There are many reasons to offer a self-service portal to employees with internal needs. As the IT service desk evolves, and organizations become more reliant on technology than ever, technicians have very little bandwidth to deal with repetitive tickets and redundant questions. They need service desk software to provide a net, catching these time-wasters before they arrive in an agent’s ticket queue. They need a way to offer resources to employees outside of regular office hours. After all, even IT support teams need some time off.
The self-service portal can address all of these needs, so the benefits on the support side of the service desk should be fairly obvious. Unfortunately, recognizing these benefits for the IT service desk is the easy part. The difficult part is constructing a user-friendly self-service portal, and then actually getting employees to use it.
The key to portal adoption is two-fold. First, employees need to understand the benefits to them. It shouldn’t be any sort of inconvenience. They surely don’t want to add another step to their routines if there’s no clear benefit to them. The second key is driving habit-forming behavior to get users to the portal.
Time is valuable to individual employees. Their days are full of responsibilities, and nobody carves out time in their calendars to wait for IT support.
Let’s attack that first point. What’s the benefit to self-service for employees?
One way to explain the advantage is to look at the consumer world. When your iPhone breaks, the first thing you’re likely to try is a quick search for the problem. Try a Google search for “iPhone won’t turn on” or “iPhone won’t charge.” In each case, you’ll see a link to an Apple support article outlining the potential causes with troubleshooting steps.
These self-service articles exist because it would not be efficient for Apple to deal with every support issue with potentially easy fixes, like these. There’s obvious value to FAQ / knowledge articles for Apple support, but the reason customers try this first is because there’s value to them. Why wait on a helpline or make an appointment at an Apple store when you might be able to solve the issue yourself in a fraction of the time?
It’s the same idea for internal service within an organization. Time is valuable to individual employees. Their days are full of responsibilities, and nobody carves out time in their weekly calendars to wait for IT support. When you forget a password, or your laptop is running slowly right before a presentation, or a conference room speaker is out, you need an option other than “submit a ticket and get in line.” This is the employee advantage of the self-service portal.
Now onto the second point. How do you create universal portal adoption throughout the organization? How do you engrain an employee habit to seek self-service and submit tickets through the self-service portal? This takes a bit of strategic planning, so here are three ways that might help:
One: Grassroots Awareness
The employee service portal might be digital, as are many IT services that funnel through it, but internal promotion of the portal doesn’t need to be exclusively digital.
Hang posters on the walls — be it a single office, a massive campus, or a global organization — put something out of the ordinary into people’s physical surroundings and make them take notice. It could be a simple message, branded with your company’s colors, listing the url or simple instructions on how to reach the new portal. Make sure it feels like you’re creating a shortcut for them, because you are. The message is that they’ll get answers faster, not that “we’re handling IT support differently.”
If you’re the type of organization that leaves memos in mailboxes, put the launch date in a memo. Put messaging into conference rooms. Create some sort of “celebration” on launch day, even if it’s a few balloons around the office that make people wonder, “What’s with the balloons? Ohhh right, the employee service portal launches today.”
Two: All Roads Lead to Self-Service
This is where you can be a bit more forceful. Pick out the service vehicles you’d like to discourage in favor of the portal, and use them to drive your message.
How do users normally submit tickets and requests? Common methods of the past include:
- Phone calls
- Shared spreadsheets
- Walk-up to the service desk
Phone calls to internal helplines consume too much manpower. This type of service strategy can strain support staff, especially when some type of organizational event causes an influx of incidents. Employees don’t want to wait on hold, and they don’t want to leave a message in the abyss, so it takes an extensive support staff to answer calls promptly. As for effectiveness, there are no screenshots on the phone, and voice messages are often incomplete, requiring another back-and-forth before a technician can get to work on an incident. This method is outdated and nearly obsolete, but we can leverage this employee habit to drive portal adoption.
When an employee calls a helpline, remind them of a better option as they wait on hold. Don’t even give them the option to leave a message for support. This is particularly effective for extended hold times. If their choices are to wait for a half hour or go to the portal to submit their issue, they’ll probably choose the latter.
Same thing goes for emails. Create an automated response for an employee email request. It could say something like:
“Thank you for submitting this request. The service desk will contact you as soon as possible. In the meantime, please visit our employee service portal at (URL). You might find the answer to your question there!”
If employees are still walking up to support personnel to explain their requests, this is a great opportunity to walk them through the power of the portal.
As for the spreadsheets, well, it’s time to just delete them already.
Three: Unify the Organization Through the IT Service Desk
Portal adoption will start with a concerted effort from IT. If the team leading this initiative can’t get on the same page, how will the entire organization follow?
Link to the portal on all forms of IT communication. Put it in email signatures or banners with your internal support team. Encourage leaders to mention it in meetings with employees. Ask for five minutes at the end of a sales or marketing meeting to show off this new tool to those teams. Hold training sessions that are promoted throughout the organization. Take every opportunity to highlight the advantages for all employees!
Employees just want their issues resolved faster. Effective self-service options can reduce the need for live-assistance by 36%. This isn’t going to stop tickets from coming through, but it’ll make sure they come from the same place, and YOU can collect the necessary information from employees if they can’t resolve through self service.
The most difficult part of installing a successful employee service portal is creating buy-in from users throughout the organization. Again, the two keys are educating employees, and creating a rollout/promotion strategy that creates some excitement around the possibilities of self-service. If you can successfully achieve these two goals, you’re on your way to a successful portal. Your employees will thank you through improved CSAT scores, and your support staff will thank you for catching the repeat tickets and alleviating the pressure from incomplete tickets and requests on helplines, emails, and spreadsheets.
Create a rockin’ employee service portal, complete with an effective service catalog with help from our white paper: Automating Business Processes with the Service Catalog.
About Laura Miller
Laura Miller is the Senior Director of Sales Operations, ITSM at SolarWinds. She works one-on-one with customers ranging from SMB to Fortune 500, providing them with a modern way to look at service management. Laura's ITIL experience and ITIL v3 Foundations certification provides her with a unique understanding of the service management industry. Her guilty pleasures are anything chocolate, ice coffee, and reality TV.
Read more articles by Laura