Preparing for Global Service Expansion

‘Global governance with local execution’ is the philosophy followed by a large number of organizations looking to expand their service operations across the globe. In fact, a recent The Service Council (TSC) research survey revealed that nearly 9 out of 10 enterprise-level organizations operate service in more than one geography, and across all revenue classes, nearly three out of four organizations are looking to further expand their global service presence. This is either done by entering new geographies with the help of professional translation services or by delivering new service offerings in supported geographies.

This desire to expand is tied to two primary factors:

  • Filling existing or future coverage gaps and increasing revenue
  • Gaining a greater level of control on the end customer experience, especially in areas where service has traditionally been delivered by partners or third-parties

 

FIGURE: Reasons for Global Expansion

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Source: Global Service Expansion Research
The Service Council, Q1 2014

In expanding, organizations are quite aware that a ‘one size fits all’ approach will not suffice as what works in North America doesn’t always work in China. Therefore, there needs to be a level of execution at the local level that can translate a global service vision into a series of local service actions and strategies. Yet, a pure multi-national approach to service can be costly and also prevents the sharing of best practices and strategies that can be relied upon globally. Therefore, most successful organizations look to balance global centers of excellence and shared services with local responsibility for business execution.

In our research on global service expansion, we asked survey respondents for their comments on the first steps that need to be taken when expanding globally. The following word cloud reflects the most common answers filled in:

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The words that stand out:

  • Understand
  • Customer
  • Local Market/Culture
  • Business Case

As in the case of a new product expansion it is vital to build a business case to support the introduction of service into a new market. But before the numbers can truly be run, it is necessary to learn about the local business environment and understand customer expectations and perceptions about service. For the purpose of organization, it can be helpful to categorize perceptions and preference into the following categories: (Note: these categories are not a TSC secret but have been developed by Ron Kaufman, best-selling author and founder of UP! Your Service. They reflect his BIG PICTURE categories, areas where organizations can differentiate and deliver value to customers. I am using the categories for a slightly different purpose.)

  • Primary Product – what do you sell? (Product/service)
  • Delivery Systems – how is it delivered? (Field, contact center, in-store)
  • Service Mindset – who is delivering it? (Interactions with people)
  • Ongoing Relationship – will it be delivered again?

Most of the exploration around service preferences will yield results in the first two categories, for instance:

  1. What is the service product?
  2. Are customers willing to pay for service?
  3. Are we legally allowed to charge for service?
  4. How do customers schedule and receive service?
  5. On what channels do they expect service delivery?
  6. On what channels do they prefer service information?
  7. What are customer expectations regarding speed of service?
    1. How are those expectations changing?
  8. In what language(s) is service expected?
    1. Is this consistent across service channels?

However, it is essential to think about areas in categories 3 and 4 and how customer perceptions regarding softer areas such as the service mindset and the service relationship can enable the construction of a differentiated service strategy.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when exploring global service expansion. Yet a mis-read of customer expectations can lead to a drastically undercooked service plan. Recently, I shared some findings from our research around global service expansion on an webinar entitled Building a Consistent Global Customer Service Model in a Multi-Lingual, Multi-Channel Universe. My session focused on sharing data and best practices on how organizations can develop a global service model that accounts for rapidly evolving customer expectations especially around the channels, the format, and the language of service delivery. If interested in listening in, please click here.

How are you navigating a global customer base? Do send in your comments and questions.

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