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Service Management software for improved customer care

Service management is a business concept coming from the B2B industry. It aims at improving the overall customer care, reducing costs for service provision and ensuring a rapid introduction of new services. As well as the B2C and B2B industries adopting service management, the Facilities Management profession has embraced this concept.

In most business support organisations such as Facilities Management (FM), Human Resource Management (HRM) and IT Service Management (ITSM), adding value to the core business has become a key driver for innovation and change with regards to both service range and service delivery. It starts by understanding and validating the ever changing customer needs in relation to the organisation’s strategy. This allows service managers to develop and offer business services that stimulate workforce productivity and increase employee satisfaction. An efficient and agile service provisioning model ensures best value for money and maximum flexibility in sourcing strategy.

Service Level Agreements

The implementation of a successful service management concept starts by understanding the business needs. Why are these needs essential and how do they contribute to the organisation’s strategy and goals. These needs can vary per business unit, department, role, country or even individual. A prerequisite for a successful implementation of service management is standardisation. Standardisation of services and delivery processes in service catalogues contribute to improved quality, faster delivery and reduced costs.

Service Level Agreements (SLAs) help managing the different needs for both services and products. SLA is an agreement by which services can be delivered per business unit, department or building. The SLA will set the agreed quantity, quality, time and place of delivery, requesting process and any other aspects that have been required by the customer. Since many support departments such as FM and ITSM are undergoing a transformation from cost centre to profit centre, the SLA also contains budgets and costs for the agreed services.

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Focus on customer satisfaction

Services are customer and employee centric. A good customer relationship or account management role is therefore important in professional services management. The account manager knows the company’s overall strategy and understands the changing needs of other departments and employees in terms of business support services. The account manager connects with internal customers and evaluates the perceived quality of services, the performance of SLAs, promotes new business services and actively contributes to service innovation.

Integration of multiple services disciplines

To increase the quality, accessibility and efficiency of the delivery of services, multiple support disciplines need to become integrated. Facilities Management and ITSM are examples of employee centric services that drive employee productivity and employee satisfaction. Technology is also pushing towards the integration trend as the difference between IT and FM assets becomes more and more vague. Customers are no longer aware of these differences, except for a one-stop-shop concept where they can easily drop their requests. 

In terms of processing and delivery, different disciplines can learn from established best practices. The frequently used ITSM best practice ITIL includes concepts and processes and can be reused in Facilities Management processes, such as Service Desk, Incident Management, Configuration Management, Change Management or SLA Management. The integration of service disciplines also involves HR with processes such as on boarding, job rotations or off boarding involving facilities, IT and HR.

Mobility and self-service

How, where and when your core business workforce and customers work is changing. More and more people are working outside the traditional offices, for instance from home or whilst travelling. This also has an impact on the accessibility and availability of facility and IT services: people need 24/7 easy access to relevant services and support information. Web-based self-service is a proven concept and technology that allows people to request services anytime and anywhere in a very simple and efficient way. Customers can query at any time the status of their request, the planned delivery, costs involved or additional information. The key success factor to self-service is logic, simplicity and communication. Smart mobile apps can further improve the customer experience with regards to accessing services, entering a request, booking a meeting room or logging an incident in a very simple and intuitive way.

Successful implementation of self-service drastically reduces the number of calls to a traditional service desk or helpdesk. Although it will never replace the human interaction offered by a service desk, self-service allows your helpdesk staff to focus more on giving expert support and deliver customer satisfaction. Once service processes are standardised, workflow solutions can ensure immediate distribution of calls to the relevant tradesmen or external service providers without the need for manual interaction through the service desk.

In-house, outsourced or combined service delivery     

The decision to outsource services to one or more external service providers is influenced by many factors. It starts with the companies’ core strategy and the contribution of business services to realising that strategy. The more core-business related these services are, the more they tend to be executed by internal staff and tradesmen. The less important the services are and the lower their impact on business continuity, the easier it is to contract external providers. Aspects like flexibility, knowledge, corporate social responsibility (CSR), costs and compliance determine the best way of contracting your services. In most organisations, a combination of in-house execution and outsourcing applies. Main contracting is a contracting concept whereby multiple services are outsourced to one single service provider, providing one single point of contact and optimising the synergy between these services. In a Total Facility Management (TFM) contract, the management and monitoring is outsourced to a contractor. Only the Account or Demand management role remains within the organisation.

In any sourcing concept, it is key that delivery is connected to the services process, ensuring fast and correct execution. For Service Management software solutions play an important role in the process, helping to reduce dramatically processing times and ensuring seamless communication between all stakeholders: customers, service managers, front office and helpdesk staff, back office specialists, tradesmen, field engineers and external providers.

Service orchestration and monitoring  

The combination of customer-oriented service level agreements (SLAs), external provider contracts, and internal delivery, make professional service management a complex and diverse discipline. Centralised service orchestration and monitoring ensures that services are delivered as agreed, are in line with changing needs and truly contribute to business objectives. Real-time monitoring allows service and contract managers to identify potential risks in delivery. Dashboards provide immediate insight into potential escalations, performance, costs and budgets, customer satisfaction and processing times. These insights support continuous improvement processes in service delivery, contracting and customer focused innovation.

Integrated Services Management software 

Integrated services management (ISM) unifies all stakeholders such as customers, employees, helpdesk, back office, managers, tradesmen and external service providers in one connected process. ISM also integrates multiple support disciplines such as FM, IT and HR service management in one customer-oriented concept.

ISM involves the implementation of a professional Service Management software solution which includes all aspects: service level management, self-service, apps, helpdesk, workflow, dashboards, cost and budget management, contract management and best practices with preconfigured FM, IT and HR processes such as incident management, configuration management, room booking and reservations, employee on boarding and much more.

Established Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS) include Service Management software solutions. Benefits of Service Management software are quickly visible. Connecting Service Management processes to adjacent processes in Maintenance Management, Space Management, Sustainability, or Real Estate Management, creates an integrated approach and delivers new valuable insights & management information across all business support processes.

Global success stories

Case Study - King's College London

Elizabeth Harris, Business Information Systems Manager: 'The solution allowed us to reduce our maintenance backlog by 50% within three months.'

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Case Study - Veritas

Bart Vandenabeele, Facility Manager: "Thanks to Planon Internal satisfaction has increased dramatically since the implementation.”

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Case Study - RGM Gruppe

Daniel Zawadzki, IWMS Project Leader: "Added value for our clients and transparent performance with new IWMS software from Planon."

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