14 Benefits of Enterprise Service Management

This is blog two of a four-part enterprise service management blog series. The first blog – The Perfect Storm Driving Enterprise Service Management – can be read here.


While the use of IT service management (ITSM) by corporate IT organizations – to improve efficiency, effectiveness, control, and insight – has gained nigh-on global acceptance, many enterprises have yet to recognize that ITSM thinking, best practice, and technology is equally relevant to other corporate service providers.

If we jump back ten years, what is now known as enterprise service management was often little more than the use of the potentially-costly corporate ITSM tool in other business scenarios to get a better return on investment. These days, however, there are a number of compelling reasons for enterprise service management, with the IT organization assisting other business functions – such as HR, facilities, finance, and legal – to improve efficiency, effectiveness, control, and insight.

Selling enterprise service management to other business functions

Enterprise service management shouldn’t need to be a leap of faith by either the business as a whole or other business functions. Instead, the business benefits of enterprise service management should be articulated and sold.

These include:

1. Improved efficiency and reduced operational costs

Optimized processes, workflow, automation, and alerting can remove unnecessary manual effort and rework. This is added to when self-service and self-help capabilities are used by employees.

2. Self-service efficiencies and workload reductions

Employees can get to the solutions they need more quickly through self-help. Then this and the ability for employees to log issues and requests via self-service means fewer telephone calls to the service desk or the business function equivalent. The automated delivery of solutions and requests further adds to the potential labor savings.

3. A better ROI on the corporate ITSM solution investment

The more the people, and business functions, that use the ITSM solution, the better the ROI and per-user ongoing management costs. Also, depending on the business function systems that can be phased out, there is the potential for additional technology cost savings through business-function application rationalization.

4. Improved effectiveness

Using a fit-for-purpose ITSM solution for enterprise service management can help to ensure that all employee issues and requests are dealt with and, where possible, to agreed service levels. No more losing requests in personal email accounts or delays through the inefficiency of individuals.

5. Improved visibility into operations and performance

The use of ITSM technology lets staff and management understand what has been achieved and what hasn’t. It ultimately gives insight into the value that each business function provides and makes it easier for this to be communicated to customers and other business stakeholders.

6. Increased control and governance

Enterprise service management processes and enabling technology can be used to implement much needed internal controls and to provide insight into who did what when as well as higher-level reporting.

7. Better service and customer experience

Enterprise service management ups the corporate service provider game to better deliver against employee expectations across ease-of-use, self- service, service request catalogs, knowledge availability, and self-help, social or collaborative capabilities, anytime and anyplace access (to services and information), and people or customer- centric support.

8. The opportunity for improvement

Firstly, the increased visibility into operational performance from enterprise service management allows improvement opportunities to be identified. Secondly, the ITIL continual service improvement capability provides the mechanism for improvements to be managed and delivered.

9. Improved access and communication channels, plus more effective communication

Enterprise service management and a suitable ITSM solution bring a choice of access and communication channels including telephone, email, chat, self-service, alerts, and a broadcast channel via the self-service portal. Escalation and alerting capabilities also help to ensure that no ticket or communication goes unactioned.

10. Improved accountability, even across business-function boundaries

Not only does enterprise service management technology make it easier to assign and see responsibility and accountability within business functions it does the same across business functions. For example, some business services, such as the onboarding of new employees, require multiple business functions to work together to ensure that everything is delivered on time.

11. Better understanding of what services are needed and provided

Enterprise service management doesn’t have to be limited to support and change management. The ITIL service lifecycle can also be used to manage business function services from service strategy through to service operation, allowing greater insight into the services provided.

12. Standardization

This is not only business-wide, optimized processes but also a common way of working, a common look and feel, and a common service model for employees. It also offers the potential to provide a single point of service, no matter the service provider, companywide.

13. Improved collaboration within and across business functions

Not only does enterprise service management make it easy for work to be passed between individuals or groups, or to be worked on collectively, it also makes it easier for work to pass between different business functions.

Finally, there is also a benefit specific to the corporate IT organization. Not only is enterprise service management an opportunity for other business functions to benefit from ITSM principles and capabilities, it’s also an opportunity for IT to further demonstrate its business worth through its wealth of service management skills, knowledge, and experience and the provision of the technology to support business-wide service management.

This post originally appeared on the Freshservice ITSM and customer service blog site


Service Desk Scripts: When Great Customer Support Turns Bad

This blog is about a personal customer support experience with a very successful online retailer and what IT support organizations can learn from it. But don’t get me wrong, I love this retailer and I’ll often pay a little bit more to buy an item from them for the convenience, in particular the “1-Click” feature, and the comfort of knowing that the post-sales support and customer service will be great.

This is of course in the context that things rarely go wrong with my purchases from this retailer. But, when they do, I know that they won’t quibble over a replacement or refund. The only exceptions being issues raised after 30 days, when they consider the manufacturer responsible. Although, I’ve always imagined that, if the manufacturer failed to play ball, the retailer would step back in to resolve the issue.

So the retailer gives me great service (and often great prices) and I keep going back. However, a recent support experience with them reminded me of the need for greater “intelligence” in, and empowerment of, IT service desk agents when dealing with end user issues.


It started with amazing customer service

I’d bought a large and heavy item from the retailer three months earlier – it was larger and heavier than me which is saying something. It was delivered vacuum-packed, so while the weight was an issue in moving it the size wasn’t.

Unusually it had taken me three months to finally admit that there was something wrong with it and I wondered what I could do. I didn’t expect them to give me a refund as I’d used it for three months. But I didn’t want to contact the manufacturer as the online customer reviews told stories of customer support issues, and I imagined a protracted conversation around what was wrong with the items and the available recourse.

Instead I chose to contact the retailer – hoping that they might at least give me a partial refund to put towards a replacement. To my surprise, they offered me an immediate replacement item – it was efficiency and customer service at work. However, I “chanced my arm” and stated that I’d prefer a refund to buy an alternative product. It was quickly given, and I bought a replacement – from the same retailer of course.

But then things started to go wrong, despite the continued efficiency and customer service from the retailer’s customer support.

Returning a large, heavy item should have been easier

As per the retailer’s policy I needed to return the faulty item. In case you were wondering, it was a mattress that required two people to bring it downstairs – so there was no way I could take it to my local post office to return it. Nor did I have a bag large enough to put it in. A quick email and the retailer was straight onto my issue – they had arranged a collection. Let’s call it collection #1.

Collection day arrived and I was looking forward to getting the monster item out of my way. However the driver took one look it and said that it wouldn’t fit it his van. Another quick email to the retailer and another collection, collection #2, was arranged. Collection day # 2 came and, you guessed it, the driver said that the item wouldn’t fit in his van.

Now I’m not a patient man when it comes to people wasting my time but for some reason, I guess it must be my love of the retailer, I didn’t get angry. Another email and the retailer arranged collection #3, this time with the logistics company that originally delivered it. Plus they requested two delivery people such that I wouldn’t have to help carry it to their van. Things were looking up.

Collection day #3 arrived, as did the two delivery guys. It all looked great then, as I was filling out the paperwork, one of the delivery guys said “We can’t take this, it’s not in a bag.” You can imagine my fake smile before another email to the retailer asking that it be collected as-is, i.e. with no bag. There was no reply but collection #4 was arranged. Sadly though, it was a repeat of collection attempt #3 – they came, they saw, and they went away empty handed. I could just about see the funny side of this still – thankfully I’m a home worker otherwise I’d have needed a lot of days off work.

I emailed again and the retailer said that I should put it in a bag – even though I’d mentioned that there was no bag before collection #1 and again before collection #4 and hadn’t been an issue. The retailer couldn’t provide one. However they would refund me for what I bought. One purchase from them later I’d some plastic sheeting to wrap the monster item in and, thankfully, collection #5 was successful.

Some point along the way I was given a £5 goodwill payment, a nice thought but I’d have paid £50 at that point for the monster item to be out of my house. I’d have also paid more than £50 not to have wasted so much time on the issue – time’s money as they say.

Oh and the icing on the cake – where I have to admit to getting a little angry – a week after collection #5 the retailer charged me for failing to return the item. Yet another email from me, this time a complaint for them to resolve this – which of course they did, as efficiently as usual.

The learning for IT

The retailer’s customer support staff were following the standard returns process – give refund, arrange for the item’s return. They were doing their job and probably hitting their individual and team targets. However, while they were efficient and polite they weren’t actually helping.

It’s no different to what can happen in IT. Imagine an IT support scenario where an end user has had three new hard drives fitted to their laptop and is awaiting a fourth – it never should have come to this (and it has happened). The end user is now rightly furious, not some much about the unreliability of the technology, but the fact that they’ve lost productivity due to the recurring issue. Someone should have broken the cycle – they should have understood that pursuing the same solution wasn’t working and then tried something different. In this case providing a new laptop on the assumption that the issue was with something other than the original and three new hard drives. It was the intervention I made when faced with this angry end user.

To do this, service desk agents need to have a certain level of “intelligence”and capability that goes beyond telephone etiquette, the ability to read a script, and an understanding of how to use the service desk tool. They need to be empowered to use their initiative as needed, rather than blindly following the script, without blame or them failing to meet call handling targets. Unless, of course, hitting service desk efficiency targets is more important than helping end users get back to work.

And it’s not just about the end user, customer service and productivity, perspectives. What does it cost the service desk to keep following scripts when they don’t work? In this instance, service desk and then desk side support people costs, plus the new hardware costs. Add these to the lost productivity of the affected end user and the service desk’s replace, replace, replace approach has to be a more costly. Service desk scripts can save money but they can also cost – and not just in terms of IT costs. The important thing is to understand when a script won’t work or isn’t working, in particular when the script-following is making things worse.

So do your service desk agents behave “intelligently”? You never know, they might do if you let them.

This piece was originally published on the Freshservice ITSM and customer service blog site.

Managing Customer Expectations – Part Two

In my previous blog post, I talked about the impact of consumerization on customer expectations and looked a little closer into the varied expectations your customers may have from your service desk. In this concluding second part, I’d like to examine a few practices used by customer service leaders and suggest a few practical tips that you can use to  manage those previously discussed customer expectations.

To set or not to set formal end user expectations?

It’s not unusual for service desks to communicate the associate service level when sending out the post-incident or post-service-request-logging email. Which is great, but only if the customer reads the email from top to bottom. After all, who has time for that these days if an email looks to be an automated response?

Is it enough? Well I guess it depends on how many chase up calls and emails your service desk gets. And what sort of feedback you get in customer satisfaction surveys if you ask about resolution times or the service desk’s general efficiency. I’d personally bet, based on what I’ve already said about consumerization, that it isn’t enough.

Learn from customer service leaders

It’s so boring to hear so many examples of how Amazon does the whole service experience thing – but they do do it so well:

  • Pre-sale: You have a choice of products, user reviews to consider, explicit pricing, and delivery options (which then become expectations) even before you commit to purchase
  • Post-sale: If something is faulty they send you an urgent replacement and give you 30 days to return the defective item – so a minimum of waiting and downtime (if the purchased item is an immediate means to an end)

However, the Amazon service experience is so much more than this:

  • Notifications: If you require them, Amazon will send you notifications of impending dispatch, dispatch, and impending delivery
  • Real-time transparency: If the chosen delivery agent is DPD, say, then you also get an estimated time slot for delivery. Plus you are able to follow the driver on their route (as per the image below). Hell, DPD even tells you the driver’s name. And guess what, it works as well on your mobile device as it does on your desktop.


It’s all very 1984 but it does offer a great service experience, to those that want it, and raises the bar for other service providers – consumer or corporate.

7 tips for managing customer expectations better

So what can a corporate service desk do to better manage and deliver against customer expectations? Here are few practical tips that specifically relate to this blog’s content:

  1. Take a moment to think about the service experience that your service desk currently provides. Is it all about throughput volumes and reducing the time spent on tickets? Are service desk agents dealing with IT or customer issues? Ask customers what they think, especially employees that no longer contact the service desk – there could be a very good reason.
  2. Set agreed service levels that meet both IT’s “expectations” for handling issues and requests, and the customers’ expectations of delivery (with obvious caveats around cost, capability, and capacity). How many of your service desk service levels were set based on industry best practice, or a finger in the air by IT, rather than agreeing what is most suitable across your customer base?
  3. Use the available technology within your service desk or IT service management tool to best advantage, particularly to enhance access channels. You’ve most likely already paid to use it, so look to leverage capabilities such as chat, self-service, self-help, and communities to improve the service experience.
  4. Communicate service level resolution or delivery dates as much as possible. Not just in emails but also during live communications such as telephone calls and chat. Where possible, also alert end users to the expected timeframe when they’re using the service request catalog or self-service incident logging capability.
  5. Encourage customers to self-check their incident’s or service request’s progress using the self-service capability. This can be done as part of the initial contact or even when they contact you again for an update via email or telephone.
  6. Listen twice and talk once – thanks to Suresh GP for reminding me of this one. Ensure that the service desk agent is resolving the real customer issue not what they think the issue is (often based on available scripts). In my opinion, it’s one most common reasons for prolonged calls and inferior customer experiences.
  7. You’ll most likely never be an Amazon but at least recognize and consider the art of the possible when it comes to superior customer service.

Well, that’s a quick list of tips and I didn’t even touch on the customer-centricity side of things. If you want to read about that, then please click through to this blog: “Make Sure Your Technical Support Is Technical Customer Support”

This piece was originally published on the Freshservice ITSM and customer service blog

Managing Customer Expectations – Part One

There’s no doubt that service desk agents have a tough job – people only ever want to speak with them when they’ve an issue or if they want something. Then these customers have expectations around speed of response and delivery for both incidents and service requests, and a sense of entitlement in the case of service requests. For incidents, the end user/customer might already be annoyed, as their technology isn’t working and it causes them issues, before they call or contact the service desk via other means. For service requests, the sense of entitlement might be at odds with internal provisioning policy or financial status – they are going to get a “no” rather than what they want or need. So no matter how helpful, and efficient and effective service desk agent is the customer might not be in the best state of mind to appreciate it. A quick resolution will help, but what happens when the fix or the service delivery takes longer than expected? We get into the realms of managing customer expectations.


Consumerization is driving up employee expectations per se

While many IT organizations still worry about the “consumerization of IT” and managing the risks associated with employees using their own devices, applications, and personal cloud services in the workplace, there’s a bigger issue related to consumer-service-driven expectations. These expectations, based on how we are treated as customers in our personal lives, can only raise the proverbial bar for corporate service providers, including the corporate IT organization and service desk, around service-based attributes such as:

  • Ease-of-use and access when engaging pre- and post-purchase or issue
  • Self-service, including service request catalogs and knowledge availability for self-help
  • Social or collaborative capabilities, including chat for both pre-sales and post-sales support, and communities
  • Anytime, anyplace, any device access to services, information, and help
  • Customer-centric support

So how well is your IT organization and service desk meeting these consumer-driven expectations? And if you have a self-service capability are your customers actively using it?

Expectations around access channels

These consumer-driven expectation can relate specifically to service desk access. The service desk of old, or what was probably called “the IT help desk,” started with two primary methods of access and communication – the telephone and face-to-face “walk-ups.” Over the years, service desk technology and its use has evolved, adding email processing and online forms next. In 2015, however, there are a number of additional access channels to be considered, offered, and leveraged by IT. These include social media, chat, and self-service portals that can offer incident logging, service catalogs for ordering, and self-help via customer-facing knowledge bases – with each offering different levels of customer service and, importantly for IT, different cost profiles. You might wish to introduce, or maybe have already introduced, these newer access channels to save money but you shouldn’t underestimate how much they are now an expected facility by your consumer-affected employees.

Expectations around service

How fast does your service desk respond to, and resolve, incidents and service requests? If it’s a first contact resolution then this point is mute, but for the other 30-50% of incidents and the majority of service requests (depending on the IT organization), the customer will have expectations around the delivery. Most likely expectations that are unrealistic – based on their consumer experiences rather than the agreed service levels. Nonetheless they are the customer’s expectations. These unmet expectations aren’t just another potential nail in the corporate service desk’s coffin (based on poor end user perceptions) they’re also the creator of additional work – as customers repeatedly call, or email, the service desk to get an update of when their issue will be fixed or their requirement fulfilled. And let’s not forget whether end users are treated as customers (their expectation) or just an asset, or employee, number. It’s all part of the service experience.

In the second part of this blog post, I’ll take a closer look at the practices of customer service leaders and explore how you can manage these customer expectations with a few practical tips.

This piece was originally published on the Freshservice ITSM and customer service blog

Technical Support is now Technical Customer Support

I’ve said it many times before and I’m sure that I’ll say it for many years to come:

IT support isn’t really about supporting the IT, instead it’s about supporting the people or business processes/services that rely on the IT.


For some this is an odd thing for me to say. Surely if IT support is fixing my laptop, say, then it’s supporting my IT? Alas this mindset continues to miss the point of corporate or third-party IT – that the IT is merely the means to an end, with the end really something that we (as end users or customers) want or need to achieve.

So in the context of IT or technical support, the support personnel aren’t fixing my faulty laptop, they are allowing me to work again such that I can achieve what I need to achieve. I personally don’t care too much about the laptop itself, I just need someone to help me to do what I need to do. Yup, technical support really is about people support as much as it’s IT support.

My recent support experience with a UK mobile phone and broadband provider

I’ll try not bore you with too many details:

  • Our home broadband service is flaky – working at the quoted speed then becoming nigh-on unusable for long periods, not great when working at home
  • After two days of internet “pain” I called the service provider’s technical team. I didn’t want to based on my previous experiences of their inefficient, offshored script following but alas I needed to – how many end users avoid calling the corporate service desk for a similar reason?
  • I spent 25 minutes on the phone, a lot of this on hold, until I was unceremoniously cut off. I was annoyed but thought “well maybe the support guy will call me back,” after all he’d taken my home number and my partner’s mobile number to verify the account. Or maybe he would just fix the issue anyway
  • Alas there was no fix nor no call back
  • After some mutterings from me on social media, I was pointed to an online complaints form, I filled it out and waited for their response (with a service level target (or expectation) of 72 hours)
  • 48 hours later the service provider’s complaints team emailed me to say that my broadband was working at the advertised speed and if I was still experiencing issues I should call the technical team – the people who I have an issue with and want to complain about.

So there you have it and the irony isn’t lost on me – these support people work for the company that provides our mobile phone and landline services but they can’t call me, or call me back, to help. Although I have to applaud the social and in-store employees, they see me as a customer; but why can’t the technical and complaints teams do the same?

Why do we have this issue?

I could be rude and say that the service providers don’t really care after a service has been subscribed to, but I don’t think that it’s the real root cause. Instead I prefer to think that it’s a management and HR issue – starting from setting out the purpose of technical support, through identifying the necessary knowledge, skills and experience, recruiting the right people (with the necessary attributes), to how the performance of the support operation is measured and managed. With parochial decisions made about short-term costs over long-term gains.

Driven by closure targets, you just know that the technical support person and the complaints handling agent both marked my ticket as closed before moving onto the next struggling or unhappy customer. They will most likely hit their targets for ticket volumes and level of first time fixes and – cue tweeting birds –everything in the world is good. Well at least it is for them. This customer is really regretting leaving his very reliable (and cheaper) broadband service just to get a free TV service.

So, for me, it’s all about the support people and the people who manage them. And why are their sales people working so hard to win new customers when technical support people seem to be working even harder to lose them? Don’t you just love silo-ed or disjointed organizations?

So what can your IT organization do to better support the people?

Sadly I can’t help this telecoms service provider but I can throw a few suggestions your way from a corporate IT support perspective:

  • Don’t overlook the importance of the service desk and how the support it provides contributes to your company’s views on IT performance. A Gartner, a global analyst firm, statistic from circa five years ago (which therefore now can’t be officially quoted) is that at least 50% of the business’ perceptions of the corporate IT organization’s performance can be attributed to service desk performance. IT really is the business’ window into IT
  • Step away from your traditional metrics such as “first time fix” (also known as first contact resolution) and “incident volumes handled” to understand how well your service desk is performing in terms of people support rather than IT support (and realize that your current customer satisfaction questionnaires might be painting the wrong picture)
  • Assess personal skills. If your service desk is anything like those that fill out SDI (Service Desk Institute) surveys then your people will be initially trained in using the IT service management (ITSM) tool, in operating your incident management process, accessing and following scripts, and maybe in telephone etiquette. But what about the likes of customer service and problem solving? If you don’t know why I mention these then I’m surprised that you have read down this far
  • Consult end users and business stakeholders – and I apologize for this age-old consultant cliché. It needs to be done as your post-ticket and annual surveys might be giving you a false picture of actual service desk performance. Ask more focused and valuable questions such as “would you use the service desk if there was a viable alternative?” Plus of course, for many there already is – www.google.com. As for me and the aforementioned technical support, I really didn’t want to use the official channel because I knew it would take far longer than it needs to, scripts would be followed even though I have already discounted many possible root causes myself, and worst of all I wouldn’t be seen as a customer (i.e. one of the people that ultimately pays the support person’s wages)
  • Commit to improvement. How many times has your IT organization started to change something for the good of the business but failed in execution due to changing priorities, shrinking budgets, and the continual pressure of firefighting IT issues? Stop worrying about the Consumerization of IT and start focusing on the real consumerization issue – that employees expect a similar level of customer service and service experience from corporate IT to what they now receive in their personal lives.

So let’s stop reinforcing the fact that technical support fixes IT, it really fixes the issues people have because IT isn’t working.

You don’t have to call your technical support “technical customer support” – especially as many IT employees still don’t like to consider end users as the customers of the corporate IT organization – but do something to make your technical support people realize that they need to focus on the person as much as, if not more than, the affected IT.

You never know, your continued relevance to your parent business might depend on it.

This piece was originally published on the Freshservice ITSM and customer service blog