Service Digitalization – Part 3

In this third chapter let’s find out what is customers’ service flow in the modern service environment.

The basic idea of service flow is that there are no “software silos” and all provided services for the customers form a complete flow (or a path).

STEP 1: SERVICE ACTIVATION
Flow usually start from the service activation – in a modern multi-channel environment the service activation is usually initiated from:

  • e-commerce site, e.g. company’s web-store
  • CRM or cash-register
  • Reservation/time-management system
  • Via Internet browser (PC, mobile phone, tablet, …)

STEP 2: CUSTOMER PROFILE
Details of the customer will be stored in the centralized database that is accessible also for other nodes participating to the service delivery. Thisa also increases security by removing the need of storing scattered customer data in individual service nodes – dynamic visitor code or fixed customer ID can be used as versatile identifier throughout the entire system and detailed customer profile data is controlled and management only in a single, central location.

STEP 3: ACCESS AND SERVICE ACTIVATION
When services and access control are defined as a web-service then there is basically no limit how many different services and combinations are defined and what kind of details are being set for individual services; including time and consumption limits.

STEP 4: CUSTOMER IDENTIFIERS
Customers may have several different identifiers that are bind to their customer details (aka. account). In practice it means that customer may use different identifiers or combinations in different situations, in example:
-> hotel room card <-> a paper/silicon wristband <-> loyalty card
-> ticket number <-> face recognition id <-> corporate invoicing id
-> PIN number <-> phone number <-> fingerprint id <-> prepaid account

Identifiers can be physical like a card, wristband or a key-fob or digital in nature like dynamically assigned PIN number or digitally generated and maintained card image with optical identifier (QR- and barcode).

Dynamically generated card image with optical identifier is the most flexible and the most sustainable solution because it can be created and delivered to the customers in real-time via SMS/email without any material or shipment costs and without any specific application. This is the most convenient way to operate in most cases where customer purchases the service online and can redeem the service without physical media, e.g.:
– any rental service (rooms, cottages, cars, equipment)
– access to events, meeting rooms, utility rooms
– service redemption for meals, snacks, drinks, dispensers

STEP 5: ACCESS VERIFICATION AND SERVICE REDEMPTION
There are three things required to fulfill the online service delivery flow to the customer:
– Reader for the customer identifier
– Communication with the cloud based web-service or local data processor
– Messaging and/or Relay to control local services

Reader devices

Depending of the selected customer identifier, different types of readers can be used; RFID/NFC reader, Optical reader for QR- and barcodes, cameras for face recognition and keypads for PIN codes.

When reader has detected and extracted the customer identifier string, it will should communicate it to the cloud web-service or other centralized data processor.

Web-service

Naturally the all devices allowed to communicate with the web-service must be identified and authenticated. When source has been authenticated,, the web-service will receive data from the reader device and will act based on the pre-configured command set.

In some cases when readers can not be reliable connected to external data processor then local data processor can be used. In that case different types of data replication and synchronization models should be implemented to avoid un-managed, dead spots in the service delivery flow.

When request has been processed then web-service can conclude the transaction with the device and send back a message to be displayed. Web-service can also send command to the local relay in the device or basically start any chain of sub-transactions internally or via API.

Essential role of the web-service is to record the transactions and to provide information related to the customer service flow.

Messaging and local device control
If there is a need to communicate some message to the customer then locally installed displays will be useful for that purpose. In case there is need for physical activity then local relay can be used to open electronic locks, gates or operate dispensers through NO/NC switch.

STEP 6: REPORTING AND CUSTOMER TRACKING
To be able to produce end-to-end service flow each check-point must produce data that contains well-known customer identifier information combined with service timestamp, service identifier and status code of the used service. When this data is bundled together then it is possible to form views to the entire service flow.

NEXT STEPS
Providing fluent and fast end-to-end service experience will blow up the customer experience ratings to the space.

Naturally providing the high quality service is just the first step but the collected data provides essential information for the following:
– Enhancing customer communication with service triggers and segmentation; thank you newsletters, targeted advertisement, …
– Controlling crowd movement in real-time; with real-time service and access data operator can redirect people to uncrowded areas and services.
– Planning future activities based on the actual collected data provides solid foundation for e.g. budgeting, resourcing, expansions and marketing.
– Forming attractive service networks with partners and associates.

And much more…

To be continued…

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About Me
My name is Vesa Haimi, entrepreneur, inventor and CEO of a small technology business in Helsinki, Finland (PB-GROUP LTD.).
I’m 48 years old, family man and enjoying golf, when it is warm enough.
I see myself as a global citizen after living abroad for several years and working in various projects in over 50 countries.
I’ve been working for large companies in various positions and also been founding new start-ups; I love the possibility to be creative and invent new IT services, including writing specifications, programming and commercialization.

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