The Endgame of Support Services

Endgame of Support ServicesIf I could ask the wisest person on the planet 2 questions about support services I’d ask:

#1 Why do support services exist?

#2 How can you tell if a support service fulfills it’s purpose?

Hold on, hold on. Before you click off this page or delete this email, stick with me a minute.

These questions aren’t as innocuous as they appear. The payoff from them is potentially very big.

Get them right and you’ll know exactly how much to budget and spend for your organization. You’ll also know who and what resources can help you get there. And you’ll know exactly if you are getting there.

Go down the wrong rabbit hole, and your stuck in a permanent fog at night without a light.

So, back to the questions and their answers.

#1 Why do support services exist?

Theoretically, a support service is there to support an organization’s employees who are working on the real stuff. The core competencies of the organization. Right?

You (the support service) are there solely to help your “core peers” (I just made that up).

When you do your job well, core peers aren’t distracted. They’re free to focus on their work. Which makes them better able to do what they do. And that, in theory, leads to the organization’s success.

That’s the reason support services exist. To remove distractions so peers can focus on their work.

#2 How can you tell if a support service fulfills it’s purpose?

Here’s the tricky part.

The answer to this question may not be what’s typically given by support services. The typical answer contains Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), Service Level Agreements (SLAs), performance to industry benchmarks, etc.

However, these metrics show a service’s performance relative to itself or alternative providers. But not relative to removing distractions from core peers.

A more appropriate answer to the question may be:

Since support services enable core peers to focus on their work,…

…the measure of success is the degree to which core peers are free from distractions.

Or put another way…the degree to which support services remove distractions from core peers.

This just hasn’t been the way most support services define or measure their success.

There is one metric that deserves a special comment: customer satisfaction.

It’s the one metric that comes closest to determining a support service’s success. However, it fails. It fails because customer satisfaction doesn’t ask about distractions to core peers. It asks about happiness with the service.

And core peers are familar with these types of questions. They’ll tell you whether they’re happy or not. But their happiness isn’t why a support service exists.

Right? It’s about removing distractions so peers can focus on their work.

How do you know if your support service is successful?


Chris Arlen

President, Service Performance

Technorati: contract services, contract performance, KPIs, SLAs

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