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XLA: A pillar of sustainable digital workplace

Remote working has affected the way employees interact with technology. As a result, they expect a consumer-like experience while interacting with workplace support models.

To meet the expectation of the new-generation employee, organisations are creating flexibility and offering choices for employees instead of drawing up strict mandates. They are adopting service management principles that measure performance in terms of values or experiences delivered to their employees instead of focusing on operations or outcomes alone. In other words, the focus is on Experience Level Agreement (or XLA).

Understanding XLA

XLA as a service management principle invites service providers to focus on the end-user’s experience instead of the quality/speed of the service itself. This change has been triggered by the shift from a constraint-based economics to one of abundance where the focus is more on experience than efficiency.

In the case of organisations this would include moving to a hyper-personalised, emotion-based, consumer model that looks beyond an employee’s Performance Quotient (PQ) while catering to their EQ and IQ.

For instance, if an employee wants to work from home, organisations owe to it to them to offer that flexibility. Similarly, as people get more conscious about sustainability, organisations are including sustainability in their business practices to ensure their employees feel appreciated because they’re working for a company whose values match with their own.

XLA: Experience over IT excellence

Organizations that typically measure their service level agreements in terms of numbers and percentages miss the wood for the trees. For instance, email services that is available 99.90% of the time may sound great, however, if the 0.10% downtime occurs at the most critical phase of a project, users will not be pleased.

When businesses focus too much on IT excellence, they may miss looking at issues from the customer’s point of view. How consistent, proactive, or considerate are they in rendering their services makes a difference to how customers feel with the service they receive. For example, an IT ticket may have been resolved well but the user had to explain his issue multiple times to different people as the ticket was transferred between different teams. 

Measuring XLAs

Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), a set of practices for IT activities, defines user experience as all the ‘functional and emotional interactions with a service and service provider as perceived by a service consumer.’

To enter into an XLA with your employees, you will need to clearly understand what they are trying to achieve, the benefits they are expecting and what it is that will result in a positive feeling for them as they interact with the service touchpoints you are providing.

You can measure the success or failure of an XLA through user feedback, typically a short survey asking to be rated at the end of a resolved issue. But the better way to do this is to simply observe the user for an extended period of time to get to know their preferences better.

Therefore, there is a need to leverage technologies to collect preferences, observe, learn and use the learning to deliver what the employees or the consumers want. Such a model needs to be refined continually through regular observation of an employee/consumer’s experience

A good example of this would be an AI tool that would suggest the best time slot to set up a meeting with a particular person based on past attendance and interaction.

How do you deliver XLA?

Recognizing what delights the customer is the first step to XLA. What this means is to deliver a good experience, you’ll need to tap into the five senses of your employees – what makes them tick, what doesn’t, without making them draw up a checklist for you. Design, messaging, audio/video content, touchpoints – these need to be tailored as per popular preferences. 

The next step is to continuously stay in touch with your stakeholder and their expectations and adapt as per their changing needs and environment. Identifying the right parameters to measure XLA can provide the framework to assess the customer experience. For instance, reliability of service, clear communication, consistency in delivery and quality, accuracy, knowledge, and readiness are some of the dimensions that can be investigated.

Delivering a great experience without asking users their preferences

As in life, there is no easy answer to this. But let’s consider how you would, say, surprise your best friend with a birthday gift you know they’d like? Presumably, you would observe them in the months preceding their birthday to work out what you think they desire and then go ahead and gift it to them at an appropriate time.

This is also how most of your online experiences work. Whether it’s your favourite shopping app or OTT platform, leveraging your preference data is what makes them deliver to you precisely what you need without you ever having to expressly tell them.

Preferences-based data science can help employers create that feel-good factor for their employees. It can make their systems more intuitive by going beyond measuring their work packets and including social capital of their employees in every interaction.

These are the organisations that recognise that their workforce is more digitally savvy and decentralised. And they’re creating innovative solutions that can be deployed in a seamless, automated manner at scale. 

 The article has been written by Lax Gopisetty, Vice President, Global Practice Head for Microsoft Business Applications & Digital Workplace Services, Infosys 

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