While various IT service providers may exhibit similarities in their products and services catalog, with some offering comparable technological solutions, the determinant of quality is in the value-added offerings and bespoke customer service experience. Specialization does exist within the IT service sector, however, the core technologies remain largely uniform across the industry.
In the realm of SAP on Cloud and IT service delivery, the best way to differentiate a successful technology delivery center lies in the mode of delivery and operational excellence. Much like the food sector, where the uniqueness of delivery can eclipse the product itself, IT services stand out based on how efficiently and effectively teams cater to customer needs.
The key to standing out in a crowded market and enhancing business efficiency is not merely in the solutions offered, but in refining and optimizing internal processes and business approaches. This focus on operational excellence is what sets the most successful IT service providers apart from their peers.
To highlight the importance of strategic operational management in the IT service sector, here are five practices that distinguish outstanding IT service providers:
1. Use Metrics-Based Assessment
The IT service sector is multifaceted and ever-evolving. Each customer has unique technological requirements, and the rapid pace of technological advancements adds to the complexity of customer demands. Understanding the effectiveness of your IT service provision can be a formidable task due to these variables.
This is where the importance of gathering and analyzing quantitative data comes into play, especially for successful IT service providers. Regular evaluation of key performance indicators is paramount. Such metrics include:
• Time to Restore: This measures the average duration required by your technicians to resolve issues.
• Lead Time for Changes: This indicator tracks the time taken by your teams to implement changes as per customer requests.
• Net Promoter Score: A customer-focused metric that sheds light on the level of satisfaction clients have with your services.
Continuous analysis of these metrics is crucial in gauging your business’s strengths and identifying areas for improvement.
2. Align Sales with Delivery
While selling IT services is one challenge, the actual delivery of this service is a much larger challenge altogether. If your sales team isn’t knowledgeable about the IT service delivery processes of your business, there’s a risk of customer dissatisfaction. Such dissatisfaction stems from the gap between what was promised by the service provider and what they delivered. Moreover, salespeople who are not well-informed about the available service offerings may fail to recommend the most appropriate and suitable services to clients simply because they’re not aware of the full catalog of offerings.
Therefore, IT service providers need to ensure their sales team coordinates with the delivery process. While salespeople may not have the extensive technical knowledge that the delivery team possesses, they must have a thorough understanding of the company’s digital service catalog. This catalog should detail the available services and their specifics and be easy to understand by all parties: sales, delivery team and customer.
3. Apply Feedback Across Customers
Every customer is unique, but that doesn’t mean that feedback from one customer can’t meaningfully improve service delivery for other customers. On the contrary, if one of your clients asks for a change to a certain type of service or complains about an aspect of your operations, chances are that other customers will think similarly. You should therefore consider how to apply feedback you receive across all accounts, not just to the customer that generated it.
This may seem obvious, but it can be easy to end up in the trap of treating each client as a silo because service providers may dedicate different teams to different customers. That’s understandable given that every customer has different needs, but feedback processes should enable teams to share feedback so that everyone can benefit.
4. Don’t Obsess over Technology
Technology is exciting, especially for people who work in the IT service sector. For that reason, it can be tempting to prioritize technology over all else.
As noted above, technology is not the differentiator in the IT service industry. If you want to stand out from the competition, you need to obsess over process, not technology.
This means adopting practices like prioritizing process optimization over implementing the latest, greatest technologies and evaluating job candidates based on how they adhere to protocol, not just how well they know tech.
5. Accompany Change with Education
Whenever you make a change – whether to your processes, technology or anything else – it’s crucial to accompany it with the proper guidance and training.
Here again, this may seem obvious. However, because solving problems and working independently are core practices in IT service delivery, it’s all too easy for IT providers to assume that their staff will just “figure it out” when it comes to implementing something new.
That’s a mistake because even the most skilled and enthusiastic staff can’t reliably embrace updates if they lack the guidance to understand what they are for or how to use them most effectively.
In the IT service sector, delivering great technology is paramount to achieving success. However, it’s not enough on its own to thrive in a crowded market. If you want to optimize your IT service delivery business, invest in practices and processes that optimize the way you deliver solutions, in addition to optimizing the solutions themselves.