Skip to content

Creating Service 2.0

24 Feb 2011

The changes facing the IT Department

Jumping for joy

How do you take something like an IT service that has become commoditised at best and at worst regarded as an unwanted but necessary evil and make it into something special? In a world dominated by service level agreements, standards and prescriptive methodologies for how things get done how do you make something truly excellent that delights the customer?

Good companies find all sorts of ways and means to capture the imagination of their current or prospective customers and attract them to the products and services they sell.  Creativity is at a premium and can make the difference between success and mediocrity but what if you aren’t trying to capture new customers?  What if the customer you want to give great service to is your own wider organisation?  Then things are different…or are they?

Do you know how the customer perceives your services?  Who will the customer be comparing you to?  Other services within the organisation or perhaps other services in organisations they have worked for before or are familiar with?  There may be no competition for an internal service, maybe they can’t just up and leave to buy from somewhere else but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t like to do just that.  If they aren’t satisfied then maybe they will campaign for change with the powers that be.  Maybe your comfortable existence is under threat.  So how do you create raving fans within your own organisation?

Maybe this seems obvious, but if it is so obvious why is it so easy to find stories of people who hate their IT service and the department that provides it? The first clip below may not be the reality of most IT Departments but it is probably the perception of a hell of a lot of their customers.

By the way, RTFM is an IT support acronym for Read The F**king Manual.

So, assuming that the department is not like the IT Crowd and that your customer knows a lot more than how to switch a PC on – if you want to be regarded in a totally different light how do you go about changing perceptions?

First of all you have to care and show that you care.  It is important to understand the wants needs and expectations of the customers that depend on your service.  IT Departments no longer support the kind of equipment that you need a second mortgage to buy and customers with more computing power at home than they have at work are commonplace.  Managing their expectations when the organisation may not be able to afford to ride the upgrade merry-go-round is a much tougher task than it used to be.  Managing expectations is something that you can only do when you know what those expectations actually are.

So do you know what is really expected by the customer you serve? Or do you work from what you think they need or are prepared to let them have?  Sadly, many IT Departments operate on a “we know best” basis that allows little room even to discuss possibilities.  Sure, you have to balance things out against what the organisation can actually afford but most customers can understand an economic argument when it is sensibly presented.

If you have taken the time and trouble to ask your customer their expectations can be remarkably straightforward for business IT these days.  Customers want hardware that works how it is supposed to, systems that are available when they are needed and applications that are easy to use and function logically in carrying out work processes.

Establishing cost effective systems that can deliver business processes effectively drives what the customer receives more often than not.  Building IT systems that are a complete fit to an entirely unique approach is rarely cost effective these days and off-the-shelf or from the cloud is an increasingly common strategy for businesses of all sizes.  But this means that business changes have to be made to work with a more generic process approach.

You can put components of the service out to other providers, and outsource aspects or the entire service but as with off-the -shelf or out of the cloud that creates a new set of challenges, service is still your responsibility but not necessarily with the same control.  The next clip is an experience I can relate to having been supported by internal colleagues in Belgium who whilst being very good were not the easiest people to understand at times.

The IT Department is no longer a bunch of techies knocking up systems that exactly match unique processes, not unless you have an unlimited budget and a blatant disregard for wastefulness.   The IT Department is increasingly becoming a go-between between the real service provider and the customer and that requires some changes in approach and a whole lot more emphasis on how the customer is regarded.  The IT Department has to become expert in managing relationships both internal and external, supporting business change, communicating in understandable terms, translating obscure processes into more generic versions, negotiating and the list goes on.  While there may still be a need for the odd internal techie around their days are pretty much numbered in all but the largest organisations.  Service 2.0 will depend on high levels of emotional intelligence, something that most IT Departments don’t have a reputation for at present.

This may seem obvious – you may work in just such a department – but my guess is that if you do, you are in a relatively small minority when you consider this in the widest context.  I would bet there are more people who can relate to the IT crowd than to the image of a 21st Century provider that understands their internal customer’s expectations and works tirelessly to secure them an outstanding service.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: