The sixth “build for” category focuses on improving service delivery and aligning your IT services with customer needs
I shared my perspectives on what an IT Service is and how to describe success in a recent article, “Reach For The Stars: Fresh Perspectives on Good IT Service.” In the following weeks since posting that blog article, I provided insights on five “build for” categories: customer-centricity, consistency, ownership & manageability, governance & compliance, and efficiency. There is a sixth “build for” category, improvement and innovation, which I’ll talk about later in this blog post.
But first, a quick refresher.
Countering negative customer experiences
Customers use certain adjectives to describe poor services. Words like fragmented, unpredictable, inaccurate, inconsistent, manual, uninformed, complex and confusing are very close to the heart of how customers feel when they have a bad service experience. On the other side of the coin is this question: What could we do to drive outcomes that are the opposite of these adjectives? In my approach to answering this question, I arrived at six “build for” categories that are essential to ensuring a successful IT Service (webinar link).
If this is your first time on the Evergreen Systems blog, I recommend that you read the following articles first to get an understanding of the first five “build for” categories. Consider this list a prerequisite for this last “build for” category. Or, feel free to continue reading this article and send me your questions afterward. I’ll be happy to help. Here’s the list:
- Build for customer-centricity – “Customer-Centricity: A Litmus Test for Your Service Portal and Catalog”
- Build for consistency – “A Consistent ServiceNow Service Design Process Yields Consistent Customer Experiences”
- Build for efficiency and automation – “How Can We Build for IT Service Efficiency and Automation?”
- Build for governance and compliance – “Think Service Governance and Compliance For High Quality IT Service Management”
- Build for ownership and manageability – “Take the Guesswork Out of Service Ownership in Your IT Service”
Now onto the sixth and last (but not least) “build for” category: continuous improvement & innovation.
The service home page
Continuous improvement is as old as human history. Over the ages, humans have developed tools to improve their way of life. Innovation comes from a desire to do things better, to improve. As result of centuries of continuous improvement, we are now in an age where artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles are now the vernacular. But, continuous improvement remains an ongoing activity, like tuning a grand piano to a perfect sound. You may get a great sound after tuning it, but eventually, it’ll need to be tuned again. It’s an ongoing, never-ending process. But the idea is to move forward and to innovate to find new ways of doing things to achieve better results.
When it comes to your IT service, continuous improvement and innovation are essential strategic components to successful service delivery and alignment. But to succeed in this endeavor, you need feedback from your customers. You need to dialogue with your customers, like the old small-town grocer of days past. Indeed, your customers are in the best position to help you improve your service by letting you know how you’re doing, so be sure to make the feedback process easy and accessible.
Supported by the service owner’s dashboard, the service home page is the place where the service owner and the customers interact every day, and really begin to know each other. It’s not unlike the nature of the old neighborhood grocer, who interacted with and knew his customers well. And, they loved him for it. Today a service owner may have thousands of customers. By leveraging technology effectively, we can still create the close service owner-to-customer relationship which is essential to feeding continuous improvement and innovation.
A major goal of the service homepage is to provide enough information so that a customer can find what they need on their own, and then be able to act. To help improve a service in an ongoing manner, a proper service homepage is designed with various points of interaction to facilitate communication and feedback between the customer and provider – for example, a 5-star customer satisfaction / feedback capability scoring capability as well as the ability to easily submit an idea to improve the service directly to the service owner.
Figure 1: The service homepage
A proactive, team approach
Working as a team, we continuously seek to improve our service delivery as well as the measures of our success, helped by visible alignment with the customer.
Figure 2: Service performance metrics alignment.
For a visual on aligning service performance metrics, look at Figure 1 above. These are valuable for the Service Owner and can really help us as we move into this new world. KPIs cascade down in a pyramid –from the customer, to the Service Owner, to the Providers. KPIs become SLAs and SLAs become OLAs as we go down. And all the OLAs roll up into the SLAs which deliver the KPIs.
To succeed in continuous improvement and innovation we need to be proactive and be good listeners with our team of providers. Here are some possible team activities for Service Owners to drive continuous improvement and innovation.
- Discuss a specific customer persona or a set of problems with a team and get their thoughts on how we might do better.
- Spend an hour communicating – highlighting a success, or a valuable lesson learned.
- Run a team building exercise with a group that is struggling, then using metrics, meet with a team to discuss trending or anomalies and what we can learn from them.
- Ask for their advice on a tough problem.
- Hold a brown bag lunch so each team can better understand the other.
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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.