Christoph Goldenstern,  Kepner-Tregoe

Putting Service First

There is only one way that the quality and value of the service you provide your customers can be measured. That is by asking them. All the green lights on your metrics mean nothing if your customers are not happy. 

Customers are actually happiest if they do not have to interact with you at all, because that means that your services are all performing as expected. ServiceNow recently commissioned a survey and its results speak loud and clear: the greatest customer value is realized from well-executed root cause analysis. The companies providing the best customer service are also the ones that are the most effective at problem solving.

The value of quality problem solving

The ServiceNow sponsored research titled “Putting Service First,” showed that companies with good problem solvers were “163% more likely to be able to correctly identify and resolve the root cause of a customer's issue.” This matches up with our experience at Kepner-Tregoe; customer satisfaction improves when technical and IT support organizations adopt a structured, quality and speed - optimized problem solving approach.

This was almost immediately evident in a recent project with the support organization of a global leader in open source software. Within four months of adopting a structured process for making the initial case assessment and developing a concise problem statement, customer satisfaction improved by 5%.

In another engagement with the problem management team of a major US bank, improving the end-to-end problem management process led to the prevention of over 10,000 incidents and a 67% improvement in IT stability.

Improve satisfaction and stability

This is why it is so surprising that there are still a high percentage of organizations (both in external and internal IT support) that do not have robust (major) incident or problem management processes in place. Determining and removing the root cause quickly and effectively prevents service desk calls and reduces the workload, backlog and cost of providing IT service. It also has a highly beneficial effect on your customer satisfaction, not to mention the stability of your IT or your customer’s IT.

“We found that top performing companies proactively resolve the root cause and offer self-service,” said Abhijit Mitra, general manager of Customer Service Management, ServiceNow. “The combination of these two practices could essentially prevent the very reasons why customers engage with customer service in the first place. The best customer service is No Service.” It’s the one-two punch of an end-to-end approach to customer support: get to root cause and solve the issue once and for all, then make that information available through an easily accessible and highly-automated knowledge management process that enables self-service. It’s a basic concept: automate the simple stuff and stop solving the same problems over and over again.

The core of customer service

When IT organizations concentrate on solving incidents without paying due care and attention to removing the underlying cause of repeat calls, they miss a huge opportunity to improve customer satisfaction. They will always be chasing their tail, with the backlog growing as they continuously release new features into the environment. If, as this ServiceNow commissioned research shows, the most successful businesses establish problem solving as the core capability, perhaps it is time for the rest of the IT and technical support world to take a closer look at this most fundamental capability of customer service.

The Kepner-Tregoe problem solving approach is used worldwide
for root cause analysis and to improve IT stability

(2)