My most popular blog of 2012 wasn’t written by me … but I guess you might have expected this if you’ve already read a few. That blog's author, an end-user (or is that a customer of an internal IT organization), now returns to look at the IT service desk through a customer and customer experience lens. I’ll let them continue in their own words …
So how is your customer experience?
It’s never been more important to build strong customer relationships (regardless of what type of service you're offering). Long gone are the days when the customer purchasing path was straight-forward, and when the only route of post-sales contact was the phone. In 2013, we need to be proactive and embrace consumer-driven change, harnessing the power of new technologies as well as improving older methods of contact.
Whether your interactions with customers are face-to-face, via the internet including social media, or over the phone; and whether they involve physical or virtual products; they now need to generate a good “experience” for customers. In the age of the “empowered customer” failure to manage these “experiences” can lead to missed opportunities and/or customer loss. And not just with the affected customer(s).
So what is “customer experience” and could it apply to IT service desks?
Forrester’s definition is simple: “How customers perceive their interactions with your company.” So for an IT service desk, could it be: “How end users perceive their interactions with your service desk”? And if so, how do you deliver this increasingly critical “customer experience”?
While attempting to clear my desk before the Christmas break I stumbled upon a bright-pink USB memory stick that contained the collected presentations from the 2009 itSMF UK annual conference. Having satisfied my curiosity as to the size of the memory stick (I’d forgotten that USB sticks were ever that small), I then wondered:
What were the IT service management (ITSM) hot topics in November 2009?
Which industry luminaries were presenting on them?
How many presentations would still make it to the 2013 itSMF UK conference?
I hope that it makes you smile but, more importantly, I hope that it makes you act. I’ll leave it to Paul . . .
“IT’s not about the IT?” Really?
I’m always surprised — no, amazed — in fact staggered. That’s it, literally staggered, at how poor “we in IT” are at being customer and service focused. Ever since I passed my ITIL v1 exam I have been aware that ITIL (the ITSM best practice framework) has always, always, been about customers and service. David Wheeldon taught me this when I was a “technogeek” who thought that end users were something dangerous and contagious.
I used to think that we should outsource the business, as they got in the way of IT and were simply annoying. David taught me that end users were human after all, just like us, and it was our job to provide services and value to them. I wasn’t convinced initially, but I was willing to be open to the idea.
That was more than 20 years ago, and while we have had ITIL in all its variants for more than 25 years, we still score badly on the customer-focused side of things.
Why does IT struggle with the concept of customers?
Jon Hall, of BMC, published an IT asset management (ITAM)-related blog (Let’s work together to fix ITAM’s image problem) in which he shares not only his insights but also what I would call “BMC IP” – what Jon calls an asset management benchmarking worksheet.
The service desk, and with it IT support and customer service, has long been a big part of how end users (or, as I like to call them, “internal and external customers”) perceive the IT organization and the quality of its service delivery. Think about it, customers are forming their opinions based not only on their hardware and the IT services they consume but also on: the “IT people” they come into contact with, how these people perform, and how they (the customer) are treated. Also think about the context – it’s usually when the IT isn’t working and the customer is unable to do their job.
The bottom line for me is that none of us corporate minions have time for IT failure and, while it is still unavoidable, IT support staff need to see the business impact – and realize that there is no such thing as IT failure . . . that there is only business- and people-impacting failure. Take at look at the following Forrester Forrsights data, which compares the business and IT views of IT performance, and if you are an IT professional try not to weep at how poorly IT is perceived:
The quick view is: the business doesn’t rate IT very well (and sometimes IT doesn’t rate itself well).
The harsh truth: IT can no longer afford to ignore its “customers”
My customer experience with T-Mobile UK (or was it EE — Everything Everywhere, the joint venture between Deutsche Telekom and France Télécom in the UK?) last Friday was so shocking — and in some cases ridiculous — that I had to share it and highlight the potential customer experience parallels with IT service desks.
For balance: I’ve been a T-Mobile customer since February 2011 and its actual mobile service has been pretty good to date. I might whinge a little that availability seems to have dipped post–transition to EE (and I have no idea why) but that is probably just me imagining things. However, I didn’t imagine this . . .
So what happened?
I bought a second-hand phone and when I put my partner’s SIM in it (to test it), it registered on the EE network but I couldn’t send or receive calls or text; however, I could use mobile Internet. So I thought: is this a service provider, software, or hardware issue? After a quick but unsuccessful “Google” — always my first port of call for support these days — I realized that I needed some expert advice. As the SIM was “nearly working” I decided that I would call EE first.
It started well-ish, taking three minutes to get through the interactive options to a point where I could hear the now mandatory “we are really busy so you might be wasting your time on hold for a while” message. Thankfully I think it was only a minute or so. Then the “helpful” Patrick was available to help. And this is where the relationship started to break down . . .
Why is the system of record, not the customer, always in the right?
Yesterday BMC announced MyIT, which it describes as a “new enterprise software solution that empowers employees to take personal control over the delivery of the IT services and information they need — anytime, anywhere, from any device.” I was demoed it prior to the announcement, and it definitely does provide employees with greater insight into, and control over, the IT services they consume.
My initial reaction?
Once I had got the initial thoughts of “I don’t like the name” — because it seemed “dated,” and because something like this is about more than IT — out of my mind, the jigsaw pieces that make up my opinion started to fall into place:
It is embracing so many of the challenges faced by IT organizations (and their customers), such as increasing customer expectations of IT per se, mobility, personal hardware (corporate and BYOD), customer service and support … and I could go on.
It picks up and runs with, not so much social as many would expect, but the consumer-led penchant for self-service (both for service delivery and support).
It starts to leverage the capabilities of our “gadgets” that are often neglected in the corporate (software) environment.
It makes service catalog more relevant and more accessible — service catalog is really about self-service from the customer interface POV. This could be self-service on steroids.
OK, it really should be the “500 shards of ITIL” but it just didn’t sound as sexy.
“ITIL is sexy?” I hear you cry. Maybe not for most, but IT service management (ITSM) is something many of us are passionate about. Or, to be more precise, the delivery of high-quality, business-centric IT services is something many of us are passionate about – with ITSM purely the means to that end.
Anyway I wander from my point . . . the “500 shards of ITIL” I refer to are the 500 extremely granular, ITIL-espoused capability points that far too many organizations commonly use as the basis for new ITSM tool selection. As I wrote in a recent blog for the ITSM Review: “the current method of creating RFPs (request for proposal documents) and selecting vendors based on a cut-and-paste, ask-for-everything-possible-mentality is so, so flawed.”
In a soon-to-be-released market overview of SaaS ITSM tools I add that “Customers often ask the wrong questions during product evaluations and therefore don’t get the answers they need.” Think about it – multiple choice is far easier to pass than an essay-style exam, and do you really need that infrequently adopted ITIL-espoused capability? If you don’t, why on earth are you asking for it?
“Be careful what you ask for because you just might get it.”