IT Customer Relationship Management

IT Customer Relationship Management

The quality of IT services largely depends on the good relationship with the customers of the IT organisation. These relationships provide the basis for making and updating agreements. IT Customer Relationship Management addresses maintaining a relationship with customers and coordinating with customers organisations, at the strategic, tactical and operational levels. (Figure 1: a diagram of customers relationships, illustrates the horizontal communication between the customers and the IT organisation), regarding support and coordination. The vertical communication concerns policies, control, and reporting.

Figure 1  (IT Customer Relationship Management) 

In IT Customer Relationship Management, the major challenge is to ensure that there are good and effective relationships between the IT organisations and the customer organisation at all levels. However, the extent of IT Customer Relationship Management will be different at each level. For instance, most service Desks act on an operational level, while the control of service levels is a task for Service Level Management, at a more tactical level of the organisation. IT Customer Relationship Management may also play a supportive role, for example, by organizing surveys among customers and users, providing information, and so forth. IT Customer Relationship Managment plays an important role in developing the Strategic Alignment between the IT organisation and the organisation purchasing the IT services. In practice, this is primarily a matter of staying in touch with the customer organisation and exploring the options for linking the strategic objectives of both organisations. This can provide the basis for a long-term relationship, in which the IT organisation focuses on the customers and proposes IT solutions that help the customer reach their business objectives.  Given the dynamic nature of both the customer organisation and the IT organisation, the rate of change in both organisations should be also be coordinated.

The agreements with the customer about the services to be provided are then developed into service level proposals through Service Level Managment, For example, if the customer to introduce an intranet, then the availability, user support, implementation of change requests and cost all have to be agreed. These agreements are laid down in Service Level Agreement (SLA). If the customer organisation want changes to the IT services that fall within the agreements laid down in the SLA, then a Request For Change will be submitted. Change management then processes the request. Changes outside the current agreements are introduced into the Service Level Managment process. In most cases, users can contact a Service Desk for such operational requests and questions, and to report problems. (Figure 1) not only provides information about the horizontal and vertical communication but also about the planning horizon of the process. Coordination at a strategic level has a planning horizon of approximately one year. Change Management, Service Desk and Incident Management all concern the operational level, with a planning horizon of months, weeks, days or even hours.

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