Self-service portal provides many benefits that make them an ideal way to interact with users. You might look at a self-service portal to support users or to augment and extend the reach of your agent-based services. Either way, leveraging technology and self-service in your support processes is an excellent way to boost the value of your IT Operations Management.

Always Available

Self-service capabilities and information are still available, even when you don't have agents to provide in-person support. Many users choose to engage in support related tasks (like requesting access, updating software, and ordering solutions and services) outside of regular business hours. Self-service portals enable users to perform tasks and resolve issues at times that are convenient for them, without your IT staff having to pay costly premiums for shift-work and after-hours support.

Skip the Queue

Anticipated wait times to talk to agents are a big frustration in IT support. (It might also be the reason why your users avoid asking for help). If you are offering in-person helpdesk services, this could be time waiting in a line. For phone support, this is the dreaded delay listening to hold music waiting for an available agent to take your call. Time in the queue is the time that users aren't spending on their job tasks. Besides, it also amplifies their frustrations and adds unnecessary tension to the support engagement. Nothing is worse for an IT helpdesk agent than to have a customer already agitated at the start of the interaction. Self-service portals are designed to service many users at once, so there is no queue, no lost productivity, and less frustration.

Get Conversational

From the likes of "Hey Siri!" and "Ok, Google", the future of self-service will be built on conversations. The goal is to take IT self-service straight to the users' desks instead of bringing them to an IT self-service portal. This goal is attaining fruition via intuitive and interactive conversational portals built into IT self service portals. Using chatbots or virtual/AI-powered assistants can help your users receive solutions for basic issues in just a few clicks. From searching through the knowledge base, raising a ticket, to even requesting a service item, your users can simply chat with the self service portal to get their solutions. Consequently, think about the sheer number of L1 tickets your IT team is going to deflect off your service desk. This directly improves agent productivity and radically transforms the self-service experience for your users.

Integrate with Applications and IT Services

Many self-service portals are stand-alone applications or interfaces that users can go to when they need help; however, it doesn't have to be that way. Most applications and IT services have help functions built into them that can be integrated with your self-service portal. Integrations can be as simple as a link to the portal or as sophisticated as integrated search directly from the application into your knowledge base. Integrating your self-service portal with IT services isn't only about making information easier to access. Support integrations can help your IT team by capturing the context of what the user was trying to do when they engaged you for support. 

These are all questions that an agent would need to ask anyway. But by using a self service portal with support integrations, you can automate your way through, thus saving time and effort. (and of course the frustration of the user having to answer all over again).

Quick Access to Information and Tasks

Over half of the questions and requests that users make to IT are simple and routine. They often take less than 2 minutes to resolve and don't require technical knowledge or diagnostic skills. Examples include finding answers to common questions and performing basic tasks like requesting access to an application or resetting a password. Often any approvals that are needed (for things like provisioning resources) are managed by automated business rules and don't require any manual approval. If the user had easy access to the information they needed, there would be no need to engage an agent. This is what your self service portal accomplishes. It can provide users with quick access to the information that they need and the ability to perform basic tasks without the delays of waiting for an agent.

No Need for Human Interaction

Strong preference towards interacting with technology over people, is a hallmark characteristic of the millennial generation of workers. As one HR thought leader phrased it: "Millennials don't want to talk to their mothers on the phone – they certainly don't want to talk to your helpdesk unless they have no other choice." The issue of employees' preferred mode of interaction is becoming increasingly important in an environment where individual employees are driving workplace policies, processes, and culture, rather than top-down. Your self service portal is a critical tool in providing users a choice on how they interact with your IT function. By giving them the chance to solve problems independently, perform diagnostic tasks, engage in support community forums (peer support), and select a preferred modality for interacting with agents, you are giving the user control of their support experience.

Local Language Support

Inclusion and diversity are essential for developing a highly competent workforce. Sometimes this can cause challenges for your IT agents. A diverse global workforce often means that you have employees with a variety of native languages that you need to be able to communicate in. Some countries also have laws that specify that information be made available in their national language. A key benefit of self-service support portals is the ability to leverage translation services to localize content into the languages that your users want/need to communicate without having to have staff available to speak those languages.