Here’s How You Can Boost IT Self-Service Adoption

How many times have employees in your company raised incidents through emails? And how does that number fare compared to tickets raised through the self-service portal?

Service desk managers usually conduct weekly or monthly meetings where they look into the numbers: how many tickets were raised, the number of SLA-violated tickets, agent performance numbers, and how many tickets were resolved. But there’s another important metric that they should consider — the number of tickets that were raised through the self-service portal.

It might sound odd that examining a ‘tickets by source’ report can have a large impact on productivity. But it’s important to know the metrics of self-service adoption across your organization. Many companies that properly utilize their self-service portal have found a reduction in the number of incoming tickets, ultimately saving their agents a lot of time. Who wouldn’t want this? But unfortunately, the majority of companies haven’t figured out how to properly harness the full power of the self-service portal.

It ultimately boils down to finding out why your employees are not using the portal, and addressing the problem.

It’s most often either a simple lack of communication — “Are you telling me that we have a portal to raise tickets?” — or simple inertia, where they’re just so used to the earlier system that they forget to make the switch. And if that’s not it, it’s probably just not user-friendly — “I find that portal very difficult to use.”

So if you’re experiencing low self-service portal adoption in your organization, take your first steps towards resolving the issue by finding answers to a few simple questions.

  1. Are employees aware of the self-service portal?
  2. Is the UI easy for the employees to use?
  3. Is there too much/too little content in the portal?

The answers to those questions will help you identify the root cause of why people aren’t choosing the portal over other methods of raising tickets.

Spread awareness about the self-service portal

One of the main reasons people still raise their tickets solely via email is that they are simply not aware of the existence of the self-service portal. You might have communicated it once or twice, but busy employees are unlikely to recall it when they’re urgently in need of resolving an issue.

So take steps to actively and continuously drive self-service adoption across your organization.

Send regular email reminders and add pop-up messages and maybe even a link to the portal on all internal sites and applications. Linking the portal as a button will also greatly increases the chances of people using the site or application. Check out the example below:

This is my company’s internal portal, Lighthouse. It links directly to our IT service desk, which also serves as a platform for us to raise HR, legal, billing, and travel related requests or queries.

This can somewhat be compared to internal advertising. You’re linking to your portal everywhere you can, to remind and encourage people to use it.

Making sure they see it repeatedly, and it’s easily within their reach, is one way to increase usage.

The human brain finds visual images and details appealing and grasps them quickly, which means that the more people see something, the more they will recall it.

Ease of use

Ease of use has become one of the most important factors in the application world. The app market is full of social networking apps, but many of us are still hooked to Facebook mainly because of it’s easy-to-use UI — basically, the right buttons in the right place.

The 3 things we should learn and implement from user-friendly applications are:

  1. Clean, simple interface
  2. Good structure
  3. Well-thought-out content

The portal should ideally be simple and minimal, with only the essential buttons. One more major reason people avoid the self-service portal is having to fill in the dreaded ticket form. People who are in a position where they have to raise a ticket are already frustrated and don’t appreciate having to fill in a huge form to solve their problems. Make sure that the form is structured in such a way that the user needs to type as little as possible.

The ticket form above is very simple with just a few essential fields. Employees who visit the portal find it easy to fill, while it captures all the information that’s really necessary to resolve their issue.

Finally, make sure that the content in your FAQ section is managed and organized efficiently. Displaying too much useful information in a messy fashion is kind of like a library without any system for classifying its books. Ultimately, it will not serve its purpose as a quick reference. Identify frequently reported issues and display information pertaining to them at the top or otherwise clearly categorized.

By following the simple steps above, Lighthouse was able to reduce the number of incoming tickets by 32%.

Before we brought in Lighthouse, we had separate portals for SalesOps, HR, IT, Legal, and Facilities. Our employees now have just one stop for all their queries and issues — for example, earlier we had to send out an email to request any hardware or software, but now we submit our request through Lighthouse.

Employees have been taught to differentiate between service requests and incidents, which means we clearly categorize our own requests. Earlier, when we raised a ticket requesting a service via email, the agent had the extra work of converting it into a service request and then sending the approval email to the respective manager manually.

From a personal point of view (if I were a service desk manager, that is), I wouldn’t provide email as an option for ticket creation at all.

The human brain has the habit of picking out the easiest option available, so as long as email is an option, there will be less acceptance of the portal. Though banning email requests sounds like a harsh move, there is no denying it would be very effective.

Self-service is a powerful concept that empowers users to solve their own issues without relying on agents, using only the FAQ section to clarify any questions on usage. This not only reduces the number of tickets that come into the service desk, but also educates employees on basic processes which they wouldn’t have otherwise known about.

So harness the power of self-service, and may the Force be with you!