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12 April 2018

Self-Service and automation - some common questions answered

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As probably everyone knows by now, there's been an ever-growing interest in Self-Service and automation the last few years. And that's great! It has a ton of benefits for Service Desk. But some questions still arise: Does it create new work? Will it take away my work? I want to address a few concerns:

Won’t Self-Service take away my work?

When you say Self-Service, some people seem concerned that - just like at your local supermarket - machines taking over a lot of the work will mean less people "working the tills" (that is "as operators", for the purposes of this metaphor). But this isn’t necessarily true.

Fact is, self-service doesn’t kill roles, it just redefines them to more interesting ones. Fear not, artificial intelligence is not taking over (yet)! Working with a self-service portal simply enhances your ability to work efficiently and proactively.

Remember, work doesn’t stop because you’re not fighting tickets. And honestly, you don’t live for ticket solving, right? It’s not commonly seen as the most fun part of work at the service desk.

In the end, that will actually happen is that you've freed you up time from menial tasks so you can shift more attention to bigger incidents or preventative maintenance, and the Self-Service Portal can look after the smaller tasks by giving users the power to find their own answers.

What kind of work does Self-Service create?

First of all, setting up a Self-Service Portal is in itself an involved project and you should bring in expertise from across the team. It’s fun work though! You get to use your common experience and expertise to work strategically and creatively and set up a great portal that is the shining centerpiece of your Service Delivery. More on that in this blog post.

In fact, overall you get to work on more interesting projects. Continuously maintaining the portal after it's set up is also a crucial task, for example. And making sure that information stays up-to-date, relevant, and accessible becomes an ongoing part of your role, rather than something you try to do, along with solving simple requests.

Plus, if you have a Self-Service-Portal, you will need to maintain a Knowledge Base to a high standard, which in itself is a lot of work. (And you can get some Knowledge Base inspiration here).

What doesn't fit on a Self-Service Portal?

Not every type of question is meant for Self-Service, so there is still a lot that the IT department needs to solve themselves. There's some more good info on that here.

As a rule of thumb: if it’s something that service desk users would definitely want or need to speak to you about before going ahead, then it’s better to retain ownership and to fix it yourself. A change request is a simple example. But if it’s something that some people usually don’t bother asking about, then you can give it to the self-service portal for people to refer to as and when they need it. Think changing printer paper.

Essentially, if the knowledge gap between what the user needs to do and what they know how to do is small, fill it! That way, you don’t have to worry about solving repeat calls all the time. And you increase efficiency for the business, because simple things won’t have go through you every time.

How does Self-Service affect my job satisfaction?

Self-Service will never mean that tickets go away. What self-service will mean is that the tickets you are receiving really require your attention and expertise - and some problem solving. It simply makes work more fun.

On top of this, it’s important to point out that you should never measure your success based on the amount of tickets logged. While this is a good metric in production industries (number of cars produced etc), Service Management is a service - and your success metric should be customer satisfaction, not your amount of password resets. Think people rather than numbers.

Luckily, a successful Service portal helps increase your end-user’s satisfaction, and the more positive experiences they have, the better job satisfaction you’ll have as a result!

Can I read more about this somewhere?

Why yes you can! We have a whole e-book on better serving your customers, and Self-Service is a big part of that. Download our Customer Centricity E-book here, and get started on the road to a better customer experience. 

Download the Customer Centricity E-book

Hannah Price



Hannah Price, Consultant and Knowledge sharing enthusiast

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