How Service Assurance Process Flow Can Improve Customer Retention

Today’s MSPs provide services that fulfill the needs of a customer base in some form or fashion. But a truly successful service provider is one that excels in providing services in a manner that goes well beyond customer expectations. Whether you’re an MSP or an IT operations organization, without an established service assurance process flow in place, you may be coming up short in this area.

The Case for Exceeding CSAT

A satisfied customer is just that – satisfied. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t on the lookout for a better provider. And other providers will come calling. You need to make sure your customers have every reason to stick with you. In today’s world, that means you need to exceed customer satisfaction and get deeply involved in the success of your customers’ businesses. That’s how the best service providers build customer loyalty.

This approach leads to a multitude of benefits. Repeat business is one, of course. But more importantly, you get customer advocacy, where the relationship is so strong and the business outcomes so successful that the customer essentially becomes a partner and a reference – and, subsequently, a conduit that leads to new business opportunities.

Infrastructure Dependency

Service assurance process flow refers to the methodology in which IT operations teams monitor and respond to issues in the infrastructure to keep services up and running, without disrupting the customer’s day. With digital transformation well underway, there is an increased dependency on the infrastructure that supports digital services and the IT organizations that operate these systems.

At the end of the day, it all adds up to delivering a high-quality user experience for your customers. IT operations professionals have an understandable tendency to focus on the technology that delivers business services. Meanwhile, the average user cares only about their own business goals and daily tasks – they take for granted the underlying technology that helps them meet their needs.

This demands a shift in the strategy of IT operations teams. The model needs to change from internal management of infrastructure to the external outcomes of delivering high-quality customer experiences. IT initiatives, particularly around service assurance, need to be geared and calibrated to achieve excellent end-user experiences and the resulting positive business outcomes.

Service assurance in this era of digital transformation is complex. There are multiple components in play at all times. Gone are the days of managing monolithic applications. Today’s delivery infrastructure involves navigation across multiple layers of technology stacks, some of which are dependent on third-party service providers.

Some IT operations essentials stand out from a service assurance perspective. Here are three crucial areas of service assurance process flow that require you to focus on best practices today:

     1. End-to-end Monitoring

MSPs and IT operations teams need to monitor across the entire service delivery supply chain and from top-to-bottom across the underlying infrastructure. This enables them to gather the information needed to assure business services, such as: fault, performance, flow, and application-specific data.

Gaps in visibility across the supply chain or the technology stack contribute directly to delays in finding and solving problems. Full-stack monitoring facilitates true root cause analysis and directly affects your ability to restore services or to take action before SLAs are affected.

Without end-to-end monitoring to traverse the entire chain of service delivery entities, you are flying blind and setting yourself up for a less-than-satisfactory customer experience.

     2. Business Service Monitoring and Prioritization

Having the ability to map services onto the underlying infrastructure enables IT operations teams to quickly prioritize and address issues. Ideally, when problems occur – or are predicted to occur – teams can immediately draw the connection to how the problem will impact business services. For this to happen, business topology needs to be layered on top of service topologies. It should leverage real-time telemetry, not just historical relationship mapping.

Being able to analyze service performance and availability in both real-time and based on past history makes it possible to create SLAs based on the availability and performance of business services, rather than the performance of the underlying infrastructure. As we all know, SLAs are essential to setting and maintaining customer expectations that define the overall engagement and end-user experience.

     3. End-User Experience Monitoring

End-to-end monitoring and business service impact is largely introspective activities. They examine how you go about delivering service and what the impact is when issues occur. So, the third key to a successful service assurance process flow is to focus on the customer.

What is their perception of the services they consume? How exactly are they experiencing and realizing the benefits of the services you provide?

Systems that derive empirical evidence to measure the outcomes for end-users are invaluable to understand exactly what they’re experiencing. They are the final indicator as to the reliability of the entire digital supply chain that delivers the services.

The ability of your service assurance platform to leverage end-to-end monitoring along with true business service impact brings about huge synergies in the manner in which you operate and manage the infrastructure that delivers your customers’ services. When coupled with end-user experience monitoring, it becomes possible to truly gauge the quality of your delivery.

When you are meeting this standard, you can begin to build trusting, long-term relationships with your customers. With that established, the benefits will become immeasurable.

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