Help yourself to a better customer experience

In my previous post I discussed the idea of “shift-left” and mentioned that self-service is a vital tool in moving issue resolution to the lowest cost level in your service organization. Today I’m going to take a closer look at self-service itself. I’ll say more about how it fits into the shift-left strategy and look at some of its benefits.

Generally speaking, “IT self-service” refers to actions users can take for themselves via an online portal. That might include logging their own incidents and checking status updates, as well as putting in routine service requests such as password resets. The portal can also offer a self-help facility so that users can diagnose common problems using features such as FAQ lists, knowledge bases, and online videos – then they can often apply the solutions themselves.

Why self-service should be part of your shift-left service strategy
It’s easy to see how self-service fits into a shift-left strategy. As service guru Pete McGarahan says, “Our mantra should be to assign the right work to the right people for the right reasons.” In the majority of cases, the end-user really is the best person to tackle these routine tasks: it saves both them and the ITSM team time compared with a phone call or email to the support desk.

Self-service also fits well with evolving patterns of consumer behavior. When it comes to booking flights, making online purchases, or checking bank accounts, customers often prefer to help themselves online, and will only seek human intervention if the requirement is complex. And this doesn’t just apply to “millennials” – older people are often even keener to do things for themselves online.

Self-service pleases users and benefits the business
At work, people are now looking for the same patterns of service from the IT department. And complying with this demand has a whole lot of benefits for the organization too:
Reduce IT service and support costs: Analyst figures suggest that medium-sized service desks can easily save around half a million dollars by diverting even a modest a proportion of their calls to self-service.
Improve customer experience without increasing service desk workload: By offering end-users a quick and easy way to access IT services online, support organizations can provide an instant response both during office hours and outside standard help-desk hours.
Accumulate knowledge: Trend analysis on the pattern of requests and usage of how-to questions helps the service desk to build up a knowledge base that customers can dip into when they need advice, without having to contact the IT service desk. That information is always consistent, which improves end-user productivity and satisfaction.
Focus on value-adding tasks: With users able to take charge of common tasks, service desk staff have more time available to work on issues that require closer interaction between them and their customers, and/or that are more challenging to resolve. Working in this way gives them the opportunity to specialize and learn new skills – something that usually improves their job satisfaction and morale and therefore improves your chances of hanging on to them.

No wonder many organizations have been eager to implement self-service. A recent SDI survey of IT professionals found that 64% of respondents’ organizations currently have self-service in place and 83% of the remainder hope to implement it in the future. It has certainly paid off for many Hornbill customers.

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