Learn more about what defines a Service Visionary
All you need to know about the value of service-centricity, becoming a Service Visionary, and HotTopics’ partnership with IFS.
In today’s fiercely competitive business landscape, the role of service has undergone a significant transformation.
Service has emerged as a catalyst for growth, differentiation and innovation. The concept of being a “Service Visionary” has gained traction, signifying leaders who not only recognise the intrinsic value of providing a customer-centric service but also utilise and harness service to create new markets, foster customer loyalty and drive revenue growth.
So what is a Service Visionary?
We define a Service Visionary as a thought leader in the realm of service, embodying a spirit of innovation and transformational leadership which shapes the landscape of service and customer experience.
This year, HotTopics & IFS partnered together in order to receive nominations of service, operations and maintenance leaders from a variety of service industries with a vision for driving innovation. To help discover the first ever Service Visionary 100, we put together a distinguished judging panel made up of service industry experts and put them in the Hot Seat at our flagship event, The Studio.
During a roundtable debate at The Studio at Abbey Road Studios in May, panellists discussed the key challenges that service leaders are experiencing, why organisations should consider a service transformation project and what a successful service transformation project looks like.
Malavika Tohani, Research Director—Operational Excellence at research and advisory firm Verdantix, recalled her three definitions of a Service Visionary.
“A service visionary is someone or an organisation that’s digitally enabled. Second, is that they have a multi-dimensional perspective… the third one is redefining the outcomes for the client”.
Sarah Nicastro, VP Customer Engagement at IFS, defined a Service Visionary as “someone who sees the immense potential that exists in service to really be a differentiator and a path to growth for their organisation”.
Second, she argued that a visionary has to be able to balance the demands of today’s business along with working towards that vision for the future of service.
Service–beyond a transactional interaction
Traditionally, service was often seen as an afterthought – a “necessary evil” to address customer complaints and maintain products after the initial sale.
Today however, Tata Steel UK’s Director of IT, Nick Reeks, believes that service is no longer about just about quality, but about the value and application of products.
Taking inspiration from a steel manufacturing industry which he has worked in for over 20 years, Reeks believes that service has become more product-centric.
“What will that steel application be and what do we need to do with the steel to give it the best fit for that customer from a value perspective?,” he asked.
However, as markets globalise and margins on products continue to shrink, businesses have realised that exceptional service can be a key differentiator. Now, it's no longer just about fixing problems; it's about creating value and providing a tailored experience that extends far beyond a mere transaction.
The strategic pivot to service-centricity
The shift from transactional service to service-centricity requires a strategic mindset. As discussed during The Studio roundtable, businesses are now focusing on various aspects that constitute this transformation:
Service Visionaries puts the customer at the core of operations. This means understanding their needs, pain points and aspirations, and aligning service offerings to match these demands.
The Global IT Director at Stantec, Dave Roberts, believes in this customer-centric approach, arguing that Service Visionaries are those who prioritise the customer experience and leverage technology to support daily operations, envisioning new opportunities through innovative products and services.
For Roberts, it is about “putting a customer first, making sure that they, whoever that customer is, that they get a good experience”.
Holistic service ecosystem
Service no longer pertains only to post-purchase repairs. It encompasses the entire service ecosystem, from contracts, warranties, and service level agreements (SLAs) to maintenance planning, resource allocation and more. Service Visionaries understand that service is no longer just about quality; it's about the value and application of products, according to Reeks.
“On the service side over the long run, what we've seen is the shift as there's always been an issue about quality and the nature of quality,” he said.
What was once considered a cost centre has evolved into a powerful revenue driver. Businesses are discovering that delivering exceptional service can lead to upselling, cross-selling, and fostering long-term customer relationships.
On the other hand, Robert Sheesley, the CIO at home repair business Wrench Group, argued that contributing to the industry and community by sharing expertise and engaging in non-profit activities can also benefit both individuals and organisations.
“I think that means going beyond your day job and paying it forward in the industry. I've been a strong proponent of myself personally getting involved in a lot of nonprofit activity as a board member and as a volunteer. And I try to encourage our team to think about how to fit that into their work-life balance.”
Service Visionaries exhibit an innovative mindset. They explore how service can be a vehicle for developing new markets, introducing innovative products and creating value-added services.
Ravichandra Kshirsagar’s, VP Digital Buildings Commercial & Services, Schneider Electric, argues that it needs to be someone who understands the current market trends and opportunities which exist, while being able to create focus and a bigger value for the organisation as well as understanding how technology can help the business deliver more. To Ravi, a Service Visionary and leader is “Somebody who envisions the future of services, has a bigger ambition, provides purpose and brings leadership to galvanise the organisation”.
Are you a Service Visionary?
IFS and HotTopics are championing the role of Service Visionaries through the Service Visionaries 100 awards, acknowledging leaders who are driving innovation within the fields of service and maintenance.
As industries face intensified global competition and reduced product margins, these awards shine a spotlight on those who are taking service beyond transactional interactions and using it as a force for market differentiation and growth.
If you are at the forefront of revolutionising service within your industry, you might be a Service Visionary. Whether you are in manufacturing, engineering, telecoms, energy or other service-oriented sectors, Service Visionaries are not limited by job titles; they are characterised by their dedication to customer-centric service, innovation and driving growth.
By strategically aligning service offerings with customer needs and leveraging service to create value, these leaders are shaping the future of business.
In an era where exceptional service is the hallmark of success, becoming a Service Visionary is not just a strategic move – it's a mindset shift that can propel your organisation toward differentiation, diversification and sustained growth.
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