Why a single point of contact (SPOC) is important

Why is having a single point of contact (SPOC) so important for Enterprise Service Management? In his first guest blog, industry expert Doug Tedder explains the transformative effect that a SPOC can have on your organization and lays out 7 steps for implementing your very own SPOC.

Modern organizations are becoming increasingly interconnected – with partners, with vendors, and even within the organization itself. They recognize that in order to improve their responsiveness to customers and eliminate internal inefficiencies, they must work in a collaborative, holistic way.

What is a single point of contact (SPOC)?

Such an approach can have a transformative effect on how work flows through the organization itself – drastically increasing productivity and the overall employee experience. That’s why organizations are turning to Enterprise Service Management (ESM).

In short, ESM is the application of IT service management (ITSM) practices and tools across the organization. But it’s not enough to simply implement ESM – you also need to make sure it’s as user-friendly as possible. That’s where having a single point of contact (SPOC) comes in.

SPOC is an abbreviation of “single point of contact”. A single point of contact is exactly that – a single point of contact. Employees shouldn’t have to know ‘exactly’ what they need, much less who specifically to contact about that need. Employees only need to know how to engage the single point of contact. Done well, a SPOC assures your employee that their question or issue will be properly addressed by the appropriate colleague.

From an IT perspective, the SPOC is typically the IT Service Desk. But what about from the enterprise perspective?

The enterprise SPOC is not your father’s service desk

An enterprise SPOC takes an organization-wide approach to providing answers and support to its employees. It consolidates the functionality of the various departmental service centers under a single entity, eliminating the confusion and potential inefficiencies that result from having multiple service centers within an organization.

So where should the SPOC be located?

The enterprise SPOC must have a holistic view of the organization — that’s a given. Departments such as HR, Facilities, IT, Finance, and others do have that enterprise perspective, as each department is involved with all other parts of the organization. Any department with an enterprise perspective is a candidate for hosting the SPOC.

Should the IT service desk become the SPOC? An IT service desk typically has the necessary infrastructure for becoming an enterprise SPOC. IT service desks have multiple telephone lines, chat capabilities, and perhaps even knowledge bases and self-service portals. Plus, the IT service desk has experience as a SPOC.

But the enterprise SPOC is less about technology, and more about employee experience – ensuring that employees have positive experiences in their daily work interactions.

While most IT service desks have good technical acumen and soft skills, a frequent complaint is that IT service desks lack a good understanding of the business, which sometimes inhibits the effectiveness of the interactions with the service desk. On the other hand, there are a fair number of technology issues that the enterprise SPOC will have to deal with.

So, there is no definitive, “one size fits all” answer for where to locate the enterprise SPOC. Factors to consider include emotional intelligence, technical acumen, and organizational savvy.

Employees shouldn’t have to know ‘exactly’ what they need, much less who specifically to contact about that need. Employees only need to know how to engage the single point of contact.

Is an enterprise SPOC right for my organization?

The complexities resulting from an ever-increasing interconnected business, such as the pace of technology adoption, business models shifting to ecosystems rather than direct supply chains, and ever-evolving organizational structures, don’t have to impact employees. An effective enterprise SPOC can help employees avoid such complexity in their daily work. So, what are some potential single point of contact benefits, and which types of organizations would benefit from a SPOC?

Organizations that want to drive good employee experience

Many organizations are investing in employee experience. Studies have shown that happy employees make for happy customers, because engaged employees provide better customer service. A SPOC helps ensure that employees can use the tools and services provided by the organization to do their jobs as effectively as possible.

Find out how a shared services model allows your organization to build its service and support capabilities around employee wants and needs

Organizations that have a collaborative culture

A SPOC exemplifies a culture of working as “one company.” Success of the enterprise SPOC relies on having an organization that exhibits a culture of teamwork and trust, acting and working as one company. Collaboration is more than just “working together;” it means sharing goals, work, risks, and rewards, and enables organizations to maximize effectiveness.

Organizations that want to improve their value streams

A SPOC raises the focus on delivering effective enterprise value streams. Onboarding new employees is a value stream found within every organization. But for most organizations, this means that someone (often the hiring manager) must contact or coordinate the activities of each department involved in the process. The HR department sets up the new employee on payroll and benefit systems.

The facilities department sets up the office or cubicle where the new employee will work. IT establishes access to the systems and tools that the new employee will need to do their job. Now imagine having a SPOC with the capability of driving such value streams using an enterprise approach enabled by ESM.

7 steps for starting your SPOC

Ready to start your organization’s SPOC? Here are seven simple steps for getting off to the right start.

1. Identify your organizational service providers

Which departments provide services and support to others within the organization? Invite a representative from those departments to a brainstorming session.

2. Ask each provider to discuss their “top 3” activities or requests

What is the department dealing with on a regular and frequent basis? Have each service provider write their “top 3” on sticky notes or a whiteboard and briefly discuss what each activity entails. These frequent requests represent some quick – and impactful – wins.

3. Identify those activities and requests that engage other service providers

Where are dependencies between providers? Is there work duplicated between providers? Identify the top three to five activities and requests that involve more than one service provider so they can be streamlined going forward.

4. Document an employee journey map for each of these activities and requests

An employee journey map is the same thing as a customer journey map – except that it’s the journey from the employee perspective. What are the interactions between the employee and each service provider? Does the employee have to visit a service provider more than once during a particular request? Translate these journey maps to organizational value streams.

Why? First, you can identify and remove the waste and friction from the work being done. Secondly, you’ll identify how the involved providers collaborate. And lastly, you’ll capture the current state of how it’s working today.

5. Streamline each value stream and set performance targets

How long does it take to resolve the employee’s issue or request? Are there improvements that should be made? How will these improvements improve the employee journey?

6. Identify and implement improvements

Agree on which service provider will act as the SPOC. Implement those improved value streams.

7. Promote the new capabilities of the SPOC

Develop and execute a marketing and communication plan to publicize the new SPOC and its capabilities. Measure the performance of the improved value streams and begin continual improvement.

Setting up a single point of contact can be transformative for your organization, improving productivity and efficiency, and helping your organization work as “one company.” There will be some effort involved, and it may seem complex, but don’t become discouraged. Taking an iterative and holistic approach will revolutionize your organization, transforming your employee experience in the process.

In Doug’s next blog, he’ll discuss why Enterprise Service Management needs collaboration and not just cooperation – and what the difference between the two is.

Want to learn more about a single point of contact and how your service departments can join forces in the meantime? Download our ESM e-book and start benefiting from working together.

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