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Piece of Cake...or What? How ISO/IEC 20000 Can Help Improve Customer Experience

Dr Don Page, Strategic Director of Service Management, Marval

Most Service Management professionals would agree: If you don’t deliver a first-class service, someone else will.


Customer experience and satisfaction are perhaps the two most important metrics in today’s competitive market landscape. Regardless of size or sector, organisations need to provide a customer service that is fast, cost-effective and consistently great. And consistency is built upon proven processes and recognised standards, like the ISO/IEC 20000.


ISO/IEC 20000, the international standard for IT service management, has now been with us for twelve years and as a co-author (plus advocate, long-time supporter of the standard and director of a certified organisation) I am often asked “Is it worth it? Do we still need it?”


The short answer is YES and YES! ISO/IEC 20000 offers a baseline against which service providers can be measured, in order to demonstrate to the business that service delivery represents good practice, is fully auditable and accountable, and delivers value for money.


There is no doubt that either adopting or simply embracing ISO/IEC 20000 would be a great business decision in relation to the management and delivery of your support services. If your enterprise services are not managed adequately and your services are not assured, the impact is felt not only by your organisation, but by your customers as well.


All companies are dependent on having a reliable and well managed Service and Support infrastructure to accommodate customers’ and partners’ requirements. It becomes more complex and challenging with the burgeoning demand placed on service management to deliver value into any area of the business, whether it is IT, HR, Facilities Management, Customer Service etc., and become an enterprise-wide discipline. These challenges can be eased by following a tried and tested International standard. And ISO/IEC 20000 is a superb tool for organisations to demonstrate what a great job their Service suppliers do; also highlights their on-going contribution to the success of the business as a whole, and ensures organisational confidence and value in you as a service provider.


Ambitions, Objectives and Implementation: Mind the Gap

Here’s a paradox: while the adoption of ISO/IEC 27001 (the International security standard) continues to grow worldwide, we have witnessed a drop in companies adopting ISO/IEC 20000 in the UK during the last few years. Reasons I have witnessed first-hand include:

·         Losing the ISO/IEC 20000 ‘champions’ and original drivers in the organisation

·         It’s too expensive (is it really?)

·         A misplaced belief that it is no longer needed since everything within the IT department is working well and no improvements are required (!)

·         Blaming poor implementation rather than failure to improve things

·         Some are choosing to jump to the next framework – “flavour of the month”, to provide the magic wand to solve our own inadequacies


I find this logic totally lacking in substance, since in most cases the adoption of the standard and structured ways of working are the reasons for the efficient running of support services in the first place. It’s like my ambitions to become healthier and slimmer. I watch my calorie intake; I am diligent with my daily exercises until I reach my desired weight. Having hit this target I start to be less stringent in my approach and guess what? My weight returns and, as my wife always says, I’ll have to go back to my ‘fat’ trousers! Once you stop you fail. Just like abandoning ISO/IEC 20000 and not following it through.


The objective was (and still is) to deliver consistent, standardised, efficient and reliable services to the business, drive down costs, reduce risk and increase the organisational value, while continually improving services and ensuring that the investment in Service and support is being fully leveraged (wow, what a mouthful! And hardly an appetizing one). No one has ever said the journey to accreditation (or simply the embracement of it) is a piece of cake; you will need to take a long, hard look at the way you do things, your culture, your processes and procedures, be honest about your strengths and weaknesses, make some hard decisions, then make improvements, compare your performance against a worldwide standard, and finally be audited to prove your adherence to it.


But the results are well worth it.


If you don’t deliver a first-class service; someone else will. Embrace proven processes and good standards, like ISO/IEC 20000, and let them help you achieve your goal for an improved and consistent service experience. It’s not going to be piece of cake, but as my wife says, cakes won’t help me achieve my (weight) goal anyway. And the same applies to you all.


At the end of the day the adoption of standard such as ISO/IEC 20000 / ISO/IEC 27001 for the effective management, governance and compliance of your IT and Service infrastructure is a business decision, not an IT one. But you know it makes sense.

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