Social media is changing the face of your help desk, even if you haven’t adopted a platform to utilize social media for help desk communications. ITSM software is available to incorporate social media-like Q&A and commentary between users and the help desk, as well as user to user. But even without this software, social media is driving tech in your work environment, perhaps more than you realize.
How Social Media is Integrating Into the IT Help Desk Environment
Bobby is the new guy. He is embarrassed because he doesn’t know how to use the auto sum function in Excel. Instead of risking looking silly by calling the help desk, he logs onto Facebook and gets the answer there. Sue has an important presentation in the conference room this morning, but the projector doesn’t want to cooperate with her laptop. She doesn’t have time to open a ticket with the help desk — she Tweets for help and a few coworkers assemble and get everything up and running.
With in-house social media, the help desk can more easily (though not completely) monitor these kinds of situations. It may not stop Bobby from posting on Facebook, but it might encourage Sue to reach out to the people who are in charge of IT, not just Joe and Larry from human resources, who have no idea how the hardware works.
Social media has a number of benefits, but also presents some daunting challenges for IT help desk. Should you invest in help desk software that incorporates social media functionality, or just let things take their natural course on Facebook and Twitter?
The Benefits of Integration
Users get information faster via social media channels, and it certainly takes a workload off of the help desk. Instead of explaining for the umpteenth time how to set a custom print area in the spreadsheet, IT can be focused on managing security and monitoring critical applications.
Social media also captures information that might otherwise be lost to the company, such as easier ways users have found to do regular tasks, unusual but effective ways to get around bottlenecks in the system, and new uses for the software available. It can also uncover hidden sources of information within the organization, such as a worker who is especially knowledgeable about tax laws or insurance regulations.
Additionally, this information is readily available to everyone in the workplace. Users who would be daunted by searching through a highly technical database or services catalog can easily understand how to get and give answers via social media. Most of the ITSM software available that leverages social media capabilities is designed to be especially user friendly, even for non-techies.
IT can learn a lot from these postings, as well as get to know the users on a personal level and find out more about what they need to do their jobs every day. Some companies have even opened their internal social media platforms to customers, giving outsiders more inside information on company processes and internal workings. All of these are powerful tools for IT.
The Challenges of Integration
The downsides are numerous, as well. Like with forum groups that used to be (and still are in some places) so popular, information overload makes it impossible to track, monitor, respond to, and organize the useful data that’s in social media communications. Along with emails, phone calls, and other sources of information, social media becomes just one more channel to monitor and manage. Information that could be helpful just gets buried.
It can also be a source of misinformation. One user may have developed a way to get around certain processes or procedures, but there could be good reasons why the loophole is a bad idea. This employee can spread this misinformation, and soon numerous employees develop the bad habit. Social media use that isn’t company managed, like Facebook, is also a hotbed for phishing scams, malware, and more, not to mention the work hours it can waste.
Social media can also be dangerous to the company reputation. It only takes one employee having a particularly bad day to say something negative about a boss or client to cause a huge problem.
Whether social media is a good or bad thing for the help desk, it’s here to stay. The key is to develop the right policies and procedures to make it more of a benefit than a liability. Create ways to capture the useful information disseminated via social media, whether it’s internal or external, and use this data to improve operations and services.
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