End Users today are more connected, more informed, and have higher than ever expectations for Information Technology at work. They run their personal lives from the Smartphone in their pocket. They have access to almost unlimited cloud, mobile, and social capabilities at next to no cost. They expect the same at work!
Information Technology leaders have to decide whether to ride the wave or fight it. Those that do will enable their End Users to thrive and create value for their organization. But not everyone in your organization should command a premium service. IT still has to balance service with cost and speed with compliance. This article will help Information Technology leaders identify their most critical End Users (customers), their unique needs, and how to optimize their service experience.
Steve Jobs, the Founder of Apple, had a great quote about how important it is to maintain a close relationship with customers. He said,
Get closer than ever to your customers. So close, in fact, that you tell them what they need before they realize it themselves.
A lot of people think that Mr. Jobs was a magician that pulled amazing ideas out of a hat. That’s not exactly true. He was a keen observer of human behavior. He had empathy for the needs of consumers. He observed them closely and looked for patterns. The Apple Store was an interesting retail concept, but probably more importantly, it was an incredible opportunity to watch people interacting with and using Apple technology. He observed, learned, and developed amazing solutions to the problems that people cared about. And he achieved success with an obsession for design.
As Information Technology leaders, there is a tremendous lesson to be learned here.
How can IT leaders know what’s good for their most important customers unless they spend time understanding, in depth, the job to be done, their unique needs, and the current problem and pain points? For IT leaders to be successful, they need to prioritize their most important customers, embed themselves with their key customers, and align services and resources to meet their unique needs.
So where do you get started? The following three steps will help…
Step 1 – Prioritize
So tell me, why does the switchboard operator get the same IT service levels as the Research Engineer developing the next generation of innovative products that will drive your business growth? No offense switchboard operators….we love you too. It’s time to start segmenting your customers and providing service levels that fit the role and the value to the organization.
Start by developing an inventory of user personas. Your executive users. Your research users. Your field service engineering users. Your road warriors and remote workforce users. Get them all defined in one place. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just directionally correct.
Next prioritize them across three dimensions (high, medium, and low):
- Value to the organization
- Dependency on Information Technology
- Current gap in customer satisfaction
You want to focus your efforts on the two or three user personas that create the most value, have the highest dependency on IT to be productive, and where there is a largest gap in satisfaction between.
Step 2 – Embed
Have you ever watched that show Undercover Boss? It’s kind of an interesting premise. The CEO of a company puts on a disguise and embeds himself or herself with their employees. They get an amazing perspective on how things work and what people think of their company. What they see and learn when they leave the home office can be quite eye opening!
Steve Blank, a serial tech entrepreneur and visionary in the startup world, once said the following:
No facts exist inside the building, only opinions.
This is so true. How can you possibly know what’s best for your most important users unless you embed yourselves with them. Unless you ask them what they need. Unless you observe them trying to do their jobs with the services and solutions you have provided them.
Empathy is huge. But you can’t have empathy unless you walk a mile in your customers shoes. Ask your IT leaders to conduct ride alongs, shoulder surf, interview, and observe your most important users. Your users will appreciate you doing it. More importantly, what you learn will be invaluable in aligning services with needs.
Step 3 – User Experience (UX) Design
“User experience design is for startups and people developing apps, right?” Stop right there! Nope. Uh uh. Not a chance.
The End User Experience encompasses every interaction your employees, customers, and business partners have with your IT services. If you aren’t thinking about UX design, then you should! It isn’t just for startups or custom apps. But you don’t need years of UX design training either before you can get started. You just need some creative thinking.
Start with the technology they rely on to create value for the organization. Are they stuck with the “standard laptop” when they really need some additional computing power? Could new mobile devices make a big difference? Are there ways that you can improve their end user computing experience and make their jobs more productive?
Next, think about the support experience you are providing these users. Does a two-hour response time service level make any sense for someone who is running a research lab? Does a two day mean time to resolve SLA make sense for a manufacturing quality control engineer running a production line? Should your sales executives drop a customer meeting to call the service desk when their web and video conferencing solution isn’t working? The meeting is happening right now!
The final step is to align the service channels with the needs of your top users. If you have a huge software development organization, odds are pretty good that they use a platform like Slack for communication. So why not create a channel in slack for IT Service Support? If you have made a major investment in Unified Communications, then why not create a “S.O.S.” button to make it super simple to start a chat or video session with an expert?
Let’s face it, your highly technical users probably don’t want to talk to your service desk, email you, or log a ticket. They want to self serve! So what are you doing to create a knowledge base for those users so that they can get fast resolution to their problems? How about YouTube videos for common problems? It’s this type of thinking that will truly impact the experience and productivity of your end users.
The days of defining how your user work are over. The user revolution is real. It’s time for Information Technology leaders to ride that wave, jump on board, and improve the user experience.
Alex Porter is the VP of Strategy and Operations at RL Canning. RL Canning is an Information Technology services provider dedicated to making our customers successful. Learn more at rlcanning.com or follow us on Twitter (@rlcanning).