User Experience Management: The Elephant That’s Been In The Room For 30 Years

User Experience Management bright horse

The penny dropped for me nearly five years ago, when I started to look a bit more closely into what User Experience Management was all about. Having spent the previous 25 years working in mainstream ITSM, I was pretty sure that we had it covered – after all, we have the ‘People’ part of the 4 P’s, and we all knew about CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) and satisfaction surveys.

Why, then, is IT still surprised that users’ experience is so different from what they’ve been promised? Why do changes to IT services result in so many unintended consequences – the impact of which only seems to filter back to IT management slowly, incompletely, and inaccurately? Why doesn’t the SLA help to identify users’ real issues?

The Problem Of Ignoring Business Customers

User Experience Management The Elephant That's Been In The Room For 30 Years bright horse

We seem, somehow, to have been ignoring one of the most critical parts of the service – the business consumers for whom it was built in the first place (and remember that it’s the business that is ultimately paying for all of this).

Looking a bit more closely at the ‘People’ in the 4 P’s, it is clear that ITIL‘s concern is in the development and organisation of the people that work in the IT organisation. There is hardly any reference to business consumers. 

Improper Use Of Surveys And Reports

User Experience Management The Elephant That's Been In The Room For 30 Years bright horse bad survery

Some of the statistics around survey data are eye-opening – often, less than 5% of the surveys sent out result in any kind of meaningful response. Furthermore, so many of them are relying on incomplete and faded memories of things that may have happened weeks or months ago.

Even Service Level Agreement (SLA) reports are almost certainly distorted – less than half of the issues that are experienced by end-users are actually reported to the service desk.

The metrics that we use to assess the quality and performance of services – in the case of IT, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and SLAs – naturally reflect the processes and components for which they have been built. 

Over the past several decades, this has resulted in an almost exclusive focus on the investment in IT infrastructure and applications. What’s missing is an insight into whether users of those services are able to effectively engage with those services with the levels of productivity that is intended.

Taking a step back, it is also clear that accurate and timely data about the user’s experience is not only critical in operational, reactive use cases. Having a clear insight into not only the performance, behaviour, and compliance of those services but also how those services are being experienced – giving us an idea about the user’s sentiment – can support pretty much any aspect of the entire service lifecycle. 

This can include, but isn’t limited to:

  • an accurate understanding of demand, allowing for better-targeted investment and better service improvement
  • more transparency and accuracy for governance
  • more data points to support financial management
  • better testing
  • better releases
  • a much better chance of building a CMDB that is fit for purpose

All of this, however, needs more than just a few new KPIs. IT’s management mindset needs to change in order to encompass looking at things more holistically – developing an ‘outside-in’ approach to complement the ‘inside-out’ focus that’s prevalent in so many IT shops.

Learn More About The Author: Dave D’Agostino

Dave D'Agostino

In IT for more than 40 years. My last position was ITSM Practice Lead at Nexthink for three and a half years, where I focussed on how the art and science of Digital Experience Management can improve the quality of IT services and the experience of end-users. Before that, I was EMEA ITSM solution consulting practice lead at ServiceNow, and worked in other roles with customers, partners, and MSPs. Before ServiceNow, I was in the product marketing team for HP’s Service Manager, following the acquisition of Peregrine Systems, where I worked in presales and product management. I started in operations and systems programming roles at Glaxo and Marathon Oil before moving to the software industry.