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The Emerging “X Factor” of Service Management

By | July 3, 2018 in ITSM

The Emerging “X Factor” of Service Management

Service management has always been about providing business value and outcomes. But now, providing business value and outcomes are not enough.  An “X factor” has emerged.  What is this “X factor”?

The experience.

The experience has become an enormously critical aspect of IT service management (ITSM). Why? The reason is simple – people.

It’s the people that make service management work. The best-defined processes are pointless unless people follow them. The most effective and valuable services do nothing if there is no one consuming them.

But even more than that, it’s because people have emotions. It’s the experience that creates the emotional connection between the service provider and the people consuming services. This means that good service management not only must deliver real business value and outcomes, it also must deliver an outstanding experience.

It’s About the Experience

There are several perspectives from which people make this emotional connection with an organization. Let’s explore three of those perspectives: the customer experience, the user experience, and the employee experience.

1. Customer Experience

While there are a number of elements that define the customer experience (CX), a Forbes magazine article suggests that it boils down to perception of an organization’s brand. CX is a customer’s perception of their rational, physical, emotional, subconscious, and psychological interaction with any part of an organization. This perception affects customer behaviors and builds memories.[1]

Why does this matter?

Simply put – customer loyalty. When a customer feels valued by an organization and feels that they’ve been treated fairly and respectfully, the customer will be loyal. And customer loyalty directly affects the economic value that an organization generates.

2. User Experience

The user experience (UX) refers to a person's emotions and attitudes about using a particular product, system, or service. User experience includes the practical, experiential, affective, meaningful, and valuable aspects of human-computer interaction and product ownership. Additionally, it includes a person’s perceptions of system aspects such as utility, ease of use, and efficiency.[2]

Why does this matter?

Users want intuitive interfaces and frictionless interactions when doing business online – and effective self-help mechanisms should something go awry. But if these things are not present, the impact is often more than just the user going elsewhere to conduct business. The user will also tell their friends (and others) about their experience – usually on social media.

But there’s a third experience that may be even more important that the customer experience or the user experience.

3. The Employee Experience

The employee experience (EX) is defined as what an employee received during their interaction with careers’ elements (e.g. firms, supervisors, coworkers, customer, environment, etc.) that affect their cognition and affection and leads to their particular behaviors.[3]

Why does this matter?

Because a consistently positive employee experience becomes a business differentiator. Delivering a consistently good employee experience results in a place where people want to work. When your employees feel valued and appreciated, they will want to work for you. When they want to work for your, they will want to do a good job. They will market your organization. In turn, they will want to take care of your customers and ensure pleasant and friction-free user experiences.

Service Management Makes a Difference

Service management – good or bad – can make a significant difference to each of these types of experiences.

The results of “bad” service management, such as poorly designed processes, lack of transparency, and siloed behaviors and actions, directly impacts the experience of the customer, user, or employee. Manual intervention is the norm and not the (rare) exception. There is no clarity regarding how activities contribute to results. No one owns the quality of outcomes. There are no clear ways to get better, because continual improvement isn’t even considered, much less done.

In other words, things just don’t work like they should. Just to get things done is often an everyday struggle. The experience – regardless of whether you’re the customer, user, or employee - is consistently poor.

But, how does good service management result in the positive experiences desired by the customer, user, or employee? Here are a few illustrations of the impact of good service management:

  • Well-designed processes that are data driven. Not only does this result in transparency and consistent execution, it also paves the way for process automation, which is a satisfier within all three perspectives.
  • Good service management enables an organization to set and meet good expectations and provides clarity regarding the value of services. Furthermore, these expectations can be measured in terms that are relevant to the customer, the user, and the employee.
  • Effective knowledge management enables timely self-service support. Having the right knowledge available to the right person at the right time provides a valuable, positive experience.
  • Formal approaches to continual improvement ensure that the organization is responding to ever-changing needs of customers, users, and employees. Waste and friction are eliminated as a result.

To Deliver the Right “X,” Focus on the O’s

How can you ensure that your service management implementation is enabling the right experiences? To use a sports analogy, it’s all a matter of X’s and O’s. To deliver the right eXperiences, focus on these service management O’s:

  • Outcomes: Deliver a positive, value-added experience that provides the right results, value for money, and value for time. Develop customer journey maps to identify when and where customers and organizations interact with each other and ensure that your service management environment is delivering positive outcomes during each of those interactions.
  • Overhead: Remove waste and non-value-added work; make processes as lean and as efficient as possible. Value stream mapping is a great way to identify waste and non-value-added work within an organization.
  • Optimize: Continually improve the experience. Use tools like DMAIC and Kaizen to identify and deliver regular, incremental improvements to the experience.
  • Openness: Create, deliver, and maintain an environment of transparency where there is a clear line of sight between the efforts of the customer, user, or employee and the results each group receive. This means identifying, capturing, and regularly publishing performance metrics that are relevant to each group. Also share and discuss both compliments and complaints from these groups. Compliments identify the things you’re doing well and should amplify. Complaints provide opportunities to take actions to do things differently.
  • Organization: Ensure that all parts of the organization are aligned and focused on delivering the best possible experience. Define what experience you want and what it means for the customer, the user, and the employee and embed that language in your organization’s mission, vision, and goals.

Delivering business value and outcomes are now just table stakes in the service management game. If your service management implementation does not deliver these things, your organization simply won’t be part of the game. The “X factor” for service management is the ‘experience.’ Delivering the best experience to customers, users, and employees is the game-changer and differentiates the progressive service management organizations.

[1] Retrieved May 13, 2018.
[2] Wikipedia. Retrieved May 13, 2018.
[3] Wikipedia. Retrieved May 13, 2018.

Doug Tedder

About Doug Tedder

Doug is an ITSM and process improvement consultant, trainer, and accidental social media savant, enabling IT organizations to transform, sustain, and grow real business value. An active volunteer in the ITSM community, Doug is a frequent speaker and contributor to industry user group meetings, webinars, blogs, and national conventions.

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