ITSM must evolve in line with consumer expectations

In connection with our new Smart Guide on Harnessing the Power of Peer-to-Peer Support, I’ve been blogging about the case for getting users to help themselves and one another. In this post I’d like to explain why this idea fits in so well with current trends in consumer expectations and behavior.

As service guru Pete McGarahan says, “Our mantra should be to assign the right work to the right people for the right reasons.” Who is the right person? Very often, in the case of routine tasks, it turns out to be the end-user. Dealing with tasks themselves can save both them and the service desk time compared with a phone call or email to the support desk.

There are two main ways users can tackle routine tasks for themselves: IT self-service and peer-to-peer collaborative support. Both of these are essential elements of a shift-left strategy.

• IT self-service refers to actions users can take for themselves via an online portal. Typical examples include logging incidents and service requests, and checking status updates. Often, too, the portal will include a knowledge base that users can search to see if they can find their own solution before logging an incident or request.

• Peer-to-peer support practices include mobile and social capabilities with the end-user as a collaborator in the entire process of dealing with incidents and requests.

Users are often not just willing but impatient to adopt approaches like these. In recent research by Aberdeen Group, it is reported that 12% of end-users believe that the IT support that they receive uses archaic technologies and processes – a clear indication of receptiveness to change. Aberdeen also reports that Best-in-Class firms (identified as the top 20% in delivering successful ITSM
operations) are 48% more likely to use social collaboration as part of the IT support workflow – and social collaboration is of course the key to peer-to-peer support.

The reason these approaches are so welcome is that consumer behavior is evolving fast in terms of the adoption of self-help and peer-to-peer support and collaboration. When it comes to booking flights, making online purchases, or checking bank accounts, we often prefer to help ourselves online, and will only seek human intervention if the requirement is complex.

And when we need support for consumer electronics or software that we use at home, most of us prefer to talk to our peers rather than a technical support desk. On a user forum, we can often get advice almost instantly, instead of having to wait for hours or even days – and it comes from people who understand where we’re coming from.

So both self-service and peer-to-peer support represent approaches to problem-solving that consumers increasingly prefer, already experience in in their leisure activities, and hope to find when they come to work. That’s a bonus when you consider how big the benefits are from the point of view of the ITSM team.

I’ll run through these benefits in my next blog post. In the meantime, please do download the whole
Smart Guide.

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