, Natali acknowledges the importance of connecting with the operations people who will be handling his business. “I need to meet the on-site leader from the 3PL,” says Natali. “That leader needs to be a doer and, more importantly, that leader needs to be a force of nature. They have to have this competence, energy and work ethic that is awe-inspiring to behold.”

He is also looking for a supplier who is tops in its area of expertise and, he’s not afraid to admit, “they need to be smarter than me.” And, he adds, sometimes they need to save him from himself. “They have to be able to challenge me effectively with data and say, ‘You’re gong to hurt yourself if you try to execute this.’”

“With a few exceptions, the days of the completely vertically integrated mega-corporation are over,” says Natali. “If you try to understand how to do everything yourself in-house, the level of execution that you need to have in every piece of your business to be competitive today is just so high that you will spend yourself into the ground trying to be the best there is in every functional element.”

That said, Natali adds, Diebold does have a global logistics and warehousing director with a small core group of people who manage critical pieces of the business and manage their logistics providers. And, he continues, there’s an internal sourcing exercise so that Diebold understands the capabilities of the logistics providers they use and their competitors, so if they should need to change resources, they know what is available.

Contracts are typically structured on a three- to fiveyear basis. The core contract covers terms and termination and a series of appendixes spell out specifics so that changes can be made during the contract period without the need to revise the whole contract.

Coming back to Natali’s listing of reasons to outsource, one of the first considerations he had was filling a resource gap. Posed as a question, Natali asks, “Do I have the resources I need internally?” He follows this with another question, “If not, do I have time to grow them?”

Faced with a small department and some knowledge gaps based on the growth and evolution of Diebold’s markets, Natali had to be realistic about spending to grow that expertise through training or additional staffing. The answer: “I have to bridge that resource gap with an outside partner.”

Outsourcing allowed those critical internal resources to be focused elsewhere. “Do I really want to have them focus on network design or are there other more critical projects in terms of how we serve our customers that I want them to focus on while I have an outside company that has a lot of competency focus on the execution piece?” Natali asks.

Another area to consider is information systems. Here, Natali asks a similar set of questions. “Do I have the systems I need?” Diebold’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system couldn’t give them the detail needed to manage logistics and material flow effectively, providing another reason to partner, he explains.
Also in terms of scope and critical mass, Natali raises the question of purchasing leverage. Even with Diebold’s multi-million-dollar budget for transport and warehousing, does a thirdparty logistics company have more procurement leverage?A third consideration is speed of improvement. Even if there is sufficient need and critical mass to make it worthwhile to develop logistics capabilities internally, is there time to do it? “Am I going to get better enough fast enough to execute what I need to do?” asks Natali. If the answer is “no” then the solution is outsourcing.

The bottom-line question on outsourcing for Diebold isn’t about logistics but it is about corporate strategy. “If I take a look at my three-year business plan and I don’t partner with an outsource logistics firm, will my strategic business plan be inhibited by those functional deficiencies? And if the answer is ‘yes’ you have to eliminate that functional deficiency,” explains Natali.

A central point of the conversation Natali and Diebold had with Menlo Worldwide Logistics was about Diebold’s strategic vision in terms of global supply chain, product offering and what Diebold’s customers’ needs were. Then, they talked about what Diebold needed in order to get to where it wanted to be.

“We spent a lot of time talking about what our in-house capability truly was,” says Natali. “We had a global logistics department for the manufacturing supply chain piece of the business that consisted of a grand total of three people. We had entrusted that movement to our carriers. There was a certain model they had for doing business, and it didn’t necessarily match with our strategic vision of where we wanted to go.”

“For Diebold, the focus is on turning their supply chain into a core competency and competing on the strength of the supply chain,” says Carl Fowler, director of account management for Menlo Worldwide Logistics. “As markets globalize,” he explains, “companies find their supply chains stretched beyond their capabilities to manage what they have with a meager group of supply chain resources.”

Fowler continues, “Whether it’s an ATM or an automobile, the cost of manufacturing is pretty consistent when you look at it region by region. And where the companies are competing today is on the strength of supply chain. You need something that’s more flexible. You need to be able to get the parts on the shelf a little faster and a little bit cheaper while shrinking the inventory footprint in the field.”

With Diebold, specifically, Fowler explains, the partnership between user and logistics provider focused on supply chain evolution and supply chain integration. It all came down to putting a common supply chain vision out and rolling the disparate operating divisions in to support that one vision, that one goal, says Fowler. It meant using the strength of the supply chain to compete more effectively in new and emerging markets.

“The best machines are the ones that don’t have that many moving parts,” Fowler says. “Looking at a global entity or global enterprise like Diebold, our focus has been on rationalization; simplification of the supply chain.” By definition, he adds, transportation and warehousing are waste. Eliminating the movement and warehousing of goods whenever and wherever possible using lean tools and techniques helps drive waste out of the supply chain. “As lead logistics provider (LLP) for Diebold globally, our job is to find out where that waste is.”

“This becomes more than doing the movement efficiently,” adds Natali. The focus becomes, “Why am I moving so much?” “Because,” says Natali, “moving material around doesn’t service our customers.” Diebold and Menlo started looking at how Diebold was using warehousing and transport, how they organized their outbound network and where Diebold adds value in that outbound network.

“I have no desire to have a logistics partner that simply executes what I tell them to do. I need them to be a partner in not only creating my logistics strategy but a leader in creating my logistics strategy and a partner in creating my business strategy,” says Natali.

In a strategic partnership explains Natali, it’s more than driving continual cost improvements, though that’s important. In today’s competitive environment, you have to be getting better every day.

Collaboration Trumps Cost

Fiscal and Political Change for Argentina?

So who’s going to try to deal with that — and the future of a leftist political movement begun before Evita Peron approached her famous balcony? PresidentCristina Fernández de Kirchner, who is term-limited out, and her late husband, Nestor, ran the country for a dozen years. Now, their political heir is Daniel Scioli of the Victory Front Party, a former powerboat racer and governor of Buenos Aires province, where a third of Argentine voters live. So far, he’s in the lead, though skeptics worry he’ll be a Kirchnerist puppet. Then there’s Scioli’s main rival, Mauricio Macri, the center-right businessman who is now mayor of Buenos Aires. He wants to jump-start the economy with a capitalist right turn, loosening the state’s regulation of the economy and its currency controls.

According to Maria Victoria Murillo, an Argentine political scientist and professor at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, the country may not be ready for a host of fiscal changes, even if they are badly needed. Here is an edited version of our conversation with her.

OZY: What are the biggest challenges facing Argentina today?

Maria Victoria Murillo: There are major economic concerns. The economy is more fragile than it should be, given the decline in poverty in Argentina. And the whole region is suffering from a commodity crisis. Brazil is Argentina’s main trading partner, and its economic decline has negatively affected Argentina. Also, the politicization of the judiciary is a problem. Compare Argentina to Mexico on this measure, and Argentina looks OK. But the degree of politicization of the judiciary over the last year has been very dramatic.

OZY: How concerned are Argentines about these problems?

M.V.M: Interestingly, people in Argentina do not perceive things as being so bad. Most say fiscal adjustments can be avoided. The policies haven’t hurt the population in a way that makes them want to kick the incumbent out. The public mood is one that favors the incumbent. And I wouldn’t expect to see protests, because this election might bring change; protests happen when elections don’t bring change.

OZY: Speaking of the incumbent, what role might Kirchner play after she leaves office?

M.V.M: She hasn’t run for any other position yet, so it is hard to say. In fact, she can’t until December 11, after the new president is inaugurated. To keep control of the country, she has to be a political possibility until then. But she may retire. We just don’t know yet.

OZY: What is going on within the Peronist party?

M.V.M: There is a division within. The unemployed have been the core ofKirchnerismo, and most of them have already aligned with Scioli. But there is a sector within that is a more traditional group (anti-Kirchner Peronists), and they are facing a division with those who want to stay with Kirchner and Kirchnerismo.

OZY: What are the opposition’s chances?

M.V.M: Even if Macri wins, it’s going to be hard for him, because he has only one district (Buenos Aires) on his side. A majority of governors would not be with him. It would be hard for the government of a non-Peronist to build support.

OZY: So who do you think will win?

M.V.M: Scioli in the first round. In the case of a runoff, the second round will be more polarized, but I still think he will defeat Macri. I think the voters will perceive that with Macri there will be more economic adjustments, and in the past, the voters of Argentina have tried to avoid dramatic political change. But that is if nothing extraordinary happens first. And in Argentina, you can never be sure.

Ozy Article

Employee or Brand Ambassador?

 Free_Flat_Social_Icons ron palinkas field service management
Is your field service representative a brand ambassador?  In a previous post I wrote that the number of field service personnel in the United State is five million and growing.  I would like to make a little bit of a distinction here–field service differs from a remote employee.  Remote employees are those employees who work in a home office away from the corporate offices.  Field service employees do the same, but typically work in customer’s office or facilities away from home.  These ambassadors of your brand, the ones who visit customers regularly have the opportunity to influence existing and potential customers.
No job role in an organization has the potential for a greater impact on social media than the field service reps.  Constantly in contact with customers, mobile-phones-supported ron palinkas field service managementinstalling, servicing, and problem solving, all have the potential to make great stories for social media.  Field service reps have the material that marketing departments pine for.  Success stories that occur daily.  True, not every story has a dramatic conclusion, but do not minimize the impact of fifty or one hundred narrators of your company’s story.
In Sonja Dreher’s research paper “Social Media and the World of Work”, she discusses eight essential items for social media success.
1.  Research – Research the best social media outlet for your reps and your brand.  These might be Google +, Facebook, Twitter, or a WordPress Blog.
2.  Access – Understand how your employees can access and update the social media selected.  A WordPress blog might be the most compete media, but would be difficult for reps to update on the fly.  A media that can be updated with a smartphone is best.
3.  Commitment – The organization must commit to a long-term social media strategy.
4.  Social Media Team – As important as participation internally is the involvement of the media team in the use of material for external customers.
5.  Guidelines and Policies – There will always have to be rules.  The media team needs to decide what is appropriate and what is not.
6.  Training and Education – Not everyone is adept on the use of social media.  Training on use of social media is as important as training on a new piece of equipment.
7.   Integration – The social media team needs to integrate input from the field in their overall strategy of press releases, job stories, and lessons learned.
8.  Goal Setting and Measurement – There are those who will embrace the strategy and those who will not.  Goal setting needs to start with a minimum participation level and work up from there.
The potential of a field service social media strategy is overwhelming.  Work orders and job assignments are commonplace in field service management, these provide the nuts and bolts of where reps will be and what they have scheduled.  Most, if not all, reps have use of connected laptops, tablets or smartphones.  These provide the mechanisms to contribute photos and stories.  Most field service organizations have the tools to begin this program, all that is needed is a strategy, some internal guidelines, and the plan.
Take your field service representatives and turn them into social media brand ambassadors.
 (Citation and Link)

Sonja Dreher , (2014) “Social media and the world of work : A Strategic Approach to Employees’ Participation in Social Media”, Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol. 19 Iss: 4, pp.344 – 356

Social Media and the World of Work

Five Million Strong

servicemax-absi-newsletter-image ron palinkas national field serviceField service investment continues to grow as one of the fastest growing occupational segments.  A recent episode of “Mad Money” which interviewed ServiceMax CEO Dave Yarnold (, put the number of field service reps in the US at 5 Million.  ServiceMax and other field service management programs are banking on this growing segment for their future.  Field Service Management software fills in a noticeable gap between sales tracking software and CRM.  True, unnamed ron palinkas national field serviceyou can use each to monitor field service activities, but to be truly effective you need to have a software that works specifically in that space.  FieldOne ( , ServiceMax (, and ServicePro ( are examples of software programs moving into this niche.  The trick is t find one that has most of the capabilities you need, little of the ones you don’t, and is priced in a way that makes the most sense for your organization.

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