January can be difficult. It shouldn’t be a surprise that stories abound about ‘Blue Monday’, the so-called most depressing day of the year.
However, the beginning of the year can be a great opportunity to re-evaluate how we approach big issues and challenges. The custom of New Year’s resolutions has been with us for more than 4,000 years. For ITSM and service desk teams, setting some resolutions can be a great way to take advantage of new technology options, to implement different approaches to service and, most importantly, to make these improvements stick.
Here are five resolutions that you can use to improve your approach to IT service this year:
1. Can your helpdesk and service desk teams learn from each other?
For housing providers, service can be defined in two ways; how you provide help to tenants, and how you support employees. External requests for maintenance or information would come through to a helpdesk, while internal issues or requirements are handled by a service desk.
For some companies, the helpdesk and the service desk are one and the same, handling all enquiries and issues. For others, these two audiences are kept separate. Either way, you can look at how to improve your internal service quality by learning some lessons from external customer service.
For internal service desk teams, looking at customer service and helpdesk implementations can be a great source of inspiration. As users experience new consumer online services, they expect similar levels of support from the other services they use. The growth of easy self-service and support over multiple channels is a good example.
Using some of the self-service tools that external customer service teams deploy can help, but the main resolution here should be on the processes that these tools support.
2. Can you make your self-service more selfless?
Self-service is growing in popularity for IT service management, particularly when it comes to simple requests. Most teams implementing ITSM will have some self-service elements in place, from sources of information that people can access to identify their problems through to more in-depth options like chatbots.
However, many self-service implementations disrupt the customer from their day-to-day activities and expect them to go to a self-service portal to raise a ticket. Instead, your resolution should be to look at how to take the service desk to the customer and not have them reach out for the service desk. This means thinking about customer needs, rather than how your IT service desk manages its operations to cut out simple requests.
Putting yourself into the customer’s shoes can be an uncomfortable experience – what you thought was a good self-service portal might be clunky and difficult to use, or not actually meet customer needs today compared to when it was implemented.
Concentrating on what customers really want from self-service today can provide more ideas to improve efficiency and quality of service. Rather than looking at your own needs, you can tune your self-service by looking at this ‘selfless service’ model instead.
3. Can you automate more of your service?
Wherever you look, technology publications are writing more and more about artificial intelligence, or AI. Making systems smarter is the first step, but helping them respond in context and to specific needs using AI means looking at things in more detail.
For ITSM, AI implementations should continue the process of taking more of the day-to-day requests and automating them. Services like chatbots have developed from simple menus through to being smarter systems that can automatically bring in appropriate content like FAQ documents or specific resolutions, or automatically bring in a human agent to deal with a more challenging problem.
Most importantly, it’s worth looking at how to automate improvements to the service itself. This involves reviewing how you gather information on trends or issues, and then using this data to target areas for improvement. In using AI, the aim should be to find areas where automation can be applied across more areas of service as this will improve your efficiency.
4. Can you make your ITSM install easier to use?
Having just stated how important it will be to look at automation, it’s also worth looking at what you can do to support your human agents in being more productive. This means looking at the processes that you have, and the user interface that people interact with every day.
Just as your users will have higher expectations of your IT service tools, so will your agents too. While they might be familiar with your ITSM installation, are you on the latest version, and are there shortcuts that you can take advantage of?
Looking at how to make your implementation run more efficiently can provide a better user experience for both users making requests and for the agents supporting them.
5. Can you prepare for the forthcoming changes to ITIL?
One announcement that all service teams should be aware of for 2018 concerned the IT Infrastructure Library, ITIL. Axelos (the organisation behind ITIL) announced that it will be releasing an update called ITIL X in 2018.
This will be the first major update to ITIL since 2011, and will include research on current ITSM implementations and technology best practices. Using these recommendations from ITIL, service desk teams can look at how to provide the best levels of support to the organisation.
This will be a good opportunity to revisit some of the principles that ITIL is designed for, from understanding business objectives and goals through to how IT services can meet those requirements. As more and more company leadership teams talk about digital transformation and becoming more agile in approach, the new version of ITIL will have to help bridge some of these gaps.
In the meantime, it’s worth looking at how your organisation is thinking about digital services and using online channels. For housing providers, these channels may be great options, and with more people preferring online channels to in-person or phone contact, they will continue to grow in usefulness, but they won’t ever replace human interaction completely.
In 2018, you can improve service delivery through automation, through use of new technologies and through thinking about service in new ways. However, these resolutions should be in service of a wider goal for the organisation. By balancing new approaches and your user priorities, the beginning of 2018 should be an exciting time for ITSM.
Simon Johnson is the UK & Ireland general manager for Freshworks.