5 Tips to Make IT Self-Service Work for Your Organization

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IT self-service portals are becoming increasingly popular within organizations in an effort to keep up with customer demands, reduce costs, and get the best out of IT support employees. But many organizations are implementing these portals without first understanding what self-service needs in order to be a success.

We’ve seen too many self-service ventures fail at the first hurdle because organizations have not planned effectively before implementation. Self-service isn’t simply something you can put in place and walk away from; it needs thorough planning beforehand and a continual improvement process in place from day one.

To get you started we’ve come up with five top tips to help you make self-service work for your organization and deliver the results you want.

Our Five Top Tips for IT Self-Service

1) It’s got to be easy

That’s easy to use, easy to search, and easy to understand. Look at that, we’re giving you three tips in one here.

We’ve put this as our top tip simply because it’s the most important; if you don’t make your self-service portal easy for your customers to use they’ll just ditch it and call your IT service desk instead.
The whole point of introducing an IT self-service portal to your organization is to reduce the amount of calls and tickets that your IT support team have to handle. If customers struggle to use the self-service portal you aren’t going to see that reduction.

Customers today want quick, painless and straightforward ways to get what they need. Thanks to rapid technological advancements that’s what they’re used to now and when they don’t have it the experience sticks out like a sore thumb.

So, let’s break this down:

  • Easy to use: the design and journey should be kept simple.
    Can your users quickly report broken IT equipment or request access to restricted software? Can they easily locate the documentation they need to resolve basic IT issues? Can they navigate themselves to where they need to be simply?
    Your portal should be designed to guide users where they need to go and make it easy for them to access exactly what they need. A simple to use self-service portal is the start of making your customers want to opt for self-service over other support means like picking up the telephone or dropping a quick email.

  • Easy to search: predictive search (like when you use Google) will give your users a helping hand when it comes to finding what they need.
    Predictive search guesses what a user is typing and presents a list of suggestions, this can both save time—as users don’t have to type out their full search query—or help users who don’t know exactly what they need as they start their search.

  • Easy to understand: some of the self-service portals we have seen in recent years have been full to the brim of technical language in an effort to impress customers. Actually, the opposite is true: when customers do not understand what they’re reading they’re far from impressed, if anything it just makes them annoyed and they’ll find another way to get what they need (usually resulting in a telephone call to your IT service desk).
    Save the jargon for chat between IT staff who understand the terms and use language your everyday customer is going to understand and relate to.

2) Use responsive design

Your self-service portal needs to be accessible wherever your customers are, this could be sat at their desk or it could be while they’re on the move.
You want to make sure your self-service portal is accessible to those using mobile devices as well as those who choose to access on their desktop or laptop.
Almost everyone is using smartphones or tablets these days, in fact, according to Statista, in the third quarter of 2018 52.4% of global internet traffic came from a mobile device.

If self-service isn’t available to mobile users you could be cutting out a large portion of customers who would otherwise be happy to start using it.

3) Personalize the experience

A personalized experience makes for a happier customer, right?

As customers we’ve grown tired of simply being treated as a number, these days we want to be treated as an individual and this is no less true in the world of IT support.
In a Genesys white paper on ‘Intelligent Self-Service and Personalization’ they state that ‘What lies at the heart of self-service is a laser focus on customer experience. Attention to enhanced customer experience with self-service is realized through the integration of customer data and business logic to create a unique, fully personalized, customer-driven by context.’

Self-service is all about the customer so personalize the experience and make them feel like their IT needs really matters to you.

4) Include announcements and notifications

A self-service portal is an excellent place to include announcements and notifications.

When a major incident disrupts your workers you can place an announcement on the portal homepage letting people know that the organization is aware and working on resolving the incident. This will help to reduce tickets into the desk as it stops everybody reporting the same issue to the IT service desk.
Planned maintenance and expected downtime can also be announced via the portal to alert users in advance.

Make the portal the one stop shop for all IT related news and notifications and this will act as a gentle nudge to encourage people to visit and use the portal for all of their IT needs. Self-service adoption is a journey and not something that will just happen overnight.

You can even go one step further and allow users to personalize which announcements and notifications they see so they aren’t bothered with information they don’t need.

5) Nail your Knowledge Management Process

Without a decent knowledge management process in place you’re going to struggle to make self-service a success. You see, the idea of self-service is to reduce calls to your IT service desk by encouraging your customers to fix their own issues. For this to work you must have accurate and up-to-date knowledge documentation for end users to follow.

What do you think will happen if your customers find a document that guides them to, for example, connect to your organization’s VPN, but the document is out of date and the instructions are now wrong? Not only will they have to call the IT service desk for a simple resolution they should be able to sort themselves but they’ll be angry about having their time wasted and reluctant to use self-service again in case of a repeat issue.

An up-to-date, accurate, and comprehensive knowledge base is the foundation of self-service and is absolutely necessary if your organization wishes to reduce IT support related costs.

For self-service to be accepted by your end users you need to make the experience easy, personal and accurate.
Don’t try to get absolutely everything right for day one, do your research and make the portal as good as you can but remember that you can keep on learning and improving as you go. Use customer feedback surveys to find out what people like and don’t like and make changes based on their feedback where possible.

Have you begun your self-service implementation journey?
What other tips would you add to help organizations who are just starting out?

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