by Doug Tedder
Date Published June 13, 2024 - Last Updated June 17, 2024

It’s no secret that we are living in the “experience economy."  Today’s consumers are more informed, more tech-savvy, and have access to more information than ever before. Personal-use technologies, such as smartphones and tablets, continue to become more intuitive to use. With consumers in today’s always-on, always-connected world, it’s about more than just getting new technologies or services – it’s also about having a good experience as well. 

Businesses are taking notice of the importance of the experience of the customer. All businesses, regardless of size or industry, have technologies that enable and help customer interactions, whether that interaction is through a portal, chatbot, or telephone. But businesses are realizing that having the technology that facilitates customer interactions isn’t enoughthat’s just table stakes. Having great products or services isn’t enough competitors also have great products and services. To differentiate themselves from the competition, businesses are increasing their focus on creating positive, memorable experiences for their customers – experiences that those customers will in turn share on social media, websites, and more. As a result, many businesses are investing heavily in customer experience. According to the 2024 Info-Tech CIO Priorities report, improving customer experience is a top 5 priority.

But the demand for positive, memorable experiences doesn’t stop when employees interact with employer-supplied goods and services. Employees are expecting the same kind of experiences that they get when they do business outside of their places of employment. And when employees have great experiences while doing their jobs, they are more likely to deliver a great experience to customers with whom they interact.

What is the experience like when employees are interacting with technologies and services within your company? Is your organization actively measuring and improving those experiences? Is your company committed to a great employee experience?

The experience that employees have with their employers often involves interacting with IT and the service desk. Unfortunately. that experience is often…well, lacking.

Five reasons why the experience with IT sucks

“Lacking” may not be the word colleagues use when describing their experiences with IT and the service desk. Perhaps the most likely heard word would be “sucks”. Here are five reasons why the experience with IT sucks: 

  1. Self-service…isn’t. Self-service is often an exercise in frustration. For example, non-IT colleagues trying to navigate a self-service portal with offerings described in terms only IT can understand. Or searching for knowledge articles that don’t exist. Or even worse, finding a knowledge article that seems appropriate, but is actually obsolete or irrelevant.
  2. SLAs are about IT, not the business…or the consumer. IT organizations have great intentions when they develop Service Level Agreements (SLA), but in many cases, the SLA has nothing to do with services Rather, the SLA discusses performance targets for the service desk to meet, such as MTTR, ASA, FCR, response times, and other operational measures. This means that the service desk is driven to meet internally-defined operational performance targets and is not rewarded or encouraged to deliver a memorable and positive experience
  3. Service Desks aren’t being enabled. While the service desk may have the technologies and tools to help diagnose an issue, that doesn’t mean that the service desk being enabled. Decisions made in change management meetings aren’t communicated to the service desk. Knowledge articles aren’t provided for new or changed services. Focused training of service desk agents about new or changed services rarely (if ever) happens. 
  4. Colleagues aren’t being enabled either. Most corporate applications or systems are not "consumerized" – that is, they are not as intuitive to use as personal-use technologies. There may be valid reasons for this. For example, organizations may have to follow laws and regulations that require work to be done in a specific way. Or an organization has chosen to implement an application “out of the box,” with little to no customization – and that approach results in work being done in a different way. However, in these circumstances, organizations often do not provide the necessary training to enable employees to be effective in using these new, but unintuitive applications. 
  5. There’s no communication. George Bernard Shaw once said, “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place. What organizations site as “communication” often falls woefully short of achieving its purpose. For example, senior management communicates decisions about technology investments using an “all hands” email. Or IT produces a “service portal” that uses techno-speak,” rather than language familiar to non-IT colleagues, to describe service actions and products. These are but two well-intentioned, but often lacking, approaches to communication with fellow colleagues. Neither approach effectively helps with establishing shared understandings or facilitates feedback

Improving the experience 

The solution is not as easy as just defining new measures or tweaking a couple of procedures or implementing a new application or two in the hope that the employee experience improves

Improving the experience starts with having empathy. Empathy is different from sympathyfellow employees don’t want you to feel sorry for them. What employees do want is understanding. Having empathy means recognizing, understanding, and acknowledging the feelings, thoughts, and experiences of the employee-consumer from their perspective. Fellow employees are trying to meet deadlines, produce deliverables, and accomplish goals using the technologies and other resources provided by the employer – just like IT.

Improving the experience also requires challenging the status quo. But sometimes challenging the status quo – keeping things just as they are now – requires courage and a bit of diplomacy. Some may have a “pride in ownership” in how things are being done today and may view challenging the status quo as a threat. One way to challenge the status quo is to simply ask a question beginning with the words “how might we” to reframe the situation. “How” implies that solutions do exist. “Might” invites judgement-free feedback and suggestions for solving the problem. And “we” makes it clear that through collaborating – working together a solution will be found. 

Start improving the experience

Here are two suggestions for things IT and the service desk can do to make a positive impact on the employee experience.

  • Go to the Gemba – regularly – and observe. What is working well? Where are employees experiencing challenges or taking “short cuts” to get their jobs done? Visiting where the work is done (the “Gemba”) is a great way to begin to understand the feelings and experiences of fellow employees

  • Include non-IT colleagues in continual improvement activities. Including non-IT colleagues in developing and implementing improvements will result in better solutions for both IT and those using solutions provided by IT.

Improving the employee experience has a bottom-line impact on organizations but is often lost in the day-to-day interactions between the service desk and non-IT colleagues. Taking small steps now in improving the employee experience will result in better engagement,  increased customer loyalty, improved operational effectiveness, and better company profitability later.

Tag(s): supportworld, support models, service design, service catalog, service level agreement, service level, service strategy, service management


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