Perception is everything

Glass Half FullI was most put out last week when I scratched the front of my precious HTC Desire S smart phone.  I’ve only had it four months, and so far I’d been able to keep it in absolutely mint condition, and now I could see a scratch on the front of it.  It wasn’t a big scratch, maybe 10-12mm long, and it wasn’t in the middle of the screen.  But it was there.

Suddenly, the fact that this amazing miracle of modern technology was an excellent phone; with free sat nav, great email and calendar access, mobile browsing with Flash and an MP3 player to boot, didn’t matter one bit.

It was spoiled.

One insignificant feature of my technology had ruined my perception of the entire system.

Over the past few months I’ve learned that the same can be said to be true of a managed IT Service provision; little details which are relatively insignificant can have a have a much larger impact on the overall impression of the service than you might expect.

“Everything you see or hear or experience in any way at all is specific to you. You create a universe by perceiving it, so everything in the universe you perceive is specific to you.”

(Douglas Adams)

You may think, “So what? It’s only an opinion. Why would it matter to you?”

The reason is that the effectiveness of any service provision (including IT Service) is not defined purely by the standard of the technology deployed, but by the users ability and willingness to access it.

If they perceive the service to be failing, then they’ll chose to ask a colleague for help, or even worse just accept limitations or service failures as unavoidable, both of which result in real costs to the client institution.

This means it is critical to manage the perception of the IT Service you provide, not as a substitute for good service, but to improve and enable that service.

(Ironically, when I checked my phone to get a picture of the scratch for this post I couldn’t find it.  I’m not even sure the scratch was ever there.  I like my phone again now).

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