Reach New Heights in IT Maturity with a Self-Service Portal

Want to reach new heights in IT maturity while reducing bottlenecks and giving IT department employees more time to work on high-priority projects? One way to achieve this is to include more self-service options in your client portal. Organizations that optimize client portals for self-service allow users to resolve more IT-related issues on their own with limited or zero involvement from IT staff.

In fact, a recent IT service management market study shows most organizations at least acknowledge the importance of self-service, with 81% reporting they have a knowledge base and 56% stating they run a self-service portal. 

However, only 5% of those with a knowledge base say that it is fully maximized with updated, crowdsourced and relevant information. And only 25% of organizations with a self-service portal say it is highly adopted and effective in administering self-service support.

The Importance of Creating a Useable Portal and Knowledge Base

One of the most efficient ways to improve ITSM and service desk delivery is by removing the need for starting a ticket in the first place—by empowering users to answer their own questions and solve their own problems before an issue requires human intervention. 

In general, people would much rather resolve issues themselves instead of submitting a service request and waiting for a response. With the increasing desire for more self-service options, it is essential for those in IT to respond accordingly. Having a well-organized portal with the ability to search for solutions by keywords or tags goes a long way in quickly helping users get the information they need.

Self-service models that deflect calls from the helpdesk to the portal and give users access to an intuitive, timely catalog of technical knowledge not only improve customer satisfaction, they also dramatically reduce the per-incident cost incurred by IT.

Keep it Simple

Simplicity is key when designing the layout for a client portal. Users should not need to scroll or navigate extensively to find what they are looking for, nor should it take them longer than a few minutes. Outlined information written in understandable, everyday language is essential to encouraging self-service.

ROI

Of course, transitioning to a self-service portal does not happen overnight. Such a move requires proper planning, time, and in some cases, new technology. But the ROI potential is there when factoring in the benefits:

  • Reduced service ticket volumes.
  • Enhanced overall user experience.
  • Higher satisfaction throughout the organization.

Self-service has quickly become the norm, so having the right ITSM tool to support your portal and knowledge base is key.

Creating an Easy-to-Use, Functional Self-Service Portal and Knowledge Base

So, how do you know your tool is the right one? To start, your ITSM software should offer an out-of-the-box self-service portal with a knowledge base (KB) that’s easily configurable and can be personalized with your organization’s branding WITHOUT any coding or scripting. In addition, the portal should be WCAG 2.0 AA compliant and fully accessible.

Here are four questions you can ask about portal and KB capabilities when evaluating ITSM vendors:

  1. Can I create a portal with my own branding? The portal should allow for branding and design without requiring HTML or technical resources to code the content. It should be easy to manage across multiple departments and entities, allowing for individualized branding.
  2. Does it interface to a knowledge base and offer automation? The self-service portal needs to offer the ability to deploy a knowledge base that can search across articles using natural language and tagging. Being able to find information, and having that information be relevant and accurate, is key for success. If your end-users perceive the articles to be erroneous or outdated, then adoption of the self-service platform will suffer.
  3. Can you manage the knowledge base content easily? You should have the ability to manage publication dates and evaluate usage. The knowledge base also needs to accommodate a feedback loop, taking comments or even net new content, and pushing that through an iterative review process. This is called Knowledge-Centered Service® (KCS). The knowledge base must support this framework so that you can stay current. Also, if customers or employees can’t resolve their issues using the information found on the portal or knowledge base, there needs to be a button they can click to quickly submit a ticket or a request. That ticket/request should route directly to the appropriate technician or departmental resource.
  4. Is the portal WCAG 2.0 AA Compliant? Accessibility is a very important topic, and in order to adhere to the strict standards, it’s best to deploy an end-user portal that is already WCAG 2.0 AA compliant out-of-the-box. This means that you can create new content and present services without the additional worry that your portal is not compliant or accessible. WCAG 2.0 AA compliant out-of-the-box is a critical factor, particularly if you are servicing end-users in education or the public sector.

The Benefits of Knowledge-Centered Service for ITSM

Crowdsourcing knowledge can be a fast and accurate way to build a knowledge base. In fact, a recent market study found that 51 percent of respondents will be implementing KCS to quickly bolster their knowledge base. There’s no question that KCS should be a valuable part of your organization’s ITSM processes. The principals of KCS stipulate that the creation and maintenance of knowledge must be fully integrated into the most important support operations.

Here are a few reasons why Knowledge-Centered Service can be so powerful:

  • Helps to continually lower inbound call volume.
  • Increases customer satisfaction.
  • Provides customers with the answers they need now.
  • Crowdsourcing knowledge helps maintain accurate content.
  • Offers opportunities for professional development and career progression.

By adopting KCS, you can not only improve customer satisfaction but dramatically reduce the per-incident cost incurred by IT (from about $22 for a level 1 support call to $2 for self-service); and reduce the volume of issues and requests coming to the help desk, allowing IT to reallocate technicians to higher priority tasks and projects.

Want to see what stellar portals and knowledge bases look like? Here are some great examples from TeamDynamix customers: Stellar Service Portals.

©KCS® is a service mark of the Consortium for Service Innovation™.

This post was originally published in October 2016 and has been updated with new information.

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