Are Your Staff On Board With Self-Service?

April 13, 2016
Written by Neil Penny

Originally published on SITSCommunity360.com

With more areas of the business relying on IT, it’s all too easy for internal service desks to end up stuck in break-fix mode, solving one issue after another for the workforce with little time for strategic planning or large-scale projects.

Implementing a successful self-service portal can go a long way to addressing this problem, enabling staff to find answers to their questions and resolve issues themselves if possible. Where issues do need further support, they are flagged to the support team in a controlled way and can be addressed in order of priority rather than by who has managed to collar someone first.

Self-service has enjoyed a strong update in the wider business world as an external customer service tool, boosted by the increasingly tech-savvy population and trends such as online and mobile commerce. Research from Forrester recently found that 84% of online adults had used self-service mobile apps and FAQs to solve their problems, showing a clear move towards self-service as a first port of call.

However, this change in attitude has taken a longer time to trickle into the working environment itself. Many staff members tend to ignore internal self-service systems and may not even know they were available in the first place. For more technical issues they are more likely to simply hit Google or ask the nearest colleague. In the neighbouring field of IT self-service for example, research from Gartner on The Evolution of the Digital Workplace previously found that only 40% of employees use the traditional service desk as a first port of call.

Self-fixing can sometimes be effective, but can also have a serious impact on the business, risking security breaches or causing further IT issues by changing or disabling applications and drivers. The habit feeds into the growing issue of “shadow IT” – Gartner’s study also found 11% regularly use technology or applications not sanctioned by their employer.

The growing use of self-service tools in our personal lives means it’s easier than ever to get workers on board with the idea in the work environment, but Service Desk team managers shouldn’t assume this will automatically lead to a big uptake on its own. A concerted effort must be made to increase visibility.

Sowing the seeds
At implementation, there should be a strong drive to make all employees aware of the new portal and the kinds of services it handles and guides that are available. If the workforce is made aware that the portal should be the go-to place for things like booking facilities or reporting equipment issues, the Service Desk team will find itself spending much less time fighting fires and more able to focus on other projects.

The team should also look to share as much of their knowledge as possible on the portal, saving a huge amount of time in answering common questions that come up repeatedly. This initial setup may be something of a Catch 22, as between constant break-fix work and working on other large projects, teams will rarely feel they have time to sit down and write a series of FAQs and guides – let alone run an awareness campaign. However, the amount of time and resources saved in the long run will certainly make it worthwhile.

Customer service for the workforce
When it comes to requests that can’t be addressed with guides and FAQs, good service management software is essential. This will make it easy to keep track of requests and see everything put in one place, rather than spread across innumerable emails, spreadsheets and post-it notes. Once the team has the ability to easily track all requests, they also need to ensure they deal with them appropriately. It’s fairly commonplace for teams to favour easier fixes over more difficult issues, but this practice can lead to disgruntled staff if requests are left too long.

A good way to ensure requests are addressed in a timely way is to introduce the same kind of Service Level Agreement (SLA) policy that is expected of external suppliers. This will clearly set out a time limit for responses or fixes on different kinds of queries, and give the team a clear target to adhere to. We’ve seen priority SLAs help make a dramatic improvement in the time it takes to meet requests – improving response time by 80% or more for high priority requests.

Despite increasingly using self-service at home, it will be a while before the workforce fully embraces it in the workplace over the instinct to seek out help in person. However, once it becomes apparent that the self-service portal is the fastest and easiest way to resolve most issues, it should fall into their workflow as naturally as email.