Putting the “User” in End User Computing
Dec 18, 2020
At the risk of stating the obvious, COVID-19 has redefined the way we work. But the changes go beyond temporarily moving to home offices and relying on Zoom calls instead of face-to-face meetings. Today, many businesses are (or should be) taking a long-term view and asking fundamental questions about how the workplace should be structured in a post-pandemic future.
One key lesson of the pandemic has been that people can still be productive and accountable outside of a traditional office setting. While remote and virtual remote work have been gaining traction for some time, the disruption we’ve experienced since March 2020 created a clean slate on which to craft entirely new work models. Some argue that COVID-19 marks the end of office work and corporate culture as we know it, and welcome the shift to home-based work. Others (often those with small children at home) can’t wait to get back to the office. For most businesses, the new normal will require balanced workplaces characterized by flexibility and a commitment to accommodating a wide range of employee priorities, particularly around addressing work/life balance issues.
This environment poses profound implications for how end user computing services are structured and delivered. Following the pandemic, businesses scrambled to rapidly shift large numbers of employees to remote work models. The chaotic process exposed the flaws inherent in many in-house IT support organizations. In the aftermath, businesses are reassessing their service delivery requirements and options. Today, many are turning to third-party outsourcers to address evolving demands.
In addition to underscoring the importance of efficient end user computing services, the pandemic has created an opportunity to bring renewed focus to enhancing the quality of the user experience. Research suggests that companies focused on employee experiences are more profitable than those that aren’t.
The question then becomes how to develop, implement and manage a customer-focused, “white glove” model of end user computing services. One key is to ensure that the fundamentals are in place. In the context of the new normal, that means capabilities around remote access/service, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and incident management are imperative. Put simply, users won’t be happy if they have to wait for devices to arrive or be set up, for applications to be loaded or for problems to be responded to and resolved.
But delivering the blocking and tackling basics of end user services isn’t enough. Businesses need to establish clear measures that quantify and gauge user satisfaction. This requires going beyond traditional technology-focused Service Level Agreements (SLAs) of uptime and availability, as well as taking a more customer-centric approach to analytics. For example, rather than limit metrics to targets around first-level resolution rate and response time, incorporate meaningful customer feedback to gain insight into how support interactions are perceived and how they can be improved. The challenge here is to avoid making the collection of customer input a source of aggravation in itself. (For example, auto-sending an extensive “on a scale of 1-10” survey as a follow-up to every user interaction can be counter-productive.)
Press One to Speak to an Agent
Another consideration when deploying a user-focused service delivery model is defining the appropriate role of technology. Many IT service organizations are focused on maximizing the use of intelligent automation in the interests of cost savings. While chat bots and self-service options can certainly enhance service desk efficiency and offload mundane tasks from service desk staff, relying too much on technology can have a negative impact on the user experience. Take, for example, the all-too-common experience of engaging with an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) application that takes you in endless circles of options before allowing you to speak with an actual person.
Indeed, a user’s ability to easily access a live agent is a critical measure of an effective experience-focused IT service strategy. Achieving that objective requires explicit SLAs. For example: “when a user abandons a self-service application and requests a live agent, the agent must respond within 10 seconds.” Such an approach in no way downplays the role of technology. Rather, success requires fully leveraging the respective strengths of technology and people. Namely, machines should be tasked with performing clearly defined, repeatable functions, since they can do so more accurately, consistently and cheaply than humans. Humans, meanwhile, need to be in roles that take full advantage of their unique ability to make judgments and draw conclusions from multiple sources of data.
Optimizing that relationship requires ensuring that machines aren’t asked to perform tasks that are too complex or outside the scope of what they’ve been designed to do. When that happens, the user experience suffers. Conversely, people need to do jobs that utilize their skills and training. Too much time spent on repetitive tasks undermines the economic viability of the delivery model – either the customer won’t be able to afford the service, or the provider won’t be able to make a profit.
As we evolve towards a new normal of business operations and workplace services, organizations have a unique opportunity to create new and better ways to keep people engaged, productive and secure. Contact us to start a conversation around the possibilities.