Public Services > Central Government

The ‘internal customer’ as the customer

Published 08 December 2017

Dave Aspindle, Head of Public Sector at Littlefish explains how getting the Service Desk right can dramatically improve the experience for the ‘internal customer’, in turn improving government’s efficiency


It goes without saying, that the IT function of any organisation is paramount to its success. For any government department to succeed then an excellent service needs to be in place. It is therefore vital to realise the benefits of how getting the Service Desk right can impact the speed of resolution, in turn creating efficiencies and making the IT user or the ‘internal customer’ more productive.

Change is coming

It’s well documented that the government has a history of procuring IT from the ‘usual suspects’ – larger, high-profile Systems Integrators. They may be considered ‘safe bets’ but due to the nature of the contracts in place – there has typically been a lack of focus by suppliers on the internal customer and more of a focus on commerce and business system outcome. ROI over customer service possibly.

Nowadays, however, with the introduction of the Government Transformation Strategy 2017 to 2020 policy paper, there seems to be more of a move towards disaggregation of these single, monolithic IT contracts; a shift in supplier strategy towards SMEs  - to do things differently. 

Take UK Export Finance (UKEF) - the UK’s export credit agency and government department – for example. It has broken up its monolithic incumbent IT contract in line with guidance from the Government Digital Service to work with smaller specialist suppliers to manage its IT.

At the heart of this transition - from large suppliers to SMEs and, from profit to end user service delivery - is Service Integration and Management (SIAM). Part of this is the Service Desk.

For UKEF, Littlefish’s service extends beyond the Service Desk to resolution and co-ordination of broader issues and services. What this means is that UKEF can disaggregate with confidence, knowing that the Service Desk can smooth the process of integration and enables maximum service performance. With this model, users have the option of overseeing their Service Management in-house, with their strategic partner delivering Service Desk as a seamless extension of the in-house function. This kind of flexibility guarantees there is a disaggregation route and a multisource model which is fit for every organisation.

The ultimate Service Desk

The Service Desk is a great place to start gathering information around the internal customer and organisation pain points/challenges to create new ideas that can feed into further digital strategies.

Then, and only then, can the Service Desk expedite the resolution of problems to meet the internal customers’ needs and ultimately meet business objectives. A poor Service Desk impacts the speed of resolution but a good Service Desk creates an efficiency fix first time, all the time and users become more productive. Specifically, to provide the ultimate Service Desk then the focus should be on:

·      good service delivery to the internal customer – for this to happen, functions must understand the internal customer by constantly expanding their knowledge base of them and this is possible by using a dedicated Service Desk team to create familiarity, empathy and real relationships.

·      become an extension of the organisations’ IT team. You need to create a strong relationship with IT users so that you are no longer simply ‘fixing an issue’ – you are an extension of their team who fully understands the business case and can ensure that you are able to answer the ‘why’, not just the ‘how’. Although it sounds obvious, basic even, not every Service Desk provider focuses on these items as a matter of utmost importance.

·      people - you’re only as good as the people. Ensure you have the best Service Desk team by giving them the best customer service and technical training so they are fully armed.

·      be productive, resolving issues at speed for continual service improvements – but not too fast. It’s better to spend an hour on an issue, delving deeply into it and be able to offer advice and guidance, rather than spending five minutes on an issue then passing it on or closing it off, only for the same issue to occur at a later date.

·      gather as much customer feedback as possible - good and bad. The Service Desk team should immediately and empathetically deal with it, introducing new methods to ensure that the same issue does not arise again.

·      finally, measure success through contact resolution and user satisfaction – operate the lowest answer time as possible (the industry standard can be anywhere between 30-60 seconds, we strive for less than six seconds), ensure contact resolution is resolved at first point of contact (the industry standard is between 50-70%, we strive for 90%) and then user satisfaction is guaranteed (the industry standard is reported as above 70%, our average is above 90%).

With this methodology, immediate improvements will be realised. The overall outcome is a set of building blocks that can flex and change as the digital transformation agenda gathers momentum and builds the new services from similarly procured standard components.

Historic England provides an example of this principle in action. Historic England is taking a forward looking, truly collaborative approach whereby “Service Desk and Monitoring” becomes part of the service integration layer, bringing together: end user devices, Unified Communications, networking, hosting, application management and support, and other third party services.  

Littlefish runs the Service Desk and Monitoring and End-user Computing (EUC) service provision, whilst the delivery team consists of Service Desk Analysts, Deskside Engineers, Service Ambassador, Service Administrator and Tester (Endpoint & Application).  The team is backed up with a leveraged remote Littlefish Service Desk using the “Pod Concept” whereby Historic England get the benefits of a dedicated team with the capacity to “overspill” to the wider call centre to handle any peaks in demand. The Service Desk also covers incident, problem, request and event processes.

Getting the partner right

In my opinion, it’s true to say that larger systems integrators simply focus on the big picture – or the overall outcome, rather than drilling down to the small stuff. With the right specialist knowledge and experience, improved service can be provided to the internal customer. Again, it’s important to note that these services should directly reflect what the internal customer wants – not what is best for the overall business as the customer.

Change is constant across IT – but it’s tantamount not to forget who is directly affected. For example, it may be cheaper for a Service Desk to point IT users to an automated service in the first instance. On the one hand, automated services can take the sometimes laborious tasks away from the Service Desk, not to mention potential human error – but, if this is not what customers would choose in terms of their feedback, it shouldn’t be done. It’s easier for smaller specialists to have more of a focus on the internal customer in these instances.

The Service Desk – at the heart of digital transformation

The Service Desk is at the heart of this digital transformation agenda and will continue to cushion the impact changes will have on users, whilst enabling organisations to in-source key service management responsibilities with confidence.

Finally, it’s important to remember for digital transformation to actually happen in government, then something as simple as an excellent service from a Service Desk will help deliver transformation and its efficiencies. However, if the user experience of IT is poor then the internal customer is less likely to want to engage in new digital transformation activities and this will hinder innovation moving forward.

Dave Aspindle is head of Public Sector at Littlefish

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