The thing called “customer experience” is becoming increasingly relevant, and important, to corporate IT departments – with employees bringing their consumer-world, personal-life, experiences and expectations into the workplace. But what is customer experience? Please read this blog to find out more.
Outside of work, each day every one of us has multiple “service encounters,” where we interact with a product, a service, or its representatives. During an encounter, we interact with technology, people, and information; and create an impression of the level of empathy and professionalism, and the quality of what is provided.
Of course, this impression is largely based upon an emotional response – our “experience” – what we feel, and what we remember. And each interaction can inflame, placate, or neutralize the emotion carried forward from the previous interaction.
Thanks to the concept we know as “consumerization” – employees bringing their personal-life experiences and expectations of services, support, and customer service into the workplace – customer experience is becoming increasingly relevant to corporate IT departments.
I originally wrote about customer experience in a 2016 blog called “Bridging the Gap Between Service and Customer Experience,” but given the growing interest and importance of this subject, it’s definitely time to revisit the topic again.
The more an interaction moves your emotional dial – the more important it is to everyone involved. These types of interactions are known as “moments of truth” (MoTs). A bad experience can easily override a successful outcome, such as successfully reserving a flight seat or a hotel room, and influence whether we return to use a service (and the service provider) again. These experiences are the basis for levels of satisfaction, and eventually the perception of value.
We store the more extreme experiences in our personal memory banks. These memories shape our expectations for future encounters, as well as what we might share with others.
And, in 2018, knowing what experience your customers are taking away has become so important, an entire language and accompanying set of methods exist to design, inspect, and improve the customer experience.
Encounters, interactions, outcomes, moments of truth, satisfaction, and value.
Personas, delivery channels, and touchpoints.
The more successful service businesses know this language as well as the consequences of ignoring the customer experience. They have strategies to solicit feedback, and unpack, know, reimagine, and improve service delivery aspects as necessary.
Some even invest in and excel at what’s termed “service recovery,” a program to deliberately reset the satisfaction dial for certain situations or types of customers. An airline’s compensation (or not) for a delayed flight or lost baggage is a simple example of this – it helps (but not always) make the bad memory fade away.
The feeling and taking away of an experience is no different for an end user interacting with their corporate IT department. It could be a request for something, such as information on when a training class is being held, a new computer, or to report an issue.
Encounters exist, typically within the confines of a request for help, service, information, or change.
Interactions happen, experiences are felt, a level of satisfaction formed, and a memory perception banked.
And now, with IT budgets continuing to be squeezed, and IT rarely with a monopoly on IT service provision, it’s more important than ever for an IT department to realize that the end-user experience could be the deciding factor between sufficiency and insufficiency of future service and support. Plus, with the lines between home and work life becoming blurred, expectations formed at home and in our social life are easily imported into the workplace.
Considering Customer Experience in a Corporate IT Context
The customer experience encompasses the range of interactions that end users have with the IT department and its systems, including:
Plus, there’s also much more to consider in ensuring a successful outcome, including:
With all of these potentially critical factors that end users value highly when they seek assistance from IT.
The modern IT department is viewed more than ever before as a true “service provider” or service business – delivering and supporting IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS).
Whether it counts itself as a service provider, business, or just a trusted broker, it’s time for IT to make sure that its workforce has the tools and skills to design and manage the customer experience. And in doing so, IT must carefully blend these extra items into its existing IT service management (ITSM) approach.
In my previous customer-experience blog that I mentioned at the top, you’ll see that I outlined a technique that will help with this – check out the section on customer journey mapping (CJM).
The need to understand customer touchpoints and how they impact customer experience is a key part in delivering fit-for-purpose IT service and support. But this is only one part of the customer-experience jigsaw, with the realignment of day-to-day operations a key building block in meeting employee and customer expectations.
If nothing else, please just remember this – ultimately, as expectations of corporate IT grow (mostly thanks to consumerization), a traditional ITSM approach will fail employees and customers if it ignores the customer experience!