Make service excellence part of service management

Organizational leadership must work toward a culture of service excellence.

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Service management organizations are beginning to focus on improvements, principally on service delivery and the type of services that are being delivered. This is being driven by a shift in consumer demand from products to services to, now, value delivery. This is known as “value-as-a-service.”

This one component – delivering value to an organization’s customer – is just a tiny part of providing excellent service. Despite all the efforts around service, and even value delivery, there is still a long way to go to gain true integration while the service environment continues to change dramatically. For this reason alone, achieving service excellence should be an organizational focus, where organizational leadership works toward a culture of service excellence.

Age of the customer

Make no mistake, we are in the age of the customer. Quality is whatever the customer experiences, nothing more and nothing less. The customer sets the expectations for what they consider a successful metric. For internal end users, this metric is changing. In this current age of the customer, internal users don’t want to be put on a pedestal, but would rather stay in the information flow to be productive.

Multiple studies touch on this point. Take Mihály Csíkszentmihály‘s study on flow for example, His study is not new but more important than ever because customers, and especially millennials, are now demanding different things. Millennials are often portrayed as demanding, impatient and easily bored, but in fact they often are misunderstood. Because of the readily available technology during the time they have been raised they just have different expectations of experiences. Being in the flow is more important to them.

Flow is about autonomy, mastery and purpose, it is the perfect mix of skills and challenges, also often portrayed as being in the zone. Flow means people can be most productive and that requires flexibility and access to resources.

Research firm Forrester also talks about flow in its latest study on the employee experience. They define the employee experience as the sum of employees’ perceptions of their experiences while working within an organization.

All of this means that there is a true shift in how users perceive excellent support. Users can be satisfied about the service they are receiving, but they will only be delighted if they feel an emotional connection to the experience as well. It is that perception of customer delight that is changing, mainly because of players like Amazon.

Customer journey mapping to the rescue?

Walking through your processes and mapping the customer journey is an excellent way of understanding which steps can be approved. It shows how the true experience is the net result of good interactions minus bad interactions. This is one obvious reason why many, many companies are moving away from SLAs to XLAs, for instance, as they notice that even when the SLA is being met, the customer is still not happy.

Simply talking about customer journeys and the customer corridor as a series of touchpoints a customer experiences, is not enough, however. The end-to-end journey also is important. Why? Because you can have the perfect touchpoints and still have unhappy customers. There might be issues that make them keep contacting you (and even if they received excellent service), but they didn’t want to contact you in the first place.

Moving the focus to service excellence

The link between customer experience (CX) and revenue has been proven, but also important is the link between CX and employee satisfaction. The effects of CX and employee experience on the finances is apparent.

A passion for serving customers is a choice that employees make, often several times a day. When they're happier, they're more likely to make the right choices, even if doing so is harder. Likewise, these employees within these cultures are more likely to stay with the company. This is why employee experience is so important. Service excellence really is anything you can do to help your employees in making those correct decisions to serve their customers better. That is the goal, and consistency is key.

The impact is becoming more and more clear. For example, when looking for a new job, potential employees have been looking at reviews on Glassdoor to see what others working there might think, but more and more companies looking for suppliers, especially strategic suppliers, are now turning to Glassdoor, too. The reason for this is because they know that happy employees have an impact on the service they are going to receive from them.

Step to service excellence

One of the most important steps about serving your end users is providing empathy, showing curiosity and employing listening skills. This brings us back to flow. The ultimate goal of the customer is to be in the flow, and that takes more than just solving problems, it requires a more proactive approach.

Ultimately, you must identify the goals behind the questions being asked. To do this you must personalize the approach by creating customer persona’s and tailored customer journeys while keeping the bigger picture in mind.

Next, you must make processes pain free and convenient for end users. It is important to know how your customers want to be helped, then offer that to them. Not only does the support have to be more available, but the services also need to be more available. A good example is BYOD and working from home policies where employees gain more freedom in choosing what they want to use gives them more convenience. Empower your customers by giving them enough freedom and the correct tools to self-correct many of their services issues they experience. Doing so might include creating a knowledge base, a self-service portal and a quality service catalog.

Conclusion

The role of the service desk is at a crucial tipping point, especially now that the focus is more on value. Sometimes people wonder about the development of everything happening with artificial intelligence, automation and the push toward self-service and more empowered self-solving end users. Will the service desk still exist in a couple of years?

Yes, it will, because the biggest advantage of the service desk is that they really are a very important link in the chain of value. It is up to the service management organizations though where the tipping point will lead them to. If they jump on board, embrace the changing environment and focus on working towards service excellence, they will truly become more important than ever through a better employee experience, and their impact on the business’ value will measurably be higher than ever before.

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