As probably everyone knows by now, there’s an ever-growing interest in self-service and automation. And that’s great! It has a ton of benefits for service desks. But some questions still arise: does it create new work? Will it take away work from the service desk team? I want to address a few concerns.

Won’t self-service make the service desk redundant?

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 fewer 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 employee’s ability to work efficiently and proactively.

Work for service desk operators doesn’t stop when they’re no longer fighting tickets. In the end, that’s not where they can add most value, is it? What will actually happen is that you’ve freed up their time from menial tasks. The service desk can shift more attention to bigger incidents or preventative maintenance, and smaller tasks are solved via a Self-Service Portal by giving users the power to find their own answers.

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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! They get to use their 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 building a good self-service portal in this blog post.

In fact, overall the service desk gets to work on more interesting projects. Continuously maintaining the portal after it’s set up is also a crucial task. And making sure that information stays up-to-date, relevant, and accessible becomes an ongoing part of their responsibilities. 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). Being able to work pro-actively on these projects will make the service desk employee’s job more fulfilling in the long run.

Self-service doesn’t kill roles, it just redefines them to more interesting ones.

What doesn't fit in 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. As a rule of thumb: if it’s something that service desk users would definitely want or need to speak to an operator about before going ahead, then it’s better for the service department to retain ownership and fix it. A change request is a simple example. But if it’s something that some people usually don’t bother asking about, then you can place a standard solution in 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, service desk employees can spend less time resolving repeat calls. With a Self-Service Portal, the service desk can greatly contribute to the efficiency of your organization, because simple requests won’t have to go through the service desk all the time.

How does self-service affect job satisfaction?

Self-service will never mean that tickets go away. What self-service does mean is that the tickets that come in really require your team’s attention and expertise – and some problem solving. It simply makes work more engaging and improves employee experience.

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

Luckily, a successful service portal helps increase your end user’s satisfaction. The more positive experiences they have, the better job satisfaction will be for service desk employees.

Become a self-service expert

For more information on service catalogues, check out our e-book on developing better self-service in your organization.