The COVID-19 crisis changed the world on both a social and business level, with IT departments not immune to its impact. Many have seen an unprecedented number of requests for help, with them needing to manage an ever-increasing queue of tickets with reduced resources and trying to maintain service levels in a socially distanced environment. As we emerge from the crisis into what many are calling the “new normal,” we think it’s fair to say that we’ve all had to collectively up our IT support game. Not only to cope with the operational changes imposed on us but also to cater to the rising employee expectations.
To help, this blog looks at how to improve your IT service desk’s employee experience in the new normal across eight key areas.
1. Accept that the world has changed
Our customers' ways of working have changed. Our ways of working have changed. Some organizations have embraced remote working, some are calling people back to the office (with distancing), others are opting for a hybrid approach. The result is that the way we support our end users has changed.
Some service desks will have been used to providing local onsite support, others will have had to adapt to different types of calls. For example how to use the company VPN or how to use Microsoft Teams or Zoom. So, take some time to capture the most commonly logged incidents during the lockdown and add any related resolution details to your knowledge base.
2. Look for guidance
It’s all very well being told to “add value,” but it can be hard to put that into practice in the real world. ITIL 4 has a guiding principle called “focus on value” which can help – some of the key points are:
- Know how customers use a service. We’ve all designed services that work perfectly in a test environment where everything is safe and controlled. Talk to the business or spend time with end users so that you know how services are being used in the live environment, rather than in a controlled test environment, and update your support protocols accordingly.
- Establish a culture of value. Look after your people and encourage their training and development. When training new hires, it can be very easy to focus on their technical skills – instead, make sure that everyone understands the organization from a people perspective and how they create value to help your team build effective relationships with its customers.
3. Make interactions count
Organizations across the globe have had to shift to digital ways of working in the wake of social distancing measures. In an environment that’s remote, rather than in person, communication skills are everything.
So, keep talking. Talk to senior management, talk to your key stakeholders, and keep talking to end users. Just keep talking. Make the relationships between IT and the rest of the business front and center such that they’ll help your IT service desk to consistently meet business needs.
4. Focus on outcomes
Make your practices and processes more customer-centric by moving your focus to outcomes rather than what you do, the technology, and your outputs. Identify key touchpoints between your processes and your end users and look at how they can be updated to make for a more positive employee experience. Examples include:
- Proactively notifying an end user when the status of their incident has been updated
- Having alerts so you can act before a ticket breaches a service level agreement (SLA) target
- Notifying the change requester if their change is going to be rejected.
5. Revisit SLAs
It’s good practice to review SLAs regularly anyway. Now it’s especially true after the crisis. Get everyone affected by an SLA on a call or online meeting so you can talk about what’s needed in the new normal.
Before the pandemic, the focus might have been on shiny new projects and services. Post-crisis, it may be a blend of the old and the new. There’ll always be new projects, but now is also the time to look at what’s needed to maintain critical services. Look at your success criteria. When does the service need to be available? Are there any concerns around the current service levels? Did the shift to working remotely impact performance?
By talking directly to all your stakeholders and asking for feedback, you can look at what’s working, capture any opportunities for improvement, and ensure that any gaps or issues are addressed.
6. Use XLAs to level up
Having solid SLAs is a good start. A good SLA that’s agreed by all parties is a commitment from everyone on how the service will be provided and under what conditions. Here’s the thing though – SLAs tend to focus on technical details, albeit in business language. If you’re looking to improve employee experience, experience level agreements (XLAs) are a way to do this.
XLAs deliver a holistic view of the service because – instead of looking at uptime and performance – you’re actually looking at the customers’ experiences of using your service from beginning to end.
7. Be omnipresent through self-service
Your IT service desk may not be available 24x7 but this doesn’t mean that things don’t go wrong or need fixing outside of its service hours. Encourage the use of self-service so that your business colleagues can still get IT help if they need it. Potential self-service quick wins include:
- Being able to log and update incidents and requests
- Automated password resets
- Automated account unlocks
- Knowledge articles for self-help (with lots of screenshots and diagrams).
8. Update your business continuity plan
This has to be our new favorite practice. We think that we can all agree that no one could have predicted the global pandemic and so many continuity plans focused on events such as fires, floods, or key people being unable to access the office.
However, things have changed dramatically since the lockdown. The office is no longer a physical building – and for many roles, it doesn’t matter if you can't get to it as long as you have a laptop and network connectivity.
If your IT support capability doesn’t have a continuity plan, then talk to your teams and document everything you’ve done so far in response to COVID-19. Another activity is to update your risk register. Has the COVID 19 crisis identified any new risks? If so, make sure they’re prioritized and that they each have a management plan. Without an updated business plan your IT service desk’s future employee experience is exposed.
So, that’s eight ways to improve your employee experience from us. How do you think your IT department will adapt? Please let us know in the comments.