Phew! You’ve done it. Finally completed that monthly IT report for your management team that you have spent the last two days working on. But wait. Does your report answer your customers’ questions? Does it highlight what the business wants to know? Is your report meaningful to the business? Does it show value?
Oh dear. Time to throw that version away and start again. In fact, why not change your whole reporting process to incorporate what your customers want to know, not just what you want to share? Peter Hubbard from Pink Elephant and Cherwell Software’s very own Simon Kent recently spoke about this subject in-depth. Peter took the audience through a real-life example of a financial firm that conducted a customer satisfaction survey that returned less than satisfactory results.
Peter emphasises the importance of not being scared to ask your customers’ for feedback. He states that many are afraid to do so ‘as it is like opening a can of worms.’ How can you be sure your team is doing a good job if you do not ask for feedback from the people you are serving? And how can you report on something you do not know or cannot back-up?
In regards to the financial firm, a number of change targets were implemented to improve customer satisfaction, including reducing a backlog of issues, improving communication, managing expectations better, and faster resolution times. A two-day workshop was held to assess the situation; cultural impacts were addressed; likely blockers/enablers were established, and immediate actions were agreed. Ultimately, this was about change—how your team changes, how it works, how you change, and how you report back to the business. Change should not be as hard as ‘taking blood from a stone.’ Change is about people and culture, not the process.
For the financial firm, to ensure the new strategies could be measured, short and long-term targets were implemented using a CSI approach that asked three key questions: where are we now, where do we want to be, and how do we get there? Peter states that is not enough to simply address customer satisfaction….you need to prove that you can act on it. He emphasises the importance of talking to customers, even when there is no news or bad news; customers don’t like to be kept in the dark. He also highlights the significance of having management commitment to ensure new processes stick. Peter recommends installing a change process by Kurt Lewin: unfreeze (ensure employees are ready for change), change (execute intended change), refreeze (ensures that the change becomes permanent).
How do you stop old habits coming back? Well, As W. Edwards Deming once said, “Plan, do, check, and act.” There should be a strong emphasis on management reports, and the information you feed should be actionable with adequate data. “Don’t report on what you think the business needs! It must be relevant.” Wise words Peter.
Ultimately, your Service Desk should aim to add value to the business. As Cherwell Software ambassador Malcolm Fry says, value to the business:
- Strengthens the relationship between IT and the business,
- Involves the business in regular, active communication,
- Promotes continual engagement, and
- Increases the perception of IT as a business partner and profit center. (This is the Holy Grail).