Creative Service Management – From a bad master to a good servant

Creative Service Management – From a bad master to a good servant

IT service management and best practices have come a long way. Still many people who have worked with service management have a strange feeling that everything is not right. Something is broken.

Many people who have worked with service management have a strange feeling that everything is not right. Something is broken.

Many service organizations, let’s call them service factories, have developed their way of working based on best practices. Factories have developed their processes and tools together with various KPIs to monitor process performance, service quality and customer satisfaction levels. There are also different maturity models available for testing how well service organization performs in theory.

Over the years, new area of expertise has captured the leadership in service factories. People working in this area are responsible for development of processes and service concepts in service factory, but, at the same time, these people might not work in customer interface or production. They are very smart and talented people, but they’re lacking the detailed understanding about operative production duties and customer interface. Numerous consultancy and technology service providers with their recommendations and opinions make things even more confusing.

Factory’s process deals the feedback and enhances the processes based on it – sometimes, maybe.

Many service factories have fooled themselves. Development work has relied on best practices and results of KPI reporting, customer satisfaction surveys and external consultancy. Neither customers nor other external parties have been involved. Best practice methodologies that have successfully been applied to one service factory, may not work all factories. The doors of the service factory are kept closed and the only information moving in and out is the one defined in process policy and instructions. People knocking on factory’s door are guided to the feedback hatch. Factory’s process deal the feedback and enhance the processes based on it – sometimes, maybe.

Story described above may be a bit provocative, but I am sure many of you recognize what I’m writing about. Customer and business oriented service management as a target has been reached the halfway only. There are several reasons for it. Operational cost savings. People are too busy in daily work and unable to do necessary development activities. Probably part of the staff is not even interested in developing services or operational models if the current model works somehow.

New business models and trends with the demand for faster time to market and service launch have changed our lives as well. New methodologies have emerged to respond to those challenges: LEAN, DevOps, Scrum… The same message is repeated everywhere: be closer to the customer, work in the field, do co-design, secure lightning fast feedback channels, maximize process flow efficiency, build & test fast, dare to fail, fix problems even faster.

Service management, as we know it, has come to its end. On the other hand, there is still need for service production and its processes and tools – business and service continuity must be secured in future as well. Best practices are invaluable aid and support for development of service operations and concepts. But the world is changing around us and we are forced to change with it.

Service management, as we know it, has come to its end.

Service design thinking has been part of consumer business for years and it can be remarkable help to fix and enhance encountered problems in the service factory. The term ”service design” is a bit misleading for service management people who have read their ITIL books. The ”real” service design means development of services and service concept in co-operation with service users/customers and service factory people. Service design is all about the development of customer service experience by using design methodologies. Key concepts in the design process are:

  • Service touch points, such as facilities, people, processes and tools, and other articles.
  • Service moments, e.g. service transaction in store or call to customer service.
  • Service journeys, which describes series of service moments and customer’s service experience at different stages of use of the service.

Design thinking shakes hand with the traditional service management and best practices as well as provides support for the development of better services and service management.

The design methodology also includes the idea of co-operation with different stakeholders by understanding the big picture. It is also much more than user interface and user experience design. Service design covers the service model conceptualisation and production models planning and thus seeks to ensure that services can be delivered as planned – and in real-life environment.

This is where design thinking shakes hand with the traditional service management and best practices as well as provides support for the development of better services and service management. Let’s call it the creative service management!

Creative service management can help us to listen to the customer and the voice of service factory people. It can help us to remember the original reason why service management exists.

It has been said that the countries that have been at war for years, do not remember the original reason for the war. The war has always been and always will be. The other party always attacked first. It has been said too that culture eats strategy / process / technology for breakfast / lunch. Many organizations wrestle with similar challenges. Creative service management can help us to listen to the customer and the voice of service factory people. It can help us to remember the original reason why service management exists. And by doing co-operation and listening to different points of views we can create new, fresh and workable ideas.

It is time to freshen up the service factory. Best practices and experience gained over the years is a good servant but a bad master. When there is a need to upgrade the service factory operating models to meet the challenges of the new era, creative service management is a strong a candidate to guide the service factory people to the right path, together with service users and business.

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