Syncron has seen the world of after-sales service change immensely over the years. From the way we deliver goods to customers, to the way stocks are maintained, manufacturing and after-sales service is an ever-evolving practice.

Last month we hosted the After-sales Excellence Forum, a half-day event at The Icetank, London, to show manufacturers how to embrace this changing world and optimize your after-sales service operations. Attendees learned from some of the experts in the industry on how to leverage after-sales service as a growth and profit lever, how optimized service parts inventory greatly improves service operations, and how to overcome the challenges facing after-sales service professionals today.

A Generational Gap in a Changing World

A large part of our changing world is the continuation of emerging technologies that are affecting after-sales services. From drones, to augmented reality, IoT, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, and more, it’s clear that after-sales service needs to adapt alongside with these changes – both in regards to technology and our customer expectations.

Studies by Bain and Company, IDC and The Service Council suggest after-sales service is increasingly strategic to the long-term financial performance of manufacturing companies. And while product-based revenues decline and margins diminish in maturing industries such as high tech, aerospace, automotive and consumer and industrial products, after-sales service margins remain healthy.

Manufacturers around the world are discovering that the performance of their margin-rich after-sales service businesses can be significantly improved by investing in technology solutions designed to optimize their service businesses and many are starting with investment in their global service parts operations.

But how will after-sales service organizations use technology to accelerate innovation across their businesses? One answer discussed throughout the event: embrace the millennial generation.

Simply put, we’re in the middle of one of the most impactful demographic shifts we’ll experience in our lifetime. Millennials are well on their way to becoming the largest generation in the global workforce. What’s more, this tech savvy, always connected, social media enabled generation has a reputation of being impatient and needing immediate gratification; especially when it comes to service demand.

A Power Shift From the Manufacturers to the Buyers

If millennials’ service expectations are not met by a manufacturer, they’ll take their complaint to social media, which can be extremely damaging to a manufacturer’s brand, possibly impacting future purchases made by these well-connected millennials.

The value of true customer centricity has taken on new importance as this quiet revolution sweeps across the business world. The revolution, like many others shaking up the current world order, has been accelerated by the development of social media tools.

Today, customers and employees blog, tweet, and text about their after sales-service experiences in real-time, which is read by millions of people around the world. By 2021, 13.2 million people in the UK will use Twitter, representing a whopping 19.2% of the population, and these unfiltered stories and messages have the potential power to overwhelm manufacturers carefully crafted marketing messages.

This social media revolution is resulting in a power shift—and the pendulum is shifting from the corporations that make products, to those who buy them. Now more than ever, customer centricity is more than a buzzword, but something that needs to be taken seriously if organizations want to survive this next generation of consumers.

With over 53 million millennials taking on key roles in organization around the world, today’s manufacturers must think differently and invest in technology designed to optimize the performance of their aftermarket service organizations and maximize product uptime. It’s time to stop looking at millennials as the generation that’s “killing” our economy, but instead as the ones who are taking it by storm.