Although improvements in customer service rank among the highest priorities for aerospace and defense executives, the lack of collaboration between multiple team partners across different companies and business alliances, limited integration of customer service with sales service operations are preventing these improvements from materializing. A survey published by Accenture highlights a significant gap between the awareness of the importance of customer service and the actions taken to deliver that service.
“There appear to be major flaws in the way some aerospace and defense customer services are designed and implemented with limited integration considerations for other key functions such as sales, supply chain, and engineering,” said Damien Lasou, global managing director of Accenture’s Aerospace and Defense Group. “A wide gap exists between actions and intentions. On a conceptual level, the criticality of customer services to drive high performance is well understood, yet the steps to drive theory into practice are less well defined. The shift to better customer services in this industry on multiple levels is a massive trend, and companies need to invest more in this arena to become high performers.”
The survey performed by Accenture has polled industry executives in 12 countries, and found that more than half (56 percent) said that developing a customer service mindset among employees will be the number one challenge to achieving their company’s customer service goals in the next three years. However, three-out-of-four companies (75 percent) do not currently use collaboration such as alliances, partnerships or other third party providers to operate their customer service, and 72 percent do not expect to increase them in the next two-to-three years. Consistent with this, only slightly more than a third (38 percent) of the executives indicated they had integrated the company’s sales service operations. To retain control, nearly three-fourths (73 percent) keep customer service “in-house.”
Although 75 percent of the respondents rate the importance of providing competitive service in the next three years as critical, only 53 percent said their companies have a clearly defined customer service strategy in place. And 85 percent acknowledge they are required to achieve at least some progress in their customer-specific improvement plans.
Rather than seeing customer service as providing new revenue opportunities, respondents cite more defensive reasons for focusing on customer service. In descending order, they ranked staying competitive (59 percent), differentiation from competitors (53 percent), and customer retention (41 percent) as the top three reasons. Only about one-fifth cited other reasons for investing in customer service, including expanding into new geographies (22 percent), driving incremental margin (22 percent) and acquiring new customers (19 percent).