Service Automation Framework (SAF®)
Tomasz Nedzi on Service Automation – Strive for efficiency but do not forget about the user
1. What do you see as the main benefits of service automation?
We read in the news how many big businesses are using automation to provide services on a global scale.
Every minute on the internet in 2020 (according to DOMO, Inc.):
- Zoom hosts 208 333 participants in meetings,
- Netflix users stream 404 444 hours of video,
- YouTube users upload 500 hours of video,
- Linkedin users apply for 69 444 jobs,
- Consumers spend 1 000 000 USD on-line.
Internet reaches 59% of the world population as of April 2020.
That’s the reason why we admire the business models where automation has allowed the service of so many client’s according to their quality expectations.
2. What is your opinion on the impact of service automation on technology and people’s lives?
We hear in the same time the rumors how the automated services create dissapointment of some of the users.
The complaint has been recently filed in the Amsterdam District Court against Uber for dismissal of 4 drivers by the platform’s algorithm. “Fired by robots — Uber faces legal challenge for algorithmic dismissals”
It may be tempting to follow the efficiency path while designing and running automated services.
It’s easy enough when we use the numbers to measure how successful we are. The numbers can’t be wrong, or can they?
3. What do you think are key technology considerations to achieve service automation?
It’s interesting to talk about the technology behind the services delivered and IT professionals spend a lot of their time doing it. I would rather start from the beginning i.g. the reason for using the technology.
4. What are key lessons that people need to think about when designing automated services?
When considering the business we should focus on the revenues first.
We could call them benefits, but let’s be honest. It’s about sales. If they’re no sales there’s no business. It’s true for automated services as well.
The sales come from clients or customers paying for services.
In automated services which are delivered usually to end-users, we call them users. In the business-to-consumer world, the user and customer is usually the same person.
That’s the reason we should focus on the user first before we even start considering the technology.
5. What kind of structure or framework do you use to design and deliver automated services?>
That’s where Service Automation Framework comes into the picture.
Service Automation Framework symbolizes this part of automated service with a heart. This should remind that the service is about interacting with other human being (as long as we humans are still necessary to provide and receive it).
We therefore need to understand other person, or a group of people, in order to deliver the expected value.
SAF starts with questions about the Users:
- Who are our users:
- How old they are?
- Where do they live?
- What’s their occupation?
- How much do they earn?
These are the questions, which marketing professionals would ask in order to define the target group for the services. This is what SAF calls the demographics.
- What do they like:
- How much information about the service do they need?
- How do they like to use the services?
- How secure/confidential the service provision should be?
- What role does aesthetics and user interface play?
- How crucial the reliability and fullfilment of the services is?
These questions help to understand our users and create the expected user experience. This is what SAF calls the psychographics.
Major service automation businesses have many categories of users with differing characteristics e.g. users ordering the food and users delivering the food, users booking the hotel and users renting the rooms, users watching the content and users creating the content.
Where disappointment is created in any of these group of users that’s because we have not understood them properly. That’s maybe because we should start with understanding our users and their needs using Service Automation Framework.
6. What is the first time you heard about service automation?
I’ve heard for the first time about the service automation in 2015 from our Marketing Automation consultant, but the idea of automation came to me as early as in 2010 when I read book from Timothy Ferriss “The 4-Hour Workweek”.
This book changed my perspective on how the business can work in an automated way.
I found the Service Automation Framework manual to be very helpful in structuring the process of automating the business. That’s the reason we’ve implemented it in “skills®” training companies in Poland and Germany.
7. How do you apply service automation in your organization?
We have first analyzed our user’s profiles to understand, who is using our services. We have created different user profiles according to the training products we offer.
Each time user enquires about our training product via www.skills.pl or www.skills2004.eu new user profile is created. We deliver required information and start submitting the content of the product to the user via e-mail.
Delegates can fill out the enrolment form and pro-forma invoice is automatically created. Users enrolling into the courses receive automatically joining instructions. The trainer receives the training brief based on that information.
The courses are run either in classrooms, or (since 2010) via internet. Accredited exams are taken at the end of our courses and feedback forms for specific training are filled out by delegates on-line.
Thanks to the information provided in the feedback forms delegates receive automatically post-course information and interesting information about following products, so that they could enrol again.
8. Has the Service Automation Framework been beneficial in your organization?
Service Automation Framework has helped us to understand who is our user and what does this user like. We could automate tedious, administrative activities, while still focusing on business relationship management (BRM) with our key clients in traditional way. We can also teach others and transfer the knowledge how to use the Service Automation Framework to their advantage.
About the Author – Tomasz Nedzi
Tomasz Nedzi is a CEO & Lead Trainer at Skills® 2004 UG German based Accredited Training Organization. He has started his career in 1998 with IBM as a Project Manager, Instructional Designer and e-business Consultant.
Founded skills® in 2004 to provide high quality management education. He holds Approved Trainer credentials for following products: SAF®/Agile PM®/PRINCE2®/PRINCE2®Agile/MSP®/MoP®/MoR®/P3O®/OBASHI® /Facilitation/AQRO® and teaches on-line courses since 2010.
He has been Service Automation Framework Lead Trainer at www.skills2004.eu since 2017.