What is IT service management (ITSM)?
Traditional IT Service Management (ITSM) is a collection of people, processes and technologies.
IT departments use it to create, design, deliver, and support the tools and technology services they deliver to employees as part of standard IT operations. But most importantly, ITSM is expected to deliver business value.
ITSM is what happens when IT departments focus on their relationship with the business, align their activities with what the business wants, strive for continuous optimisation and drive efficiency in all their activities.
It’s a multidisciplinary approach to IT that focuses on increasing the efficiency of people, processes, and technology, to make an organisation function at its best.
And to understand ITSM you’ll need to be aware of ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library). Where ITSM is the practice of providing and managing IT operations as a service, ITIL is a best-practice framework that guides and informs ITSM. It gives a basic ‘how to’ outline for IT service delivery and maintenance. It was formulated in an era before cloud computing, when each company had its own, individual, on-premises IT infrastructure, and some sort of standardisation was needed to enable businesses to interact with each other.
The importance of an experience-led approach
However, nowadays, leveraging ITSM and ITIL best practices are not enough. In order to fulfil the promise of driving value for the business, IT teams must also take an experience-led approach.
Designing great technology experiences for employees – and improving the broken ones – needs to be at the heart of your ITSM strategy. That’s because technology is linked to having a profound impact on employee experience outcomes that can either drive the business forward – or hinder growth – such as:
- Employee well-being and a sense of belonging
- Work quality and productivity
- Job satisfaction and retention
Why it’s critical to understand the IT experience
Your employees are the front line of your business, interacting daily with the technology when it works well and when it lets them down. When you incorporate employee feedback data into your existing ITSM solutions and processes, it becomes a key vehicle for delivering business value and service quality. By listening to what employees have to say and acting upon it, you’ll:
- Help your business build an efficient, streamlined IT strategy, with less downtime, and fewer outages and disruptive IT incidents
- Improve the employee experience with friendly systems that proactively address issues before the user is even aware of them
- Assist regulatory compliance with increased transparency and control of data management and systems. It’s easier to close gaps and proactively spot problems, addressing them before they become incidents.
To convert your existing IT service delivery function from a process-driven and operations orientation to one that delivers maximum value and takes experience into account, you’ll need a new approach. And the foundation of this approach is continuous employee feedback: listening to it, understanding it, and acting upon it.
Continuous feedback unlocks access to real-time insights on the IT customer or end-user experience, so teams can take action to drive better employee experiences, and ultimately stronger business outcomes.
And as more organizations reimagine their workplace to support new work models such as fully remote or hybrid, technology and the digital workspace will become an even larger proxy for the employee experience. Which is why it’s even more critical for IT, technology and operations leaders to embed employee listening into their existing ITSM processes.
Let’s see how this works in practice…
Employee experience (EX) management for ITSM in action
A manufacturing company, shifting towards service ownership, wanted to find out:
- If its employees felt they had the right resources and technology to deliver consistent value and results
- How employees felt about their technology experience
- Where employee end-user pain points were
The company previously leveraged annual IT customer satisfaction feedback, rather than focusing on the daily technology experiences of employees, meaning IT didn’t have the real-time experience insights needed to improve at scale. The company also had 195 IT service teams, each with its own siloed roles and data, making it difficult to have enough of a holistic view to understand what was working – and what was broken – across the entirety of the IT landscape.
Using experience management solutions, the company leveraged real-time employee feedback to gather in-depth insights into the technology experiences that drove productivity and satisfaction – and those that didn’t. They also integrated listening and taking action within existing IT tools and processes, enabling IT service managers to make decisions and take appropriate action in real time.
‘Employee feedback helps us identify IT services that need to be revamped. For instance, one that got especially low feedback – we created a plan of action and completely restructured their entire service processes.’
– IT customer satisfaction leader
By ramping up its internal IT experience program, the company now:
- Conducts multiple assessments throughout the year with all 195 service teams, using questions and content specifically tailored to each team’s products and priorities
- Works with the IT customer satisfaction team to supplement this continuous feedback with in-person focus groups. Live responses are then analysed using AI-powered analytics, automatically uncovering trends, problems, and opportunities from open-text feedback.
- Analyses the data, devising and implementing plans for improvement, based on key insights
- Repeats the process of listening, understanding and taking action, the subsequent feedback loops revealing whether the changes were well received and had meaningful impact
And the results? They speak for themselves. By integrating employee experience (EX) management into ITSM:
- 195 teams use experience insights to improve service and technology for employees
- 36% increase in IT insights captured from employees since program launch
- 200% improvement in survey response rates despite significant program growth
- 91% of employees reported satisfaction with IT services
- 50+ IT service action plans developed and deployed
The transition means that the IT leadership has a much clearer, real-time view of the whole company IT landscape, and more specific, actionable insights for the service teams.
Guiding principles for an experience-first ITSM strategy
Building upon the latest ITIL 4 update in 2019, which now includes 7 core principles to guide IT leaders on aligning technology decisions to business value, there are several areas where experience management not only complements, but can raise overall ITSM effectiveness.
ITIL Principle #1: Start where you are
Where XM fits in: Perhaps you already have some level of employee experience feedback in your existing ITSM processes. For instance, does each help desk interaction close the loop with end-users by asking them to rate their resolution experience? Even baseline employee satisfaction data, when analysed in aggregate and through different data filters such as incident type or department, can provide eye-opening insights into what’s working today – and what technology experiences need to be addressed.
ITIL Principle #2: Progress iteratively with feedback
Where XM fits in: Many organizations start by assessing the holistic technology landscape or employees’ relationship with IT. This will give you a baseline for where you are today, so you can start identifying quick-win areas to improve. Then, scale your ITSM strategy as your business and employee needs evolve, ensuring you’re also getting continuous experience feedback along the way to guide your next phase.
ITIL Principle #3: Focus on value
Where XM fits in: It’s well-known that positive employee experience improves customer experience, which brings in more revenue. Better technology experiences can also be linked to attracting more competitive talent, improving employee job satisfaction, and retaining top performers – all of which also have profound impact on an organisation’s talent and operating costs. Connecting technology experience improvements to these key business outcomes should convince stakeholders it’s worth doing.
ITIL Principle #4: Collaborate and promote visibility
Where XM fits in: A culture of technology experience management should be driven company-wide, enabling every voice to share their experience of how current systems, tools and processes are working. It’s also imperative that employees know why they’re giving feedback, and how insights will be actioned; be sure to embed ongoing communications to employees and stakeholders about improvements and results.
ITIL Principle #5: Keep it simple and practical
Where XM fits in: Integrating experience management into ITSM doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Again, an experience management program focused on the IT and technology experience should ultimately complement and be a driver of ITSM, because both aim to achieve the common objective of delivering business value. When there’s dedicated focus on the experience of IT’s customers and stakeholders (employees) as part of your ITSM processes, you’ll inherently deliver more value (see principle #3).
ITIL Principle #6: Think and work holistically
Where XM fits in: By leveraging experience management across your IT portfolio, you’ll be able to hear every voice and get a complete, 360-view of the employee technology experience. This enables IT service managers to pinpoint emerging gaps within their scope early on, and help fix them before they become larger issues for employees and the organisation as a whole.
ITIL Principle #7: Optimize and automate
Where XM fits in: When you know what your employees want and need on a continual basis, you can proactively design better technology experiences at the onset, and get ahead of potential experience gaps before they appear. What’s more, experience management solutions can seamlessly integrate into the ITSM systems and processes you already use, allowing IT teams to automate ongoing optimisation with recommended insight triggers and action workflows.
Where to start integrating experience management into ITSM today
With ITSM, the simpler and more manageable, the better. Experience management and employee listening is no different. They both need to work seamlessly across the whole range of devices and channels (laptops, PCs, mobile, web), services and applications that your IT portfolio serves. And because the whole purpose of ITSM and experience management is to serve your customers or people, they must cater for end-users by:
- Making it easy for users to find what they need to resolve issues as soon as possible, and offer the ability to provide feedback when there’s a gap
- Proactively addressing issues before employee users are even aware of them, by collecting continuous insights into the experiences ITSM delivers
- Stopping problems in their tracks by taking real-time action on the insights surfaced through ongoing and targeted employee listening
Take Qualtrics EmployeeXM for IT, for example. It helps IT leaders consistently deliver technology experiences that make your people more productive, motivated, and excited to stay with your company. And all these positive employee experience outcomes can only be good for the bottom line.
You’ll be able to:
- Gather real-time feedback about the overall IT and technology experience
- Keep IT projects on track by listening to your end-users and project teams when they say something’s going awry
- Identify where your IT services need modernising by understanding every IT-supported interaction and striving to improve the employee experience.
- Integrate with the ITSM systems and processes you already use, like ServiceNow, the leader in delivering digital workflows
EmployeeXM helps your IT department not only meet end-user needs, but also make the experience enjoyable for your people, and progress your business.
21st-century businesses run on digital technology experiences, and ITSM has never been more important. It relieves pressures on customer service employees, utilises automation, and helps share knowledge to drive a business forward.