Everyone in IT knows that there are a lot of service desk requests that are “time wasters:” simple fixes or tasks (such as email configurations) that divert IT admins away from more complicated issues. Self-service channels, or ways that allow employees and customers to access information without directly contacting the help desk, are a way to better service while reducing costs and workloads. This is increasingly important nowadays, as IT strives to prove its business value. So how do you measure how effective your self-service channels are, and how can you maximize the value they provide?
“Self-service channels (like FAQs, public knowledge bases and customer communities) are one of the fastest growing resources for customer service,” explains Ashley Verrill, customer service analyst at Software Advice, pointing to a 2013 Forrester’s report. “In terms of IT, self-service channels can provide a huge productivity advantage.”
Ashley felt that though organizations measure a variety of aspects of their customer service, such as resolution time of help desk requests, the value of self-service channels is often overlooked. “I was speaking at a Hewlett-Packard conference, about the volume of issues they were able to solve without using HP’s employees’ time, and I was curious about what the monetary value of this is to the organization.”
Ashley worked with six different customer relationship management (CRM) software experts about what metrics account for potentially solving issues, and came up with the following formula:
As she explains: The green and blue equations essentially calculate how many issues a company solves per month through communities, FAQs and knowledge bases. The “.10” in the blue bracket accounts for the percent of pageviews the experts agreed could be counted as resolving an issue (on the conservative end). They said the other 90 percent is more likely someone casually browsing articles, doing research, clicking through to several pages before finding an answer, or ultimately still calling support.
Beyond the monetary value self-service channels can provide, they can also serve as internal marketing for IT by solidifying the departments place as a source of helpful information. How can you improve your self-service portal then? A key way the experts suggest will help improve the effectiveness of self-service channels is creating new content (and constantly updating old content) based on user needs – for IT in the form of a knowledge base.
Proactive creation of “smart content” is key for IT today. By analyzing and reviewing users’ service requests to find patterns you can create content that address the most important needs of end users. IT then has a reusable and malleable framework to use for increasing self-service channel value. Making it easy to search and find relevant content is also very important. Remember that users will do what seems easiest to them, and if that means picking up the phone then be it.
As for concretely demonstrating ROI, there are a number of ways that use the concepts of this formula. For example, ideally in an internal community channel, the proportion of responses that are answered by another end user or through an article as opposed to an IT admin is 6 to 1. Ashley says the best she’s seen has been 12 to 1.
Do you have any other ideas about how to improve or evaluate IT self-service channels? Tell us in the comments section below!