Better Business Service Management in 5 Steps

If you manage the delivery of any service from uber-modern SaaS and RIA‘s to human-based service desk and moves/adds/changes to good ol’ e-services such as e-mail, there are just five questions you should ask if you want to deliver the highest quality of experience (QoE):

  1. Do you have an agreed plan of action to meet customer expectations?
  2. Have you blueprinted service standards to meet agreed plan of action?
  3. Were people, process, partners and products put into action as blueprinted?
  4. Do systems and people put in place deliver to defined standards?
  5. Are communications to customers about service quality standards correct?

If your answer is “No” or “I don’t know” to any one or more of these questions, then there is a likelihood that your customers are dissatisfied with the service you deliver. This means that if you work for corporate IT your service is at best a nuisance and at worst contributing to corporate failure. If you represent a SaaS provider, you are losing business to your competition. Non-profits and governments are wasting money.

Want to have some fun? Pick a service, the one that keeps you up at night. Find the person in charge and ask them these five questions. Want to have even more fun? Ask them to show you artifacts justifying each answer. On a more serious note though, these five questions are much more useful in the context of an unhappy customer in a service that you know does not perform to customer expectations.

These questions represent state-of-the-art thinking in service management. Note that I did not write, “IT service management”. The science of managing services, and in particular management of e-services, continues to grow. It is also somewhat comforting to know that these five questions can relate directly to ITIL v3, and its IT service management lifecycle.

Implicit within these five questions are a few assumptions:

  • You have the means of relating customer perception and expectation with the service.
  • You have a system or tool in place to measure customer and expectation for the service.
  • You have some form of continuous service quality improvement process in place.

Assuming, of course, that you do have some means of managing the quality of the services you provide in an ongoing manner, the five questions really help you understand how the IT infrastructure Library (ITIL) can help you. One of the most common questions regarding the use of ITIL is where to start. as most consultants will tell you, the answer to this question is “it depends”. The consultant is not simply trying to generate business with this answer, and they are not trying to be flippant. The simple truth is that how you use ITIL guidance should depend on what is not going well currently.

Once you select a service, the following six steps (see Fig. 1) show what you need to do and how you should consider using ITIL’s guidance. [Note to purists: the fifth book, Continual Service Improvement (CSI) is not shown since Fig. 1 is an implementation of CSI. In other words, following the five questions and six steps is just one possible implementation of CSI.]

Fig. 1 – Six Steps to Customer Quality of Experience (Image and process © Hank Marquis, 2010)

The basic premise of the ITIL is that you want to manage services to align quality and cost to meet customer expectations. In other words, you want to deliver a quality service experience. Where you start with the ITIL guidance regarding processes, functions and activities is a function of what is not going right with your service delivery today.

Virtually all of us have at least one IT service or e-service that we know does not meet customer perceptions and expectations for quality or value. This is where you should begin. If you have multiple situations then you need to choose the one that requires faster resolution.

Hank Marquis is practice leader for Business Service Management at Global Knowledge.

You can reach Hank at [email protected].