Self-Service and beyond

In this series of blog posts I’ve been discussing how we can profitably update the notion of a shift-left service strategy. Last time, I talked about incorporating self-service. As we’ve seen, self-service is a recognized strategy for improving efficiency by shifting repetitive tasks to a more cost-effective and user-friendly channel, and as such is logically an element of a shift-left strategy.

But there is now an opportunity to go beyond self-service in a way that we believe can rapidly multiply the benefits of shift-left for both your users and your organization as a whole. I believe self-service becomes far more powerful if, rather than simply consuming information provided by the service desk, end-users are able to work together to solve problems and share advice and information.

There’s plenty of evidence that this is now the preferred way of working. TripAdvisor is a perfect example of an end-user collaboration environment. For many people, it’s become second nature to check it before making a hotel or restaurant booking.

Seeking this type of collaborative help is also now a natural reaction if we experience a problem with IT equipment. Most of us opt to talk to our peers before contacting technical support. That way, we can often get advice almost instantly, instead of having to log a request and wait for a response ‒ plus the advice is expressed in a language we understand, and comes from people with the same perspective as ours. The “unsourcing” trend reflects the fact that this is the way people increasingly prefer to work.

It makes sense for the service desk team to take advantage of these changing user expectations to move shift-left to the next level and transform customer experience. The way to do this is to provide your own online collaborative spaces where users can help one another. The information they share and generate can then be stored in knowledge bases so other users can help themselves by referring to it.

You might be wondering what all this discussion of self-help and user collaboration means for the service desk team and their jobs – or indeed whether they’ll still have jobs. The answer is a definite “yes” – in fact, their jobs should get much more interesting and rewarding as a result of shift-left. That’s what I’ll be covering next time.

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