5 Modern Use Cases for Service Management

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“Service Management” is in desperate need of a rebrand. For years, service management was synonymous with IT. It was branded as IT service management. But service management isn’t strictly about the service desk or specific methodologies. Service management is about improving how an organization creates, manages, and delivers value to its end users.

If you have already closed the service management chapter in your company’s book…it’s time to reopen it. Among the many lessons that 2020 taught us, one of them is that every organization needs service management to operate efficiently.

But service management of 2020 is not the service management (as it perhaps was considered) of the past. It’s something that every organization should use to solve its biggest challenges and enable holistic business solutions. I’ve identified 5 modern use cases for service management that address issues that many organizations are struggling with today.

Organizations have to operate under a hybrid work model.

One of the biggest impacts of the coronavirus is its impact on how businesses operate. Most experts are predicting that for many organizations remote work will remain an option for most employees, even after it’s safe to fully return to the traditional office environment.

This is going to lead to issues for the organizations because they are going to lose any “tribal standards” in how work is completed. For example, one week an invoice can be hand delivered to the finance department, the finance department verbally agrees to paying the invoice. They pick up the phone after payment and confirm to the rep that the vendor has been paid. But then, the following week, maybe the representative is working remotely, so they have to email the invoice to the finance department. Then there is a virtual back and forth email exchange around payment. There is going to be a lack of standardization which can severely impact the business. Of course, this is one small example. For something simple like processing an invoice, this hybrid work model might not significantly impact operations. But when the workflows are more complex and perhaps, lead directly to the customer, these often undefined by tribally-performed workflows can get backed up, criss-crossed and broken quickly.

The lack of consistent and defined workflows across an organization will be severely impacted with a hybrid workflow model. If you didn’t have defined workflows when everyone was working within a traditional in-office model, or if you had defined workflows – but they were never adjusted for remote work, then watch out. Work is going to be delayed, employees are going to get frustrated, and leaders are not going to be able to effectively measure the efficiency of their workflows.

Good service management is the solution for hybrid workflows. It provides a framework to create a flexible workflow for every important initiative. When implemented correctly and across the organization, you’ll be able to build a workflow for any type of hybrid workflow situation.

Customers are not experiencing the full value of a product or service.

Customers are being impacted by the changes in your organization. Whether it’s due to layoffs, broken workflows or tightened budgets, your customers will feel that decrease in value if you don’t account for those changes and adapt appropriately.

For example, let’s say Company ABC had to cut part of its warehouse staff and the rest of its employees are working from home. Without the convenience of having customer service agents in-house, sales representatives have become a bit slow to process orders. Because of a short-staffed warehouse, shipments are routinely delayed. The end result? A flustered team and a frustrated customer who starts looking for other options where their shipments will be delivered on time.

Value leakage is a term that has been brought up often during the pandemic. Value leakage happens when value doesn’t flow properly through the organization and the end user doesn’t receive the full value of a product or service. If value leaks from any part of a value stream, no matter if it’s the ordering process, the delivery, the actual product itself, or the customer service after a product has been received, it’s bad for the customer – and that’s bad for the organization.

Value leakage can be identified and corrected with good service management because good service management provides a holistic view of the value stream. It pulls back the curtain on how every department works with one another and will identify where there are bottlenecks and value leaks that inhibit value from reaching the end user. It also, as noted above, will help you to create a workflow that tears down silos and allows leaders to measure and optimize across the value stream so that if a customer doesn’t realize the full value of a product or service, you can easily trace back to why and where it can be fixed.

Bad tech investments are blowing budgets and ruining productivity.

This is one of the biggest problems I see that service management can solve. Too many organizations are putting their money into the fanciest, flashiest, newest technology on the market only to implement and find…. it’s not the magic bullet they were hoping it would be. Organizations end up with a very expensive tool that employees aren’t fully using and that isn’t doing anything to actually support the organization.

For example, during the pandemic Company XYZ invested in a project management software in the hopes it would keep the organization running smoothly while everyone worked remotely. Unfortunately, because the company was remote, training for the tool was non-existent and most of the company struggled with understanding how to best use it. Without any clarity regarding desired outcomes, defined processes, or how the organization intended to collaborate, each department adapted their own methods for working with the tool. Now there are seven different departments using the same software in completely different ways. Company XYZ is now in a hole with this expensive software and they have no idea how to get out of it.

So how does service management solve for bad tech? Well, the problem is often not the tech. It’s how that tech is being used. It’s never a technology problem. It’s usually a workflow or people problem. Instead of investing in different technology or adding on more features to this already expensive software, Company XYZ needs to get their departments on the same page and a standardized approach for using the tool and creating support services to help facilitate using the tool. This just so happens to be exactly what service management can do for you.

Organizations are straddled with restricted budgets.

Let’s look at the pandemic struggles of an average company:

  • Budgets have been cut because sales have decreased.
  • Layoffs have occurred so employees are terrified and overwhelmed.
  • The way we work has changed but workflows were never adjusted so there are lots of gaps in service delivery and in the overall customer experience.

That means organizations have to work smarter, faster and for less money.

No big ask, right?

The way to get your teams working smart and faster without more money or more help is to help them work better together.

Again, service management is a holistic view of the way organizations work together. It forces everyone to see silos, gaps, opportunities for improvement, and where they fit into the success of the organization. A transparent view of how value and work flows through an organization is your best opportunity for getting your team to work at its peak performance.

Transparency works in business. It can empower your team and creates a “no blame” work environment where everyone understands their role.

This cannot be done without implementing service management techniques.

Employee experience is at a low.

There have been plenty of studies done on how organizations that prioritize employee experience frequently report higher levels of customer satisfaction. But between a global pandemic, tightened budgets, mandatory remote work, and an “always on” culture, many employees are struggling this year and employee morale is low.

Unhappy employees means less productivity and worse outputs, which is bad enough. But if organizations don’t take steps to improve employee experience, then they could be scaring away top talent already at their company and scaring off talent from even applying or accepting positions.

Employees are the core of any business and creating a positive working environment — whether it’s remote or in an office — should be at the top of every leader’s priority list right now. When you can’t throw employee appreciation nights or offer free food in the break room, what can you do?

You can make sure that every employee has everything they need to do their best work. This could mean automating tedious and repetitive tasks, creating clear processes so everyone understands their boundaries and where others can meet their needs and in general, eliminate friction from an employee’s daily work. Once again, this is service management to a tee.

Service management isn’t about forcing everyone to follow a strict protocol. It’s not about how IT delivers services. It’s about how an organization works together to create a positive working environment, provide value, and delight customers. It’s a way to give your leaders and your team a transparent view of how value is created and delivered.

Let value lead the way in 2021 and let service management create that value.

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