Want to exceed your customer’s expectations? Take one step back. Create a sound foundation by taking away all obstacles your customers might have. How? With Workforce Enablement.

Why are we in Service Management?

ITSM traditionally focuses on managing IT services. Keeping servers up and running, managing licences, delivering support for software, securing your data — that kind of work. Important work, for sure. But should the only focus of an IT department be ‘managing services’?

Of course not. You’re not here to just track processes. You want to help people and make your customers happy too.

But making your customers happy has become increasingly difficult. We now expect a lot from our workplace: we want to work everywhere at any moment, with the apps and devices we prefer. A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t apply anymore. You customer’s demands are increasingly defining your IT policy.
Why employee engagement and customer experience go hand in hand with digital transformation

From SLAs to CX and XLAs

The focus at IT departments has been shifting from tools and processes to customer satisfaction. The central question for this shift: is the customer really happy with the services you deliver? And how do you measure their satisfaction?

To answer this question, more and more organizations are adding customer satisfaction and eXperience Level Agreements (XLAs) to the traditional mix of response times and SLAs. The goal: getting insight into the customer experience. This increased customer focus is a valuable development. A logical development as well when you think of it. As an IT organization, your customers are who you work for.

The danger of being too customer-focused

Some IT departments interpret the search for customer satisfaction as: we need to exceed our customer’s expectations. ‘Wow your customers’, as it’s called. Or ‘customer delight’. For successful organizations such as Zappos and UPS it’s what their entire strategy is built around.

But there is a danger in focusing too much on customer delight.

As your customer’s expectations keep getting higher, the chance of you exceeding them only gets smaller. And if you manage to exceed expectations, this will probably cost a lot of time and money. Moreover, while nice, customer delight appears to have little influence on customer satisfaction.

Remove obstacles for your customers

So, what do you need to do? Remove obstacles. Offer your customers the means they need to do their work, not ones that slow them down or are in their way. Also help them to solve their problems quickly and easily.

It might not sound as attractive as customer delight, and you probably won’t receive a lot of compliments for it. But you shouldn’t expect them either. When you make sure your customers can work everywhere at any time, with their preferred apps and devices, they won’t notice that you offer good support. It means they’re working.

And that’s the goal of Workforce Enablement.

Workforce Enablement, or ‘working without distractions’

Workforce Enablement, a term introduced by Forrester, fits really well with ITSM. Your primary goal is to make your customers happier and above all more productive.

Why lay the emphasis on productivity? It seems to be the most important factor in work enjoyment. People are happiest at work when they feel like they can get on with their work and book evident progress. When IT departments help their colleagues be productive, customer satisfaction will go up.

There is a subtle difference between Workforce Enablement and striving towards customer satisfaction. Happy employees are not automatically productive employees. But when they’re productive, there is a big chance they’re happy.

The 3 pillars of Workforce Enablement

But how do you help employees in becoming more productive? The strategy behind Workforce Enablement is supported by three pillars:

• Know your customers through and through. What kind of work do your customers do? Where do they do it? What is important to them? Only when you know your customer’s needs can you give them a fitting solution. A popular method used to map your customer’s needs is creating a customer journey.
• Align your services with your customer’s work. Each customer has unique needs, but you can’t have bespoke work for everyone. Find the golden mean. Make a service catalog available to give your customer choices, and manage of the services you offer. Also give your customers the freedom and responsibility to use other apps and devices.
• Help your customers help themselves. Offer your customers self-service possibilities. Publish FAQs, how-to’s and instructions in a portal. This enables your customers to easily solve their own problems, so they can focus on their work again.

The best of both worlds

What I personally enjoy about Workforce Enablement, is that the approach takes the best from the traditional ITSM approach and the trend to work more customer-oriented. On the one hand Workforce Enablement has a strong customer focus: maintaining your IT services according to an agreement is no longer the case. The services you deliver really need to add value for the customer.

On the other hand, Workforce Enablement goes back to the basics of IT work. You’re not blowing your customer away with a lot of baseless jazz and bells and whistles. It’s about something much more important: helping other people to do their job in the best way possible. And that’s what ITSM should always be about.

What does Workforce Enablement look like in practice?

What could a Workforce Enablement mindset mean for your IT department? On our glossary page ‘What is workforce Enablement?’ you can read all about how to improve your team’s technology, processes and skill set and align them with your customer’s wishes.

Want to get started on improving your help desk customer satisfaction right away? Our Workforce Enablement toolbox contains practical tips and first steps to take. Download it for some inspiration.