Vendors and consultants may be pushing the self-service portal concept to sell more products and services. But here, our anonymous service desk manager for a major UK organisation explains why the need for a self-service portal is real – not marketing speak. 

IT service desks are having a hard time. I’ve spoken to a lot of service desk managers who echo this. Service Desks are changing, they have to, but it can be difficult to keep up in a world where we are becoming so accustomed to having what we want immediately.

Think of some large companies you’re a customer of, maybe your phone provider, an online retailer, your television brand etc. A few of mine off the top of my head:

Amazon
EE
Google
LG
Samsung
Apple

Now think about what happens when you contact one of these companies. You head to their website and…well that’s pretty much where it stops. There’s reams of information at your fingertips.

The other day I had a problem with my Amazon delivery, I’d selected the wrong date to deliver but didn’t notice until the order was confirmed. It took me 30 seconds to find out how to change it: a callback service offered free of charge. It took a further 10 seconds for Amazon to phone me and change the date. Was I a happy customer? Of course I was, I got what I needed in under a minute.

Recently I upgraded my phone, EE text me to let me know they were offering me an early upgrade for free. Who doesn’t love free?  I jumped online, found what I wanted but didn’t love the price increase for my chosen device. Enter Live Chat. I clicked the button and in under 60 seconds an agent was typing away and asking how they could help. Ten minutes later I had my phone, a price I was happy with and delivery within a few days.

Quick, easy, convenient.

A problem with my new LG tablet, well, not so much a problem but a lack of knowledge. Jump on the LG website, click ‘Support’, find a whole ream of searchable knowledge articles sorted into handy categories – answer found almost instantly.

Notice the similarities?

All offer a no hassle, simple solution to my problems. But this is no surprise, this is what we, as consumers, have come to expect. Essentially, then, IT service desks need to offer the same of kind of customer service that we’re now so used to but a lot of us are actually miles behind.

We haven’t got a great knowledge base so we’re still walking our customers through basic fixes over the phone while others are waiting in the queue. We aren’t exploring live chat options yet; we could have bots doing some of the basic answering/advising for us.

And we aren’t offering immediate callbacks because all our analysts are too busy dealing with the streams of incoming calls to even consider coming out of the phone line.

How can a self-service portal help?

Reduce telephone calls
If your company has a self-service portal customers can use this to log their own tickets. The benefit of this statement is pretty obvious: they’ve done the work for you.

With this comes more benefits: an agent hasn’t been tied up logging a ticket, a phone call hasn’t come into the desk which has helped your telephony stats, and the customer isn’t tied up waiting for the phone to be picked up and can go about their day happy with the knowledge that their ticket is now in capable hands.

Reduce tickets volumes
You know those calls you deal with every day, the ones where the user could really fix it themselves if they knew how? They can take up a great deal of time, but instead of your Analysts helping the customers that really need it they waste their day fixing menial issues because the knowledge isn’t readily available to end users.

Good knowledge management is essential to the success of your service desk. Without it, your analysts have nothing to guide them and your end users have to rely on your Analysts to help them.

Insert knowledge base, which can be integrated with your self-service portal, this way end users can search for what they need and can find articles & user guides to help them fix their own issues which means they don’t need to log a ticket with your desk.

This can also free up your Analysts giving them time to work through your aged ticket queue – all in the name of reducing ticket volumes further.

Start working 24/7
By this I don’t mean that your service desk needs to be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Having a self-service portal means tickets can be logged using the portal at any time of day, you don’t need an open desk for the tickets to come in and drop into your triage queue.


If you’re being really snazzy your tickets can automate to the correct resolver team meaning you don’t even have to wait for your Analysts to arrive and manually triage tickets.

Read more on this point at my ‘10 reasons why you need automation’ blog.

Personalisation
Who doesn’t want to be treated like a human being rather than just a faceless nobody? Self-service gives you a ton of options to personalise your support. Log into the portal and it greets you with a ‘Hello [name]’, or go one step further with a ‘Good Morning’ or ‘Good Afternoon’.

Customer satisfaction is already going up. I know this because we recently launched this on our own portal and it went down wonders with our end users.

Why? Because you’re recognising them for who they are, you’re welcoming them personally into your world, you’re showing them you are there to help them as an individual. Furthermore you can personalise their portal experience so that only content relevant to them is displayed. It can learn from their clicks and searches what they do and don’t want to see, and it can offer them articles and announcements they need in their job role.

Empowerment
Customer service is super important for a service desk, it should really be number one: after all that’s why you’re there. Empowering your customers is an integral part of delivering world-class customer service. This is because when a customer is given the material they need to serve themselves they don’t need to log a ticket, call the desk, or wait for hours, days, weeks (depending on how bad your ticket volumes are) for their issue to be resolved.

Instead, they fix it themselves, walk away happy, and don’t affect your stats at all. Or, when they do need to log a ticket, they can see updates via the portal, they can put an update on their own ticket, they can even close the ticket for you if they don’t need it anymore.

Service desks are changing and self-service is certainly a necessity at this point.

Learn more about our guest blogger’s experience managing a major UK service desk: “How I’m tackling our service desk challenges”.

Author Bio:
James West

James West

Editor, SITS Insight

If you have service desk news to share or would like to become a SITS Insight blogger, please get in touch with James

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