Service management consultant at TOPdesk and one of the first people to initiate the implementation of KCS at TOPdesk
Self-service and Shift Left are some of the phrases you will hear the most in the modern Service Management industry. The gist of it is to provide your end users with more knowledge to solve problems themselves, saving you time to focus on more important things. And that's great - but don't leave them alone!
Self-service is the gold standard for help desks across the spectrum of IT, facilities, and HR. Managers love it because it helps to reduce the workload of their team, and the teams love it because it helps them to focus on solving issues rather than spending hours on the phone or dealing with walk-ins.
This is something we’re all aware of – and there's probably a post coming out every other day to tell you about the accolades of Shift Left. However...
Don't let the customer carry the whole burden
It's all well and good, and a win-win-win situation, right? But be wary, because there is a fine line here that needs to be treated with care. It should not be assumed that just because you have a Self-Service Portal set up that you can leave everything to the customer.
At TOPdesk, we have have seen plenty of examples of support sections of websites which, although they give great access to knowledge and community support, have no options to reach out to actual service desk staff. What do you do if all that knowledge doesn’t answer my specific question?
This is the mortal sin of self-service. Although you are trying to help users to self-solve their own issues, you can’t leave them alone in the dark. Although it can be helpful to suggest answers to users, perhaps even when they are writing a ticket or when searching, they should still be able to submit and track that ticket.
Keep your knowledge base up to date
Related to this, don't assume that you can just leave your portal the way it is. Sometimes we run across SSPs that have been set up, but never maintained. Don't set and forget.
Processes change, equipment changes and best practices change over time. Be sure to reflect this in the knowledge base. The best way to do this is to keep an open register (for example, set up an operational task) where each knowledge item is linked and anyone updating the knowledge base can let the rest of the team know an item is now up to date, or check what items may need a quick update.
So what is best Shift Left practice?
Often a big bonus of having a knowledge base is the accessibility more technical of knowledge to service desk staff, so why not allow users to try and self-solve and if they can’t, get in touch with the service desk. Your service desk staff will have access to vast amounts of more technical knowledge, which they can use to help the customers.
The core of all of this is that although self-service is the new flagship for most service desk software, the ‘service’ element should be key. At the end of the day, all the technological improvement in self-service is still aimed improving the service that you can provide to your customers.
And that’s the real key to winning at providing self-service, doing it in such a way that it improves your service offering as a whole, rather than restricting users to FAQs and community support.