Customer Experience Trends Transforming IT Support

Developments in customer experience for consumers have implications for IT support.

omnichannel age
Call it an Aesop’s Fable for the omnichannel age: “The Customer and the End User.” Steven is an avid consumer of electronics. Over breakfast, he uses his tablet to read an email from his local electronics retailer. On the train, he uses his smartphone to browse the retailer’s e-commerce site. He adds an item to his cart but decides to look at it in the store on his way home. The next day, he buys the product online and has it shipped to the store for pickup. Steven loves his customer experience.

Susan is an avid consumer of enterprise IT services. Over breakfast, she uses her tablet to check her work email, but she discovers the email server is down. She wishes the IT department would tweet alerts about outages. On the train, she uses her smartphone to download a new work app, but she has to reconfigure her phone to use it. She wishes the IT portal provided a selfhelp tutorial for that. She would call the service desk, but she’s in a quiet car. She wishes IT offered a chat feature for situations like this.

end-user experience
She can deal with the problem when she gets to the office, but she has back-to-back meetings today. She wishes her company had an IT walk-up service center she could stop by on her way to lunch. Susan could be a bit happier with her end-user experience.

Sound familiar? A growing number of organizations are discovering that expectations for customer experience are spilling over into the workplace. Consumers want to interact with brands through multiple channels and expect to be delighted at every touch point. In the same way, end users want omnichannel interaction with IT, and they demand the level of service and convenience they’ve become accustomed to in their personal lives.

The downside, if there is one, is that IT needs to commit to providing a new level of service to end users. The upside is the potential for better employee engagement and satisfaction, and for employees to work more productively and effectively.

“By delivering IT services and support consistently and effectively across multiple channels...IT can better meet end-user needs.”

Another upside is that these trends in customer experience hold valuable lessons for IT support.

Expections Rising

Consumers have less patience when interacting with brands. For 77 percent, valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide good service.1 In fact, 55 percent will abandon an online purchase if they can’t get an answer quickly.

Consumers value customer service and demand a superior experience. End users increasingly do, as well.

End users behave in the same way, says Bill Miller, vice president of Service Experience Management for CompuCom. “As customers, end users have instant, always-on access to information, and they’re much more empowered,” he notes. “They now expect that from all channels, including IT. End users today demand an IT experience that delights them. And if they don’t get it from you, they’ll get it from someone else.”

Doesn’t the IT department have a monopoly on enterprise IT service and support? Not any longer, Miller says. “End users, product development, engineering, the lines of business — they can simply abandon IT if they’re not happy,” he explains. “They can bring their own devices. They can buy their own hardware and software. With 20 minutes and a credit card, they can get all the IT infrastructure they need in the cloud.”

Cloud Service CIO

Such “shadow IT” has grown sharply. Indeed, the average company runs 14 times more cloud applications than are authorized by the IT department. While CIOs estimate they have an average 51 cloud services, the actual number is 730.3 As a result, companies can’t effectively see, measure or manage IT costs and risks. The good news is that IT can leverage rising end-user expectations to engage employees more fully. By delivering IT services and support consistently and effectively across multiple channels — phone, email, chat, social platforms, self-service, in person and more — IT can better meet end-user needs and measurably improve end-user satisfaction.

A more satisfied workforce can yield substantial business benefits. Companies with highly engaged employees achieve 147 percent higher earnings per share than competitors.4 They also realize advantages such as lower turnover, less absenteeism and fewer quality defects.

Planning on Productivity

Customer experience should be pain-free, proactive, personalized and productive.5 The same is true for the end-user experience, Miller says. Achieving those four P’s starts with commitment to end-user satisfaction — first with the CIO and CFO, but equally with every IT staffer who interacts with end users. “The reality at many organizations is that interactions with IT support can be painful,” Miller emphasizes. “That has to change.”

Key to improving satisfaction is delivering IT support how end users want it. That’s where omnichannel interactions come in. “Omnichannel means your service desk has a phone number, an email address, chat, click to call, a walk-up service center like Solution Café®—any channel an end user can use to interact with IT,” Miller says.

Just as important is the ability to traverse channels seamlessly. IT staff should be able to recognize who end users are, how they’ve interacted with IT and what they need as they move from channel to channel.

Don’t neglect self-service, Miller recommends. In delivering customer service externally, companies have found that self-service is an increasingly popular option. While less than two-thirds of customers use chat, more than three-quarters use FAQ or help features.6

The same is true of end users. Many end users are tech-savvy and often want to solve their own problems. That’s good for them, because it can get them up and running faster and improve their own IT skills. And it’s good for the business, because it reduces IT costs.

The next IT support frontier, Miller believes, is social media. “Younger workers tend to be active users of social media,” he points out. “If IT doesn’t embrace social channels as a way to interact with end users, it will be asking them to ignore a primary way they communicate.” Few companies have integrated social media into IT support, Miller notes, “but before long it will become standard.”

Finally, think carefully about why you’re investing in the end-user experience. “Many companies approach IT support looking for ways to reduce costs,” he says. “But it will be more effective for your business to view this as a way to improve employee satisfaction and productivity.”

Ultimately, Miller advises, you need to think of your end users as customers. “IT departments need to mirror what they see in the consumer space,” he concludes. “IT hasn’t traditionally loved end users, and end users sense that. Start treating them like customers, and they’ll start consuming IT in ways that benefit the business.”

(click on image to enlarge infographic)

1 “Channel Management Core to Your Customer Service Strategy,” Forrester, January 2015
2,3 “The Not-So-Sunny Truth About Cloud Services,” Cisco, 2015
4 “State of the American Workforce Report,” Gallup, September 2014
5 “Forrester’s Top Trends for Customer Service in 2015,” Forrester, December 2014
6 “Channel Management: Core to Your Customer Service Strategy,” Forrester, January 2015

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