In our personal lives, thanks to technology, we have got used to a range of streamlined user experiences such as online shopping, ordering a cab or a pizza in two clicks, or checking our account status on our mobile bank app.
So why does the experience of internal services have to feel so clunky? Internal support needs generally fall into one of three categories: wanting something fixed, wanting another kind of help or wanting something new. A staff member is justified in asking “If I can do this online via self-service in my personal life, why can’t I do this at work?” What staff experience when they are at home ordering from Amazon, paying their mobile bill or downloading films, they increasingly expect at work from a more ‘consumerised’ IT environment.
And yet in far too many organisations coming into work often feels like re-entering the information dark ages. Email is still clinging on as the primary tool of communication between internal service providers and their customers (both internal and external), followed closely by costly and often-frustrating telephone support lines. Not only is this annoying for employees, it is also a drain on productivity.
Opportunities abound for automation across the organisation
Organisations are now starting to recognise that the same self-service concepts that they use to meet their external customers’ demands can be translated into better service delivery internally. IT departments have led the way in this respect, through automated service management which might provide things like the ability to order a new piece of equipment in a self-service portal, or log a support request and get notifications about its progress.
Other departments are now starting to catch up in this automation of internal service provision. Here are some concrete examples of the kind of services that are ripe for the ‘Uber effect’:
- As a new employee, I’m being on-boarded and in addition to IT-related items, I need an access card, a desk, a phone and a parking space.
- As an HR manager, I need to know who has a parking space, so I can deduct the parking fee from the employee’s salary.
- I need someone to get an item from the stockroom (and then ensure it gets taken back).
- I need to book a room for a marketing event and order options like catering, AV facilities, reception staff, security and parking spaces
- As a facilities dispatcher, I need to coordinate various people to organize events, moves, installations, or planned maintenance with a supplier.
- As an employee, I need to ask a question to HR regarding my pension contributions.
- As a receptionist, I receive items that I have to deliver internally, and I want to keep the evidence that it has been received.
Whatever the request, the same principles apply to the provision of service whether it’s the responsibility of HR, Facilities, Marketing, Shipping or Finance. The unfortunate truth is that email has become the universal go-to tool to manage all sort of processes with a resulting lack of structure, where requests are decentralised and, from the requester point of view, they fall into some sort of black hole. There is no common process to evaluate, process and track the demands.
As the ‘Uber effect’ takes shape in the corporate workplace, businesses are beginning to adopt established service management principles, moving towards structured workflow approaches which make everybody look at the same data in a very transparent way. The technology to do this is robust and there are some pioneering organisations who are already reaping the rewards.
For example, using online self-service portals staff can find information, log and track requests, order equipment and receive support across a range of internal functions. Users find they get a better service and internal support staff are freed up to focus on other issues. This is what we call a Single System of Record/Truth and, in addition to providing much better levels of employee service and satisfaction, it also offers significant savings of time and costs.
Measuring activity and performance
Equally importantly, it makes reporting significantly better. Having no single source of data or having multiple sources (spreadsheets, Excel, emails, etc.) means that reporting is impossible or, if not, so time-consuming that it simply won’t get done, resulting in a complete inability to answer the following questions:
- What is the volume of requests we get?
- What are the types of request?
- How long does it take to complete the process?
- What is the level of satisfaction of the user?
- What does it cost to deliver this service?
As the old adage points out, if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Using service management techniques to deliver internal services changes all this, enabling the managers of internal services to track performance and measure effectiveness. And, ultimately, continue to refine the delivery of excellent services to internal consumers.