By Christoph Goldenstern, Kepner-Tregoe

Customers expect immediate feedback and fast resolution of their problems and requests. The pressure is on to put ‘Band-Aid’ fixes in place to get customers back to work, and then move on to the next pressing issue. But this way of working represents a lost opportunity to play a key role in improving business results. Neglecting the critical job of analyzing the underlying causes of incidents can damage customer satisfaction, increase the costs of support and threaten IT stability. Ultimately this will affect business profitability.

The cost of repeat incidents

Repeat incidents are caused by applying Band-Aids without finding root cause. They are a cost to the business that could be dramatically reduced by implementing effective problem and root cause analysis. An inventory of the repeat incidents that your service desk deals with on a daily basis will clearly show the value added by eliminating the root cause of a problem.

IT instability is a key factor in reducing customer confidence and encouraging customers to look elsewhere for products and services. Kepner-Tregoe clients who systematically apply our structured approach to root cause analysis and troubleshooting, report faster and more accurate root cause investigations which improve knowledge and incident management. This leads to significant improvements in overall IT stability.  Organizations that commit to using a systematic approach for root cause analysis, consistently report improvements to customer satisfaction and retention.

Repeat calls are a symptom of an unstable IT environment and unhappy customers 

Recognize the difference between symptom and cause

It is important to understand the difference between treating the symptoms of a problem and removing the cause. If we look to medicine, we can quickly see the difference. If you break a bone, pain relief can alleviate the symptoms, but resetting and immobilizing the bone or even surgery may be needed to remove the cause. Treating the symptoms is only the first step.

We need to treat IT problems in the same way. Treat the symptoms initially to alleviate the pain customers are experiencing, but do not rely on this temporary fix to resolve the issue. Too often you will be called on again (and again) to fix the same issue. These repeat calls are a symptom of an unstable IT environment and unhappy customers.

IT complexity demands a process

Within a complex IT infrastructure with connected yet disparate technologies, there are likely to be a multitude of possible causes for any IT failure. Faced with increasingly demanding customers in a 24/7 environment, you need to use a proven, structured process to have any chance of successfully determining the root cause in an effective and efficient manner. Using guesswork can lead you down the wrong road, potentially causing more issues as you apply unsuccessful fixes along the way. This method is also more likely to cause further points of instability in your IT infrastructure.

When you are able to accurately identify the root cause or causes (and it is important to understand that it is quite possible that there is not one single cause) of your IT problems, then you can eliminate problems lurking in your infrastructure. Each cause that you are able to accurately identify and fix will build IT stability, improve the customer experience and control the costs of support--positively impacting your company’s bottom line.

The KT problem solving approach is used worldwide
for root cause analysis and to improve IT stability.

 

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