Where is the customer?

Imagine that you come to a hotel and find a Service Desk where a cheerful person assures you that if there is any incident with your room, one of the service specialists will start fixing it within twenty minutes. Behind her, you can se some plumbers, electricians and carpenters ready with their tools, waiting for the next incident. Wouldn’t you want to find another hotel?

The early years of computing were difficult, technology was new and unreliable. It was understandable that incident management was important. But it is a bit silly that customer service is still missing from current ITSM or that it is so technology centric.

This technology centric view of service can be seen in graphs that describe the support processes. In most cases that I have seen, there is no customer service and actually no customer. It is far more likely to find a CMDB or a service catalog in the center of the picture than a customer. The same thinking seems to carry over from ITIL to all other frameworks, standards and methods. Customer service is seen as the restoration of service after an incident.

The technology centric thinking comes with a price. A lot of effort is lost. Incidents need to be connected to the relevant configuration items and services. Many of my customers have configuration management systems and service catalogs but the logging of incidents with service and configuration information provides no value. My major subject in university was statistics and when I started ITSM consulting I was thrilled that I could start analyzing incident data and find valuable information for my customers. That has never happened. Yes, I have analyzed incident data a few times but every time the data has proven to be rubbish. Garbage in, garbage out is a good rule in statistics.

The ITSM thinking should put the customer in the middle and ask the question how does this process or value stream produce value to the customer. I think that the customer centric framework for ITSM would look completely different.


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