On Location: Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom
Case Topic: Who is the Customer?
Have you ever tried to look at everything as a service or part of a value stream? Like an open fire pit in an outdoor restaurant area – it didn’t just happen by accident, it was set up purposefully. What was that purpose? Who expressed that purpose and even defined how it would be valuable? Someone decided that it would attract and provide value for users and those users would also buy food and beverages from the restaurant business.
A business will very often have a very specific formula or recipe for its product. When a business uses an App as a means to provide access to its products, we find ourselves as potential customers of the business but only users of the App. The customer for the App is someone in the business that specifies and takes responsibility for what and how the App should provide value to its users.
When is someone a customer and when are they a user? How well do companies design and deliver their services and how well do they describe the customer journey when someone other than the user will specify features and performance of the products and service? Hmmm … I wonder who signed off on the Bike Protection Program Service features … well at least the lock worked perfectly.
Do you ever find yourself using an app that you hate … don’t you wonder who signed-off on it? This underscores the difference between a user and a customer and the importance of capturing relevant feedback from the end customers’ experiences.
Every ITSM organization should want to understand how value will be perceived by the customers and the users of the service. The ITSM organization should seek answers to questions such as:
- Who is the customer?
- Who does the ITSM organization serve?
- Who are the services designed for? • Who do the services provide value for?
- How do technology based services mesh with manual, human activity based service components to deliver the full value experience for the recipient?
- What scope does the ITSM organization have in the full service delivery picture?
- Is the ITSM organization engaged to describe how more components could be optimized and even automated to improve service delivery?
- Who decides on the features of the MVP (Minimum Viable Product)?
- Where does feedback come from related to the service delivery?
- Does the feedback help to define where improvements are required – technology components, human activity components or other?
Let’s look at a shopping experience and try to understand if the customer is truly the customer or is the customer actually a user and someone else acts as the customer that represents and owns the service delivery experienced by the users … LOL … think about it.
Shopping Experience Description
Day 1 – Saturday – Shopping – Point of Purchase Shopper enters a warehouse store selling wine in case lots. Shopper wants to make a significant purchase. The warehouse store does not accept the shopper’s particular credit card so the shopper decides to use their debit card. The total purchase is well within any single transaction limit as well as any daily limit restrictions on the debit card. The merchant processes the sale and the transaction is successful. The shopper then realizes that the merchant did not include all of the desired items and consequently a second transaction is attempted. The total for the two transactions is still well below any transactional and daily limits. The second transaction is declined. The shopper empties their pockets and finds enough cash and completes their purchase.
Day 2 – Sunday – no activity
Day 3 – Monday – no activity
Day 4 – Tuesday – Shopper contacted related to debit card use The financial institution’s customer service department calls the shopper. First they validate the identity of the shopper and then explain that they are calling because the shopper’s debit card has been “locked” in a non functional status and they want to know if they have a situation of fraud or if they should “unlock” the debit card. Shopper expresses that they did not know that their card had been locked and confirms that the use had been legitimate.
Service Perspectives – Stakeholders Overview
This analysis will focus on three main stakeholders. There are many others that may influence the overall service delivery but these three are key to our evaluation of the service delivery.
The Debit Card Service Owner
This individual is the customer for the ITSM organization as well as other organizational groups that contribute to the Debit Card Service delivery. This individual would specify features and operational performance of the service and would agree and sign-off on how the service is delivered.
The ITSM Organization
This individual, team or organization would design, develop, deliver and operate the IT supported components of the debit card service in agreement with the the debit card service owner.
This individual is a customer of the financial services organization but they are a user of the debit card services as they are attempting to be a customer of the warehouse store. The important aspect here is that the shopper is the USER of the debit card services. They are not the customer of the ITSM organization. Stakeholder – yes | customer – no.
Service Perspectives – Service Performance
The overall end-to-end service delivery included IT supported and automated service components as well as human activity based service components.
ITSM Organization Performance
IT Supported service Components
- Bot detected suspicious activity when second transaction attempted
- Bot “declined” second transaction
- Bot “locked” card in non functional status
- Bot issued “alert” to designated card service entities
The ITSM organization perfectly delivered service components as agreed with Debit Card Service Owner. Human Activity Service Performance
- Customer Service calls and reaches shopper 72 hrs. after alert event
- Card holder ID validated verbally
- Debit card “unlocked” and status updated to functional
The customer service team successfully reached the cardholder. Potential fraud card status was resolved.
Service Perspectives – Service Evaluation
How do the key stakeholders evaluate the service delivery? Was it excellent or was it an epic failure filled with incidents, errors and poor execution? It is easy to imagine that the end customer, as a user of the debit card service, would perceive the service as poorly delivered and question who and how someone signed-off on that as a deliverable service.
- A valid transaction was declined
- No attempt was made to resolve at Point of Purchase
- No notice was issued to the card holder that their card was “locked” as unusable
- Time to contact for resolution was 72 hours
How does the Debit Card Service Owner evaluate the service? Did the Service Owner choose a 72 hour window or was there some other failure in the service delivery? The user wants valid but suspicious transactions held temporarily but then resolved at the point of purchase. How does a Service Owner authorize, accept and sign-off on a service delivery that is so far off the mark from what the users want? Is it cost; is it service and application maturity or, again, was it incidents and failures in execution?
The ITSM organization can evaluate the service delivery as meeting the agreed requirements with the customer (Debit Card Service Owner) but needing improvement to meet the needs of the users of the service. Technology professionals at all levels need to be leaders in new ways of working and managing. They need to be leaders in understanding how people communicate with customers and users of the services being provided and also in the different perspectives between users and those who represent them as customers.
ITSM organizations should have input into how a service provider understands and defines the value streams and customer journeys associated with their delivery of services. I actually prefer the term customer experience to customer journey because many customers don’t want a journey – they want instant results and gratification.
About the Author
Jim Jackson is the Managing Director of Blue Sky AFC Associates LLC. Jim holds the ITIL Expert Certificate (V3) and has also completed ITIL 4 Foundations certification. Jim is a service management professional and has been an accredited instructor of ITIL Foundations since 2005. He has shared his open, non-restricted view of the ITIL framework as he has trained and assisted hundreds of candidates to prepare for and pass the ITIL Foundations examinations. Jim has also written accredited courseware for earlier versions of ITIL Foundations and he contributed to ITIL 4 accredited course materials for Thought Rock in 2019.
About the Series – IT Service Management Around the World
These are fictional stories of service management and any similarity, you may find, to your own organization is purely coincidental. The purpose of these service management musings is to introduce service management and ITIL concepts as well as postulate on how ITIL and its components could be at play in any size business located anywhere in the world. The opinion stories are written to motivate customer centric, service oriented thinking and discussions. The content is not intended to constitute advice of any sort. While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information no liability is accepted for any loss resulting from the use of or reliance on this content.
ITIL is a registered trademark of AXELOS Limited Diagrams and images contained in this article have been created by Jim Jackson and remain the property of Blue Sky AFC Associates LLC, copyright 2019.