This week I have been travelling to see Forrester’s I&O Leadership Board (FLB) members in Paris and working on my I&O FLB workshop session for Orlando and London happening in October, titled ‘An Outside In Approach To Your IT Strategy’. During my conversations I have been discussing Forrester’s excellent new book entitled ‘Outside In, The Power of Putting Customers At The Center Of Your Business’.  It contains great insight and examples on how successful companies are adapting to the “age of the customer” by ensuring experience rich relationships. 

So what does 'putting the customers at the center of your business' mean to I&O Professionals?

Firstly, we need to ditch the word ‘users’. It’s a dirty word in my vocabulary as it conjures up images of employees being ‘addicted’ to our IT services. Our employees are not going to go ‘cold turkey’ on us if they don’t get their corporate IT fix. They are our internal IT customers who have feelings, needs and wants plus are increasingly able to source their own technology services to increase their productivity.

Secondly, we have to secure their custom. We can’t do this via the traditional ‘carrot and stick’ methods as this will not cut the mustard in the age of the customer. Securing their custom requires a true outside in perspective which starts with understanding the full service value chain of your organization – from the external customers, through to capabilities, internal IT customer profiling and understanding IT service experience requirements. Service experience is largely personal in the fact that my experience of a corporate email service may be different to that of my colleague because of many variable factors including time of day, past experience etc. While we can’t guarantee a delightful and enjoyable IT service experience for every internal IT customer, we can ‘tune’ their ecosystem to influence a positive service experience.

One way if doing this, which I will cover in my upcoming FLB session, is to focus on service experience packaging when putting together IT services as part of service portfolio management:

As an example, if we put together a service experience package for a corporate email service then we should ensure that we have covered all the ecosystem criteria above before offering the service via our service catalog. It is important to note, that Outlook, Gmail or any other email front end is not the service or the only key aspect – it is just a 'Facilitating Product'. The ‘Information’ criteria will be detailed because as an I&O Professional you will need to provide information on support, how to purchase or consume the corporate email service but you will also need information back from your internal IT customers such as whether they are mobile in their role. This means we can’t carry out service experience packaging without involving our internal IT customers because if we do, we run the risk of ‘assumption’ – a dangerous word when it comes to customer centric IT service delivery!

This service will need to provide ‘Explicit Benefits’ and while these may seem obvious we should document and be clear of these by discussing this area with our IT customers. Finally, we need to consider the ‘Implicit Benefits’ of the service. This is something that traditional I&O organizations have not considered in the past but companies such as Apple and Samsung have done. Why? Think about this, your 1Gb fixed size mailbox might fit the service requirements of *some* of your IT customer personas but what about your IT customers who are used to seemingly unlimited storage from their personal email service? How might they feel when they use your service? Would they boast/recommend your corporate email to their friends and colleagues? Would it be attractive to new starters in your company? Just some implicit benefit questions to think about. Recruiting good talent is not easy and the IT services you provide are part of the overall ‘employee experience’ in your organization.  

So I hope this has provided food for thought when thinking about your IT service strategy. I have only scratched the service here in this long post but welcome your comments and feedback. Also let me know if you would like to hear more about my workshop on ‘An Outside In Approach To Your IT Service Strategy’.