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Leave the 90s behind by introducing agility into service management

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Service management is one of the core competencies of today’s IT department. After all, IT is responsible for making sure end users are able to complete their digital tasks. Yet, the ideologies behind service management have change very little over the decades, amounting to a concept where an end user reports a problem, the resolution of that problem is then escalated through a variety of mechanisms, until it is hopefully resolved.

While in theory, the process of servicing end users works acceptably in the enterprise, the fact remains that the majority of end users are often unhappy with their service experience, a fact illustrated by a recent survey from ServiceNow. Further illustrating the lack of satisfaction is the sobering statistic that popular consumer services ranked 103% better on the company’s “Service Experience Index”, when compared to workplace services.

That statistic alone should be a clarion call for enterprise to take an in-depth look at their internal service mechanisms. While consumer related services are driven by the metric of customer satisfaction, workplace services are instead judged on success of resolution. In other words, consumer facing companies are looking to keep customers happy, while enterprises are more about completing the check boxes associated with solving a problem.

And therein lies the real problem, the disconnect between satisfaction and issue resolution, which becomes readily apparent when consumer services are compared to in-house services. Now some may wonder why that is a problem at all. After all, consumer facing businesses are looking to improve customer loyalty and garner more sales. It’s an old axiom, a happy customer is a repeat customer.

Enterprises on the other hand, have very little concern for end-user happiness, after all they are dealing with a captive audience. Yet, happiness can be directly correlated to productivity and speeding problem resolutions also boosts productivity. In essence, enterprises need to learn from the successes of customer facing service to improve service management.

ServiceNow’s survey points out some critical differences between successful customer services and what the overall impact is. Case in point, the survey reports:

The Service Experience gap is driven by outdated technologies that sap productivity:

  • At work, managers are five times more likely to use email and five times less likely to use a mobile app than for consumer services.
  • Only 28% of managers use the web or a mobile app to request workplace services, versus 84% for consumer services.
  • Only 5% of managers tap mobile apps for workplace services.
  • 69% of managers say that manual workplace services leave them less time for strategic initiatives, lower their productivity or cause them stress.
  • 79% say that monitoring email interferes with completing tasks, as they spend an average of four hours a day (three at work and one at home) processing work emails.

Dave Wright, Chief Strategy Office at ServiceNow explains “Consumers live in a Web and mobile world where machine logic does the heavy lifting, speeding their requests and sending alerts on status or when people need to act.”  Wright added “At work, firms expect employees to manually push the services forward with email, wasting extra cycles on chasing work status and searching inboxes. Email itself is not the enemy. It’s a symptom of a broken process that waylays corporate productivity.” Wright makes an interesting point, one that clearly shows that email may be the productivity sap of the service process, and that manual tasks add to the overhead of issue resolution.

Perhaps the resolution to enterprise service strife comes in the form of adopting another methodology that has taken hold in IT departments, and that is the concept of agility. The core offering from an agile process is continuous improvement, something that is sorely needed in the service management experience. Also, agility introduces some other benefits, such as frequent iterations of a solution, driven by end user needs. That said, agile thinking is only one part of the solution.

Enterprises looking to improve the service process should also consider the following:

  • Increasing the focus on innovations, such as introducing improved tools, including web access, mobile device support and collaboration solutions
  • Embracing automation: Bring M/L based solutions into the process to improve service issue escalation and resolution.
  • Moving away from email: Email has been a stop gap in the services equation and is often inefficient, as well as a productivity such. Specialized tools that offer tracking, collaboration and reporting prove to be a much better way to resolve service related issues.

Simply put, striving to put productivity back into the service management process means that enterprises must learn from the successes of customer facing service paradigms and embrace the change those organizations leveraged to increase satisfaction.

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