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Experience Management and XLAs. Chapter 1 – Experience Management??

Author:

Jaro Tomik

Digital Enablement

•  Nov 09, 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 1: Experience Management…??

Panic!

“Beep, beep, beep, beep…!” Ron hits ‘snooze’ - it’s the obvious choice on a Monday morning. 

He knows the challenges from last week have not disappeared. “More may have cropped up over the weekend and this week is hardly going to be much different,” he thinks to himself as his eyes close again for a split second, only to realise – “Oh no, I slept in!” 

Skipping breakfast, Ron rushes into the Crodwell offices, blood pumping through his body so hard he can hear it, thousands of thoughts running through his head. 

Who is going to deal with Head of Service Delivery Nick at Poole?  

What questions is he likely to have?  

Who is going to give him the answers?  

Why are all our SLA reports green and yet we all know the service delivery is not where it needs to be?  

In fact… which room is the meeting even in??  

Just as Ron was going to check the location of the meeting, his phone locked him out of his M365 accounts, as he hadn’t done the compulsory update over the weekend. No time to do that now.  

The receptionist points him into Room 12, but once he gets there, it’s deserted. “How can that be?” Ron thinks to himself and looks around the rest of the office. With only a handful of people there, focused on their screens, something does not add up. Even the tube wasn’t as busy as it usually is on a Wednesday morning. Lisa, the Account Director, is not picking up the phone, which wouldn’t be surprising if she was in the meeting with Nick already. Are they meant to meet on client site?  

Ron finally gets a second to sit down, open his laptop and check his emails. He is in the right building, in the right room, the meeting is today, but the line in his Outlook suggests he is an hour early. Upset with himself for forgetting to change the alarm clock he inherited from his grandfather from Daylight Saving Time to GMT, and at the same time relieved that he is not late after all, he walks over to the office’s tablet-controlled coffee machine and orders a strong espresso. 

The Woman by the Watercooler

Next to the coffee machine is the state-of-the-art watercooler. That’s where he meets a woman with long, curly hair and a big smile on her face.  

“How are you doing?” Ron asks, in a typical British fashion, not expecting to hear much more back than the obligatory, “Not bad,” or the slightly more sarcastic, “Another day in paradise,” that he is used to hearing.  

To his surprise, this woman says “Amazing thanks. How are you this fine morning? Do you enjoy an early start to the day?”  

Ron, perturbed by this unexpected positivity, is reminded of the feeling of getting an annoyingly talkative taxi driver on the morning ride to the airport. However, his curiosity and nurtured politeness force him to continue the dialogue. 

“Not so great, to be honest, I thought I had slept in and once I got to the office, I realised I was an hour early. I could have still been in my bed!” replies Ron, half-angrily, half-jokingly.  

“That’s incredible – you have just been given a gift of an extra hour to your day!” the woman replies, adding, “I am quite envious, actually! If only I had the extra hour today – I could have used it to better prepare for this Experience Management pitch we are delivering today. Oh, I am Jade by the way, nice to meet you.”  

“I am Ron, lovely to meet you, too. Experience Management, you say…what is it??” he blurts out, before finishing the handshake.  

“You know how so many IT Service Desk teams send out those surveys at the end of the tickets but don’t actually do anything meaningful with the data?”  

“Uh-huh.” 

“Well, imagine a world where IT effectively communicate with their customer so well that they want to provide IT with responses as they believe their voice is heard and matters. By using the data, IT then remove the Watermelon Effect.”  

“Wait, what? What do you mean the Watermelon Effect? I have worked with the Service Desk teams for a long time, but I don’t remember seeing any watermelons being passed around.” says Ron, jokingly.  

“It’s one of the industry’s thought leaders, Barclay Rae, who coined the term. Ultimately, even though the Service Desk’s SLAs and KPIs all look green, the end-users may still be receiving a low-quality service that that are unhappy with – hence the red.” Jade replies, enjoying the growing, child-like excitement in Ron’s eyes, but with a touch of sadness. “I really need to shoot – again, great to meet you and good luck in your customer meeting!” 

“Uh, okay, see you later, pleasure to meet you” Ron utters, watching Jade disappear down the corridor before he manages to exchange contact details.  

A Last-Minute Rethink

Energised from the conversation and with the caffeine about to kick into his bloodstream, Ron gets back into the meeting room, opens up his laptop and starts researching the Watermelon Effect, coming across terms such as Human-centric IT Experience ManagementIT Experience Optimisation, and XLAs. With fifteen minutes left before the meeting, he wants to have at least a rough concept of the main value this would bring to his customers and what would be required to get such an initiative off the ground.  

Off the top of his head, Ron sketches this: 

 A diagram of a customer service
Description automatically generated

 

Just as he finishes, the attendees start entering the room. 

Ron takes a deep breath, and prepares to take his first steps into the world of Experience Management.

Look out for Chapter 2, "The Big Meeting," where we find out what Ron's customer Poole thinks of this new, experience-led approach to their partnership.

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. 

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