Technology consumerisation and a vastly altered business technology world means that IT customer service has become one of the biggest priorities for IT departments.
While the trend to improve IT customer service is a positive development for technology departments hoping to improve their standings within the business, they must be careful to avoid the pitfalls that service-orientated organisations are prone to. Offshore outsourcing is a great example of how not to deliver service when viewed as cost savings only. Businesses were by tempted by outsourcing companies offering them a pool of highly motivated, intelligent people who could offer an ultra-efficient service at the fraction of the cost of a UK based call centres. And at first, the numbers would have looked good. Then steadily the complaints go up, the customers leave, and the cost savings made when the deal was made are wiped out by dwindling profits. (We are constantly reminded of the extent of this failure when we hear an any advertisement proudly boasting of its “UK-based contact centres.”)
Offshore outsourcing is an extreme example of how service initiatives can quickly backfire. Another occurs when service-based operations hold onto the idea that speed is the most important consideration when customers judge them. Yes, customers don’t want to waste any time, especially when it comes to fixing IT. But if we take this idea too far, we pressure service staff to quickly conclude interactions and this leads to errors. When these errors result in repeat calls, the customer becomes more frustrated, because they have to make a second contact and often have to repeat themselves. The end result? In trying to fulfil the first obligation of IT customer service (speed), you have made the service experience worse. A better approach would be slow down, fix the issue first time and close the issue correctly.
Another mistake businesses make is trying to copy customer service offered by another organisation. IT customer service is about deciding what service is appropriate to your business, your customers and delivering this realistically against the budget and staffing restraints. There is no generic model for deciding this formula, it can only be deciphered by consulting with the business community.