Aerospace Firms Falling Short in Customer Support, Claims Accenture

 - August 22, 2011, 7:50 AM
According to Accenture’s survey, aerospace OEMs fall short in delivering support to their growing customer base around the globe, but independent maintenance providers, such as Lufthansa Technik, have expanded their support networks, largely through partnerships. (Photo: Lufthansa Technik)

Aerospace manufacturers recognize the need to deliver more comprehensive and valuable support to customers around the world, but they have failed to adequately respond to the challenge, according to new research by Accenture. The management consultancy concluded that a string of “disconnects” have prevented OEMs from gaining the improvements in customer support that they say they want to achieve. Those so-called disconnects include failure to collaborate with partners, limited integration of customer service roles with the sales team, as well as a lack of awareness of the importance of customer service and the actions necessary to deliver the required level of service. Accenture’s research survey drew on responses from 32 major companies in the U.S., Canada, Brazil, the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, India, China and Singapore. More than half of those polled identified the need to develop a “customer service mindset” as their top priority over the next three years. However, in practice three out of four companies haven’t engaged in improving service standards through partnerships, including the use of third-party providers better placed to deliver the required support, and about the same percentage harbor no plans to do so in the next two or three years. In Accenture’s view, products, more than support, drive aerospace firms. “That product-centric orientation makes it challenging for them to shift their attention to the needs of customers and building agile and responsive service-based business models,” Damien Lasou, global managing director of Accenture’s Aerospace and Defense group, told AIN. “Offering successful customer services,” he said, “means being able, across geographies and customers’ segments, to ensure consistent quality of service levels. It also means attaining the right geographic presence, talent, pricing and required customer services organization.” Accenture maintains that the aerospace industry would benefit from more joint ventures with firms that maintain a stronger presence in local markets and/or a more “client-centric mindset.” And by integrating sales and services operations, companies would gain a more complete understanding of customers’ complex needs. “If in a multi-polar world it’s no longer the case that one product is suitable for all markets, then the differentiation is even more pronounced for services,” the management consultancy concluded from its research.