Customer experience is no longer a nice-to-have SLA. Natalie Calvert explains the two reasons service desks need to understand the critical nature of customer experience – both to their own operations and the entire business.
Reason #1: the redundant service desk
“Customer service” and the helpdesk/service desk used to be a bit of a joke. They even made a sitcom (The IT Crowd) about the fact that the average IT support team was more interested in getting people off the phone than offering “service”.
There is sadly an element of truth in the stereotype. Customer experience is typically poor in instances when the service provider has a monopoly or lack of competition. It was one of the reasons why utilities were denationalised and there are ongoing efforts to encourage customers receiving poor service to ‘switch’ suppliers. If the customer has just one choice of service supplier, there’s no incentive to improve the customer experience.
“You don’t like the service? Well, tough”.
IT helpdesks once held such a monopoly. Customers with IT problems previously had just one choice when it came to gaining support: the IT helpdesk. Now, customers can Google a solution, ask a knowledgeable colleague or watch a Youtube tutorial for help. In other words, they have a choice as to whether they use the service desk or not.
Therefore, the previously untouchable helpdesk/service desk needs to prioritise the customer experience or run the risk of becoming so under-utilised that it suffers cutbacks or in the worse scenarios, dispensed with altogether.
Reason #2: The business needs help
In this commodisded world in which any business start-up can cheaply build a website to sell products and services around the world, customer experience has become perhaps the primary competitive differentiator. And as the world increasingly moves away from expensive person-to-person or call centre-style service, this means harnessing online tools such as web chat, self-service and online automation to deliver the kind of slick, always-available service that customers now demand.
This dynamic is why businesses are investing so heavily in technology for customer experience. Analyst Gartner says that by 2022, IT will be critical to two-thirds of customer experience projects. Businesses need to improve the customer experience and IT is a critical component in achieving this goal.
The role of the service desk
There’s one department in a unique position to help. It is the only department with a deep and practical understanding of technology, plus extensive experience dealing with customers on a daily basis. You’ve guessed it: the service desk.
Customer experience is no longer a nice-to-have metric, it is a factor that will make or break businesses. Neither is it an intangible ’soft’ discipline, it is a well-understood business practice which is heavily reliant on cutting-edge technology.
Service desks and IT professionals are advised to become experts in customer experience and the technology that powers it. This is now business-critical intelligence. It’s up to you whether your business finds what it needs from an external source, or from within the business.
For more from Natalie, see her blog on improving service desk staff performance.