Why Continual Improvement Needs Experience Data

Continual Improvement and Experience Data
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Are your IT service desk’s continual improvement efforts missing an important something? Perhaps it has a good number of IT-support improvement opportunities, but no one knows the true root cause of the issues that need to be addressed. Does “We know that things are wrong but we’re not sure why” sound familiar? Or maybe you’re completely missing improvement opportunities because your use of traditional IT service desk metrics doesn’t highlight some of the issues. To help, this article explains how experience data can be employed not only to measure outcomes and value, but also to highlight issues, better understand the root causes, and help construct the required solutions.

This article by @SamiKallioHki explains how experience data can be employed not only to measure outcomes and value, but also to highlight issues, better understand the root causes, and help construct the required solutions. #EX #ITSM Click To Tweet

What’s needed for continual improvement success

Continual improvement is a vital part of IT service management (ITSM), but it needs more than an ITIL book and a heart full of hope. Instead, continual improvement needs:

  • Accurate data. Stop for a moment to consider what you’re improving right now? Are you sure that improvement is needed? Do you have access to data that shows this? Plus, do you have data that goes under the skin of the issue to understand the root cause(s)? Such that it’s clear as to what needs to be improved and how?
  • The right focus. Are you improving the right things? And not from an IT perspective, but a business perspective. You’d be surprised at how many times an improvement of IT operations, say, can sadly have a detrimental effect on business operations and outcomes.
Continual improvement is a vital part of #ITSM but it needs more than an ITIL book and a heart full of hope – @SamiKallioHki Click To Tweet

How experience data helps with your continual improvement

Our customers find that experience measurement helps to answer all these questions. They’re no longer struggling with customer satisfaction (CSAT) feedback levels of less than 10%. Instead, they now have end-user experience feedback levels above 25-30%, with that feedback a constant real-time view of performance, such that they can start to trust the results as an accurate view of how IT support is helping or hindering your organization’s employees.

For example, the aggregate customer experience data up to the end of May 2021 showed the top three contributing factors to end-user happiness to be:

  1. Speed of service
  2. Service personnel’s attitude
  3. Service personnel’s skills.

Whereas the top three contributing factors to end-user unhappiness were:

  1. Their issue not being solved despite ticket closure
  2. Slowness of service
  3. Having to reexplain the issue and provide details repeatedly, i.e. being bounced between people.
According to data from @HappySignalsLtd the top 3 contributing factors to end-user unhappiness are: issues not being solved despite ticket closure, slowness or service, & having to reexplain issues repeatedly. Click To Tweet

Hence, if you were measuring end user experience, you’d have accurate data on what works and what doesn’t. Such that not only could you identify improvement need but also have the ability to prioritize and focus effort. As an example, the deeper analysis of the third unhappiness bullet above highlights that the end user perceives an extra 1.5 hours of lost time every time their ticket is reassigned. Not unsurprisingly, the happiness score plummets in response.

The potential for improvement by reducing the ticket reassignment count

Reassignment CountHappinessLost Time
0811h 58m
1753h 17m
2665h 8m
3566h 22m
4517h 49m

Importantly, this is accurate real-world data, not just a gut feeling or assumption that multiple ticket bounces adversely affect employee productivity and happiness. We wrote an article on minimizing ticket bounces if this is something that would improve your IT service desk’s operations and outcomes.

Two tips for improving your continual improvement with experience data

In addition to having access to accurate data, our customers consistently find two factors help with their continual improvement:

  1. Setting visible targets
  2. Communicating frequently on future improvements.

Tip 1: Setting visible targets

Let everyone know that you have an improvement initiative and how it will positively impact them. For example, our customer Avanti West Coast writes a news article that describes what will be changed by an improvement project. Focusing on what the most interesting and important result of this project will be to the users of an affected service. It’s a target that the organization can focus on that relates to improvement, not to the parameters of project delivery.

You can try a sense check in your organization by asking an improvement project team what their project target is. Unfortunately, many team members will state the deadline for the project – with this not only a sign that the improvement initiative isn’t focused enough on actually delivering the desired outcome(s). It’s also a missed opportunity to provide staff with meaningful work where they make a difference and feel fulfilled on completion, rather than simply hitting a project deadline.

Tip 2: Communicating frequently on future improvements

Have you heard of “the three-month model?” This involves an improvement-focused meeting with senior management/directors every three months. It might not sound that radical but, importantly, the meeting’s focus should not be on what has just been achieved, as review meetings often are, but on what should be improved next.

Have you heard of 'the three-month model?' This involves an improvement-focused meeting with senior management/directors every three months. Here @SamiKallioHki explains. #ITSM #EX Click To Tweet

Coming back to having access to accurate data, our customers find it’s much easier to get senior management to commit to new improvement initiatives when their recommendations are based on experience data. For example, what IT director wouldn’t be interested in what >2000 employees, say, feel about their services? Plus, how their performance compares with aggregated experience benchmarks, as shared in our Global IT Experience Benchmark report.

Hopefully, this article has helped you to appreciate how experience data can be used to enable and support continual improvement in many ways. If you would like to find out more, then why not take a look at our Practical Guide to XLAs.

Sami Kallio is the CEO of HappySignals, a company focused on helping businesses to improve their internal services by shifting the focus from traditional metrics to employee experience - by measuring and analysing employee happiness and productivity. Sami says:” I believe that enterprises should no longer try to save more money from support services. Rather that organizations should put more focus on business value. At HappySignals we help organizations to measure and understand their employees' experience and productivity in a new way."

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