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What an MBA can teach you about improving ITSM practice

Posted By David Backham, 24 May 2017

Studying for an MBA is particularly hard if you try to do it alongside a full-time job. Mine took six years to complete (I took a two year break in the middle), and two attempts to complete the final year module successfully. (If at first you don’t succeed…) However, I believe it was all worth it, both for the personal sense of achievement, and also for all the management learning gained during the programme.

ITSM best practice was historically based upon ITIL. More recently we’ve developed a wider portfolio of knowledge and practices that practitioners can use.

IT service management (ITSM) has a clue in its name – it’s fundamentally a ‘management’ practice, and the MBA study programme includes lots of relevant management theory that has been developed, challenged, tested, and validated. This is why I believe senior ITSM practitioners should consider studying for an MBA.

Improving Customer Satisfaction

In my presentation on “Improving Customer Satisfaction at the IT Service Desk”, which I will be delivering at the Service Desk and IT Support Show (SITS17) in June, I’ll be explaining how one management theory I learned during my MBA studies pointed the way to implementing best practice to improve customer satisfaction.

The theory, called The Service-Profit Chain was featured in Harvard Business Review in 1994, with an online reference here.

The diagram shows the chain linkage from left-to-right whereby improving Internal Service Quality leads to improvements in Customer Satisfaction further down the line.

Whilst at first glance this is a management “theory”, I thought it looked exactly like a suggested step-by-step approach to a Service Improvement Programme (SIP) that could be run on the operations of an IT service desk. I noted that the model had been specifically designed for use by service provider organisations.

Although the model identifies an end-goal of commercial benefit (revenue, profit), I noted that the intermediate goal of Customer Satisfaction was particularly valid for non-commercial internal service providers such as an IT service desk.

I directed my efforts solely on improving Internal Service Quality – the very first box in the model, and I decided to measure customer satisfaction as an indicator to detect any improvement made.

Note that for internal service quality the model identifies specific elements:

  1. Workplace design
  2. Job design
  3. Employee selection and development
  4. Employee rewards and recognition
  5. Tools for serving customers

My SIP addressed to some degree all of these elements during an eight month timescale. The programme work would include:

  • Re-architect of the operation of the IT service desk and IT support teams
  • Introducing a governance and management policy by using the ISO 20000 service management system
  • Adopting some key ITIL processes (incident, problem, change, service level management, knowledge management)
  • Providing all IT staff with ITIL Foundation training
  • Implementing a new ITSM toolset with the ability to configure custom workflows
  • Providing self-service for service requests
  • Re-defining roles and responsibilities
  • Creating management reporting against KPIs specific to each member of staff
  • Showing visibility of performance achievements using a scorecard on the wall

The primary quantitative KPI measurement we used was the “% achievement of incident resolution within SLA target times”, but in the customer satisfaction survey we also asked two key qualitative questions

  • “Did the resolution meet your needs from a time perspective?”
  • “Did the resolution meet your needs from a quality perspective?”

The feedback we gathered from these questions provided additional evidence to show where our standard resolutions needed further improvement, and this data drove a subsequent focus on Continual Service Improvement (CSI).

So, in my opinion, the MBA programme teaches an evidence-based management practice, and the evidence we gained from the customer satisfaction surveys validated the improvements we made.

Want to learn more about improving customer satisfaction?

I’ll be presenting at the Service Desk & IT Support Show (SITS17) which takes place on 7-8 June 2017 at London Olympia, featuring over 80 exhibitors and the largest free education program in the industry.

My seminar session on “A cure for the customer satisfaction problem? will take place on June 8th at 9.30am and will offer attendees the following key learnings:

  • Understand how to use the service-profit chain model for service improvement.
  • Using support processes and the knowledge database to fix incidents successfully.
  • Demonstrating the business value of ITSM by using the available evidence.

You can register for a free visitor pass here.

A Note from itSMF UK

Also, in collaboration with SITS17, itSMF UK is holding the Professional Service Management Awards (PSMA17) on the evening of June 7th offering a unique opportunity for you to:

  • Play your part in the formalization of service management as a recognized profession.
  • Collaborate with other forward-thinking service management professionals, to informally “sow the seeds” that will eventually take the industry forward.
  • Create new industry relationships that will help both you and the company you work for.

 To attend the awards, please register here.

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