My telco visit!
A recent visit to my telecommunications provider to swap my iPhone 6 for an iPhone 7 was revealing to say the least.
An extremely helpful young assistant, who had the patience of a saint, helped me with my transaction.
It very soon became clear why his patience was a virtue given the tools he had to work with.
As soon as we started the transaction, he apologised in advance for the new systems that he had to use to manage the transaction, saying ‘They are worse than the ones we had before!’
I watched in dismay, as he had to log in and out of numerous screens to get to the one he needed.
To me as the onlooker, it appeared like he had to use 3 or more different systems to fulfil one transaction.
I must say at this point that he was an extremely competent young man and it was not his lack of experience or capability that was an issue.
It took nearly 2 hours to complete the transaction!
As I watched him persevering with clearly inadequate tools, I turned to my partner and said ‘ITIL Practitioner?’
The ITIL Practitioner publication (and certification) was introduced by AXELOS in early 2016. ITIL Practitioner provides a practical guide to putting ITIL theory into practice and contains a comprehensive set of case studies, worksheets, templates and scenarios.
There are nine guiding principles contained within the ITIL Practitioner publication. The guiding principles facilitate improvement activities of all levels and types.
As ITIL Practitioner states: ‘They are the ‘how’ that can guide organisations in their work as they adopt a service management approach and adapt the guidance provided in the ITIL publications to their own specific needs and circumstances’.
There were 4 of the 9 guiding principles that came to mind as I watched in desperation – focus on value, design for experience, observe directly and work holistically.
Focus on value
Focus on value – everything a service provider does should map directly or indirectly to value for the customer. Improvements should focus on delivering greater value to the customer. At the core of this guiding principle is the tenet that it is the customer who determines what is of value to them, and not the service provider.
It was clear in this experience, that there was little or no focus on value for me as the customer. This transaction took twice as long as it had previously, in the same store, when swapping a mobile phone.
Design for experience
The second guiding principle that jumped out at me was design for experience.
Design for experience – focus has to be retained not only on the customer experience but also that of the end-user when they interact with a service. This is often referred to as the customer experience (CX). The work of designing for CX (including both the customer and end-user) should be a natural activity included in designing products, services and processes. It should be second nature for a service provider to put themselves in the position of the customer and end-user.
Clearly, in this instance there had been no focus on designing for the experience of either the store assistant or me as the customer.
The third guiding principle, and to me the biggest oversight, was observe directly.
Observe directly – this is about knowing what is really going on by observing it directly. Observing directly (or going to the source or ‘Gemba’ as described in Lean) means actually going to the place where the value-creating activity is occurring and seeing what really happens.
This includes going into a store and observing what takes place when a customer comes in.
I would like to think that those involved with the provision of the systems (e.g. designers, project managers, architects etc.) needed to undertake my transaction, would have been horrified to watch the assistant try to use the systems they had delivered.
It does beg the question to what level of user-acceptance testing (UAT) had taken place!
Even so, there is no substitute to determine what is going on in the ‘real’ world than to observe directly in the ‘real’ world and not in an artificial environment.
To observe my experience and that of the assistant would have been an eye-opener for anyone from the service provider.
The fourth principle is work holistically. This one came to mind whilst watching the assistant log in and out of many systems in order to complete the transaction. It occurred to me that he had been presented with disparate systems – designed in isolation from each other.
The service provider needs to work on the whole, not just the parts. Value is delivered to the customer, and end-user, via effective and efficient management of a complex integration of hardware, software, data, processes, architectures etc. They all need to be coordinated to deliver that value.
I suspect if the service provider had applied the guiding principles of focus on value, design for experience, observe directly and work holistically, I would have been out of that store with my new iPhone 7 in half of the time and would have left behind a much less stressed store assistant!