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The term “customer” may have several meanings depending on who you ask. From a business perspective, the person buying a service or product is the customer. In some cases, you may hear people say that the business, that consumes IT services, is also a customer.
But think about this…as a service provider, to be better aligned with your business outcomes, should the end customer in the traditional sense not be who we are considering at the customer?
In a traditional support, model those providing service endeavor to ensure that their business is satisfied on how they consume services. The ability to do this might be the description of what good service delivery is. What would then be required to take it to the next level to provide great service? What if we as the provider focused on that end consumer? What if we went the distance to find out what would make our business successful in providing exceptional service to our customers?
This sounds like more questions than answers, so let me put this into an example to provide some context.
Recently I had to reach out to an internet service provider to have a new service installed. Their customer service agent explained that my service needed to be provisioned at my home directly, so I would need to be at home during an install window. I was given a two-hour installation window, which seemed reasonable, and on the day, I waited for the technician to arrive.
As the time window came and went without any contact from the technician, I began to wonder if they were coming at all. I contacted the ISP, and after a lengthy wait on their chat line (as the other channels of connecting seemed far too congested), I was told that there was an issue with a backend scheduling application and my technician’s schedule was corrupted. This meant that all technicians were impacted, not just mine. This unfortunately resulted in me not having a tech show up and not getting an additional service.
In addition to the inconvenience, I would have to go through this process all over again. The customer service representative re-assured me that while it was an unfortunate situation, they did get the issue resolved fairly quickly.
I started to think about how there was an issue in the backend and wondered if, while support teams were working to restore service, were they aiming to satisfy the end customer experience or were they working to resolve the issue against some IT-driven SLA timeframe. Having worked in IT for some time, my experience told me that they were working against the latter. This is where we, as service providers, should be better at aligning our service delivery to business deliverables.
In this example, I outlined how the customer service seemed to be somewhat disconnected with the internal service provided; while the customer service team was working to improve my experience, the internal service provider was working to restore service. What I really wonder is if the internal support team for the ISP truly understands the impact of this particular issue to the end customers? My guess from the limited dialog with the customer service rep was that they did not.
To be as successful as possible in providing a great service experience, each service provider capability should understand their impact on the overall service experience. This encompasses the customer experience, user experience, and employee experience.
The main principals of customer experience (CX) are focusing on things like brand reputation, customer service, sales, support experience, and the handling of complaints. The customer experience plays into the future relationship that the consumer has with the brand or product.
In my example, I found that the excuse of the failed service to be of little consequence to me. Instead, the single pane of glass service I receive from the ISP should have been met with a different attitude to ensure that I left the experience as satisfied as possible given the issues that really were not my problem.
The main focus of user experience (UX) is to ensure that people have easy-to-use features while still fulfilling the needs of the consumer. It is a must have for any digital service; otherwise it will not be consumed.
In my above experience, the interfaces with the phone and their customer portal were clumsy and not worth dealing with. The chat feature, however, provided me with an easy-to-use chat box where I was able to easily converse with the customer service team on my needs and, in this case, issues.
The employee experience (EX) is an essential part of delivering a great customer experience. Imagine in this example that volume of unsatisfied people that the customer service rep had to deal with as a result of an issue that really wasn’t their problem either. How does this issue further impact the person’s ability to put on a happy face and deal with delivering the bad news?
To excel at providing service, you really have to have all three of these components locked up. Missing one can cause some balance issues with the provisioning of exceptional service. In my example, the customer service rep was professional, quick to explain my issue and provide a resolution. Despite it being optimum (CX) through a platform that I was able to easily use (UX), there were still gaps that were left unaddressed. The customer service rep was left holding a bag for a backend service issue that they told me about because it was their excuse for the issues I was seeing. This is an impact of EX, in that this front-facing analyst was dissatisfied with their own handling of the issue. Another consideration was that this issue impacted several people, and while the chat feature worked for me, there was no notification of an issue on any of the customer phone lines, portal, or chat that would have told me what I had to wait to find out, that service was impacted as a result of a backend system (CX).
Overall when we look at providing service, we really should be looking beyond the confines of the IT box. Being able to look at and understand how your business delivers service and achieves it business objectives will ensure that you as a provider are a far better partner that those who simply just meet SLAs. Speaking the language of the business will take your support teams out of their silos and put you and your organization above and beyond your competition.
Ryan Ogilvie is a service management consultant with Blackfriar Consulting in Calgary. Ryan’s focus with his clients is to help them realize value by leveraging service management best practices. Apart from his work with his clients, Ryan believes that sharing his experiences with his community either through his blog, Service Management Journey , or various others is the most rewarding part of his work. He was recently recognized by HDI as one of the Top 25 Thought Leaders in Technical Support and Service Management and is an HDI Featured Contributor for 2018. Follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanrogilvie or connect with him on LinkedIn .
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