Delivering optimum service levels in a digitalised world – Why people remain key

Digitalisation remains the driver of new investment as organisations ramp up and fine-tune the digital capability they already have.

According to Statista, spending on digital transformation is projected to reach US$1.8 trillion in 2022 and US$ 2.8 trillion by 2025. Part of this investment focus is on optimising the technology they have. But businesses must not neglect to maximise the value of their people, as it is through people (and optimised processes) that technology is put to work.

Engaging with, and getting buy-in across, senior leadership is key here. High value technology implementations require leaders that are knowledgeable about why and how the technology will add value for employees and customers and advance business strategy. If you don’t have the right leaders in your organisation, after all, then you will not be able to leverage technology projects or capitalise on market opportunities you might otherwise have done. Leaders have a key role to play right from the beginning of the cycle in boldly articulating the reasons for a purchase and communicating that confidence to the rest of the business.

Building the right culture

Gartner research [1] has found that enterprises which are free of buyer’s remorse after a major technology purchase are more thorough, disciplined and focused – and they also complete their purchases faster. Enterprises that experienced high levels of regret, by contrast, had been dealing with conflicting objectives and on average took between seven and 10 months longer to reach a decision about what to buy. More than half (56%) of purchases studied fell into the “high regret” category, compared with only 13% categorised as “no regret”.

It is critical that this confidence and engagement is communicated to users, who will be working with digital systems and solutions. These employees will, after all, need to learn how to leverage these solutions but also work out how to get to grips with new administrative processes and operating models. Often, though, organisations still fail to recognise the importance of bringing employees with them into this new technology-enabled world. Building a more seamless intersection between people and technology is likely to become increasingly important moving forwards.

In this regard, getting the right people on board is crucial. Digital businesses need to hire workers that have the technical literacy to understand the capability they can deliver. But they also need to recruit and develop people with the soft skills needed to engage with customers and then use the technology to deliver a great moment of service.

Getting all this right also requires the business to be flexible and listen to both employees and customers to understand what long-term shifts are needed to optimise the value of engagements for customers and drive growth and efficiency for the business.

The coming together of human and machine

Companies need to focus on how they become better digital businesses and that will depend primarily on the intersection between people and machines. The differentiator will often be around how efficiently people use the technology to deliver service and execute on strategy. That in turn will depend on how engaged staff are. Often, heightened automation actually raises employee engagement. That’s because it liberates staff from mundane tasks. It reduces the time, effort, and administrative burden on resources while increasing the quality of work. This drives up productivity and, through upskilling and reskilling, increases job satisfaction..

Service delivery in a digital world is ultimately about delivering services to people and human-to-human engagement always matters in this context. Technology and people together can best deliver it. That’s why the coming together of the two brings added value here. Machines deliver services via artificial intelligence and speed, humans add the crucial elements of empathy, social exchange, and interpersonal proximity to ensure service delivery is a success.

Finding a route map forward

As we have seen, digitalisation and digital service delivery is not just about technology, far from it. It depends on the successful interface between people and machines.

That means businesses assessing, recruiting, and developing the leaders in their service management team: the individuals that are going to execute the strategy. It means ensuring those leaders help in delivering a robust change management approach, capable of bringing every employee with them. That also depends on employing the right people, training them well and applying the concepts of behavioural science to optimise the results.

That will drive organisational performance and enhanced productivity for the business, while delivering enhanced employee engagement. And it will, in turn, help organisations transition into digital businesses.

About the Author

Marne Martin is President for Service Management, EAM & Global Industries at IFS. In her role, Marne’s focus is to continue elevate the importance of service management and EAM as part of the overall IFS success story and create greater value for the IFS business and our customers.

[1] Gartner, The Evolution From Voice of Customer to Experience Insight Management Applications, Jim Davies, 9 June 2022

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