A vision of workforce enablement

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Customer needs are changing, they always do, don’t they? As we are acutely aware, they work on the go on their own devices -- with their own apps and devices, of course – and, for the most part, they are (or are becoming) used to solving their own problems. IT is changing, too, and new technologies are allowing us the ability to serve our customers better than we ever have, as well as faster and more efficiently. 

Workforce enablement is an effort that helps you improve customer satisfaction using innovative technology and newest insights to do so. Workforce enablement is a strategy that’s meant help your organization’s internal customers get into the perfect “flow” to do their work. Since each employee has their own set of devices and apps that they need to do their best work, workforce enablement lets your customers create their own ideal ecosystem.

So instead of focusing on service level agreements and resolution, you are able to focus on making sure your customers and users have everything they need to adequately perform. 

Goal of workforce enablement: happy and productive employees

According to Forrester, companies with engaged employees have 81 percent higher customer satisfaction. Research by Teresa M. Amabile and Steven J. Kramer shows that managers often think their employees are driven primarily by recognition of their work. Amabile and Kramer also found that, in fact, the greatest motivator for employees is being able to get on with their work. How do you get engaged employees?

Workforce enablement is meant to increase employee satisfaction. Employees are most happy in their work when they feel:

  • Productive – can they get their work done;
  • Facilitated – do they believe their organization helps them focus on their most important tasks;
  • Connected – are employees connected with their work, colleagues, customers and purpose?

Regarding productivity and facilitation, IT service management can make a huge difference.

The importance of focusing on employee satisfaction

Happy employees lead to happy customers. Happy customers lead to increased revenue. Again, research shows that organizations that are leaders in the field of customer experience, grow faster.  Perhaps it’s more important to focus on employee satisfaction because it’s the right thing to do. For those of us in IT and service management, specifically, our role is more than just meeting service level agreements or to decrease resolution times. Our job is to help our colleagues get their work done. Focusing too much on agreements and resolution times can actually be a distraction from these goals. 

What does workforce enablement mean for ITSM?

Applying workforce enablement means adapting your IT department in three respects:

  • Technology
  • Processes
  • IT team

Technology to work anyplace, anytime

Technology can enable your workforce performance. Problems with technology can be one of the most powerful disruptors of employee performance. For example, applications crash; servers go down; and tools not fit for the job are used anyway.

We’re moving toward tech support that offers our employees more freedom, and is better tailored to their specific needs. Given this reasoning, ITSM of the future will likely look like the following: 

Cloud-based, digital workspaces will become the norm. The shift from on-premise software to working in the cloud has been underway for several years and will continue. We and our co-workers are using more and different devices. So, instead of installing apps on every one of these devices, it is just easier to log onto an online app and access everything there.

Portfolios will replace fixed workplaces. What does this mean? Well, more or less in a nutshell, we’ll see a departure from the decades-old technology assemblage that previously was only accessible to a few specialists where IT departments decided which computers and tools were used at work. No more! Employees are now autonomous, for the most part, and they’ve become pretty used to it. Since IT departments cannot support every single device or app being brought in, we’ll likely see the development of a service catalogue where employees can choose their hardware and software. 

BYOD is no longer a trend and is here to stay. At this point, that should go without saying. Employees are working on their private laptops, even if only to check their email. Organizations must, of course, find a way to support that. This means you should offer full-service support for everyone’s private iPads, for example, but we must decide how to deal with such “problems.” However, BYOD brings about another important factor: Your employees won’t mind taking more responsibilities in managing their own devices, allowing you to support more devices and apps with the same IT team.

Processes focused on customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is key, so our processes should represent that. Yet too often, we’re focusing on following ITIL processes, meeting SLAs or achieving a certain number of processed calls. Sure, these can be an indicator of customer satisfaction, but definitely do not guarantee it.

Future IT department will consider their processes like this.

  • The needs of your customer will be the foundation on which you base your service portfolio. What is it your customers really need to do their job? This will not be the same for each employee. Creating personas and mapping customer journeys help you gain the insights you need.
  • KPIs and reports focus on customer satisfaction. These KPIs will co-exist with your SLA and call resolution report, which still provides relevant information, but are not the only thing we measure. Statistics like customer effort score, first-time right or self-service opportunities will become increasingly important.
  • Offering self-service opportunities will likely become a necessity. Your employees are used to solving their problems at home, looking up how-to videos on Google or YouTube. They came to expect this at work, too. Make sure you make all relevant information and tools available to your employees so they can fix their own issues. As answers to FAQs and workarounds for frequently occurring malfunctions. 

IT team skills and members will change

A changing technological environment requires different skills from your IT staff. 

  • You’ll want IT staff who are intrinsically motivated to help others. Future IT service desk work is less about following scripts and processes and more about doing whatever you can to make your customer happy. This requires your staff to be more creative in finding the best solution for his or her problem. Someone who is intrinsically motivated will not stop until he’s made the customer happy.
  • Soft skills such as listening and empathy will become more important than tech expertise. Why? Since more and more apps are moving to the cloud, technical maintenance will be a responsibility of suppliers. The job of your IT staff will be to fully understand the needs and wishes of your customers. And translate that into a proper solution.
  • Organizing information will become a crucial skill. Instead of resolving every call in a one-on-one conversation, your team’s task will be to provide your customers with the information they need to solve their own problems. That means collecting and organizing all relevant information and publishing in a self-service portal. 

ITSM and its future is all about customer satisfaction, and workforce enablement strategies can achieve this. Through the use of the newest technology, appropriate customer-focused processes and an IT team dedicated to finding the best solutions for your customers, your organization’s employees likely will be able to remain productive, facilitated and connected. 

Nancy Van Elsacker Louisnord, President of TOPdesk USA 

Image Credit: SFIO CRACHO / Shutterstock