The IT service desk goalposts have moved. Company employees - whether you wish to call them end users, customers, consumers, business colleagues, or something else - have change the way they think about technology, IT service delivery, support, customer service, and now customer experience. With their expectations across all of these having risen thanks to something termed "consumerization" - or the "consumerization of IT" - since the middle of the last decade (and two years before the first iPhone was sold in 2007).
But this is so much more than the "consumerization of IT" that preoccupied corporate IT departments for the best part of five years - it's actually the "consumerization of service." With this going far beyond the devices, apps, and personal cloud services employees want to use at work - it's about the service experience, or customer experience, they receive from cradle to grave.
Better Consumer-World Experiences Mean IT Must Up Its Game
Many corporate IT organizations have already risen to the challenges of consumerization, following the lead of business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) companies with the introduction of capabilities such as:
- Self-service and self-help - allowing employees to help themselves, request assistance or new services online, download approved apps, and many other transactions previously accessed and delivered via the service desk.
- Service request catalogs - a listing of IT offerings with options, service level targets, and costs. Plus, the ability to order them online.
- Knowledge management - the availability of knowledge articles and quick answers to allow employees to help themselves. Benefitting both employees and service desk agents.
- Mobile apps - offering anytime, anyplace, anywhere access to IT services and information. From globally-affected issues to knowing that a service request has been processed.
- Peer support - in addition to self-service, there's the ability for employees to help each other via collaborative workspaces.
- Automation - not just process workflow but the ability to deliver fixes and services using orchestration. Most importantly, without the need for service desk agent intervention when accessed via self-service.
- Machine learning - it's a different kind of automation that can be employed to service employees, and to improve the service experience, across a range of service desk activities. From predictive analytics identifying IT issues before they hurt, through to making knowledge management a workable reality.
- Chatbots and virtual agents - a high-value machine learning use case that provides employees with help 24x7x365. It's the equivalent of adding another support team member that multi-tasks and never sleeps or takes vacations.
Sounds Great, But Let's Not Forget About Customer Wants and Needs
All of these new capabilities, plus others not listed, are great for: better customer engagement, reducing the pressures on the service desk, and potentially saving money. But IT organizations and their service desks need to be careful as to how they approach them. Why? Because while they might all look like the introduction of new technology - "yes, we can do that and have done so for 30-plus years" - they are all as much about people change as they are the technology change.
Self-service is a great example. The service desk industry membership bodies HDI and the Service Desk Institute (SDI) both state that self-service adoption levels are around the 80% mark. But this is just the percentage of organizations that have introduced the capability (in various forms) not the ones that have done so with a significant level of employee adoption or uptake. This is often as low as 10% of contacts and less than 10% of the employee population (while exemplar organizations might be as high as 70% of contacts).
A great proof point is the ongoing benchmarking carried out by a company called Happy Signals from whom this image is borrowed:
Based on a growing sample of 100k end users, their corporate surveys show that the IT self-service portal is used 12% of the time, offers the worst service experience (+52), and loses the employee the most time (over four hours) of all the service desk access channels.
Self-service hasn't always been the success we all wanted.
3 Things Service Desks Need to Learn from the Low Self-Service Adoption
The first thing has already been touched on - that employees have continually rising expectations of corporate IT based upon their consumer-world experiences. And just because employees use self-service, in this instance, in their personal lives it doesn't automatically mean that they will use it at work - especially if the service is inferior to its consumer-world counterparts.
The second thing to learn is that all of this change isn't rocket science, or technology science, it's people science. That the introduction of anything new needs proper organizational change management (OCM) in addition to the technology-delivery project. With the OCM addressing the need for people to know why things are changing, how it will impact them, how the business will be better off for it, and the "what's in it for me." Then, proactive communications, education, training, and then more communication and training as needed. And, where behaviors need to be changed, various HR levers will need to be pulled to help drive the change, e.g. the focus of reward and recognition mechanisms. Plus, of course, the new way of doing things has to be easier and maybe even offer a better outcome than the previous way (or ways). Otherwise why would people use it?
The third and final point is that this is going to get even more difficult with consumerization opening the door for customer experience to enter the domains of corporate service providers - such as IT, HR, and facilities - again based on what B2B and B2C companies are doing. These companies are now winning and retaining customers based on their customer experience, and again employee expectations (of corporate service providers) will rise to reflect their consumer-world treatment.
Thus, the service desk's employee engagement, and the understanding and meeting of employee needs, is growing in importance. And it's a moving target - where corporate IT organizations, and their service desks, need to at least keep up with consumer-world advancements and improving experiences. How is your IT organization doing?