Providing consistent end-to-end services enables beautiful customer experiences
I talk about Amazon a lot because they empower their customers with a consistent end to end customer experience every single time, thanks in large part to a simplified design approach. There are other real-world examples where simple design and consistency wins in business, too.
Remember Myspace? Everyone was on it. But then came Facebook and took over the social media world. Why? Unlike Myspace, Facebook opted for a clean, consistent-looking interface. The simplicity in their design was relatable to a much broader audience. On the other hand, Myspace became cluttered with pages and widgets that many felt were annoying. Myspace allowed users to design their own pages any way they wanted. There was no consistency and pages became complicated. There was no cohesive look and feel that lent itself to a predictable user experience.
Facebook’s simpler, streamlined interface provided less choices in terms of widgets and page designs, but it delivered consistent experiences for users. Ultimately, this helped end Myspace’s dominance in the early 2000’s. And now everyone and their grandmothers use Facebook :-)
With ServiceNow's Service Portal, you can create new requests and supporting workflows easily and quickly. It is a powerful capability. But that can also create a problem: you can quickly build hundreds of requests and services – all with a unique look and feel. In other words, you can wind up creating a cluttered mess if you’re not careful. Your customers won’t like that, and they won’t use it.
What do your customers expect? Consistent end-to-end customer experience, like the kind that Amazon provides. When it comes to your Service Portal, a consistent service design process yields a consistent customer experience. To achieve this, you need a clear, prescriptive service design process that all providers can follow to draft their services. It’s even better if it is built right into the ServiceNow platform, with consistent design compliance essentially baked right in. This way, providers can’t go around the system – AND if you do your job right by building a beautiful, self service creation experience, they won’t want to!
Two other key things Providers must have in place to deliver an Amazon like experience include a Service Taxonomy and effective linking of Self Service + Automation. I go a little deeper into both below.
Anyone can manage ten services, but what about one hundred, or 300? The ability to scale is important to delivering great customer experiences. For that we need a way to organize lots of services – we need a taxonomy. A taxonomy is a way to organize lots of things. ITIL lacks the concept of a taxonomy so we had to look elsewhere, like the Dewey Decimal System used in over 240,000 libraries worldwide. In fact we reviewed over 30 different taxonomy models including the Dewey Decimal System and the kingdom of animals, to create our service taxonomy model. To meet the challenge of hundreds of services, we extend Service Portal with our visual Service Taxonomy model, designed to meet the needs of both the customers AND the providers. Once a taxonomy is built and agreed upon, we can easily import it into ServiceNow. Below is an illustration of our service taxonomy model, with over 600 entries pre-built. Since IT is quite similar across industries, for any given client we find that 70-80% of the prebuilt taxonomy model meets their needs – saving both time and money.
Figure 1: Example of Evergreen Systems’ Service Taxonomy
Self Service + Automation
The magic of Amazon lies in its ability to combine beautiful self-service with automation. For the customer, the experience is great. And provider processes are streamlined because of automation. It is a powerful win – a win that you can do too! Thinking differently is a prerequisite to achieving this. In IT, we have always been willing to give the customer whatever they ask for because we think that is great customer service. But it isn’t. Customers don’t want hundreds of choices, or to have to create their own custom solution. Giving the customer too many choices can lead to a cluttered user experience, like Myspace. We should actually give our customers less choices rather than more, and make it easy for them to choose between a few good alternatives quickly. That makes them happier – why we call it “happy mealing.” If they don’t see what they need in our three to five choices, we also make it easier for them to request “other,” or custom. Only then can we automate. Since automation takes work, we need a good volume of the exact same request to make it worthwhile – the power of happy meal funneling – reducing the choices and concentrating the volume.
How do we know which services to automate? The Pareto principle tells us that 80% of the value is in 20% of the work. It’s true in IT too. We can look at the demand from our customers and see where three to five pre-built choices would meet 70 - 80% of the needs. Then, we can harness the power of customer self service plus lights out automation to make our customers happy and dramatically reduce the work of IT.
In our next blog post, we’ll talk about the best practices for an effective service design process, but from a Manager perspective. In the meantime, if you have questions on how you can begin delivering beautiful services that customers want and need, and wondering how we can help, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
About the Author: Don Casson is CEO of Evergreen Systems, an IT consulting firm helping medium to enterprise public and private sector organizations to dramatically transform their IT operations. Don is a frequent writer, blogger and presenter, and has delivered over 50 webinars on topics in Service Management, including IT and shared services.