Building IT Portals – what have we learned?

I was honored to lead a roundtable discussion at HDI Minnesota yesterday. Topics ranged from hiring practices to career paths for agents. Very involved discussion with a ton of experience and leaders in the room.

I loved being there and listening.

The topic I was ‘leading’ (which means asking questions) was on IT portals. Mostly every support team had a portal along with the challenges exist that have always existed.

However, I think our industry and software in general has come a long way to understanding the shortcomings of portals, adoption and experience.

I started off the session by asking who had a portal. And some hands flopped around uncomfortably. Maybe they don’t think their portals are good enough to call them portals.

One leader offered up his story about using Sharepoint as a portal and what that meant to the sharepoint service (when we upgrade we have some issues with our portal).

Several people noted that posting critical information on the portal was a huge win for both communication and contact avoidance.

Someone else noted that Knowledgebase access was a great feature to have (totally agree) – and went on to shock me that they even allow a forum feature for people to simply discuss anything (very innovative IMHO).

Then I asked the difficult question “what do your customers think about it?”  – – crickets.

“I don’t want another password” is what one end user cited for not using the portal.

Over the next weeks I will outline some of the heavy topics involved in department portals. I’m not going to focus on IT though, because I believe this is a challenge that all many-to-one relationships have. Meaning that any department, team, group, organization, or organization can learn from other groups’ failures and challenges to build an app to improve interaction, collaboration, service, and experience.

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Accepting credit cards

We’ve been getting questions about training and when the next event will be held. This is pretty cool to us, and something we wanted to offer to customers.

So we setup a simple page to explain the event, got a space reserved and started with a simple form to accept registrations:

simple form

 

Soon after, we needed this front-end to send registrations to a list of people. So obviously we hooked it up to our product Kinetic Task – and started sending signups to our CRM solution “SalesForce” using a pre-built handler.

The form had an option for people to “bill later” but we really wanted to start taking credit cards. So then we downloaded and added the Stripe handler.

Then, after creating a stripe account, all we needed to do was add some Javascript to the front-end form and send the charges to checkout with stripe! The end-result is quite striking – and a great experience:

Checkout screen

 

Need to start taking credit cards easily? Sign up to try Kinetic Task today!

To read all the details of this integration, there is an article on Kinetic Community.

Self Service or Selfish Service?

Is your self-service actually selfish service?

Personally I love this message. All too often the operators of a service sit down and try to make them more “efficient” or “streamlined”. What they mean is efficient and streamlined for them.

This leads to poor adoption, and continues a long standing abuse of the customer experience. What’s in it for me? Am I getting better faster service?

In reality these self-service portals are an afterthought and aren’t truly integral to the service experience!

Read the full article here:

http://www.information-age.com/five-tips-make-it-self-service-more-selfless-and-customer-centric-123460475/

What do you think? Is self-service integral to your service experience? What value is added for your customers and teams through self-service?

In the beginning…

tl,dr: all business processes start somewhere, whether data, event or request driven. That simple goal is the starting point of request process improvement.

I just need to collect people’s email addresses to get started.

I get into a lot of solution conversations with my friends. This is consulting 101, but there’s more on the line when I’m personally invested in this person.

There are other challenges too, when it’s personal there’s usually a cost prohibitive budget, a.k.a. no cash on hand.

So when someone asked me how to collect information and “get started” a lightbulb went off!

All processes start somewhere.

pexels-photo-28554It appears that almost all business processes come down to a click. An order. A bit. A byte. SOMETHING; whether it be data or a request, something triggers a business response.

Can we then assume that the best software gets this?

When I asked this, I re-asked it a couple times before I realized this was the value IT was providing. Particularly when it refers to Enterprise Architecture.

The decisions you make about the puzzle you are composing with technology investments influences your ability to react to information and events.

Which is why good architects and business analysts ask difficult questions about APIs and Integration points.

Can you send an example of the JSON?

It’s why great application developers know the details of how to alert and register events. As well as how to extract and parse event and alert information in a meaningful way.

How do you start a process? Is it as easy as filling in a request form? Do you click a button? Is it complex or simple? Why?

Participants in our second virtual hackathon have been challenged to start a business process. Create a simple registration application. Start capturing those email addresses and start the business process you need to start now.

For more information about how we feel about business processes check out this simple process flow, subscribe to our blog or check out who we are!

How Enterprise Software is like Apple’s new Airpods

tl,dr; one size does NOT fit all and assumptions hurt your bottom line.

If you watched the Apple event today you saw Phil announce a new set of wireless earbuds that connect wirelessly to your iPhone. The wireless technology and use cases are mind blowing. This is innovation.

Shortly after the announcement he did two things:

  1. He claimed they are “comfortable”
  2. He showed four other options of headphones from their subsidiary “Beats”

Anyone who has tried the newer shape of earbuds and experienced discomfort winced when he said “comfortable”. There is no way these will fit me.

On to the Beats headphones – four options “for every type of listening experience.” Great, and actually without those options I would be stuck using a lightning/audio dongle everywhere every time.

So what can we learn from this?

Listen to your users

When you make claims about what your users experience and it doesn’t accurately portray their emotions these claims are distancing and destroy or harm your relationship with customers. Actively listening and engaging regularly is not only important to your customers, but also to your profits.

Don’t force people to adapt unwillingly

Extend features to support the diversity of your customers and users. Making them do things “your way” creates discomfort, displeasure and may even stop people from adopting or changing in the ways you want or need them to.

Okay, why?

To learn more about how employee and customer disengagement hurts your bottom line read our piece “Surviving the Chaos

Designing Great Forms

I posted an example last week of a form I encountered that really stuck out to me. It really shocked me how good it was.

Awesome_Form_Design

Can you spot what stood out to me?

There are standard good things about this form:

  1. A graphical representation of where I am in the process
  2. Simple entry fields with clear field name
  3. A submission button that is clear

Yeah, yeah… it’s a form. I expect all those things.

What struck me about this form was that it didn’t care about me! It was asking for my child’s name, not mine. The credit card holder.

So what Matt?

So what? That’s my daughter! She means the world to me. No surprise there either.

So why is this so good?

Later in the process, as I’m discovering their services and receiving communications this form gives them an edge. They now have the power to influence my experience in a way you couldn’t without my daughter’s name.

Matt, did Lucy like the kit we sent?

We’ll be sending Lucy’s next kit this week!

This subtle data gives this company the ability to reach me emotionally EVERY time they want to interact with me. They know something their competitors do not; my daughter’s name.

A well designed form is easy to use and has a good entry experience. A truly great form does all that, and empowers business processes to be exceptional.

What can you change in your forms to delight your customers later?

Are you able to test your theories?

If you want the flexibility to build great experiences, empower employees and customers while improving business outcomes you should really check out Kinetic Data today. Don’t want to check out another company in your free time? Send your app dev pros to our developer site, or email us and we’ll check you out instead!

When Systems of Record should be used as Systems of Engagement

TL,DR; Never. Ever. Not even then.

Systems of record are designed to be used by trained professionals using industry terms, metrics and data.

Why on earth would try to open the door to untrained professionals? And if you’re training each employee to use a system of record, aren’t you wasting money and time?

There are tons of examples of this everywhere you look.

Can you imagine diagnosing your car? How about towing it in? Do you even have the right equipment?

Will your interpretation of the diagnosis be accurate?

Stop making non IT users use your IT system, and stop training each and every employee how to use the new HR system.

Spend the time and effort to build an interface that doesn’t require training, and then us modern tech to integrate with all the things.

Enabled employees require little training and focus on what they are great at.

Want to read more? We have a 7 page white paper(pdf link) that goes into great detail on this subject. Or you can an IT focused, shortened version here, or just go and try our software that is designed for this specific purpose.

Your Next ITSM Tool Should be Neither

TL,DR; decouple IT operations from customer service and development. Then realize the incredible savings and benefits thereof.

The term “ITSM” has always bugged me, and I think I know why.

The primary customer of ITSM is IT; everything else is lumped into “customer service” and “customer experience”.

ITSM_WikiEven Wikipedia says there are too many “fluff words” and that ITSM has an unclear definition.

But in IT, we know better. We understand what we’re talking about when we say Service Management. It’s a standard way of operating so we don’t fail.

So why would any business person buy Service Management?

To keep the lights on.

“But that’s what we hired you for! We don’t care what you call it. We don’t want to buy it, we want you to DO IT!”

Then I’ll need $1.5m every three years to replace my tools, redesign processes and…

Wait, $1.5m? Don’t you remember when last year we were managing changes via email? Don’t you remember the spreadsheets of Assets? Why $1.5m?

Technology has become complex and our colleagues want to reduce risk. Some also want to understand the value and depreciation of assets. ITSM is just IT Operations Management + Customer Service.

DING DING DING DING DING DING – we have a winner! Here’s your $1.5 million. But why every three years?

Think of ITSM tools like a car lease. Three years comes along, and it’s time for a fresh smelling one, the latest one with all the bells and whistles.

Do the bells and whistles keep the lights on?

No.

Then why keep upgrading and rebuilding your operations empire?

The tools and practices that surround Service Management change, and they change often.  Have you considered who benefits from that change?

Consider separating your systems of operation from your systems of service. It gives you the freedom to change platforms without impacting your customers.

The impact of this is far greater than you realize. We believe in building systems of engagement separate from systems of record. To understand the nature of this problem:

 

systems-of-recordDoes this image describe your problem? If so, you’ll be interested in understanding our approach to enterprise software. Read more here, or just call us directly: 1-651-556-1030