Service Management

The New Normal
Written by Ken Gonzalez Feb 29, 2012

As you'll recall from earlier blog posts, I wanted to start off this blog by getting us into the same conversation with regards to service management. There are too many variations and misunderstandings in the marketplace today, fueled by the multitude of frameworks, methods, and vendor products available. I felt the need to ensure that, if nothing else, we were using a common set of terms and concepts in our discussions about service management.

Given we are here at HDI, I never envisioned this blog as being solely about service management (per se). The entire time I've been working on this series, I've had in the back of my mind the intention to steer it towards that area where service management and service support naturally connect. Indeed, it's almost like I have been looking into a crystal ball. Many of the things I've been reading over the past few months point to a rising interest in something akin to "service support 2.O" or "next-generation service desk" (or whichever other fancy label you'd like to put on it).

It's representative of the recognition that things need to change to meet the challenges our organizations face today, which aren't the same as the challenges we faced ten or twenty years ago. While I think this is a good trend, we do need to approach it with some care. The danger we face is getting wrapped up in the tools and technologies we use for the operational aspects of service support. If that should happen, we will just find ourselves back where we started, only with a new set of technologies to contend with. It may provide the appearance of progress, at least within the service support organization, but it won't necessarily translate into a customer-visible result/benefit.

Given this, this next series of blog entries is my initial attempt at setting up a reasonable conversation about the next generation of service support—what it is, how it works, what’s required, etc. A key difference in this conversation, from others on the topic, is that we will conduct it from the customer perspective (also known as “outside-in”).

This is important because whether organizations want to recognize it or not, we are now fully engaged in the experiential economy—it's the “new normal.” Whether it's BYOD, the App Store concepts, cloud computing, or <<insert trend name here>>, one thing is certain: consumers are looking for (and are willing to pay for) a satisfying user experience. No amount of marketing, formal agreements, or internal rules can "keep the genie in the bottle," as it were. Service providers are either going to come to recognize this fact or find themselves losing the opportunity to service their customer to someone else who is willing to provide the experience that they want.

Support has traditionally been viewed as a reactive element in most organizations. After all, when does the support center tend to hear from customers? When something breaks or when a customer is upset! To their credit, most support organizations do the best job they can in supporting their customers and helping them return things to “normal.” This was a useful skill before and it will remain so moving forward, but there is more to the story than that.

We need to start considering the role of support as a proactive element in managing the customer experience. How are we going to do that? Simple. We are going to use the fundamental elements of (universal) service management (as previously described in this blog series) and use an outside-in orientation to make a case for the changes at the strategic, tactical, and operational level required to make this happen.

In my next blog post, we'll take a high-level look at where we need to go (for the blog series) and then take our first steps towards reimagining service support.

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