June 15, 2016

ICT supplier, can you make your customer smile?

Ari Lehtovaara

Director, Service integration and management (SIAM), Public Sector Finland, Tieto

Mikko Babitzin

Development Manager, Service integration and management (SIAM), Tieto

Years ago, I was buying a suit in a small brick-and-mortar store in Helsinki with my little son. We got the suit bought and everything to go with it. When we were leaving the store, the boy looked at me with his blue eyes and asked "Did you know that sales assistant?" "No, I didn’t, why?", I asked. "Well, because she was so nice to you", the boy said, smiling broadly.

The service had been very good, no doubt about it.

How do we recognize good service?

The word “service” invokes many kinds of mental images. It has many meanings, and it enables everyone to interpret the concept in one’s own way. Service, however, is best when a complex and multidimensional entity is seen as easy when it is needed.

The changing role of the customer has helped to better understand the significance of the organization’s staff. Through their actions, the members of organizations and networks either prevent or promote the success of service.

Do we recognize when we are providing good service? How do we know the service is good? Thinking even further – do we know what kind of service we are providing?

Who provides service? How do I identify the service chain? How do I manage the service entity?

More and more services connect to information systems at some point, some earlier, other ones later. As the choices between services and IT components increases, networks are enriched and become more complex. At the same time, users expect more and more from the usability and availability of the services – and these expectations are increasingly influenced by experiences in totally different functions and businesses.

Service Integration and Management (SIAM) is not anything new. It has been done as long as organizations have worked together. As long as organizations have bought services from one another and sold them to one another. As long as ships and railways have been built. Ever since not everything needed for life was any longer found on your own backyard. A common goal for activity, mutual agreements, creating clarity and a common understanding, and making the connections and structures between things visible collect IT service providers around a campfire. A common view on business services and the enabling IT services throughout the process – that begins with the customer and her needs and ends with the customer and her perceived value – works as a common language and a bond between the service providers.

Can we identify everyone who participates in the service chain? Is everyone clear about their responsibilities and interfaces? When the chain breaks, do we know where it is broken? Whose responsibility is it to fix the situation?

If crucial systems supporting business are down for hours only because the broken link cannot be found or fixed, it can have a devastating effect on the business.

Smiling customers through service integration

So how can we achieve all this in practice? How do we put the smile on the face of the customer?

Service Integration and Management describes the services and deploys working methods and processes that are common to everyone concerned, the roles and competencies needed to manage the entity, tools and monitoring that enable transparency and anticipation, clearly defined responsibilities, and the governance model that glues the entire ecosystem together.

We know our service and all the actors involved in the chain producing the service. We also know when the service is good. The primary goal for every actor in the network is a service that puts a smile on the customer’s face, irrespective of the length or complexity of the service chain.

A smiling customer?

You don’t necessarily make the customer smile just by being nice – although it helps.

An ICT service provider who assumes full responsibility will know its service, the service chain that working together produces the service and knows when the service works. This provider will also be able to say when it does not work.

In our blog series, we delve into the digital challenge of the public sector, as well as service integration, from a variety of angles.

You can read the first post of the series, “Do you dare to peek into your organization’s service machinery?here.

Stay up-to-date

Get all the latest blogs sent you now!