Good IT Support Costs Less – You can have your cake and eat it too!

Have you ever seen an Ignite talk? I just lost my Ignite virginity giving a talk titled, ‘Good IT Support Less – You can have you cake and eat it too!’ at Service Management 2017.

An Ignite talk follows a strict format – 5 minutes, 20 slides, 15 seconds each. And the slides auto-advance. Ignites are really tricky to deliver, but the high tempo, and myriad opportunities to screw up, make them pretty entertaining for the audience. And given you can squeeze ten speakers into an hour, you get a high knowledge return on your time investment. If you get a chance to go along to an Ignite session, I thoroughly recommend it. Anyway…

Over the years, I’ve heard many a CIO tell me feel they have to make a choice between providing a good level of IT support and keeping their costs down. But this isn’t true.

I’ve transcribed my Ignite into this post so you can see why.

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Customer feedback – are your IT support teams making the most of it?

IT support teams who adopt Net Promoter practices are seeing huge increases in customer satisfaction. For example, 78% of our CIOPulse clients have seen a significant improvement in internal customer satisfaction, with over a third of those enjoying an increase of over 30%.

But in the same way that a thermometer in your ear doesn’t help you get better when you’re sick, a Net Promoter Score won’t help you improve either. One of the most powerful components of Net Promoter is not the metric, but the verbatim feedback gathered as you close customer tickets. Your customers’ answers to the “What did we do well? What could we do better?” question are absolute gold.

If you’re serious about improving internal customer satisfaction, you really should be collecting and making the most of customer feedback. Let me show you how and why…

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Are you doing enough to reduce IT call volumes?

Although it might sound counterintuitive, providing customers with a better service actually costs less than providing them with a poor one.

One of the most effective ways to do both is to reduce the number of times your customer actually needs to contact your Service Desk in the first place. They’re happy because everything’s working perfectly. You’re happy because you need less staff manning the phones.

So, what can you do to reduce call volumes and reduce customer care costs? Read on for six ideas…

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10 things to consider when setting up a Genius Bar

Do you know how far back Apple’s Genius Bar goes? 5 years? 10? Nope. Longer. Apple opened their first Genius Bar in 2001 in their SoHo store in New York.  In-house IT departments have been slow to follow their lead, but its happening, slowly but surely.

Every one of our clients that has introduced their own version of the Genius Bar has found them a big hit with their customers. Customers say they like it because:

  • They feel they can get something fixed right away.
  • They get to deal with a real person rather than just a voice on the phone.
  • They’re able to show the problem rather than having to describe it.
  • They avoid having to be talked through tricky troubleshooting steps.

For IT, it can often be quicker to solve a problem in person rather than taking a call, trying to do a remote fix, and then, as is often the case, needing to do a deskside visit anyway.

So, if you’re serious about providing your customers with a great experience, you’ve got some space and a little bit of budget, read on for ten ways to help your genius bar get off to a great start:

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Is your IT support team like Miley Cyrus or David Bowie?

My wife recently found out that she’s not tone deaf after all. She learned that she’s just a really really bad singer! Before my son could even speak, he used to reach out and cover her mouth when she tried to sing to him.

The majority of people are quite capable of singing well. Although many of us claim to be tone deaf and incapable of singing in tune, apparently true tone-deafness affects only a few percent of the population. We’re not tone deaf, we’re just untrained.

Being aware of your strengths and weaknesses is an important (if not blatantly obvious) step to self-improvement. My wife, for example, now knows that singing lessons wouldn’t be a complete waste of money.

IT support teams are no different. Seeking to improve in areas where you’re already strong is a waste of time and money. And failing to improve in areas that are important to the business is a recipe for disaster. The starting point has to be self-awareness.

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How to use CIOPulse to measure IT support quality

Have you heard of the Watermelon Effect? It’s a rather common problem where service level status reports for IT support show that everything is green but the customer is still unhappy. Green (statuses) on the outside, red (angry customer) on the inside.

The Watermelon Effect - Support SLAs are all green, but your customer is still red and angry

Data from Forrester shows how prevalent this mismatch of perceptions is – there are about twice as many IT teams that think they provide great IT support than there are internal customers who feel they are getting it.

One of the causes of this problem is that Service Level Agreements are flawed. Typically, support service levels are measured on the basis of target response and resolution timeframes. But purely time-based measures are an ineffective indicator of the quality of IT support.

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Why CIOPulse won Service Management ‘Innovation of the Year’

According to Forrester research, there are nearly twice as many IT teams who think they provide great service than as there are organisations who feel they receive great service from their IT teams.

Forrest business vs IT perception of IT performance

On the plus side, this has given rise to classics like ‘The IT Crowd’ (“Have you tried turning it off and on again?”) and ‘Silicon Valley’ (“We’re making the world a better place through constructing elegant hierarchies for maximum code reuse and extensibility”).

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8 simple steps for turning a bad IT customer experience into a great one

Before talking about how to deal with a bad IT customer experience, let’s talk a little about why you should deal with a bad IT customer experience.

Bill Gates once said that unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. And it’s true. If you provide IT customers with a channel for expressing their dissatisfaction they will complain about what’s important to them and give you the chance to fix it. It’s free consulting and it’s priceless.

It’s one of the reasons why transactional IT surveys are so effective. Transactional surveys provide a simple, timely way to capture IT customer experience feedback so that you can learn from it and act on it. Transactional IT surveys are a very good way of driving continual service improvement in IT support teams.

Another reason I like transactional IT surveys is called the service recovery paradox. The service recovery paradox is a well-studied phenomena that occurs when service recovery – the steps you take to rectify a bad experience – is done well. When service recovery is done well, the customer becomes even more satisfied than if there was no cause to complain in the first place. Every complaint becomes an opportunity to turn a bad IT customer experience into a great one,

So, when an IT customer complains, what should you do? Here are eight steps for dealing with a customer complaint effectively:

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What’s the best software to use for your IT customer support surveys?

IT customer support surveys are one of the two types of IT survey you should be doing if you’re serious about continual improvement. These are the surveys you issue continually as you close customers’ tickets. The periodic IT relationship survey is the second.

The IT relationship survey is concerned with ‘Overall how is IT doing and where do we need to improve?’. It helps reduce the risk of underinvesting in areas that are important to your customer and overinvesting in areas that aren’t. For these surveys, SurveyMonkey or Google Forms are just fine.

The customer support survey is concerned with ‘How well did we do when resolving that ticket and what do we need to do better next time?’. These transactional surveys give you the timely information you need to continually improve the IT customer experience and ensure you’re not suffering from the watermelon effect (your support SLAs are all green, but your IT customers aren’t happy).

Transactional IT surveys are a bit more complicated than IT relationship surveys and you have more choices about the software you use. Being successful at improving the IT customer experience starts with making the right software decision. You have four options:

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Are you managing the IT customer experience or ‘just doing IT surveys’?

So, you’re issuing surveys when you close a customer’s IT ticket. That’s great. It means you’ve got a mechanism in place to capture valuable feedback as customers interact with your support team. And you’re probably calculating some sort of customer satisfaction metric. That’s good too – you’re providing IT management with visibility into how you’re performing.

By my estimates, about two thirds of IT teams do what you do. But a growing number of these teams do a lot more than this with their customer feedback. And they’re the ones who are seeing the biggest improvements to IT customer satisfaction.

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