Marian den Ouden suggests enterprise service management – blending facilities with IT, finance and HR to create one service centre – is the best way to meet rising expectations and ensure future satisfaction for all.
New employees have lots of questions in the first few months of joining a new organisation. But how many different departments do they need to contact to submit their declarations, swap their PC for a laptop, and seek approval for a stand-up desk? Often, the answer is too many.
No one deliberately sets out to provide poor service, but this is what we have to come to accept. Contrast the myriad ways that facilities, IT, HR, and finance service staff, with the single need of the employee: they just need help. And not only that, they increasingly want and expect a more straightforward and better level of service. What do you do?
Consumerism is changing the goalposts
We as consumers are enjoying a great service experience. Google can help us find anything we want while Amazon will let us buy it. A new iPhone or Android will have data and apps ready to go within 30 minutes. The smooth out-of-the-box experience would make anyone wonder why it can’t always be like this. And employees are consumers too.
Employees don’t want to feel frustrated, embarrassed or on the back foot because they can’t get on with their job. They want a Google-like experience that is familiar to navigate, will answer all their questions, have all the relevant forms and make them feel like they belong. There’s an important roll-on effect too, as new employees would start with a more positive experience and an optimistic impression about their employer!
One service desk to rule them all
New intranet technology and self-service portals do help employees get answers, regardless of which department helps them. But some departments are going a step further and working together more closely under the banner of enterprise service management.
Getting departments to work together on service arrangements has its challenges. For years, each department has worked to their own strategies and frameworks, professional standards and methodologies. Departmental experience and expertise still need to grow and be respected. But such an inward-looking focus does not cut it any longer when it comes to service excellence. The key is to work together and organise services to improve them in the places where the service provision genuinely overlaps.
Enterprise service management
The key to success is different departments working together to improve service quality and lower costs. So how do you get different departments to look for ways to organise their services together?
Firstly, agree on the end game – where service areas overlap, there is the opportunity to improve service quality and lower costs. Then recognise and embrace the synergetic effect: expertise is better shared. Finally, focus collaboration on three chronological phases beginning with the adoption of a shared service management tool, then a shared service desk and finally agreeing shared processes.
- Phase one: A shared service management tool improves the information stream and reduces license and management costs.
- Phase two: A shared service desk becomes the single point of contact for employees. Service desk operators from all departments work and share knowledge together. Achieving phase two leads to a significant improvement in the service quality for employees and reduces costs for the organisation resulting from sharing resources at the service desk. However, service quality can still vary as individual departments maintain their own work processes and response times to fulfil requests.
- Phase three: Shared processes through departments working together to identify overlaps and agree a set of shared processes and procedures for servicing employees.
You can only complete phase three with the right ambition. Phases one and two quickly deliver tangible improvements in cost and service quality. A continued focus on cutting costs will not help you to progress past phase two. Improving service quality must be the driving ambition.
It does take leadership to adjust strategy accordingly and consciously choose departmental collaboration to improve the quality of services. Enterprise service management offers the ideal framework to collaborate, share expertise and deliver great service.
Only then can you continue to meet increasing employee expectations by combining departments’ strengths – and saving money in the process. And let’s not forget, happier employees are productive, more satisfied and contribute positively to your organisation’s reputation in the market.
Marien den Ouden is general manager for Australia and New Zealand at TOPdesk.