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TOPdesk SEE 2021: 3 insights from our digital transformation event



On 15 June 2021, over 4500 service professionals participated in the fourth edition of the TOPdesk Service Excellence Experience (SEE).


The theme of this year's event was Customer Happiness, Decoded., and came with an online programme designed to equip IT Managers and other service professionals with the practical skills and knowledge needed to level up their service department's customer experience (CX).


Each hour of the show was dedicated to one of the pillars of great service: People, Process, and Tool, with talks from the likes of Disney's former Head of Innovation & Creativity, Duncan Wardle, Mathematician and AI expert Hannah Fry, and Corporate Anthropologist Jitske Kramer.


Here are our top takeaways for each of those pillars:


“During a transformation, you need not just one but two kinds of leadership.” (People)

Jitske Kramer's engaging keynote took us on a journey through the make-or-break moments experienced during an organizational transformation. Drawing upon her experiences as an anthropologist and corporate change coach, she provided pointers for building a team that is “both safe for diversity and ready for change.”

According to Jitske, major cultural change tends to happen in "liminal spaces” - the moments of uncertainty where people don’t know where to go or what to do. And to guide your team through these transformative moments, she says, you need two kinds of leadership. Enter the Mayor and the Magician:

  1. The Mayor: An “ordinary” leader, or a chief, whose role it is to tell people what to do, to provide them with a rhythm and a structure.

  2. The Magician: A "liminal” leader, or shaman, who enables people to make sense of their situation and to understand which behaviours and actions will result in the best possible outcome. (These “magicians” could be trendwatchers, analysts, or even consultants).


By creating a space within your service department for both kinds of leadership, Jitske says, you'll ensure that your team is always ready to adapt, even during times of crisis.


“Your biggest barrier to innovation isn't a lack of time to think - it's your river of thinking.” (Process)


Taking over the hour dedicated to Process, Disney's former Head of Innovation and Creativity, Duncan Wardle, gave a lively, interactive talk that broke down some of the key strategies from his Design Thinking Toolkit. These were tips, tricks, and tools designed to help organizations embed a culture of innovation within their DNA.


While most people usually cite not having enough "time to think” as their main obstacle when it comes to innovating at work, Duncan suggests that it could actually be your expertise that is preventing you from thinking outside of the box. His solution? Inviting a naïve expert, or a person from outside of your organization, into brainstorming sessions.



By listening to an individual with an unfamiliar perspective, who has had different experiences, you'll force your team to get outside of their normal “rivers of thinking", enabling them to find new, creative ways to bring value to customers. This part of the talk also gave us one of the most memorable quotes of the afternoon: “Diversity is innovation. If someone looks different to you then they think different to you. And if they think different to you then they can help you to think different.”


“Unless you opt for a human-centred approach to technology, you're designing yourself towards disaster.” (Tool)


Mathematician and Broadcaster Hannah Fry brought her expertise in all things data, AI, and automation to explain how humans can form successful partnerships with machines in a world run by algorithms.


A major learning from Hannah's talk is that we shouldn't be calling upon AI to take over every kind of human work but only to fill in the gaps where people tend to be less reliable. Both humans and machines are flawed. Rather than expecting a machine to stand in for a human being, you need to zero in on tasks that people aren't good at (like being attentive to their surroundings) and then build an algorithm to support them.


If you truly centre the people on your team and find the right technology to assist them in their work, they'll have more time to do the things that they’re good at, like being empathetic, innovating, and creating even more value for customers.



Those were our top 3 insights from TOPdesk SEE 2021- but the journey towards customer happiness doesn't stop here! If you'd like even more customer experience (CX) tips and tricks, check out the TOPdesk blog, where we regularly post content from ITSM experts, to help you take your next steps towards service excellence.


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