IT ops teams play big in internal customer retention

By: Babette Ten Haken


How do you leverage IT operations teams in your internal customer retention strategy?  Their value extends deeper than point-of-service delivery.

Are you marginalizing these valuable folks or are they key catalysts?

IT operations support teams are critical to your business health.

In my May 19 post, I examined how IT tech support teams catalyze line of business value creation. When IT tech support team members are equally conversant discussing technical as well as business decision- making aspects of a project, everyone collaborates productively and profitably.

IT operations describes the set of all processes, equipment and services utilized by IT staff to serve internal and external clients. An IT operations environment encompasses vision, strategy, execution (design, planning and installation), management and maintenance. IT operations defines common processes and procedures, establishes best practices and standards for running the enterprise, creates sets of IT roles, responsibilities and relationships, and defines a glossary of IT terminology to be used by the enterprise.

Information technology (IT) operations teams are the keepers of your business’s DNA. They stabilize your company’s IT ecosystem and sustain your organization.

Internal customer retention is critical to your business health, too.

Customer retention relates to all activities involved in reducing customer defections (non-renewals or, in the case of employees, churn or turnover). The process starts with customer contact (advertising job availability) and eventual acquisition (hiring). Products or services (onboarding activities) are delivered, setting off a chain-reaction encompassing activities involved in serving that customer (or employee) throughout the lifetime of their relationship with your organization. Customer retention includes the value customers (or employees) accrue while using your solutions (working for your organization). It also incorporates customer / employee perception of company brand and reputation within industries served.

You cannot serve external customers effectively without a rock-solid internal customer retention strategy.

Internal customer retention strategy depends on how well you leverage IT operations teams for internal customer productivity and engagement over their employment lifecycle. You cannot leverage employment assets effectively when business teams and IT teams do not understand each other.

  • When non-technical internal teams of all levels do not understand what your IT operations teams are saying to them, they will not adequately represent the breadth and depth of your solutions when serving each other as well as external customers.
  • When IT operations support teams only are brought into the business equation to demo or fix on an applied-as-needed basis, internal customers perpetuate their bias towards IT operations teams as a liability, rather than an asset.
  • When IT operations teams are not part of the business equation from the beginning, internal teams fall short in fully developing the type of IT specifications which create greater productivity and profitability in the execution of business strategy.

IT operations teams’ impact internal customer retention when they are Always-On, rather than Applied-as-Needed.

Take your business pulse. Is it time to demystify IT operations to internal non-technical customers? Is it time for IT folks to cross-pollinate their technical brains to align with business strategy?

Liberate your internal teams from Apply-as-Needed mindset, which marginalizes their value. Why continue to take these teams off the shelf from somewhere in your IT operations environment, deploy them, and return them to where they came from? Business and IT internal customers are short-changed in this model because they do not understand how IT operations is a key factor in business value creation.

Instead, focus on the business value of Always-On cross-functional communication and collaboration. The goal is for every internal customer to become an internal customer of everyone else.

When IT operations teams are Always-On, they become key contributors to execution of business strategy, not just IT operations projects. IT operations teams become strategic assets in the internal and external customer retention process. The entire workforce becomes smarter and more conversant across professional disciplines.

Create an internal customer retention strategy leveraging hybridized mindset across IT operations and business teams.

When your internal customers communicate and collaborate with IT operations teams, your entire organization grows a hybridized mindset. Your organization is Always-On. They incorporate the full portfolio of your IT and business assets when serving your external customers.

Internal customer retention becomes a human capital strategy, not just a departmental or team strategy. The goals of this holistic strategy are to:

  • Increase internal customer retention, collaboration, productivity and engagement.
  • Reduce or eliminate employee churn caused by cross-functional communication inefficiencies and frustration with the IT ecosystem.
  • Engage and educate non-technical staff so they can more fully utilize the breadth of available IT capabilities.
  • Create in an interoperable workplace environment, where everyone is conversant across multiple professional disciplines.

The impact of IT operations teams on internal customer retention has a ripple effect across your organization. You will attract the type of cross-functional workforce you are working hard to retain. You will create compelling internal customer success stories as well, which impact your organization’s brand and reputation in the marketplace.

Your goal is to leverage your internal customer retention strategy to create external customer success stories. These stories provide compelling reasons for external customers to do business – and continue to do business – with your internal teams. As a result, everyone becomes a retained customer of everyone else.

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About The Author

Babette Ten Haken

Founder & President, Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC

Babette Ten Haken is a catalyst, corporate strategist and facilitator. She writes, speaks, consults and coaches about how cross-functional team collaboration revolutionizes the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) value chain for customer loyalty, customer success and customer retention. Her One Millimeter Mindset™ programs draw from her background as a scientist, sales professional, enterprise-level facilitator, Six... Read more