Technology is upping the pace of work and increasing the rate of change – yes, it’s making our lives easier but at the same time it’s putting some crazy pressures on support teams who are striving to meet customer needs and business demands. IT self-service capabilities exist to help here, along with the ability to reduce costs, empower customers, and increase staff productivity.
With self-service, organizations can begin to ease some of this pressure while still meeting the demands of the business and maintaining (or even increasing) customer satisfaction levels. In this blog post, we’ll cover the IT self-service basics including what it’s used for, how it benefits organizations, and why it should be adopted as soon as possible.
What’s the purpose of self-service?
Self-service empowers your end users by giving them the ability to find answers to their inquiries, fix their own incidents, raise their own support tickets, and even help their colleagues by promoting a culture of knowledge sharing and collaboration.
Without self-service, IT service desk staff will likely find themselves answering repeat inquiries, resolving basic issues again and again, and raising tickets for customers when it would have been quicker for the customer to do it themselves.
Now these might sound like typical service desk tasks, and indeed they once were, but the role of the service desk analyst has become much more demanding in recent years – with more services to support, more business changes to deal with, and increased customer service expectations of IT support.
What an IT self-service capability offers
IT self-service portals should be linked to an internal knowledge base – a database that houses documentation such as user guides, instructions to resolve IT incidents, and answers to general questions about IT hardware and software (FAQs). End users have access to the knowledge base so they can search for knowledge articles or documents that will answer their inquiries or guide them to resolve their own basic IT incidents.
When they can’t resolve their own issues, the self-service portal should enable them to log and track their own tickets. Incoming tickets are reduced (for the IT service desk), “chaser” calls decrease, and customers are happier with more control over their issues and more choices in support channels.
A good online self-service portal will also include an online forum that end users can visit to ask and answer questions too. This is a great way to encourage knowledge sharing and it helps to promote a culture of collaboration; plus, helping each other out makes for a nicer working environment and more productive employees, while also decreasing calls to the IT service desk.
You can use the forum to gain valuable insights from your customers too – when new knowledge is shared it can be used to create official documentation that can be added to the knowledge base and thus supporting your continual service improvement (or ‘continual improvement’ as it’s now known in ITIL 4) objectives around service management.
Other common self-service capabilities include:
- Broadcast alerts
- A password reset capability
- Access to IT-asset information
- Software downloads
- Automated delivery of resolutions and new services.
The key benefits of self-service
There are many benefits that come from self-service. Here are five of the top ones:
1. 24/7 support availability
When your IT service desk analysts have gone home and there’s nobody around to answer the phone, IT support doesn’t need to stop. Customers can access self-service whenever they like. So, if the CEO forgets her password at 8 p.m. she can just reset it herself and carry on with her work. There’s no need to hassle anybody out of hours and no one is prevented from working until the morning when the service desk opens again.
2. Faster resolution and provisioning
Technology is enabling us to do some pretty amazing stuff but it’s also making us really impatient (as customers) too. Speed is of the essence these days and that’s feeding into employee expectations in the workplace – people don’t want (or expect) to wait on hold for a service desk analyst to become available if there’s an issue they could resolve themselves.
Self-service also enables automation such that tickets can be triaged, accounts can be created, and requests can be actioned all without the need for human intervention. Not only is this much quicker than waiting for someone to pick up the tasks, but the results are also far more accurate as human error (which is common in busy environments) is reduced.
3. Productivity improvements
Automating manual tasks and empowering end users to deal with their own IT needs removes a lot of jobs from the service desk that add minimal value. Analysts are instead free to deal with complex escalations, aged tickets, or incidents that can’t be solved easily.
Making room for employees to work on the stuff that really matters increases productivity, not only because it allows staff to focus on the bigger jobs, but also because staff feel more motivated working on value-adding tasks and feeling like they’re contributing to the bigger picture.
And it’s not only the productivity of IT staff that benefits, self-service increases the knowledge of customers when enabling them to resolve their own issues. This means that if they’ve a similar issue in the future they’ll be able to fix it quicker, help their colleagues who might experience the same issue, and learn as much as they want about the products and services they’re using to get the most out of them for their role.
4. Reduced IT costs
When organizations pass work down the chain this is known as “shifting left” – customers can resolve basic issues so that service desk staff can focus on resolving more technical incidents and second-line teams can be freed up to concentrate on their specialties. This practice – if done right – reduces IT support costs and ensures that organizations are getting the maximum value out of staff. Automated workflows and resolutions will also add to the cost savings.
5. Happier customers
The growing desire to serve ourselves means that not only is self-service expected it’s also desired. Empowering end users to resolve their own incidents and quickly request what they need will thus likely result in higher customer satisfaction levels.
Self-service also enables a personalized user experience that offers information relevant to a user’s role, access to products and services that they’ll need, and even a personalized greeting when they access the portal. In a world where customer expectations are high, a personalized experience can make the world of difference.
Along with the efficiency that self-service offers, the unlimited availability of support, and the higher accuracy of outputs, customers will be happier with their IT support experience and so more engaged with IT as a whole.
Why the rush? Do we really need to adopt it now?
Usually, we like to go with the idea that you shouldn’t do something just because everybody else is – but when it comes to self-service this just doesn’t fly. It’s exactly because everybody else is doing it that you should follow suit.
If your organization has its own IT department, offers multiple products and services to stakeholders, and operates ITSM processes then you’ll likely benefit greatly from adopting IT self-service. Self-service allows your organization to speed up its processes, reduce human error, and better meet customer expectations. If you’re not already getting on board with self-service, then you’re being left behind because your competitors most definitely are.
Has your organization already adopted self-service? What other benefits have you realized from self-service? Or do you disagree and think that self-service isn’t the way to go? We’d love to hear more, please let us know in the comments below.