Improving the experience of service desk employees and their customers has become a major focus for businesses across the world. With the rapid-fire changes we have come to expect as part of post-pandemic life, reducing turnover at the service desk and augmenting the employee experience has become paramount to keeping business goals on track.
These improvements also come at a time when more young Gen Z and millennials are entering the workforce. Time and time again, we see that the younger generation of employees want the same types of technologies at work as they access in their personal lives.
Certainly, businesses have begun to rise to the occasion and introduce new tech to meet the needs of their customers and employees, yet a recent study from PWC shows that while 90% of C-suite executives believe their company pays attention to people’s needs when introducing new technology, but only about half (53%) of staff say the same. The same study also found that while 92% of C-suite execs say they’re satisfied with the technology experience their company provides for making progress on their most important work, only 68% of staff agree.
This disconnect represents a greater need to shift the focus to understanding what the employees actually want and need, and providing the right technologies to improve their experience.
Here are some improvements to consider:
Consider the Employee Experience
When considering how to improve technology in pursuit of superior employee experience, it’s important to understand what employee experience is. By considering what the experience currently is, you can ensure that you are starting with the right motivations. 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, giving the support desk the proper tools will improve the employee experience for both agents and their customers.
Introduce Omnichannel Self-Service Technology
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 work. 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 meet the users wherever they are.
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 include:
Access to self-help. This access guides users to FAQs and other knowledge articles, including helpful information, like “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.
- Broadcasting and notifications. This could be a broadcast message via the portal that a certain application or service is, or will be, unavailable, or a personal notification that the status of an end user’s ticket has changed.
Embrace Automation and AI
With self-service becoming a staple in creating a positive employee experience, automation and AI can push the initiative even further.
It may seem counterproductive to suggest automation and AI as a means of boosting the employee experience. After all, automation and AI often spark fear that employees will lose their jobs to these technologies. However, automation and AI should not replace employees; rather, it will augment and enhance their experience and free them up to handle higher priority issues.
There are several benefits of using automation and AI technology, including the reduction of call time and overall ease of access to knowledge. These benefits ultimately result in a better overall remote and blended workforce experience, and on the company side a higher level of employee retention.
In this regard, AI refers to virtual agents and conversational AI that gives users the ability to access knowledge and create, track, and escalate tickets. Conversational AI is growing in popularity for both commercial and internal use. In fact, Gartner predicts that “by 2022, 70% of white-collar workers will interact with conversational platforms on a daily basis.” Gartner also notes that “This expected growth is on par with the increase of millennials in the workplace.”
Conversational AI is part of a greater automation strategy. Automation can be used to create workflows and trigger actions for agents, ultimately reducing onboarding time and speeding up the handling of tickets. For example, imagine that a support agent is working through a ticket which was submitted through a chatbot. The chatbot kept a record of all of the troubleshooting options the user tried before ultimately submitting the ticket – thereby immediately shaving time off of the ticket-resolution time. Then, using automated workflows, the agent is able to see which devices are assigned to that specific customer, as access to knowledge articles specific to that device is populated. If the agent cannot complete the ticket, automation can escalate the ticket to the next level.
Automation removes friction from the entire process. This improves the employee experience for both the support desk agent, who is freed up to focus on projects they care most about, and for the customer, who is back up and running more quickly.
Bridge the Gap Between the C-Suite and Staff
As I mentioned earlier, there is a major gap between the perception of technology between the C-Suite and the staff who uses the technology every day. You can bridge that gap by focusing on simple ways to alleviate the service desk staff of redundant and repetitive tasks and increasing access to knowledge. Understanding the employee experience and the customers they serve will give better insights for the C-suite to more accurately gauge the use and satisfaction of technologies. All of this leads to a better experience for all employees.
Whatever investment you can make in the employee experience can pay off in reduced turnover and enhanced customer support. Make sure to take the time to see if you are continually working toward improving EX.
Craig Idlebrook is a content manager with Informa Tech. He serves as editor for HDI and ICMI. You can contact him at [email protected].