Earlier this year at a customer service event I asked ‘when was the last time you visited customer areas and asked them what their current support issues and priorities were?’ Even if your customers are far away, with tools like Skype and Google Hangout now available there really is no excuse for not getting in front of customers regularly in some form or another. I have also talked about Business Value Metrics (BVM) which are now becoming an accepted way of showing customers how you are delivering true value to them. Unless you can establish their issues and priorities this will never be achievable.
Those steps of understanding what your customers actually WANT from you, and working out the value that appeals to them, are just the start. As you’re evaluating your Service Desk and its future, take a good hard look at the underlying service processes you are using. The odds are you can make some improvements AND add some extra business value, AND save some money in your budget. Oh, and make your customers love you!
I’m hosting the SDI Milton Keynes Experience event in September, where processes will be showcased from Fujitsu, Leeds University and Marsh & McLennan. I know they’ve all put in loads of work on their processes, so I’m really looking forward to hearing about the success they’ve had with them. As a bit of an aficionado of processes what I’m looking for is these sort of elements built in in some way:
• Closed Loops – most experts believe that closed loop ( or end to end ) processes are essential to make them most efficient. In a service process, once we’ve started with an incident, problem, issue or request, we should be following it through, demonstrating ownership and responsibility, to an outcome that is evidenced or checked to ensure the ultimate customer is happy with the ending. It’s for me just pure common sense!
• Improvement Steps – whether we call it service quality improvement, continual or ongoing enhancement, it’s crucial to have a review process for your processes and outcomes thereof. OK it works now, but can it work better and/or adapt to an ever changing world or business? For example do you highlight your top 5 or 10 service quality ‘fails’ or issues each week or month? Do you then use that list to analyse and eliminate the root causes of them? Why should your customers keep getting the same problems? Isn’t that your job to prevent or eliminate them as part of your mission to enhance the business value of the service desk?
• Preventing & Anticipating – following on from the last point, we can save ourselves time, money and effort by looking ahead – and thinking what might be the issues that come up next week, in a busy transaction period, in a busy trading time, at a time where things are changing – and stopping these issues arising. You might need to enlist the help of your 2nd/3rd line support teams in addition to that regular customer dialogue, but together you should be able to cut out lots of things that may affect service and productivity in the future.
• The Right Guidance/Culture and Tools for your people – at pretty much every SDI event we feature service management software like self-service or knowledge tools and systems that help store and structure service data so it can help us and our customers find better solutions in future. These will help drive up service quality AND support the processes working effectively, and if you get the balance right with how customers use self-service then you can save yourself money by cutting down their need to call you and tie up expensive people resource. The culture set, and specifying what is expected of your staff in a customer-led environment will also go a long way to determine the lasting, consistent quality of the service you offer.