The deluge of increased tech requests during the COVID-19 pandemic has proven that you can’t simply outrun tickets through efficiency measures. And while some of the more extraordinary strains on IT may have subsided with a partial return to the office, there are now new and more complex demands made on IT service departments. Perhaps perversely, while IT may have proven its worth during the pandemic, that has only caused enterprises to lean even more on tech departments for the execution of fundamental tasks throughout organizations.
This means that IT teams are finding it necessary to discover ways to prevent tickets before they happen. Many are, rightly, turning to automation to help mitigate the more basic tasks required of tech teams. However, IT teams may be overlooking a more organic way to prevent tickets - communication.
Communication can lift the veil of secrecy that often covers the inner workings of IT teams. To most employees of an organization, IT is a black box, one that is only thought of when something goes wrong. Human nature dictates that we fear and avoid what we don’t understand, which means that your non-tech colleagues may feel disempowered to communicate when it comes to tech and when it comes to the IT department. This can create a negative cycle of communication, depriving IT departments of reputational standing within an organization and an early warning system about potential problems.
The best way to combat this may be to let in the sunshine with regular, brief communications with the rank-of-file of other departments of your organization. A biweekly or monthly company-wide email from the IT department can offer two great avenues for ticket prevention:
Most computer and network users within an organization don’t fully utilize the tech tools that are available to them, and even fewer fully understand the tools completely. This can lead to a huge number of tickets that can only be solved by an IT service team member teaching computer skills to individual members of the workforce.
Instead, a regular email to all colleagues can include a quick-and-dirty overview of a tech or computer skill. The skills taught should target the skills most lacking, as proven by the tickets received for remedial help.
There may be a hesitation to offer such tips for fear of talking down to our colleagues. After all, the tech savvy among us intuitively know to independently look for an answer when tech doesn’t work. Those who aren’t as comfortable with tech will assume there isn’t an answer and grow frustrated.
I admit to often being a part of the latter camp. Here’s an example: Recently, I was at an event and wanted to scan a QR code. I opened my camera to try and focus on the code. My daughter, unprompted and with only partially contained exasperation, grabbed my phone and loaded a QR reader tool directly to my homescreen, thus eliminating a step in the process.
By offering regular tips, IT service departments can be like my daughter, saving stubborn luddites like me from inefficiency and frustration. And the tips aren’t likely to offend the tech savvy among an organization, who more likely will enjoy the opportunity to feel superior for already knowing what is being taught.
Providing a Roadmap
How many service tickets could be categorized as “wouldn’t it be nice if…” tickets? And how many of those tickets are answered by some version of “we’re working on it”?
Now, what if, instead, you regularly gave a snapshot to the organization about what new IT features might soon be available? Doing this shows that IT is busy meeting the needs of the organization, and it also might cut down on those “wouldn’t it be nice” tickets.
A caveat here - don’t include anything in the newsletter unless it absolutely is going to happen. Better yet, stick to including what recently has already happened. There is no sense risking disappointment by including news of a planned improvement that might fall through or doesn’t work out as hoped.
As IT has become more and more an integral part of enterprise-level operations, there has been a lot of buzz in IT service about the need for IT to market itself. Marketing may seem like a scary concept to many, but it shouldn’t. At its heart, good marketing is about communicating regularly and effectively. A regular newsletter may be the easiest lift in any marketing plan to help build understanding about what IT does, and it may also be a key tool in ticket prevention.
Craig Idlebrook is an editor with Informa.