The New Focus Is on Customer Services. These days everyone seems to be defined as a customer. A bank-account holder, a commuter, an online shopper, an end user of corporate IT systems -- one thing that unites all these people is their status as a customer. And the one thing that all customers want, and expect, is "service." [CRMDaily]
"Acronyms are the secret language of the obscure, designed to degrade those not in the know. Describing a thing in a way understood by all is inclusive and as valuable as gold." -- Justin Hitt, 2003.
It is not clear to me why we rename things that already are known. I guess it makes old concepts new against. This articles introduces ITSM and ITIL, two acronyms I don't want to hear a single customer of mine use. But for your reference:
Information Technology Service Management (ITSM)-- A "trend toward value- and customer-based IT services has spawned a whole new set of standards, processes and skills." Or in the terms of the common, providing end-users of IT related resources in a manner that is constructive to the users requirements and objectives.
Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)-- A cohesive set of best practice rules for quality IT service management. In short, best practices to keep resources available to end-users at the lowest cost.
Maybe we need these new terms because IT people aren't always friendly to those outside their group, perhaps it's punishment for the technology acquisition binge we experienced from 1996 through early-2002. Often during that period, companies bought technology just because it was new, not because it solve existing problems better, but it was the "bleeding-edge."
Internal customer service measures are necessary. Right now many companies measure IT value by trouble tickets closed, or support calls answers. Very little measures are being taken in areas like end-user efficiency, reducing process time, and productivity improvements.
A new set of standards, processes, and skills are necessary. "You can't solve todays problem with yesterdays solution." Often we need to look at problems differently as the context of the problem changes. Mapping your current processes is more important than ever.
Measures for internal customer service apply for all types of organizations. Whether you're a government agency, multinational IT firm, or a small specialty software development house-- measures of internal customer service are measurable. The key is to talk to the right people, allow customers to measure the service level.
I've made the following observations from my experience. Here I include both the observation and my comments that may help you benefit from them:
Individuals in technology companies are moving from specialists to "focused entrepreneurs" A focused entrepreneur is someone who has one or two specialties with additional skills in three to five general business areas. This independence of thinking allows them to focus on doing the right things, instead of just doing things right.
IT services rendered internal to many corporations is substandard. If you don't believe me, have a line level staff person contact the IT department for support. Usually executives get all the hand-holding they can stand, but the average end-user waits on everything.
Internal IT service providers already have access to solid improvements in service areas. Often IT departments already have the resources they need to improve service, they just need to slow down and focus on the human issues involved in getting things done. This means more requirements gathering from end-users, and only implementing technology that measurably improves business process.
IT professionals need skills in customer service. Too often (and I know from personal experience) technical professionals loose touch with human interactions. This makes them great to focus on analytical computer problems, but doesn't facilitate direct interaction with non-technical people.