Book Image

A Practical Guide to Service Management

By : Keith D. Sutherland, Lawrence J. "Butch" Sheets
Book Image

A Practical Guide to Service Management

By: Keith D. Sutherland, Lawrence J. "Butch" Sheets

Overview of this book

Many organizations struggle to find practical guidance that can help them to not only understand but also apply service management best practices. Packed with expert guidance and comprehensive coverage of the essential frameworks, methods, and techniques, this book will enable you to elevate your organization’s service management capability. You’ll start by exploring the fundamentals of service management and the role of a service provider. As you progress, you’ll get to grips with the different service management frameworks used by IT and enterprises. You'll use system thinking and design thinking approaches to learn to design, implement, and optimize services catering to diverse customer needs. This book will familiarize you with the essential process capabilities required for an efficient service management practice, followed by the elements key to its practical implementation, customized to the organization’s business needs in a sustainable and repeatable manner. You’ll also discover the critical success factors that will enhance your organization’s ability to successfully implement and sustain a service management practice. By the end of this handy guide, you’ll have a solid grasp of service management concepts, making this a valuable resource for on-the-job reference.
Table of Contents (28 chapters)
Part 1: The Importance of Service Management
Part 2: Essential Process Capabilities for Effective Service Management
Part 3: How to Apply a Pragmatic, Customized Service Management Capability
Appendix B: SLR Template

Collating common service management examples and understanding wordplay

All service providers implement and manage services. Perhaps the most generally accepted service provider example is any restaurant. As educators and consultants in the service management discipline, it is common, with a bit of wordplay, to challenge customers to reverse the words service management to managing services, and then ask what is involved in doing that. It doesn’t take long to realize the emergence of the following words: customers, demand, specialized resources, suppliers, point of sale, menus, financial capital, success factors, methods, and organizational culture.

In truth, an IT service provider deals with the same scenarios, but the names may be slightly different (for example, service catalog instead of a menu, IT services instead of meals, and process instead of work methods) or the same (for example, customers, suppliers, demand, and so on). Besides restaurants and IT service providers, other examples of service providers include quick oil change providers, car washes, car dealership service departments, and more. Note that for any of these examples, whether the company itself is a service provider, the company has a service provider within it, or both, the challenge is the same – to be as efficient and effective as possible.

Given the many different types of service providers that are encountered across multiple industries and countries, what has been the perception of the quality of service received? It doesn’t take long to recognize the quality of a given service management experience. When asking any group what constitutes a quality experience from a service provider, expect the response to be varied. Take a restaurant, for example. Some may say it was the quality of the food, or that it was affordable, or timely, or it helped to foster a great conversation within the group. All of these different responses represent what the participant (that is, the stakeholder) valued in their respective experience with the service provider. It is important, as a service provider, to recognize that different stakeholders may have different perspectives on what they value in their interaction with the service. What these stakeholders valued with the service largely comes down to what they were intending to accomplish (that is, outcomes), which, in the case of the restaurant service provider, may have been as simple as a great meal experience.

Service providers must remember two very key aspects of providing services:

  • Stakeholder preferences can change over time
  • Different stakeholders have differing perspectives, even against the same service offerings (for example, two customers order the same meal, but for different reasons, such as cost, dietary restrictions, and so on)

In keeping with the restaurant service provider example, there could be multiple franchises with the same name, yet the same stakeholder going to two different franchises could have a different experience with the service, even though the same meal was ordered at both locations. For the same service, the experience can be different! There are varying reasons for this, including differing skills and competencies across the staff, differing suppliers for the meal ingredients, differing cultures based on the location, and more. Even in a so-called cookie-cutter arrangement with the service provider, there can be a distinct experience for the customer (one type of stakeholder). With differing experiences over time with service providers, it doesn’t take long to recognize what constitutes a great service management experience from one that is not so great, even from the same service provider.

When considering preferences, service providers should recognize that those customer preferences may change over time – that is, just because the service meets the needs of stakeholders today does not mean the same level of satisfaction will be in place tomorrow. As important as it is to continue to provide an expected level of service, it is also critical to consider how that same service experience might be improved. With this in mind, it is always important to maintain a stance that services can always be improved.

In that same restaurant service provider example, note the frequency at which a different representative of the provider (someone other than the server) checks in near the end of the meal experience to understand what the customer experience has been so far. These providers recognize the need to do a final check with that customer before they leave the meal experience. Why does this happen? It is an opportunity for the provider to identify what the customer enjoyed, what could be improved, or even present a last chance to fix something (if this is necessary). Most understand that there can be an unsatisfactory experience with the service, yet the customer is still willing to engage with the service provider going forward. This is especially true if that customer has had multiple prior satisfactory experiences with the service provider. Traits such as empathy and emotional intelligence help here, as well as knowledge of that customer and their preferences. So, skills such as relationship management help here. Though a negative experience with a first-time customer can have an impact on whether they return to that same restaurant service provider in the future, the best service providers still attempt to make things right, presenting a chance that the customer will return for a repeat visit. In these situations, that restaurant service provider might offer a discount on the service, a gift card for a return visit, or take a personal approach with a senior member of the service provider (for example, the owner, on-site manager, and so on).