Rackspace highlights billion hour ITSM drain

With its newly refined corporate label as the “open cloud” company, managed hosting specialist Rackspace is championing open truths both good and bad by highlighting what it describes as inadequate customer service that is allegedly costing UK businesses more than one billion wasted man (and presumably woman) hours every year.

On The ITSM Review’s radar this week then is Rackspace’s IT Industry Service Report — the “first” annual snapshot of IT service quality in the UK.

The report found that in 39 per cent of companies… IT staff are estimated to be losing around one working day or more per week on tackling IT problems and chasing suppliers. However the problem is not isolated to technology teams, with general employees also losing an average of almost five hours per week due to IT service issues.

This is a huge amount of wasted productivity, so why hasn’t it been flagged before? Is this survey just corporate showboating for the sake of brand reinforcement… or perhaps there is real substance and real concern here.

ITSM issues on the rise

This waste of resources has huge productivity implications, making it unsurprising that that IT customer service is now a key issue for CIOs. Almost half (48 per cent) of respondents reported that customer service has become an increased priority over the last 12 months, while over a quarter (27 per cent) already regard customer service to be a top priority.

Taylor Rhodes, managing director, International at Rackspace said,

“A staggering amount of man hours are being wasted by UK businesses as they struggle to manage and control IT service issues. CIOs are taking note however and it is encouraging to see service being acknowledged as a crucial factor in procurement decisions along with parameters such as price, security and uptime guarantees.”

Man hours and woman hours both, this service-based wastage is now being highlighted and brought to the fore more prevalently than ever. Perhaps this is because of the cloud computing model, which is essentially (of course) a service-based proposition.

NOTE: Rackspace also found that UK businesses switch providers if customer service is not up to scratch.

Although the average score for IT service satisfaction amongst enterprise IT decision-makers interviewed was a relatively high 7.2 out of 10, a total of 69 per cent of respondents have dropped IT suppliers in the past 12 months because of customer service shortfalls.

“Our report shows that ‘satisfactory service’ is no longer good enough. Seven out of 10 of the respondent UK companies have voted with their feet in the past year and changed suppliers because of poor quality service,” continued Rhodes.

“In today’s highly competitive business environment, customer support is a crucial factor, which is precisely why Rackspace champions a culture of ‘Fanatical Support’. The results revealed today prove that many IT suppliers in the UK today are not rising to the challenge and are quite rightly losing out on business as a consequence.”

Inadequate level of interaction

The most common causes for complaints relate to IT suppliers having an “inadequate level of interaction” with their customers, rather than issues of a technical nature. A poor response time to faults (32 per cent) and a low quality of communication (32 per cent) were the most commonly reported customer support failings.

Moving forwards, it is clear that IT organisations need to take a customer-centric approach if they want to win and retain business. This view is supported by Stephen Mann, senior analyst, infrastructure & operations at Forrester.

In a recent blog post Stephen stated:

“Forrester’s research shows what a difference customer experience can make to a company’s success. Rackspace is such a company – it has differentiated itself through service. Rackspace exemplifies the benefits of employing the right kind of people (‘obsessive’ about what they do) and shows how this competitive differentiator has translated into business success. They rely on capable people, not limited and rigid processes operated by “scriptbots,” to support their customers.”

NOTE: The average number of hours lost by an employee due to an IT failure as used in this release is calculated by taking a fixed mid-point for each range indicated by the respondents in the survey (for example, the fixed midpoint for the range 2-6 hours is 4 hours), multiplied by the respective percentage of respondents who selected that range, with the resulting amounts for each range then added together (this was equal to 4.75 hours).

The sum was then multiplied by the 4.5 million employees who use IT at work in companies within our size range (> 250 employees) based on ONS figures (this was equal to 21.38 million hours). The resulting number was multiplied by 47 weeks, a typical number of weeks worked by UK employees in a year.