Providing an Amazon-like customer experience requires knowing the three constituents of a service
The following statement may be difficult to swallow for us folks in the IT service management community: "Traditional ITSM is just plain wrong. Why? Because it puts the customer last."
In the last decade, companies like Amazon (and Apple and Google) have transformed the whole customer experience. Seeing this evolution, four years ago I asked myself, “Why can’t our ITSM customers have the same thing: beautiful self-service experiences?” Following Amazon’s example, I discovered that they can. And, I challenged my thinking on ITSM, ultimately learning that an approach that is “customer in, rather than IT out” works best. This is Customer-Centric ITSM.
Here's what happens when you put customers first. Instead of just handling incidents, you focus on preventing them from happening in the first place. You combine self service with automation to make customers happier AND reduce the work of IT. You see services as end-to-end team value chains, rather than disconnected silos. And, knowledge becomes a powerful, beautiful self-enablement experience in and of itself.
So, can anyone deliver beautiful, self-service experiences like Amazon? Yes. But you must build it.
They will come, but you must BUILD it
The ServiceNow Content Management System (CMS) is a reasonably flexible application that has allowed users to build custom interfaces for the ServiceNow platform and ServiceNow applications. Service Portal, released by ServiceNow in May 2016 as part of Helsinki, replaces ten-year old CMS tools with a modern toolset that enables you to better build beautiful customer centric experiences.
The high points of Service Portal are the use of leading, industry standard components like Angular JS and Bootstrap, a responsive framework and creating a consistent user experience. But a big question for companies looking to provide a better customer centric service experience remains: Is Service Portal a Service catalog solution? The simple answer is No.
Service Portal was intended to be a modern platform upon which better solutions can be built. It's a foundation to start building a solution, but it's not a solution itself. You still need to know what to do with the Service Portal platform to deliver beautiful, self-service experiences like Amazon.
Here's where knowing the three constituents of a service is essential to your efforts in building an Amazon-like customer experience for IT. The 3 constituents of a service are the Customer, the Providers and the Managers. All must be involved and have their needs met to create good, durable services.
Figure 1 - The 3 Constituents of a Service
The customer wants an excellent customer experience, and to deliver that it is essential to think like the customer and design from the customer in, not IT out. Otherwise, they will reject it. As we dive a little deeper into the needs of the customer, we discovered 5 principles at work underneath the covers of Amazon's success: simple, beautiful, complete, predictive and leading. (In addition to the webinar recording link I just provided, you can read more about these principles in a previous Evergreen Systems blog post - here).
As for the other constituents, the Provider wants execution effectiveness. If you don’t build in a way that it makes them more efficient and effective, they simply won’t support the change with the customers and will find a way to work around the system. I’ll expand more on Provider perspectives in our next blog post. The Manager wants governance and accountability – without these you cannot build and deliver a consistent portfolio of high quality services, enterprise wide.
The bottom-line is when we begin to think from the customer in, ITSM processes change for the better. The customer is the starting point. “What do they want?,” you must ask yourself. They only want two things – a great customer experience, and for us to meet our promises.
In our next blog post we'll discuss best practices for an effective service design process from a Provider perspective.
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.