How to create a Customer & Service focus?

Published on Tuesday 3 April 2012 by in Blog with no comments

In our Blog from the CxO mini seminar I showed how poorly we score on ‘Customer and Service Culture’. The group of IT leaders from the event went away nodding in agreement that this indeed was something that needed serious attention. As the echo’s of the mumbling affirmations retreated with them to the bar, a few questions occurred to me that we hadn’t had time to discuss. ‘What is a Customer and Service focused Culture’? ‘What does the underpinning desirable behavior actually look like’? ‘How can we recognize we are starting to become a Customer and Service focused organization’?

It is more than the IT leader going back to work after the conference and sending an email ‘As from today we will be a Customer and Service focused culture’, and then patting him, or herself, on the back proudly declaring ‘So! That was the organizational culture sorted out……what’s next?’This also isn’t what we meant when we said ‘No management commitment’ was the number 1 cause of resistance to ITSM improvement programs. ‘What? You mean commitment is more than simply telling everybody this is what I want?’ asks the IT leader.

I decided to go back through the findings of 2000 IT professionals who have participated in the business simulation Apollo 13 an ITSM case experience, to summarize their key findings and take-away’s about Customer & service focus.


Let the following list of key take-away’s be a starting point for discussion within the ITSM community so that we can agree what it actually means. Go and use this list to discuss with your senior IT leadership team. Is this what we mean? Discuss with the leaders what ‘management commitment’ looks like in all this?

  • The Customer pays, The Customer decides if they are getting ‘quality’ for the money spent. The Customer decides if IT Service management is ‘worth investing in’. The Customer decides if we are ‘delivering value’.
  • We must ‘engage’ with the business, at all levels. Ask if they are ‘satisfied’, ask what needs ‘improving’.
  • Treat customers with ‘respect’. Treat Customers the way you would want to be treated yourself.
  • We must develop ‘trust’ with the customers before they will really believe we can become a strategic partner.
  • Don’t make assumptions about what the Customer wants or thinks, verify it. We need to learn to ‘listen’ to what the customer is saying. We need to ‘integrate’ the Customer in the processes to prevent the Customer from ‘falling out of sight and out of mind. It is easy to forget the Customer in the hectic of the daily operation.
  • We need to identify what is important to the business and to ‘understand their processes’ and ‘priorities’ so that we can say how ITSM will help. We must know the ‘impact’ of what we do on the business.
  • We ‘all need to understand’ how important the customer is. Saying the Customer is important is different to acting as if the Customer really is important. ‘All in IT need to know’ what the customer needs are and what we have ‘promised to deliver’. ‘All in IT must take responsibility’ for meeting these promises.
  • We must be ‘open, honest and direct’ with customer information even if it is not what they want to hear. We must communicate in terms and ‘language the customer understands’.  Present facts to the Customers and involve them in making decisions and choices and setting priorities.
  • We must ‘dare to say no’ to the business and justify why, but come with alternative solutions.
  • Don’t promise anything with ‘ensuring’ it can be delivered. ‘Confront’ each other on the ‘promises’ made to the Customers.

Besides the Apollo findings we have also conducted ABC of IT workshops with more than 3500 IT professionals World-wide. In these workshops we ask the following question. “If we gave this set of 52 Worst practice cards to your Customer and asked ‘which worst practice card is the one that most needs solving in your organization which card would your customer choose’”? The number 1 card chosen world-wide is ‘IT has too little understanding of Business impact and Priority’. When I ask ‘Do you KNOW this is what they would choose or is this was you THINK they would choose?’ 90% of the answers are ‘This is what we THINK they would choose because we’ve never actually asked them’…….Step 1 maybe in being Customer and Service focused?


I don’t understand….I followed all the ITIL procedures. according to
me you 
are a satisfied customer!…

Applying the Golden rule in IT?.

The Golden rule’, has throughout history been an important rule on guiding ‘desirable behavior’. It has come in many forms and has been adopted by many of the World’s leading Religions and Philosophies. One form is ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’. Unfortunately the rule as recorded in the original IT best practices was mis-printed. It should have said Do unto the Users as you would have them do to you’, unfortunately is was printed as ‘Do to the users before they do to you!’, at least that is the only interpretation I can think of to explain much  of IT’s behavior toward the business.


Related Blogs:

Why don’t we ask the users

Customer & Service Culture! not going to happen unless….

Countdown to success…..or failure!

Share this article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *