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Self-Service Webinar Q and A

By | September 2, 2015 in Service Desk

Self-service at the service desk Q&A

I really enjoyed delivering a webinar with Stephen Mann recently.  The webinar, which was called Real-World Tips for Self-Service Success, attracted a large audience, and generated some great feedback. If you missed the live event then you can still listen to the recording by following the link, and if you want a brief synopsis of what we spoke about, read this blog. If you would prefer to read more about the topic (with or without watching the webinar) then start playing the webinar and click on the Attachments button to access our white paper.

Quite a few attendees typed in questions, and although we didn’t have time to answer all of them during the live event, we have given them some thought. So here are my answers to some of the questions.

If your company doesn't have ITIL in place, do we need to approach self-service in a different manor?

Not at all. Nobody has “ITIL in place”. ITIL is just a set of best practices that you can adopt as part of your management system. You must have some kind of processes in place for managing incidents and requests, and I assume you have a service desk or something very similar. All of the ideas and suggestions we made about self-service were general ideas about IT service management, none of them was specific to ITIL.

Any ideas on how knowledge articles can be written or related so nuggets of wisdom can be interwoven into a self-service process - available at relevant points from the customer's perspective?

This is a very challenging question, and you are right that it is needed. The first thing to do is to identify what information you need to make available. You can do this by reviewing service desk calls to see what questions come up frequently, and also by talking to your users to find out what they would find useful. You should then stop thinking about “writing” and start thinking about what is the best medium for the knowledge you want to share. A short video or graphic can often be far more effective than a piece of writing.

Do you agree that self-service demands careful design of a supporting 'knowledge-base' of helpfiul information to coerce, guide, and support whatever process is being self-served?

We do talk quite a bit about the need for a good knowledge base during the webinar, so yes, I absolutely agree. I think this question must have been asked before we got to that part!

We know that many users will not or do not call support when they have an interruption or a question - they go to online search like Google or Bing. Is properly constructed self-service better than that, which may give generic or irrelevant answers?

It’s not only your users that do this. I do it, and I suspect that you use an internet search engine to try and solve problems too! There’s not necessarily anything wrong with this. In fact, the best way to get users to use your self-service portal rather than a generic search engine is to offer a better service! You could actually include a generic internet search within your portal  to help you collect data about the help your users are looking for and use this to help you fine tune the relevance of the resources you provide for them. You could even incorporate the results of a generic search alongside the results of searching your own knowledge base, so that users can get both with a single search.

What about incorporating or embedding capabilities such as Google search into your organization's portal to help make your self-service look like something folks might be familiar with outside of IT?

This is a great idea. See my response to the previous question.

What measures/metrics are important to help you gauge how your self-service is working?

What’s important is that you measure things that matter to you. Don’t just use a generic metric, but think about why you’re investing in self-service, and measure to see that you achieved what you wanted. Some things that you might want to measure include:

  • User satisfaction ratings when they have used self-service
  • Percentage of incidents and service requests that are received via self-service
  • Percentage of self-service incidents and requests that are resolved without needing manual intervention from the service desk or technical support
  • Average time to resolution of self-service incidents compared to the same category of incidents handled by the service desk
How do you motivate users for enrolment in self-services such as password services?

This is one of the hardest aspects of self-service. You need to look at the whole spectrum of organizational change management and decide how this can work in your context. Start by identifying a sponsor in the organization who cares about success of the self-service project and who will support what you are doing. Continue by identifying “what’s in it for me” for the people you want to engage. Then work out a plan for communicating with them. Make sure they know how much easier things will be for them when they use self-service instead of phoning the service desk. AND MAKE SURE IT REALLY IS MUCH EASIER. Then communicate, communicate, and communicate. Share examples of how people have saved time and effort by using self-service, share how the company has saved money, shared how the business has become more efficient due to less wasted time, etc.

"Getting the right people involved..." I'm bound to say that I hope you mean start 'outside-in' and look at what is needed from the perspective of those being offered self-service as an option.  Worth walking in their shoes for a mile...  (Loaded question) What methods do you recommend for understanding the customer experience?

Of course, we should always take an outside-in customer-focused view when we design any aspect of IT services. I am a big supporter of the Lean concept “go to the Gemba”, which says that the way you find out what the users experience is by going to where the users are and seeing what they see.

I hope you have found some of these answers useful. Please feel free to share your own answers via the comments area below this blog or find me on Twitter at @StuartRance.

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Stuart Rance

About Stuart Rance

Stuart is an ITSM and security consultant, working with clients all round the world. He is one of the authors of ITIL 4, as well as an author of ITIL Practitioner, ITIL Service Transition, and Resilia: Cyber Resilience Best Practice. He is also a trainer, teaching standard and custom courses in ITSM and information security management, and an examiner helping to create ITIL and other exams. Now that his children have all left home, he has plenty of time on his hands for contributing to our blog - lucky us!

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