2 things I hate about IT – An employee’s take on self-service ticketing

Guest post by Yariv Snapir, R&D Group Manager

 

#1 Sometimes, I have to contact IT

Like it or not, you will need to contact your IT department from time to time.

A short time back, I had to prepare an important presentation for some high and mighty executives. I only had a few days and I wanted it to look like my best work. I decided to upgrade my three-year-old Microsoft ® Office 2010 suite and replace it with a shiny new version of Microsoft ® Office  2013. I was attracted to the new version because of the better looking skin, cool animations and new PowerPoint presenter-mode.

 

I downloaded the installation file from my company’s software library, selected the “upgrade” option and patiently waited while the progress bar, well, progressed... Finally I saw the liberating “Successfully installed” message. Eager to check out those cool new animations I started PowerPoint. While all was working well as one can expect of an upgrade, I started noticing a suspicious red message flashing in the application’s header. It was alerting me that an activation key was missing. I was not blocked from working on my presentation, but according to company and legal standards the key had to be installed. So here I was, in need of some IT support.

 

#2 IT is never as simple as you might expect

 

iStock_000010430513Xfear.jpgNaïve old me, this is how I expected the support procedure to play out:

I submit a support request using a simple form. In it, I describe my problem (for example: “I upgraded my Office 2010 to Office 2013 an now I am required to enter an activation-key. How can I get one?”). I add that this issue effects my work. In a few hours, I expect to get a response from IT with the activation-key or with instructions for getting one. I walk the steps to get the key and install it. When I am done, the sky will be colored pink, the birds will sing and the sweet smell of flowers will fill the air.

 

Here is what I actually experienced:

The form was anything but simple. I had to input my “office location”, “mobile number” and “department”. I was further asked to select the category of my request. The list included “Collaboration tools”, “Phones and office equipment”, “Application installations” and yes, there was also the “Microsoft application suite” category.  With a shaking hand (should I select “Installations” or perhaps “Microsoft suite”) I finally chose a category. I wasn’t even half done. I also had to choose a “Sub-category”, “Service”, “Impact” and “Urgency”. Near the end of the form I finally got the chance to describe my problem in my own words and submit the request. But that was not the end of it either…

 

Thirty seconds later, just when I was context-switching into my other daily tasks I got this very important email: request #12345 had been created. Talk about life changing news!

 

Five minutes later, another email informed me that request #12345 had been assigned.

 

Twenty five minutes more and another email alerts me that my request is pending additional information from the user. What additional information?? I just spent fifteen minutes filling-in the equivalent of a US visa application!! OK, big breath… I do need this resolved. So I clicked the link and found these additional questions:  What was my previous MS Office version? What operating system am I using? 32 or 64 bit? What upgrade file did I download?

 

iStock_000014909942S.jpgHow would I simplify IT?

Here are just a few suggestions:

  • Don’t ask me for information you should already have.
  • Ask only for the information needed for understanding and solving my issue.
  • Ask all the questions relevant to my problem while I am opening the request.
  • Avoid asking me to select things like category, service or impact.  I wouldn’t know anything about that and it makes me uncomfortable to select things I don’t know.  
  • Don’t ask for priority. You know it always super-urgent to me…  However, if you ask “how it affects me?”, “can I continue to work?”, “am I blocked?” I am much less likely to “lie”. (I am not saying that I “lied” in this instance. I am just saying I have heard of other people fibbing forms. I would NEVER be dishonest. )
  • Don’t provide me with useless information. (“The request has been created”. No way!? Did the sun come up this morning too??)

The HP Service Anywhere recipe for successful self-service ticketing

 

  1. Store static user details such as location, phone, and department and use it to automatically populate the support request.
  2. Prepare support-offerings (special forms) for the most common/repeated issues (the more the better). For example: “MS Office 2013 upgrade errors”, “Hiring-system permission issues” and even “Coffee machine malfunction”). Each offering form will include dedicated fields (questions) that are specific to the problem. For example, additional fields for a Coffee machine malfunction form could be “Building”, “Floor” and “Kitchen number”.
    1. Add a meaningful title and description to the support offerings: index it in your knowledge base so users can search for it.
    2. Pre-populate forms with classification information: category, sub category, IT service and even the assigned team. Default impact/priority can also be set.
    3. Automate the process of fulfilling the support request: for additional details take a look at this excellent post.
    4. Add the support-offerings to your service catalog.
    5. Index the support offering to make it available for self-service search. To understand this better, let’s examine my story. Instead of requesting help from support, imagine I turned to the self-service portal and searched for “Office 2013 activation key”. I can expect to find:
      1. An article titled: “How to activate a new Office 2013 installation”
      2. A service-catalog offering named: “Office 2013 Activation key”
      3. And why not also a support offering called: “Office 2013 upgrade problems”
      4. Provide an easy way to create a new request. While a user is only required to describe the problem, HP big data and text analysis tools are doing the heavy lifting for finding a suitable support-offering. Learning from previous requests, it can suggest the most relevant support-offering to the user.

Using a support-offering to initiate a support request saves time and effort to the user. A form focused on the problem at hand—and  asks the right questions—results in less interaction with the agent after the request is opened. Service desk efficiency is increased as the request is automatically classified, categorized and populated with the right service and urgency.

 

The assignment process can also be minimized if the assignment group is prepopulated.  HP Service Anywhere enables IT to provide a shopping experience, not only for services, but also for support.

Comments
Robert Britt | ‎11-19-2013 12:15 PM

I'll second these:

  • Don’t ask me for information you should already have.
  • Ask only for the information needed for understanding and solving my issue.
  • Ask all the questions relevant to my problem while I am opening the request.
  • Avoid asking me to select things like category, service or impact.  I wouldn’t know anything about that and it makes me uncomfortable to select things I don’t know.  
  • Don’t ask for priority. You know it always super-urgent to me…  However, if you ask “how it affects me?”, “can I continue to work?”, “am I blocked?” I am much less likely to “lie”. (I am not saying that I “lied” in this instance. I am just saying I have heard of other people fibbing forms. I would NEVER be dishonest. )
  • Don’t provide me with useless information. (“The request has been created”. No way!? Did the sun come up this morning too??)
| ‎06-01-2014 05:21 PM

Yup. I use a self service system where if I search for the name of my application and it can't find it, I'm stuck traversing a tree of categories and sub categories, trying to locate the group who can assist with my application.

Imagine a system where if does not ask you for the severity or priority, it ask you, "Is this urgent and why ?", the assignee can then prioritise it based on your answers like they do anyway.

Or imagine as you type in your case description, a pop up comes up, listing knowledge documents describing similar errors or latest outage that you could check out. If you find the solution, you do not even need to submit the original request.

Imagine smart analysis of your case description when you finish typing it, it will ask you relevant questions like, " I noticed that you mentioned an error, do you have the error line or error number that you can add to the case?". How often have you seen cases where the user in their haste, left out the most critical information such as the error number, often seen in forums too. Or helpful popup at the side, giving examples of what information is required for the fields that you are filling out.

Design it from the employee's point of view and not what we have always done in the past to satisfy past reporting system that requires all those fields. I describe my problem, let the technology help me in the fastest way that it could, if there's a process, let the technology assist with it or find me the easiest process. There should be more than one process available. (e.g. assisted knowledge search, live chat or direct me to a forum and not just fill in the form to get help).  Sorry, Monday rant!!

 

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