Good IT Support Costs Less – You can have your cake and eat it too!

Have you ever seen an Ignite talk? I just lost my Ignite virginity giving a talk titled, ‘Good IT Support Less – You can have you cake and eat it too!’ at Service Management 2017.

An Ignite talk follows a strict format – 5 minutes, 20 slides, 15 seconds each. And the slides auto-advance. Ignites are really tricky to deliver, but the high tempo, and myriad opportunities to screw up, make them pretty entertaining for the audience. And given you can squeeze ten speakers into an hour, you get a high knowledge return on your time investment. If you get a chance to go along to an Ignite session, I thoroughly recommend it. Anyway…

Over the years, I’ve heard many a CIO tell me feel they have to make a choice between providing a good level of IT support and keeping their costs down. But this isn’t true.

I’ve transcribed my Ignite into this post so you can see why.

Chocolate cake is good for you.

Well, it is if it’s made from dark chocolate. And if you just eat the chocolate and leave the cakey bit.

Dark chocolate…

  • lowers blood pressure
  • reduces cholesterol
  • is good for the brain
  • and for your skin.
There are many good things you’d think are bad for you. But they’re not.

Like good customer support.

Some CIOs seem to think that providing good customer support is bad because it costs more.

It doesn’t.

Some examples.

Sprint went from the bottom to the top of the telco customer satisfaction rankings while reducing their supports costs by $1.7bn a year!

Symantec doubled their Net Promoter Score while cutting support costs by a third.

One more example…

A client of ours, a global defense contractor, had their IT support budget halved.

And yet at the same time they were able to increase internal customer satisfaction by 30%.

Here’s THREE things that you can do to lower support costs AND increase customer satisfaction.

1. Engage your support staff.

2. Deliver some win-win initiatives.

3. Give customers less reasons to complain.

Let me explain…

NUMBER 1 – Ensure your support staff are engaged.

There is an almost straight line correlation between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction.

Don’t expect pissed off support staff to provide great service!

There’s a virtuous circle.

  • Engaged support staff provide better service.
  • Better service leads to happier customers.
  • Happier customers are nicer to support.
  • And this leads to higher levels of employee engagement.
And the more engaged your support staff are, the lower your costs.

Engaged employees are more productive, take less sickies & stick around longer.

The cost of replacing someone is 100% of their salary, so that’s a ton of money saved.

NUMBER 2 –  There are four things we see customers asking for over and over.

Each one makes them happy & saves you money. They’re win wins…

Win Win 1:

Stop incidents from reoccurring.

Problem Management – the most overlooked process in ITIL.


Win Win 2:

Provide more self-service. In the form of knowledge articles and request automation.

According to Forrester, 72% of customers prefer to use self-service support rather than phone or email.

Win Win 3:

Be good at communicating the status of tickets.

If customers know when their ticket will be resolved, or when the next step is going to occur, you’ll reduce the number of call status enquiries.

Each of which cost you money.

Win Win 4:

Increase first level resolution.

Customers have a better experience when their tickets aren’t escalated.

For a 2000-tickets-a-month Service Desk, that’s about $170K/year saved when FLR is increased from 50 to 70%.

NUMBER 3 – Complaints cost you money.

A natural side effect of delivering better support is less complaints.

Not only do customer have less to complain about, but they’re SEVEN times less likely to complain when something does go wrong.

And complaints cost more than you think.

Because they often involve more than just the complainer and the complainee.

They’re especially expensive in hierarchal organisations, where a complaint touches numerous people as it goes up the tree and back down again.

The occasional complaint can be a good thing though.

Not only can you learn from them, but if you deal with them well, an angry customer will be happier afterwards than if everything went ok in the first place.

Look up “Service Recovery Paradox” on Google.

That’s the three thing’s that’ll make customers happy and save you money.

  1. Staff engagement.
  2. The 4 win-wins.
  3. Reducing complaints.

Getting a constant supply of customer feedback will help you with all three of those.

Feedback from your customers will help you prioritise your win-wins.

Improving service will reduce complaints.

And best of all, customer feedback makes coaching support staff much easier.

And research shows us that good quality coaching increases staff engagement.

But don’t wait before taking action.

The Kano Model shows that customer expectations of service quality are increasing over time.

If you do nothing, customers will perceive you to be getting worse.

And if you do nothing, trust in IT will be eroded.

If you’re not trusted, your budgets will be squeezed and the harder it will become to get any service improvement initiative off the ground.

So you see you can have your cake and eat it.

1. Engage your support staff.

2. Reduce incidents, increase self-service, increase FLR and communicate better.

3. Give customers less reasons to complain

Thank you!


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