Self-Service Coming of Age
The onset of Covid-19 has changed the way we work permanently. We certainly have entered the world of the “new normal” with more things happening online than ever. Within the IT world, we have seen organisations shift to remote working and using self-service to deliver services using online methods. This will continue and marks a step change. Covid-19 has undoubtedly accelerated self-service deployment but the fundamentals driving self-service are wider and deeper.
Self-service is coming of age driven by user expectations and technology change. User expectations are of course set outside the corporate world by consumer style experiences and social apps. For the younger generations who have been brought up in the online world, self-service is the norm while for others it’s convenient and the user experience is constantly improving. In addition, interaction models have changed with chat becoming more widespread through social apps and more recently within enterprises through collaboration apps such as Slack, Hangouts, Teams etc. Given the increasing user acceptance of self-service and new contact methods, organisations are looking to take financial advantage of self-service and the automation opportunities it offers.
Automation is the real reason why self-service makes so much sense financially. The application of AI is making it possible to automate both the channels and the fulfillment processes. The use of chatbots to handle chat has become the “new normal” although agent escalation is still required. AI-enabled chatbots can guide users to knowledge or services that they are looking for and can help them to complete their tasks on a 24 by 7 basis. Furthermore, AI is also being used to automate existing channels such as email where it can be taught to scan emails, understand the intent, and action an automated workflow on behalf of the user.
This ability of AI to learn has led to a host of automation tools including a branch of automation known as Robotic Process Automation (RPA). RPA has grown significantly as it allows rapid automation of mundane tasks by “learning” the task and then running it automatically on request. For example, an RPA can take a typical manual task of reading information from a spreadsheet and entering it into a system. Due to RPA’s ease of use and rapid deployment model, it is now being applied to self-service enabling RPA software robots (or “bots”) to fulfill part or all of the fulfillment process of a user request.
So, the new technology is definitely bringing increased automation to self-service but that’s not the whole story! Self-service will ultimately fail if it does not deliver for the end-user. This is where many self-service initiatives within IT have failed. They have been designed more for the convenience of IT rather than the user. This leads to a lack of adoption by users and a poor delivery against expected benefits for IT.
Adoption is critical to the success of self-service!
So what factors are important in adoption? I would say three things:
- Intuitive user experience:
It should not matter what channel the user chooses for self-service. Each should provide an attractive user experience, it should be quick to find information and simple to use requiring no real training.
- Channels are appropriate and work together:
The user should access self-service through channels that they find convenient and appropriate. Channels must work together to provide service e.g. a user may request through chat and then receive notifications on their mobile on progress.
- Content is king:
The user should be able to find the vast majority of things they typically want to ask IT for (content) in one place. All too often IT starts with a small service catalogue with only a few service requests and limited knowledge. How is the user supposed to remember what they can request through the portal versus phoning the service desk? Most will just phone the service desk.
There are other factors that also contribute to the overall success of self-service such as personalisation, contact strategy, branding etc.
To really understand how important these factors are IT need to consult with end-users. Each department or area within a business may have very different demographics or ways of accessing self-service. IT will understand much more by engaging with the users through focus groups, surveys, or other feedback methods before launching self-service. It’s even more important to keep the engagement with the users after launch to constantly improve and iterate to drive adoption upwards.
At Fusion, we use these principles to help our customers be more successful in omni-channel self-service!
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If you’re ready to take advantage of this approach, contact Fusion today!