This is a case study of how one company aligned with their customer to improve the effectiveness of their services while reducing cost of service and achieving improved customer satisfaction and value.
Company: The service provider and customers relative to this case study are not named to protect the interest of the organisations involved. Should the reader wish to explore this study further contact Custell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Type of Business: IT Infrastructure Managed Services.
The company is a provider of IT services for customers in a range of industries including financial institutions and government bodies.
The contracts they had with their customers called for an end to end infrastructure service that would ensure high availability of applications. The users of the applications within the customer organisation needed to perform their function without interruption so that they could provide a good service for their end customers. The service provider was under contract with each of their customers to meet agreed service levels.
The company is structured into a number of key competency groups each of which provided specific services such as; ‘Help Desk’, ‘Network’, ‘Desktop’, ‘Server’, and ‘Application’. Each competency was well trained and efficient. Service issues were received, addressed and passed on quickly and effectively by each group. Each group consistently met or exceeded their KPI’s. Over the preceding four years they had implemented the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) service management processes in an attempt to deploy best practice service support and delivery.
Customer Service Level Measures (SLM’s) were not being met which was resulting in customer dissatisfaction and penalties. The company had recently lost one customer and was at risk of losing another partly due to this problem. The customers were scoring them below industry average on semi-annual scorecards.
A team was put in place to assess the situation and identify the issues. The following was what they concluded:
- Each competency group played an efficient role in addressing incident or solving problems. However incidents were being handed off from one group to another and back again often without an end to end fix for the customer. This was despite an end to end owner being allocated to each incident.
- Many common incidents were not being identified as a problem because an end to end assessment across competencies was difficult. This meant that root causes were not being analysed and fixed resulting in more unnecessary incidents.
- The role of each competency group was not linked clearly enough to the end customer requirement. This was exacerbated by each group’s KPI’s that did not relate closely to the customer service measures. This silo behaviour was one of the key contributors to the problem.
- There was not a clear view of how the role of each group fitted together with the others to ensure a single focus on delivering to the customer.
- The implementation of ITIL (incident, problem, change and release management) had marginally improved the situation however it was not solved because it too was impeded by the silo behaviour.
A secondary issue identified was a similar silo effect in many of their customers. Their customers typically were structured into multiple business groups, each of which received service from the service provider. Individuals in each separate group had a different perception and expectations relative to the service being provided. This caused confusion within the service provided.
The agreed objective was to maintain the effectiveness and efficiency of each competency group while at the same time ensuring a focus on the customer.
With the assistance of Custell a service alignment program was designed. This entailed the following:
- CUSTOMER FOCUS TEAM (CFT): The establishment of virtual ‘customer focus teams’, one for each key customer. Members included a key person from each competency who had a significant involvement with the particular customer. A team leader and assistant were chosen – typically the Relationship Manager and the Service Delivery Manager for that customer. To balance and spread the load it was decided that no individual should sit on more than two CFT’s.
- TEAM LEADER TRAINING: A training program was developed for the CFT team leaders to train them in how to form and lead a virtual ‘high performance’ self managed team. This included how to set and manage goals, manage change, manage conflict, plan and manage meetings and ways to facilitate creative team thinking.
- CFT LEADERSHIP TEAM: A CFT leadership team was established comprising the heads of each competency group and a select number of the more senior CFT team leaders. This leadership team was sponsored by a senior executive. The responsibility of this team was the review and governance of the program and to support the CFT teams by assisting them to break down the barriers.
- CFT TEAM FORMING: An implementation workshop was designed and run for each CFT. This included some team based training. The primary purpose was to form the team, agree the team plan and begin the implementation. Topics included ‘high performance teams’, managing meetings, creative thinking, identifying and addressing ‘Barriers to Success’, conflict management and team communications.
- SUCCESS OUTCOMES: A number of measures were identified to monitor the success of each CFT. These team based measures (KPI’s) were common across all CFT’s to ensure the leadership team could monitor outcomes of the program.
- REALIGNMENT OF KPI’s: It was recognised that the majority of existing performance measurement was focussed too much on individual and competency group outcomes. The balance was shifted by focus; 1) with less on the competency groups and their internal functions and more on the customer outcomes, and 2) less on individual performance and more on team outcomes (particularly for the new CFT team members).
A third party consultant provided team leader coaching and sat in on the first three CFT team meetings for each CFT to assist with the team forming process. The consultant also coached the CFT leadership team to assist them to manage the successful implementation of the program.
Within 12 months of the implementation of the Service Alignment program:
- There was a strong improvement in the percentage of SLM’s achieved across the customer base and penalties had significantly reduced.
- Customer perception of satisfaction and value as measure by the Custell Customer Scorecard program increased significantly.
- Costs were reduced because more incidents were addressed first time plus more root causes were identified and fixed.
- The ITIL implementation was converted into a success.
* Custell provides enterprise relationship enhancement programs – www.custell.com.