To effectively implement service management software and ITIL service desk, communication between IT and its customers is vital. Merely looking at the business / IT interfaces without going back through the components of the service chain (agreements with Suppliers and other departments that support the services) is not good practice. Today, as businesses evolve and more stringent needs are required, process reviews are taking place and agreements renegotiated with customers. Defining services to be delivered is the first step to successfully implementing your ITIL service desk. Large outsourcing managed services companies are very good at defining their services, the time and cost involved. They run it as a business. IT departments often don’t see themselves as a business, just as another part of the company. This is especially true in small to medium size companies. Setting up IT as a cost centre often changes attitudes and brings focus to defining requirements and meet objectives. However, an IT department often has more leeway with fewer penalties involved. Outsourced managed services with fee paying clients, must get it right. Often financial penalties are a key driver. A help desk service level agreement (SLA) between the business and the service desk software provider sets the framework by which incidents and support requests are resolved. Today, with the quality of the service management software tools available, there is a good opportunity to define and track SLAs. Due to “out of the box” tools most organizations will have some form of SLA with their customers. Organizations that are new to measurement will begin with basic “soft” targets to develop a baseline. It is quite common that IT will not publish these targets to the business until they understand what is required to meet the SLAs. It does depend on the maturity of the reporting and processes within IT. Neither IT nor the business will know if the SLAs can be met until reports have been run over a period of time. Over the course of 6 months to a year, with good tracking data, more realistic measurements can be put in place. It does provide a basis for constructive discussion based on facts between the business and IT. This in fact is a good strategy whether you are an IT cost center or IT with targets to meet. To agree with the business on SLAs will be difficult if you have not measured previously. If you are a cost center and have not been measuring your incidents and problem resolution you have no basis on what you can actually provide. This can only be proven through actual measurement results so that action can be taken. For example, it can also be an opportunity for IT to justify additional resources or up skill current resources with the right knowledge to meet the business requirements. Negotiations between business and IT need real facts. It is of little value for the business to complain about IT not meeting SLAs if the business is not paying enough for resources. Tracking the issues that have been or are being dealt with and how long it is taking to resolve is a basic starting point. Implementing a service management software tool, getting the facts over time will enable you to implement ITIL service desk and help desk best practice.
Today I witnessed a customer service miracle in action. I took my son to our local fast food restaurant, so he could have some lunch and play in the indoor playground. While I was waiting for our food to be ready, a woman approached the counter with a crushed Styrofoam cup. She said, “This cup fell off of our table and broke. I need another drink and I need someone to come clean up our table and the floor.” The tone of her voice suggested that somehow the restaurant was responsible for her broken cup. And of course, there was no, “Hey I’m so sorry, one of my horrible children was fooling around and caused you a mess.” It was then that right before my eyes a customer service miracle occurred. Rather than replying with the same nasty treatment they had just gotten from the customer, the staff quickly gave her a new drink. Then a man appeared with a smile and said, “I would be glad to clean that up for you.” The staff never heard the words “thank you” from that customer, yet they acted as if they had. All were professional and conveyed an attitude that said, “We love having the opportunity to serve each and every person in this restaurant.” Not surprisingly, the place is almost always busy. The restaurant is clean, the management supports our community with various school spirit fundraising nights, the food is better than most fast food, and most of all, the people that work there make you want to come back. Watching customer service interaction is my hobby and my work, and today’s experience was a living, breathing example of the 21 Rules for Excellent Retail Customer Service that we share with the participants in our courses. Most of them are not that hard to follow. However, they can be hard to follow consistently. If you work with customers in retail, take a look at the list and ask yourself how closely you follow the rules. 1. Smile when greeting a customer in person and on the phone (and yes, they can tell if you are smiling over the telephone!). 2. Use age-appropriate greetings, and avoid referring to older customers and women as “guys.” 3. Be proactive and ask how you may be of service. 4. Stay visible and available, but don’t hover. 5. Don’t turn away, walk away, start to make a phone call, or duck beneath the counter as a customer approaches. (We’ve all had it happen to us.) 6. The live customer standing in front of you takes precedence over someone who calls on the phone. 7. Never judge a book by its cover–all customers deserve attention regardless of their age or appearance. 8. Leave food and beverages in the break room. 9. A customer doesn’t want to hear about your upcoming break. 10. Makes any personal calls when you’re on a break and out of earshot. 11. The correct answer is never “I don’t know” unless you add to it, “but I can find out for you.” 12. If a customer wants something that isn’t on display, go to the stock room and try to find it. 13. If the item isn’t in the stock room, offer to call another store or order it. 14. Learn to read body language to see if a customer could use some help. 15. Don’t let chatty customers monopolize your time if others are waiting. 16. Call for backup support if lines are forming. 17. Be discrete if a customer’s credit card is declined by asking if there is another method of payment he or she would like to use. 18. Never discuss customers in front of other customers (they’ll wonder what you’re saying about them once they leave). 19. Inspect merchandise before bagging it to make sure it’s not defective or the wrong size. 20. Make sure customers receive everything they’ve paid for before they leave your store. 21. Smile as you are saying goodbye and encourage the customer to come again. And here’s one more tip: if you can, give people more than what they expect.