Tech Trends: Self-Service


by Bill Miller and Simon Yelsky


Many support organizations aspire to implement good self-service solutions; not all succeed. Here are a few tips to help you impress your users and your stakeholders.

 

Bill Miller, ii2p

Self-service has been an attractive and alluring proposition for technical service and support organizations for nearly a decade. The benefits are readily understood (reducing support costs, shortening resolution time, and extending IT value), and the concept (including the user in the incident resolution and service fulfillment processes) certainly makes sense.

However, self-service has proven to be a challenge to implement, with some organizations simply wrapping a graphical user interface around a bloated, mismanaged knowledge base. From there, it often only gets more complicated. Too often, organizations create congested self-service sites loaded with every possible offering, solution, link, or snippet. What should be an inviting, thoughtful user solution becomes something cluttered, cumbersome, and intimidating.

This isn’t to say some industries and organizations haven’t implemented self-service successfully. Several consumer-centric industries—airlines, banking, and hospitality—stand out as notable examples. While user self-service in IT has proven more challenging, as an industry committed to servicing our customers, whether internal or external (or both), we could learn plenty from those successes. Here are just a few tips:

  • Keep it simple. This is the classic case of less being more. Make the self-service site easy to use and start with limited offerings. Once it’s live and in active use, then you can start growing it. 
  • Keep it current. Resist the temptation to create a massive knowledge base. Think “just enough and just for now.” 
  • Keep listening. Let your users know you’re listening. Commit to aggressive interaction with user feedback.

Creating an inviting, interactive user self-service platform is the key to implementing and sustaining a successful IT self-service program.

 

Simon Yelsky, RightAnswers, Inc.

Improving the user experience remains a top priority for support organizations. At the forefront of this effort are web-based self-service technologies that empower users to resolve issues and/or obtain information without opening a ticket or contacting a support agent.

IT organizations have historically used self-service to handle user inquiries regarding password resets, network access, printer issues, and more. Here are six tips to help you take self-service to the next level: 

  • Offer an easy-to-use, customer-friendly user interface. Today’s discerning users expect easy-to-use interfaces designed from the customer’s perspective. 
  • Ensure that self-service is driven from one knowledge environment. To create a one-stop self-service experience, solutions and content should be powered by a single knowledge environment where users can perform searches and resolve their issues. 
  • Self-service should provide helpful solutions and articles before escalation. An effective self-service solution should offer helpful solutions and articles to the user before the issue is escalated to a support agent. 
  • Provide the support agent with self-service behavioral intelligence. A good self-service solution should provide agents with behavioral intelligence so they can review users’ search terms and navigation in an effort to offer more accurate support. The end result of this is increased user satisfaction. 
  • Get social with self-service. A good self-service solution should also offer a social component whereby users can search and post on forums (users helping other users). Support agents should monitor these forums so they can be ready to step in and provide users with guidance and solutions. 
  • Expand self-service and knowledge beyond IT. Self-service shouldn’t just be an IT initiative. If multiple departments within the same organization are using self-service, they should do so from a single portal, providing a single stop for all support.

A successful self-service solution leads to a reduction in support calls, enables support agents to focus on critical issues, returns users to a more productive state more quickly, and ensures a positive user experience and increased user satisfaction. By following these tips, organizations will be better equipped to provide their users with an
experience that delivers a positive outcome and keeps them coming back for more.

Tag(s): customer experience, customer service, self-service

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