Businesses are facing a myriad of new challenges, especially during times of rapid, and often unexpected, economic change. But, the promise of IT self-service technology isn’t new. IT organizations and IT service desks, in particular, have long seen the introduction of self-service technology (in the form of an IT self-service portal ) as a way of taking the pressure off overworked IT support functions, reducing costs, and speeding up both incident resolutions and the provision of new IT services.
More recently, self-service has been viewed as a key enabler in improving employee experience, no matter where the employees are working from. This is not only due to the potential to speed up the delivery of IT support, but also to better match the omnichannel service and support experiences that these employees receive in their personal lives, which they now expect at work.
IT self-service can definitely help your IT organization deliver a superior employee experience and the benefits this brings – especially in a remote workplace. But first, there’s a need to understand how to improve self-service technology adoption.
What is Self-Service Technology?
A good place to start is with the question: what is a self-service portal? Self-service portals commonly offer a variety of self-help capabilities and technologies to employees (or customers if externally facing) in any location, whether working remotely or in a physical office. These may include:
- Access to self-help. This access guides users to FAQs and other knowledge articles, including helpful information. For example, “how-to” guides and common IT fixes, including workarounds for known problems.
- The ability for employees to self-log incidents and service requests when immediate self-help isn’t available or suitable. Resolution or provisioning is then delivered by IT support staff or potentially automated capabilities.
- Ticket status checking. This enables employees to self-check the status of their incidents or service requests.
- Chat and chatbots. This is the provision of a machine-learning-based virtual agent as the first line of engagement-based support, or chat-based access to service desk analysts as needed.
- The automated delivery of assistance and service. For example, automated password resetting, where the end user can reset their forgotten password. Another example is the ability for end users to download pre-approved software and patches.
- Broadcasting and notifications. This could be a broadcast message via the portal that a certain application or service is, or will be, unavailable. Or, this can be a personal notification that the status of an end user’s ticket has changed.
Knowing how to improve self-service technology requires more than the understanding of which capabilities to include in a self-service facility and how to implement the technology to spec, time, and budget.
Instead, organizations that want to understand how to improve self-service technology adoption need to appreciate that the introduction of self-service capabilities is actually a people-change initiative, not a technology project. Why? Because it involves changes to the traditional ways of working within your organization.
How Can Employee Experience be Improved?
When considering how to improve self-service technology in pursuit of superior employee experience, it’s important to understand what employee experience is. This is different from the use of employee satisfaction surveys or the CSAT questionnaires that are commonly available within IT Service Management (ITSM) tools.
Forrester Research offered up a great explanation of what employee experience is in a 2019 blog called “The Employee Experience Index”:
“Psychological research shows that the most important factor for employee experience is being able to make progress every day toward the work that they believe is most important.”
This points to employee experience being about upping employee productivity by minimizing the adverse impact of IT issues and delays for required IT services. This factor is in addition to how employees feel about the service and support capabilities of internal service providers such as IT.
Hence, IT self-service done well will help to improve the employee experience by reducing the time it takes for employees to receive support or to be provisioned with the new IT services they need to do their work. Think of self-service as removing the friction and reducing the potential delay of other IT support contact channels such as telephone and email.
So, that’s the “why” of self-service in an employee experience context. Please keep reading for more on how to improve self-service technology and its adoption.
1. Start with the Right Motivation(s)
There are many motivations for initiating change. The same is true for the introduction, or improvement, of IT self-service. While many of the earliest IT self-service capabilities were introduced with the primary motivation of saving money, the IT industry has, thankfully, recognized the flaw in this approach.
Instead, self-service needs to be introduced in a way that’s not primarily financially focused. For example, self-service can be introduced to improve the employee experience – with the self-service capability created around the needs of the employee, and likely based on what they like and dislike with the self-service capabilities they encounter in their personal lives. It can also be introduced as a way to make the work experience simpler due to rapid changes, like unexpectedly moving to a remote workforce, which can remove some of the stress felt by the team.
Done right, meeting such employee-based motivations will then bring financial savings as the new self-service capability is increasingly used.
2. Recognize the People-Change Aspects
As already mentioned, self-service needs to be a people-change initiative, not a technology implementation project. And, as such, its introduction needs organizational change management tools and techniques to be successful, because employees need to buy into the change that will be significantly different to the traditional ways of accessing IT support.
Without effective organizational change management, there’s a danger that the introduced technology won’t be used, and reused, by employees. And without a sufficient level of self-service adoption, your organization will likely never be able to reap the expected benefits across all three of cost reductions, time savings, and improved employee experience.
3. Proactively Market the New Self-Service Capability
This tip can, of course, be considered part of the already-mentioned need for organizational itil change management tools and techniques, but it’s also worth a tip of its own. Again, how to improve self-service technology isn’t actually an improvement to the technology itself. Instead, there’s a need to explain, repeatedly, why things are changing, how they are changing, and when.
Importantly, this marketing includes the explanation of the “What’s in it for me?” for employees that’s necessary for them to buy into the change and to reduce the likely resistance to change. This will include how they will personally benefit from the use of self-service along with the business-level benefits of its introduction.
How to Improve Self-Service Technology for a Better Employee Experience
The bottom line for organizations seeking to improve employee experience using IT self-service capabilities is that they first need to understand how to improve self-service technology adoption levels.
Of course, there’s a need to understand what employee experience means for your organization, too. But, self-service should play a key part in your employee experience improvement strategy and plans, and to do this, you need to ensure that your self-service introduction efforts are built around your employees and their needs, rather than just the self-service technology implementation.
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