We have limited Spanish content available. View Spanish content.

Case study

Transforming Service Into a Source of Competitive Advantage

ElectricCo* has been a global leader in power products and automation for more than a century, but in the face of intense margin pressure on equipment the company sought ways to expand its service business. Working with Bain, ElectricCo pursued a new business unit strategy that resulted in a completely revamped service program capable of meeting the full spectrum of growth opportunities within services, both for its own and for third-party equipment.

  • min read

At a Glance

  • 15% Service revenue increase, Year 1
  • 10% New service people hired

The Story

With more than 20 business units spread around the globe, ElectricCo has long been a leading manufacturer of heavy electrical equipment, industrial automation and related technologies. However, such a mature, sprawling company faced inherent growth challenges. Margins in its traditional equipment business were under pressure, and the company’s siloed structure impeded its growth ambitions. The company believed that Bain, with its deep roots in corporate strategy and keen understanding of organizational design and change management, could help identify promising sources of revenue growth.

It quickly became apparent that ElectricCo needed to look beyond its core business, to promising adjacencies. Services emerged as the most likely source of new revenue. With its substantial expertise in industrial services, the Bain team identified three distinct avenues of service-program growth (product-attached life-cycle services, sector/location-based services, and capability-based services) that, in the aggregate, had the potential to triple ElectricCo’s service revenue within five years, while also improving its EBITDA margin.

Bain determined that tapping into the full potential of its services business would require ElectricCo to develop a clear and ambitious business unit strategy, and to develop a detailed “how to win” plan that encompassed:
  • Marketing and business development, which addressed, among other improvements, the harmonization of ElectricCo’s service-product portfolio and a systematic approach to M&A that filled gaps and added capabilities
  • Sales and pricing, including a careful analysis of customers’ value drivers, optimization of sales processes and tools, and investment in dedicated sales capacity.
  • Customer focus, with customer feedback systematically integrated and used to foster organizational learning.
  • Service R&D, fully factoring service needs into R&D processes.
  • People and culture, including processes to onboard, train and retain the right talent, and comprehensively address safety issues.
  • Operations, with efficient supply chain processes ensuring prompt parts availability and delivery.

While that framework was essential to success, so too was the development of a trio of capabilities that would drive results. ElectricCo had to organize for service, by developing its talent, determining which responsibilities would reside at headquarters vs. regional locations, and implementing the right KPIs and incentives. It also had to have the right IT, R&D and infrastructure in place to meet its new service ambition. And, it had to provide customers with a rich and differentiated service experience, supported by a culture that was always learning how to serve customers better.  

Because the cultural component was so integral to success, the Bain team placed a heavy emphasis on involving far-flung teams from the beginning, to ensure this was not a “headquarters effort,” and it made sure the product side and service side of the business reinforced each other’s work. Bain’s Results Delivery® approach was a core component of this effort.

ElectricCo rolled out the new strategy in three waves: pilot countries, must-win countries and second-wave countries. Throughout, the team carefully tracked results, placed high-potential staff in key leadership roles, and monitored each service offering to address any challenges—an approach that was essential to making the strategy repeatable across ElectricCo’s many markets.

Ultimately, more than 1,000 ElectricCo employees participated in the development and rollout of the new services strategy, while more than 20,000 were informed about the effort. ElectricCo saw service revenue increase by more than 15% within the first year in markets where the new strategy was deployed, and is on track to realize its goal of tripling its service revenue in a five-year span.

By bringing an “outside-in” perspective to the engagement and encouraging ElectricCo to see the full potential within its services business, Bain helped the company transform services from a unit that got scant attention to an empowered source of sustained economic advantage, one that builds and extends customer loyalty. Today, the company’s services unit is an important career step for ElectricCo employees, and a service culture extends across the entire company.


* We take our clients' confidentiality seriously. While we've changed their names, the results are real.

Want to continue the conversation

We help global leaders with their organization's most critical issues and opportunities. Together, we create enduring change and results

Results Delivery® is a registered trademark of Bain & Company, Inc.