ITSM | 12 MIN READ

How to Build Incredible Customer-Centric IT Services

Typically, IT departments aren’t interacting with customers directly. However, the IT services they develop play a massive role in enhancing the customer experience and positioning your organization as a customer-centric force.

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From notifications that celebrate user experience milestones to chatbots that offer users a friendly, informative back-and-forth, IT services are quickly becoming huge customer experience assets. The more positive the brand encounter, the more likely consumers will be repeat purchasers.

As a result, the best customer-centric organizations are out-earning their competitors. According to American Express, consumers are willing to spend 17% more on a company that steadily provides an excellent customer experience. On top of that, 77% of consumers recommend brands to their friends after just one positive encounter.

Conversely, failing to create customer-centric IT services can have immeasurable financial consequences on businesses in any industry. Accenture notes that poor customer experiences cost American companies an estimated $1.6 trillion every year, and 50% of consumers will jump to another provider if your services are underwhelming.

So, how does your organization create the kind of customer-centric IT services that will keep clients coming back for more? In this blog post, I’ll take you through seven proven ways to use your IT tools that will inject new life into your user experience and, in doing so, ensure that your brand stays relevant.

Let’s go!

 

1. Understand and Anticipate Consumer Needs

Before you can begin building and managing IT services that put your customers first, you must first understand their wants and needs.

The basic business logic behind this is simple. In order to generate revenue, it’s necessary to acquire and retain customers. To do that consistently, you need to know what they expect from you. In this case, we're focusing on what they need and want from online services they use to interact with your brand and your staff.

If your business can’t accomplish either of those objectives, it won’t survive. End of story.

That said, being able to accurately assess consumer desires is only half the battle here. The truly great customer-centric IT services are able to use that understanding to forecast what customers wants will be a month, a year, or even several years from now. This is how trendsetters (and gargantuan market shares) are made.

The best, most innovative tech puts both present and future user needs first. Sometimes, they revolve around needs that consumers don’t realize they’ll eventually have. Think Steve Jobs. Elon Musk. CEOs and their companies who push the envelope and, in the process, stretch the limits of what people knew they could expect from IT services.

As HubSpot’s Ben Johnson surmises, “While most customers are able to accurately provide an account of what they want today, gauging what they want on a longer time horizon is extremely difficult for most people. They rely on companies to do that work for them to anticipate their needs — and make helpful suggestions accordingly.”

Framing your service management strategies around consumer needs is a key part of business success–read more about how to build a winning ITSM roadmap on our blog!

 

2. Make Sure Your IT Services and Support Are Accessible

It’s one thing to construct customer-friendly IT services or tools, but it’s quite another to see reliable growth in your end user usage and satisfaction numbers. The difference? In many cases, it’s greater online visibility and accessibility.

As Mitch Meyerson noted for Entrepreneur, “people today have come to expect to find information about any product, service, company, individual, cause, or challenge they face by simply turning to the search engine of their choice.” So, if your IT services aren’t visible on Google or other search engines, how can you expect to reliably reach consumers where they already are?

As the old saying goes, if a tree falls in a forest and no one’s around to hear it … well, you get the idea.

The same goes (perhaps even more so) for your IT service desk. Whether your organization offers support via email, instant messaging, social media, text messaging, or phone, consumers must be able to connect with a support agent quickly and get their issue resolved without major delays or complications.

Why is speed so paramount? Well, 90% of consumers consider getting an “immediate response” (in 10 minutes or less) an integral part of an excellent user experience. Therefore, removing barriers that stand between seamless customer interactions with your IT services needs to be a priority for any customer-centric business.

 

3. Implement the Right AI and ITSM Tools

Ensuring that your IT services and support portals are easy to find and access online requires the implementation of AI and ITSM tools. However, cursorily investing in various IT tools and hoping they work is the wrong approach.

As Tirena Dingledein observes on Capterra’s blog:

“Finding business software is like picking the right car. You know the features you need: power steering, room in the back, and good gas mileage. And you know what you want, too: heated seats, lane departure warnings, and automatic seat adjustment controls. But when you start to look for your perfect car, you’re faced with a thousand different vehicle configurations that include more features than you originally expected [...]”

To make an informed choice, you need to figure out exactly what you’re searching for. Look beyond tech industry trends and focus on software or platforms that align with your long-term business goals. This kind of synchronicity begets digital business success.

A good example of this concept in action is the rise of chatbot usage. While Initial poll numbers suggested that consumers prefer interacting with automated AI instead of humans, more recent reports like this one suggest that people “would be less likely to use a brand if it did not have human customer service representatives available.”

Which side to consumers actually fall on? The answer lies in how well your AI and ITSM tools can enhance (not replace) your IT department's human element. Investing in technology is necessary to overall growth scalable operations, but those assets must add a new dimension to your IT services in the process.

In short, buy for fit, not just look and feel (and what everyone else is into).

To learn more about ITSM best practices, check out our in-depth blog post now!

 

4. Build and Update an Informative Onboarding Process

One of the best customer retention techniques is to give them a chance to familiarize themselves with your IT services–maybe even begin building up interface usage skills right away. To accomplish this, having an informative onboarding platform is essential.

The notion of the time, effort, and resources that it takes to construct and maintain such an onboarding system may intimidate some IT professionals. However, as this Intercom blog post points out, it’s okay to start small and strive for bigger upgrades.

“Introduce concepts and vocabulary that might be new to your users and explain how they bring value to their business,” explains author Fiona Lee. She also suggests using video tutorials (“[a] a powerful medium especially for complex products”) to create both situational and on-screen spatial context about the user experience.

Without a strong onboarding process that answers a customer's "what," how," and "why", your business’ audience will shrink faster than Mr. T’s chances of beating Rocky Balboa after “Eye of the Tiger” starts playing.

The average organization loses 75% of its new clientele in the first week, so don’t let your fresh leads go to waste. Start the onboarding stage of your client relationships as soon as possible. That way, you can grow your base of happy customers–a group that will likely become your top source for external referrals.

 

5. Use Agile to Promote Proactive Software Development

Agile software development isn’t just about executing sprint plans and racing to get as many bug fixes done as possible. It’s also about instilling a proactive mindset in every member of your development team. This avoids reactive task prioritization and, above all else, ensures that all stakeholders are focused on how their work impacts the frontline user experience.

Our friends at Atlassian sum this up well when describing an ideal agile developer’s headspace: “Agile developers focus on sustainable development–not heroics. Sustainability is about good estimation, effective branching strategies for managing code, automated testing to protect quality, and continuous deployment to get fast feedback from users.”

While all those qualities are of individual importance when developing customer-centric IT systems, it’s the sum of their parts that allows lean ITSM to really shine. In a vacuum, agile development processes have less worth than when taken in context with how your digital services connect with and impact customers.

I’ve spoken about this on the blog before, but it bears repeating that service management value is co-created, not delivered. IT services only benefit both consumers and developers when consumer engagement sparks a service relationship–hopefully, a continuous one.

The proactive part of successful agile projects comes in the planning stage. This is where the underlying structure is formed, ensuring that everyone involved can hone in on major priorities and generally avoid a lawless agile development atmosphere. In short, even a little bit of planning, instead of “winging it,” goes a long way.

For a close look at 5 big agile project management mistakes you need to avoid, check out our blog post!

 

6. Collect Consumer Feedback (And Take it Seriously)

Understanding and anticipating consumer needs is where we started our conversation about IT services your customers will love. But how do you continue to evolve that awareness amid ever-changing marketplace expectations?

By collecting customer feedback of course!

This doesn’t necessarily have to be done through your IT department, but funneling customer comments to your developers and agile project managers is an essential part of this process. The only problem? Only one out of every 26 clients who have an issue with a service actually voice those concerns to the company.

This means your organization must actively seek out that feedback. Whether that’s by way of a quick online survey, an email exchange, or another method entirely, that information is what will strengthen your team’s decision-making and prioritization over time. Without it, you’ll be taking shots in the dark at a moving target.

Other avenues to receive feedback include social media, with nearly 3.5 billion global active users (45% of the world’s population) across all platforms, and review sites like Google, Capterra, and so on. Don’t be afraid of negative feedback either. If someone leaves a one-star review, reach out to them and take their criticism seriously.

Often it’s that personal touch that turns detractors into fans.

 

7. Adopt Customer-Centricity Is a Lifestyle, Not a List of Tasks

Finally, we arrive at the “bulletin board material” portion of this blog post. When it comes to creating, maintaining, and refining customer-centric IT services and support options, know that the choices you make become a lifestyle, not just a list of tasks.

How you accomplish this is directly tied to your organization’s ability to transform a customer-first mission statement into a living, breathing organism. “A core values statement is two-dimensional until you bring it to life—with the right people and energetic guidance,” adds Forbes’ Micah Soloman.

The cultural element at play here is critical to developing and sustaining customer-centric IT performance and growth. Those assets, along with your service desk support, can’t be used solely to prop up a product or sales-focused raison-d’etre.

Here’s HBR’s Denise Lee Yohn with more:

“At most companies, the culture remains product-focused or sales-driven, or customer-centricity is considered a priority only for certain functions such as marketing. To successfully implement a customer-centric strategy and operating model, a company must have a culture that aligns with them — and leaders who deliberately cultivate the necessary mindset and values in their employees.”

By baking customer empathy into your organization’s daily operations, you can start erecting that mindset across all departments. Brick by brick, interaction by interaction. Once that’s done, you’ll be able to identifiably link that culture to your company’s level of customer-centricity, as well as what areas can be improved over time.


Incredible customer-centric IT services eludes many businesses, regardless of industry. However, building them doesn’t have to be a struggle.

Understanding your customers’ needs and wants, operationalizing those sentiments into actionable processes, and continuing to collect feedback to refine your approach are all big parts of what separates the great brands from the mediocre ones.

To read more ITSM tips and tricks, and learn how Insight's powerful feature suite can help you construct efficient processes, click below!

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Originally published Nov 12, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Topics: ITSM