How and why to focus on value for customers in service management

Smiling woman handing packages to customer in shop

Reality TV show Shark Tank panellist and entrepreneur Kevin O'Leary always asks: “How do I make money” when presented with any product. The value to him is simple – getting the biggest return on investment with the least amount of risk.

Focusing on value is extremely important in today’s highly technical and evolved world. Understanding what value is from your customer’s perspective is a huge driver for what success looks like and is a big reason why it’s one of the 9 Guiding Principles in ITIL® Practitioner.

What is value?

First, you must understand who your customers are and what they value. In a fast food restaurant the principle value for your customer is speed, though the food must be half-way edible!

Adam McCulloughConversely, in a fine dining restaurant your customer is not expecting to get their filet mignon within a few minutes. The value in these two scenarios is completely different but is something you must know to deliver value to each customer respectively.

ITIL defines a service as "a means of delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes customers want to achieve without the ownership of specific costs and risks." In other words, when we do something for another organization that gives them something they want or value, we're providing a service. Value to a customer can change over time and staying connected to your customer base will help you track that.

In IT service management (ITSM) it might be a reduction in cost or cycle times. It depends on your customer and their wants/needs at the time. For example, a start-up IT organization must be very agile. However, large organizations are more likely looking for long-term IT projects with sustainability.

Who is responsible for value?

Delivering value to customers is everyone’s responsibility! Organizations need to know who their customers are, both the consuming customers and their internal customers too.

So, when supporting an organization you need to understand your business area and the value it provides to the overall organization. Your manager is your internal customer – in fact, your manager’s manager is your customer to some extent. You need to know what the value is for them and what they perceive as adding value.

Measuring value

As Bill Gates, Microsoft’s co-founder, said: “In business, the idea of measuring what you are doing, picking the measurements that count like customer satisfaction and performance… you can thrive on that.”

Depending on what value looks like to your customer there are numerous ways of measuring value and proving worth. Some possible examples include:

  • Profit and loss numbers
  • Customer satisfaction, repeat customers and referral customers
  • Speed
  • Quality and quantity.

Developing your skills to provide value

How can you improve the value you deliver in your organization and to your customers? Sharpening your skills by continuing to learn and obtaining a certification is certainly one way. Working in an organization means you can become accustomed to habitual ways of doing things; getting a new certification allows you to think differently and approach problems from a new angle.

That’s why it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest best practices and develop another perspective on how to make improvements – you can be sure your competition is doing that.

The service industry is growing and having a toolkit of knowledge and skills is necessary and there are certain tools you need that you just can’t avoid.

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