According to HDI research, over 80% of organizations have now invested in some form of IT self-service technology but only 17% of organizations believe they have realized expected ROI. It’s difficult to pin-down the exact reasons for such a large gap between implementation and ROI but one thing is certain: Whether the purpose is to accelerate speed of resolution, reduce service desk costs, or improve customer satisfaction, organizations from all industries are trying to find the right formula for self-service success. In this post, I’ll be summarizing the five underlying requirements for successful IT self-service. Additionally, I urge you to read more on how to increase and validate return on your investment in self-service in our previous blog, Calculating the ROI of Your IT Self-Service Portal.
The Fundamentals of IT Self-Service Success
No matter what your situation may be, there are five fundamental building blocks that make up a well-rounded self-service strategy. These building blocks have technology dependencies for you to consider when planning your implementation, but this article is not meant to pitch technology solutions. These are fundamental concepts for you to build-on and use as a guide to ensure you don’t lose focus on what you’re trying to accomplish.
1. Intelligent Knowledge
Consider converting your knowledge management strategy into more of a self-help strategy. A self-help strategy refers to the implementation of a more engaging and interactive knowledge delivery method. Intelligent Knowledge Management software is a great example, allowing users to navigate knowledge articles in a dynamic workflow methodology with logical Q&A interactions as opposed to traditional knowledge documentation. Another key focus area is to put an emphasis on strong analytics for continuous improvement. Understand where users abandon knowledge articles and which topics are most used (vs. least used) to understand where to continue to invest. See our blog, Self-Service Needs an Upgrade and Self-Help is the Best Way to do It, for further discussion on the differences between self-service and self-help.
2. Responsive UX/UI
Nowadays, users expect a consistent experience from desktop to mobile and they need to feel confident they are getting comprehensive features when they access services from anywhere on any device. Investing in a consumer-grade user experience that’s more intuitive, requiring little or no end user training (like what you get with Netflix, Amazon, and Uber), can increase user adoption because your end users feel more comfortable with the experience. Another focus area for UX is centralizing the experience around search. Both recommendations are similar to what end users engage with in their daily lives when learning how to use a new phone app quickly, without training, or searching Google for results to answer a question. This allows them to acclimate very rapidly, with minimal friction, and become comfortable with the self-service experience from the get-go.
3. Social Collaboration
Social media empowers users to communicate with friends, get questions answered, share experiences, and collaborate. Adding similar functionality to self-service encourages users to communicate between IT and non-IT roles, evaluate quality of service and delivery, and allow users to help other users solve problems. For example, review capabilities allow users to share experiences with services that they have requested in the past, similar to Google reviews for products or companies. Again, the goal here is to align user experience at work with the user experience at home.
4. Service Store
When requesting services from the service catalog, it can be difficult to compare request offerings or request multiple services at one time without having some sort of “shopping cart” experience. This is a capability that end users have been clamoring for (and organizations tasked with delivering service have been trying to perfect) since Amazon emerged with the ability to order just about anything you can think of online. This capability, while simple to explain, requires a lot of dependencies to execute properly. Criteria that you will need to consider when planning a service catalog portal is how you will keep an up-to-date inventory of services, connect with vendor partners for real-time fulfillment information, and integrate with asset and financial management data.
5. Cognitive Services
AI is a hot topic and can no longer be ignored in the IT Service Management space. Every organization is looking for ways to improve search, deliver more user-specific experiences, and add smarter features to their service management tools. Aligning the search and knowledge building blocks, that we talked about in #1 and #2, with chatbot technology is just what modern users are looking for in a self-service tool. When investigating cognitive services that you can offer your end users, be sure to focus on chatbots that can help answer questions and guide the end user based on who they are and what tools they have access to. In addition to chatbots, virtual assistants that help your staff with important reminders, announcement promotions, and crucial warnings around things like breached SLAs can improve efficiency greatly.
Final Thoughts - Take it One, or Two, Steps at a Time
Some of these building blocks may seem obvious but they are not easy to execute on. Remember, when you invest in self-service, you’re making an investment in better tools and proven best practices. Even more importantly, you’re investing in behavioral change and this will take some time to see a return. To help with your planning around getting the most out of your self-service investment, we recommend pursuing #1 (Intelligent Knowledge) and #2 (User Experience) first. These two building blocks are vital for the other three and tend to yield returns more quickly. If you can take these first two steps, you will be well on your way to improving self-service adoption, decreasing service desk calls, and increasing self-service ROI. The other pieces should fall into place if you continue down this path.
Watch the Webinar Replay – The 5 ITSM Trends That Actually Matter in 2018
Looking for more tips and best practices? Learn which ITSM tech trends will be critical to act on in 2018 in this webinar replay. Stephen Mann, Principal Analyst and Content Director at ITSM.tools, and I share the list of top five technology trends to address this year and how to make quick wins in those areas.
Justin has over 10 years of experience in the IT industry including roles in IT support, IT operations and technology sales and marketing. He has spent the last several years in the ITSM field developing expertise in Service and Asset Management, among other passion subjects such as Agile Methodology and Software Integrations. Outside of work, Justin spends all of his time with his family, improving his golf game and rooting for his favorite college and professional sports teams.