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Experience Management and XLAs. Chapter 4 – A Bump in the Road

Author:

Jaro Tomik

Digital Enablement

•  Dec 05, 2023

Is your IT Service Team hitting its agreed SLAs but still not delivering value for money?

You’re not alone.

It’s a common problem to experience the ‘Watermelon Effect’, and it’s why many ITSM teams are adding XLAs (Experience Level Agreements) to their usual SLAs, as they look to improve their user experience, efficiency, and the relationship they have with their customers.

Jaro Tomik, CDW's Chief Technologist - Digital Enablement, has created a fictional story to highlight the potential benefits of Experience Management and XLAs.

This is Ron's story...

Chapter 4: A Bump in the Road

Ron’s feeling better about the presentation he over-promised on and is looking forward to catching up with Jade and hearing her feedback. 

“Hey Jade, thanks so much for accepting the meeting with me. I know how busy you are!” 

“No problem at all, Ron, I did say I was always happy to help! We only have 15 minutes though, I guess we are skipping the ‘obligatory’ weather discussion, then?” She replies jokingly.  

“Haha, sure, let’s cut straight to the chase.” Says Ron and sets the scene around Poole, Nick, Lisa, and the account history.  

“Basically, I got myself in trouble by promising to have this world-changing presentation with a customer next Wednesday at 11 and wanted to make sure that what I put together is executable. What did you think?” 

“Understood. I will do you one better. I’ve reviewed and adjusted it, so why don’t we get together with Lisa, walk through it, and present it together in-person on customer site?” 

Ron, stunned, not expecting Jade to offer up her precious time, exclaims with a child-level of excitement: “Yes! That would be awesome!”  

Jade’s cheeks turn a little red, she’s happy to make someone’s day that much better by simply offering her time. “Can’t wait. I’ll be in touch shortly with my availability.” 

As they hang up, Ron is ecstatic about securing an ally; a partner in crime to go against the established forces of Managed Service.  

Next up: Lisa. “Hi Lisa, this is Ron, just calling to tell you I have some exciting news – Jade Salgado is on board and happy to present with us on Wednesday! However, I still need your help with a couple of things – give me a call back, please. You know the number.” 

Next up: Mark. Ron is aware of Mark’s soft spot for him, but he is his manager, after all, so any and all requests are to be handled with caution, including their cadence and format. Ron hates internal politics, the inevitable evil of the corporate world. He has never been great at it. 

But this time it’s different. He has a real challenge, a strong ally, maybe even a solution, and he does not have time to play games. “Knock, knock…knock” before entering Mark’s office carefully. “Hey buddy, what can I do you for?” 

“How did you know I need something and I’m not just coming in for a chat?” says Ron, laughing.  

“I think we have worked together long enough to know that in our department, there is no time to waste! So what do you need?” 

“Alright. Poole. What are your thoughts?” 

“Urgh. Not that again. What crazy demands have they come up with this time? How have we not binned them yet to a competitor to deal with? As far as I am aware, we are not even making any money off these guys…” says Mark as Ron thinks to himself how easy it would be to chuck it over to a large MSP that likely does not even care beyond the signature and SLAs. Maybe then Poole would come back crawling. Or not. Let’s face it - it’s not like Crodwell have been treating Poole any better. 

“Honestly, we have lost that account long time ago. Unless we come up with something radical and revolutionary!” says Ron theatrically as he pumps his fist up in the air, leaving Mark unenthused, and so he continues, dropping his arm back down: “I’ve teamed up with Lisa and Jude Salgado, and we have come up with a plan to turn the account around; we are going to present it to the customer on Wednesday. 

“Uhm, okay. What exactly did you promise? Who will need to be involved? How much will it cost us? I‘m not giving away freebies to an account we’re not going to make any money on.” 

“Let me show you.” Ron opens his laptop and shows the presentation draft, noticing Mark leaning further and further back, crossing his arms, and frowning. “What are you thinking?” Ron asks carefully. 

Mark takes a deep breath. “Well, all I see here is you, Lisa, and Jude spending a lot of effort on an account that’s not going to make any more money. Not only that, but it’s going to cost us time and money. What is the ROI here?” Ron’s heart rate increased as he realised that his plan is flawed. He was thinking about the customer this whole time, forgetting that there are other stakeholders to be involved that need to approve of the plan first. As he stares blankly at the screen, Mark picks up the conversation again. “Look, I really appreciate you involving me in this. I see the effort and the customer value this would bring. Saying that, I cannot allow you to present this to the customer, unless there is a clear path to revenue for us on the back of it.” Ron’s heart sank into his stomach. He suddenly felt like such a failure. How could he have missed this? “Okay, Mark, let me review this and find a way.” 

Ron types into his laptop: 

When leaving Mark’s office, Lisa calls him back. “Hey, did you call?”  

“Yeah, I did, actually. I just spoke to Mark, and he wants to stop the whole thing as anything we are going to do here is not going to make us any money. It will likely cost us some, plus our effort, plus Jude’s time…” Lisa cuts him off: 

“See? I told you! Never promise to a customer what you can’t deliver! Aargh, I knew I shouldn’t have agreed to be involved! I’m just about to get into a cab, I’ll call you back first thing tomorrow. But I’m not a happy bunny, Ron. You better not mess this up more than it is!” 

It’s 17:28. Ron is ready to go home. Feeling tired and worried about failing. Getting home before six, he gets the obligatory “Look what the cat dragged in!” from Maeve, “at least you are the one who’s cooking today.” 

“So much for coming home early. Just what I needed.” Ron utters to himself as he starts chopping onions. 

Summary

Service Experience Management (SXM) and the introduction of Experience Level Agreements (XLAs) have been topics widely discussed at various industry conferences in the last few years. This four-episode blog article takes us on Ron’s journey through an introduction of SXM and XLAs at an MSP. Identify where to start, who you need on board, and what it will take to kick such cultural, process and technological change at your organisation. 

For more information about Experience Management please take a look at the below links: 

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