Guest Blog : Helping yourself to IT support

The changing face of the Service Desk

The role of the traditional service desk has been to provide a centralised and consistent function to help resolve issues, problems and fulfil requests. However the role and face of a modern service desk is changing.  We see an increasing trend across many organisations for users to become more self-sufficient. Most of us have become comfortable with the use of desktop, mobile and internet technologies at home, where the first call for help when faced with a technical issue is often to resort to Google, YouTube or Twitter and Facebook through a well-constructed search query, or by reaching out to a virtual support community.

For the corporate world, Gartner estimate that as much as 40% all service desk contact volume could be solved through IT self-service. However, in reality only about 5% of issues actually are; just building an enterprise self-service IT portal does not necessarily mean that corporate users will benefit from it.

So what are the blockers?

Gartner identified four themes and we recognise that the associated realities, in combination with low IT service desk maturity, are the factors that prevent IT organisations from successfully delivering IT self-service.

1. Reduction in some operational costs

Whilst it is true that self-service can reduce the service and support costs by shifting end-user issues on to a lower cost level, it’s best suited for specific case types like How-To requests, password resets and common “Can I Have” type service requests. Many others still require a call or visit to the service desk and/or the assistance of a support technician. Any business case for this type of initiative needs to understand the demand mix and an upfront and on-going investment in staff resources and tools like knowledge management, workflow and automated fulfillment

2. An on-going investment IT self-service is not an “build and leave” option

Monitoring how IT self-service is being leveraged as well as identifying the value end users are getting from the offering will be an ongoing task. People may be aware of the existence of IT self-service but have little understanding of how it functions, how it can and should be leveraged, or the benefits it can provide. Promoting and marketing the solution, especially with users who may not find value in the offering or prefer calling the service desk is key. Support and maintaing the knowledge base is also required otherwise articles and How-To guides become stale; articles that do not fix the problem or that are difficult to understand impact the credibility that IT self-service portals need to establish. Also, the wider the range of services supported, the more discipline and effort is required to keep  knowledge articles up to date.According to Genysis (a provider of knowledge services), companies employing knowledge-powered solutions have seen 30% improvement in customer satisfaction, 70% success in first time fix and 60% reduction in time agents spend researching answers to queries

3. If you build it, they may not come

End-user utilisation is a key objective; time and cost investments in building a portal that is fit for purpose will not yield returns if end users are not inclined to log their own tickets or attempt to solve their own problems. Factors impacting this include an organisation’s demographics; groups like engineers or young people may be happy to leverage self-service, but end users who are less comfortable with change or are not sophisticated computer users may not be as willing.

4. IT self-service is not an easy implementation

Supporting tools and processes are prerequisites for a successful implementation. Expectations will be high – an intuitive and easy-to-use IT self-service portal where knowledge is readily available, where service requests are easy to raise and passwords easy to reset. End users should not be expected to trawl through knowledge if it is not presented or stored correctly. They are unlikely to be concerned by processes or issues preventing the support organization from keeping the site fresh and up to date. Password problems make up between 20-30% of all IT service desk volume, with most of those issues resolvable by password reset tools, automating this function can save organizations the costs of supporting this type of request.

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About the Author: Shannon Lewis

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