A customer-centric mentality and an understanding of market trends can help modernize your service delivery processes
As customers become more sophisticated technology users, they have come to appreciate businesses who put them first. CEOs are noticing this trend and are asking their IT organizations to provide customers (external, and internal - employees) with an “Amazon-like” end-to-end IT service experience. Wishful thinking, perhaps. Or is it? When it comes to IT Service Management (ITSM), a customer-centric approach can transform service delivery and provide customers with great experiences.
Unfortunately, the traditional ways of ITSM are still running rampant. And there are several reasons why this is the case. But, first let’s make clear why you are in business in the first place: the customer. The customer is really two personas -– the end customer, and the executive customer. We know the end customer wants a great experience, end-to-end. The executive customer wants that but also wants to know cost, value and what services are being used.
If the customer is the reason why businesses live and breathe, why do some IT organizations insist on maintaining the old ways of ITSM? There are several reasons which I’ll highlight later in this blog post.
Figure 1 - Service Constituent Roles and Perspectives:
End customers want a great experience and executive customers want the same, but they are also interested in other factors such as cost, value and type of services used.
A customer-first approach repositions ITSM priorities
A smarter approach to ITSM provides customers with big wins from the start of the process. Both technology and best practices can support this aim. Best of all, an approach with the customer-first mentality can trigger changes in your ITSM processes. Here are a few examples:
- Incident Management. Rather than thinking about how to handle Incidents, focus instead on how to eliminate or prevent the customer from having to contact you in the first place. Think about how you can automate or eliminate the top 5-10 common Incidents / Requests / Queries.
- Change Management. Get your head out of the clouds. Always thinking about managing change is not always beneficial to successful change management. Instead, think about how to eliminate, automate or streamline changes to minimize impact and speed in reacting to customers needs.
- Knowledge Management. Here is an opportunity to refocus knowledge into a more strategic Search & Learn – a place for powerful, social self-enablement – rather than just a tired afterthought.
Simply put, start with the customer and it changes what you do. Avoid excuses for keeping traditional ITSM. The “this is how we’ve always done it” mentality is poison. This kind of thinking is limited and it inhibits business decision-makers’ ability to look outside the walls of IT and the enterprise, where customers actually live.
Then, there’s the reason of not knowing how to put customers first. Answers to questions like, “What does the customer want?,” “What are the best practices?,” and “How do we build it?” can help enterprises to be more customer-centric. When the answers to these questions seem elusive, many organizations settle for staying in their comfort zones – traditional Incident, Change, and Problem management.
Unfortunately, this is wrong. Your approach should always start with the customer. It will change your approach to ITSM.
If the market goes that way, should you follow?
What do your customers want more than anything? The answer to this important question is typically the driving force behind disruptive changes taking place in the market. Here are 3 significant hard trends I believe are a reality, and which will impact your ITSM operations.
- Consumerization of IT. This trend is pushed by today's young workforce, who are more mobile than ever before. They grew up with the internet so they rely heavily on data. But, it’s not just for the young – even their grandparents use the internet and venture out into social media. Enterprises who understand this trend know that end-to-end experiences, particularly self-service, are essential to keeping this workforce on board.
- The DevOps “Revolution.” Companies ignore this trend at the peril of their very survival. DevOps allows changes in IT processes to empower different parties involved in running your infrastructure to more closely collaborate on meeting end-user needs. Traits of companies who embrace DevOps include agility to keep pace with change and flexibility to demonstrate a willingness to change. As an example, a voice to digital SaaS provider with over 4 million transactions daily, makes 25-30 global changes to production every day – I would not want to compete with them.
- Shared Services. CEOs and COOs are asking IT to include the shared services parts of the organization in the “Amazon-like experience.” Shared services (from HR to facilities to legal to contracting) have ERP like applications to deliver their back end work. But, they all suffer from poor customer interaction tools, processes and workflow – built on e-mail, spreadsheets and voice. Customer-centric ITSM can help solve this problem, and helping shared services offers a great opportunity for IT to raise its visibility and value across the enterprise. CIOs want to take advantage of it.
Market forces are strong, and potentially jarring to your business. But by taking a customer-centric approach to your ITSM, you can remain very closely aligned with what your customer wants and needs. This helps you to become proactive in responding to changes in the market, which after all, is driven by customers. In the end, the customer is the ultimate “Litmus Test” of real ITSM value.
(PS - If this topic is of interest to you, you may also enjoy my webinar "A Day in the Life of an IT Service Owner: A Look into the Future").
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.
Feel free to contact Don at firstname.lastname@example.org