Customer Management is a vital component of a thriving ITSM practice. But what is it? Why is it vital? And how can you go about perfecting it so you see all the impressive benefits?
This is the third in a three-part series covering ITSM principles and applying them using JSM:
- Enabling ITSM Change Management With JSM
- Streamline Your ITSM—Service Catalog and CMDB Powered by JSM
- Perfecting Your ITSM Customer Management Using JSM
(This content is based in part on the webinar, “Perfecting Customer Management Using Jira Service Management”. To learn more and see an in-depth software demo showing how to practically apply this information, watch the video!)
What is customer management?
In this context, customer management refers to the process of managing and optimizing interactions with internal and/or external customers over the life cycle of the relationship.
It’s about putting the customer first
This is vital because it supports one of the key values of the popular ITIL framework for ITSM: customer-centricity. In contrast to “the technology orientation” to which many organizations default—the IT team is solely focused on handling their own tasks, and the customer’s requests are viewed as an interruption or even a burden—a customer-centric view puts the customer’s satisfaction first and foremost, prioritizing other IT tasks and updating processes accordingly.
An example of a change that reveals the adoption of a customer-centric approach could be the wording used in the form fields on a customer service portal:
|“Hardware and peripherals”||Laptop, printer, phone|
|“SAML/SSO validation error”||Trouble logging in?|
|“IP address?” <blank field>||“IP address?” <tool tip that links to an article on the knowledge base: “How to locate your IP address in three easy steps”>|
Since many customers are not, themselves, IT professionals, adjusting the terminology to be simpler and clearer exemplifies customer-centricity.
Defining the IT value stream
This aligns well with the Agile concept of value streams. The value the IT department provides is not measured in items checked off a list, it’s measured in satisfied customers. So, an ITSM “value stream” begins with the end in mind—a satisfied customer—and identifies every point along the path from problem to solution, with the customer at the forefront.
Once value streams are identified and established for every customer request type, customer-centric processes can be standardized and (to the extent possible) automated. This allows for quick and efficient decision making and solutioning without sacrificing the customer’s satisfaction in the pursuit of speed.
Key components of Customer Management
Effective Customer Management requires three vital elements:
Understanding the customer’s needs and expectations
Logically, you can’t put the customer first in your service delivery or effectively establish value streams if you don’t fully understand what the customer wants in the first place. And, you need to understand the customer’s expectations—whether they’re realistic or not. (Sometimes, effective Customer Management will involve managing those expectations kindly but firmly.)
Capturing customer feedback
The way you come to understand the customer is by constantly soliciting feedback from them. Keep the lines of communication open before, during, and after the ticket resolution process.
Realistically, customer needs and expectations change over time. So, feedback should be an ongoing loop. Effective Customer Management—and all other aspects of high-quality ITSM—is not just a set-it-and-forget-it proposition. It should constantly evolve with your customer.
Continually improving service delivery
If you’re focused on the customer, and you keep that communication flowing, then you will routinely uncover opportunities to improve and streamline your service delivery. Don’t put off making those changes. Continuous improvement is the key to maintaining your competitive edge.
The power of “shifting left”
In the context of ITSM, “shifting left” refers to arranging tools and processes in such a way that problem resolution occurs as close to the customer and their initial request as possible.
The ITIL framework defines five support tiers that your team can utilize to solve a customer problem:
|Tier 0||Tier 1||Tier 2||Tier 3||Tier 4|
|What is it?||Self-service||Initial human contact (via phone, email, chat, or in-person)||Routine technical support||Expert technical support||Third-party technical support|
|Who is involved?||Self-service portal, knowledge base, Service Catalog, automated ticketing solutions, and increasingly, AI chatbots||Customer service representatives with limited technical expertise||IT specialists and analysts with general knowledge and proficiency||Subject-matter experts with deep experience||Outsourced help desk resources, often from the manufacturer, developer, or a niche consultancy|
|What do they do?||Answer simple, general questions and perform routine or automated tasks (password resets, how-to instruction)||Triage the situation, offer a single point of contact, resolve the situation (if it falls within their scope of knowledge and experience) or escalate to Tier 2||Analyze and resolve the situation, or escalate to Tier 3||Analyze and resolve the situation, or escalate to Tier 4||Analyze and resolve the situation, or propose an alternate resolution (i.e. replacement, refund, etc.)|
The IT team that focuses on building their Tier 0 capabilities will experience significant benefits, including:
- Reducing resolution time
- Optimizing the use of IT resources, reducing cost
- Enhancing the customer experience
Building up the knowledge and experience of your Tier 1 support team offers all the same benefits in those more complex situations that may have previously required the help of busy (and expensive) Tier 2 staff. And the pattern goes on.
Putting Customer Management into action
Putting the theory into practice will require a tool that supports effective Customer Management. Jira Service Management (JSM) offers many features and capabilities that align with the concepts described above.
- Defining the IT value stream – JSM offers tremendous customization so you can build portals, workflows, a knowledge base, and integrations, all based around the value you need to deliver to your customers.
- Capturing customer feedback – A robust Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) feedback and scoring module and other communication and collaboration tools within JSM keep the lines of communication open, supporting continuous improvement.
- Shifting left – JSM supports self-service through customizable portals, automated ticketing, and streamlined integrations with knowledge base materials, chatbots, and AI.
For an in-depth demonstration of how to put all these concepts into practice using JSM, watch the webinar, “Perfecting Customer Management Using Jira Service Management”. And, if you’re ready to move forward with perfecting your own Customer Management practice, speak to our ITSM experts today.