Recently I was having a discussion with a colleague. The discussion centered on value, what it means and how we deliver it to customers and users of IT Services. One particular part of the discussion focused on how you can easily add value in small increments that combine to bring satisfaction to customers. My colleague mentioned an interesting idea from a restaurateur named Bob Farrell, the founder of a chain of Ice Cream Parlors. He sold the chain and became a motivational speaker based on what he learned from the restaurant industry and how to drive better value and customer satisfaction.
Bob had once received a letter from a customer indicating loss of satisfaction when the server was going to charge him for a single pickle slice to go with his burger. From this letter Bob Farrell derived the importance of the small things we should do for customers and users of our goods and services to ensure satisfaction. Providing value to customers does not have to arrive in large portions. Oftentimes it is the small, low-cost, seemingly insignificant things that customers appreciate and acknowledge the most. These small acts and demonstrations of value lead to big payoffs.
FARRELL'S ICE CREAM PARLOURS - GIVE EM THE PICKLE by Bob Farrell http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJjf6ifg7U0
So how can we learn some fundamentals for IT Service Management from the need to give a customer an extra pickle slice at no cost? Let’s look at a number of small ways we can add value to the provisioning and delivery of Services to customers and users.
- Service Solutions: Determine the most used functionality of a service. Then build in discounts over time for continued use and loyalty to those common features. Supply every fifth requirement at a deep discount or free.
- Service Management Tools: Go Open Source or look to use full inherent features in tools rather than purchasing or building tools to meet highly customized, specific needs. Avoid customization and adjust your thinking rather than the tool.
- Architecture: Seek simplicity and flexibility. Avoid overcomplicated or difficult to support, cutting edge technologies until they have settled into the mainstream. Avoid “Keeping up with the Joneses”.
- Measurements and Metrics: Avoid overwhelming customers with lots of measures, metrics and reports. Reduce the number of measures and focus on the relationship with the customer more than the numbers. Use smiley faces to indicate satisfaction. Use simple, to-the-point reports rather than fancy dashboards.
- Process: Keep process to around 4-5 steps; keep procedures to 4-5 steps. Provide more comprehensive training on process rather than overly detailed work instructions.
The key to adding value is to understand your customer and users; also knowing yourself. What makes you happy? What brings you satisfaction? What are the small things you can do to bring a smile to your customers and users? Once we get a handle on the bigger picture of customer satisfaction, then providing that pickle slice can be seen as a small means to a greater end.