IT service providers have historically thought in terms of “technology first,” but that’s changing. More and more of the top technology service providers in Asia-Pacific (APAC) are adopting a customer-centric and industry-oriented approach to how they devise, deliver, and diversify their solutions.
That shift in thinking might seem unremarkable. After all, isn’t everyone talking about customer centricity these days? But it could radically reshape how technology service providers structure themselves and amplify the value they create.
In a recent forum with some of APAC’s most influential technology service providers, I discovered three areas where applying a customer-centric approach can lead to substantial improvements in performance.
Technology service providers are adopting a persona-based strategy. They’re drilling down on conversations with trusted customers and starting to restructure their solutions according to industries rather than vendors. That’s a significant change from the “build it and they will come” mindset, where providers create products and even entire business practices based on the vendors or technologies they work with.
Take self-service as an example. Technology service providers often recommend self-service and automation as a cure-all for any help desk issue. Yet their conversations with customers reveal that substantial groups of users, such as field personnel, have far more urgent and complex needs than standard self-service portals can accommodate.
These users inevitably resort to calling a supervisor or support line rather than using even the most sophisticated self-service app. They’re not getting value from the technical solution, and neither is the business.
Based on situations like that, some service providers are introducing more proactive resolution capabilities (such as those offered on the ServiceNow platform) that take the onus off field workers to find their own solutions.
Other providers are continually refining how their self-service capabilities align to different personas’ needs. Tech service provider Mphasis, for example, more than halved its ticket volume with persona-based automation using the ServiceNow platform.
The same applies to developing industry-aligned solutions that account for different operating or marketplace conditions, such as more stringent compliance requirements faced by the banking sector. ServiceNow has adopted this approach by applying vertical-specific overlays to our configuration management databases (CMDBs) that align with the specific industry’s protocols and customer lifecycle, based on constant feedback from industry players themselves.
That in turn accelerates the time to value for these customers and saves them from the tech debt they’d otherwise incur building something similar on their own.
Ultimately, persona-based (or industry-based) strategies acknowledge that if we better understand what customers need, we can solve for the right things much faster.
The customer-centric view should also inform how technology service providers refine their internal operations. More and more providers are aiming to do this through process mining: using real-time process data to better understand and improve their current state of operations. The first question they should ask, however, is: What’s the point?
Any investment in data collection or analysis should seek to deliver clear value to customers. That can take all sorts of forms: accelerating time to market for new products, resolving service issues more productively, and so on. Only from there can providers identify the data they need to track and the systems required to track it.
Providers should factor in how easily they can gather that data from their platforms and solutions. The ServiceNow platform allows administrators to view any piece of data captured in the CMDB, meaning providers can quickly spot where workflow bottlenecks exist and derive the root causes.
The platform’s built-in machine learning and AI can help by suggesting options to remove those bottlenecks and improve flow. But this depends on providers knowing what processes they want to improve and why—which only ongoing feedback from customers can uncover.
Otherwise, they risk being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of data out there, or spending a huge amount of capital on a big data solution that doesn’t end up solving a specific problem.
Customer value should act as a lens or filter when considering investments in early-stage technology, such as generative AI. One participant in our forum put it best when they described the ideal position as “midway between realism and blue skies”—encouraging others to identify immediate customer use cases and opportunities to generate value rather than falling into the trap of “technology for technology’s sake.”
Technology service providers would do well to gradually expand their adoption of new technologies, such as generative AI, into existing solutions based on ongoing customer feedback.
That same approach has led to ServiceNow’s introduction of generative AI on our platform: building integration with existing best-of-breed solutions and adding capability based firmly on what customers are asking for in the here and now. For technology service providers, that guarantees some return on investment while building capabilities in unpredictable yet significant fields of innovation.
For many technology service providers, leading with customer value will require significant shifts in workflows and processes—not to mention the solutions offered to those same customers. Platforms that allow for both agile development and the strict requirements of certain industries will help providers make those shifts.
A culture built around solving problems and listening to users will keep solutions relevant no matter how much, or how fast, technologies change.
Find out how ServiceNow helps ensure a customer-centric approach.
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