The Era of Employee Services
The best consumer products and services have customer experience down to a science. It should be low-lift for the customer. Response should be immediate. Self-service options should be plentiful, and easily accessible. Resolution times should be as short as possible.
Even in B2B relationships, the most successful organizations have perfected customer service. Customer satisfaction is driving revenue, so there are a variety of tools at the service provider’s disposal to help manage relationships, streamline communication, resolve issues, and predict potential hurdles in the relationship.
Most of us would agree that organizational success depends largely on quality employees (and, more importantly, happy employees), so why haven’t we dedicated the same resources to employee service that we have to consumer services and B2B services? The best places to work treat their employees like their best customers, and in return, they’re getting the best work from happy employees. The first step in achieving this internal harmony is to define the goals of employee service.
The Ultimate Customer
“Our customer is more than just a number.”
How many times have you heard that on a commercial or from business leaders trying to showcase great corporate culture? It’s been recited to the point that it’s now cliche, but clearly it’s been an effective message. Customers want to feel valued. They could spend their money anywhere, and they’ve chosen to spend it here. The same goes for employees. They could work anywhere, and they’ve chosen to spend (at least) 40 hours a week here.
Ironically, the employee is typically a number for the service desk. Their assets, incidents, and requests are all literally tagged with numbers. But, an employee shouldn’t be just a number. Just as their customer service counterparts have strategically constructed practices to make customers feel valued, internal service providers must do the same for employees.
This means putting themselves in an employee’s shoes -- thinking about where self-service might be advantageous, considering the forms of communication that make employees’ lives easier, catering access and visibility to promote a positive experience with anything the employee might need from the organization. This is the first goal of employee service management: create a feeling that services and processes are constructed for employees' convenience.
If a successful organization depends on happy employees, the service desk has a tremendous opportunity to promote that sort of environment. IT departments have been doing so for years.
Create Employee-Friendly Resources
One of the best things that customer service providers have done is to create user-friendly access points for customers to receive the help they’re looking for. Car dealers offer accessible roadside assistance. Phone manufacturers create FAQ / self-service options for common occurrences. Ride-sharing and navigation apps react to the location and the surroundings of the customer (in real time) with advanced technology.
Many IT departments have adopted similar practices to serve employees. You’re already seeing parallels in ITSM strategies, and there's plenty of room for these resources to extend beyond IT. There are tangible user benefits to all of the following features:
Service Catalog - Employees can order from the “menu of available services,” where they’ll likely find exactly what they’re looking for, and they’ll be prompted for all of the information that the service desk needs to complete the request. They’ll also have full visibility into the status of their requests, eliminating the need for constant back-and-forth email. This can include HR requests (like benefits enrollment) or finance requests (like PO approvals). There's no reason to restrict it to IT.
Knowledge Base - This is, without question, the most direct way to connect employees to solutions, which is what they’re looking for. It won’t solve every issue, but a database of articles and resources for an organization’s entire history of internal incidents could address a huge chunk of issues that slow employees down. The key is creating a culture where the service desk updates it regularly, and more importantly, giving employees an easily-navigated access point to all of this knowledge.
Service Portal - Speaking of access points, this is a great way to remove many of the employee headaches that come with service processes. They can search the knowledge base, submit a service request, or create a ticket all through one search bar. If they type “Microsoft Office license” into the search bar, they’ll see related knowledge articles, service catalog items, or their previous tickets that might help them find answers. The service portal will act as an employee-friendly gateway to all of the services and resources they might need.
These are all things the service desk staff will appreciate because it makes them more efficient, but what’s the other thing they all have in common? They help provide better and faster resolutions to employees, which was the top priority in the first place.
Internal Service Providers
Which departments are the service providers in your organization? Clearly, the IT department is one, and usually the most advanced one. If you really think about it, though, every department is an internal service provider.
Take a second glance at the list of features above. They’re all IT service desk features, but couldn’t they apply to the entire organization?
If the sales team needs a website update, the marketing team is their service provider. If the marketing team hires a new employee, HR and facilities will help onboard. When an employee from any department wants to enroll in dental coverage, HR is a service provider. When facilities needs to order a new piece of equipment, the finance department is the service provider.
The service catalog, service portal, and knowledge base can all help make these services efficient, and they’re all available on the same platform. Employees don’t have to worry about submitting requests through an HR tool for benefits, a project management tool for marketing, and a service portal for IT. This consolidated approach will simplify the experience for all employees. They can request business cards, software licenses, and invoices all in one place.
For years, IT departments have refined the art of employee services. When someone says ITSM, the term means something of value to the organization. IT constantly battles for control in a world of chaos, and service management strategy has helped IT departments introduce structure, creating efficiency and saving money. ITSM helps provide satisfactory answers and resolutions as quickly as possible to everyone in the organization. This is the inspiration for Employee Service Management. As an organization expands this approach to improve daily service for all employees, across all departments, they’ll see exponentially greater benefits.