The consumerism of the world is gradually drifting out of a products economy to a servitized economy. Services are uberized. There is a definitive journey from products to services to experience. Is Apple selling a product or an experience? Is Amazon a retail company, services company, supply chain company, or a tech company? There are no swim lanes anymore. It is an open ecosystem, a platform where individual human needs are serviced as per their preferences or priorities – oh maybe not quite yet, but getting there, slowly but surely.
Now let us bring in the product company, the service provider, and the service aggregator into this. The consumer has shifted and so for sure the company and provider need to change.
It is no longer only about engineering the best product at the lowest or a reasonable price. It is about aggregating and integrating the usage of multiple products and services to create a seamless experience for the end consumer. For example, if a young job seeker wants to go to a new city for her first interview, what she needs is a reasonably priced, safe, hastle free, and timely arrival for the interview. Her primary objective needs to be met. To ensure the end outcome, there needs to be a seamless aggregation and integration of pick up from the residence, on road travel to airport or train station, ticketing, and reservation, drop off at the hotel, and arrival at the destination without any hastle. Easy it may sound, but imagine the number of handoffs and modes that change in the process. The key is to hold the entire outcome delivery together to ensure all the moving parts deliver to the end outcome and create a satisfying or delightful experience – the two differentiated by a premium she is willing to pay.
Let us take any tech example. All of us have gone through our own nightmarish experiences of compatibility of systems. Tech companies traditionally have grown in silos with no interoperability between different tech platforms. Instead of creating a monopoly in the marketplace, it just created a frustrating customer experience. But tech companies have taken note and new platform ecosystems have evolved and continue to evolve.
Let us talk about the evolving role of a service provider. Service providers should deliver outcomes to their customers. Maybe soon tyres will be sold by mileage promised, travel tickets will be sold by on time arrival, the role of aggregators will take Centre stage, experiencing connected ecosystem platforms – where all personalised data will be at one place, easily accessible across systems to create a seamless experience and always at disposal.
The customer would sign outcome based contracts with service providers and aggregators. Digital, AI (artificial intelligence), and IoT technologies will bring humans and systems into a connected ecosystem, inseparable from each other. Ease of use will be a key success criterion for technology. Data will be personalised and will be in personal possession rather than being monetised by third parties. “Me model” of data, where every individual can be described in great depth with data and where our existence in a virtual world, hyper connected with the real world through our preferences, choices and priorities, will create outcomes which we would like to create. The service industry will eventually gear towards this objective rather than creating parts of the service. The thinking needs to set in the service mindset, sooner the better.
I see a huge opportunity for the service industry, especially in India to mature. Across the spectrum, the mindset needs to shift towards creating customer experience and service excellence. The majority of the frontline workforce lacks passion, doesn’t have the mindset to see the end customer delighted, and has an end to end view of the service to be rendered. It is perhaps just a job to do for most of them. The service industry thrives on personal passion and energy more than anything else. The question is are we recruiting the right talent, are we training right, are we enabling the desired mindset in the ecosystem? Do we really believe that the world is gradually shifting from products to services to experience? It’s perhaps time we envision and enable this change.