How the IT support services experience is evolving
The way in which enterprises get IT support services is entering a new era. Gone are the days when it was enough to provide only a help desk and phone support. Today, many approaches are available, ranging from traditional methods like phone and chat to knowledge bases, having a single point of contact, and self-help, which is available in the same ways we get help for consumer devices: via search, videos, and customer forums. There is more choice than ever, depending on your requirements.
In fact, IT support services are evolving far more quickly than most companies realize, and the benefits that can be realized are dramatic. But organizations must be open to the transformation of support services as they know it. Enterprises need access to a full range of services from traditional to next generation, with the flexibility to choose and switch among them.
Here's an overview of the range of services available and how to find the right partner to provide them.
Main channels of IT support services
I'll start by outlining the many different support channels available and how those options can be best used.
Telephone: This is still the most commonly used option of engagement today. When you've got a critical issue, you want to pick up the phone and talk to someone. You want that accountability and immediacy.
Chat: This is an increasingly popular option. In certain situations, you want to reach someone in seconds, rather than going through a longer formal telephone call process. Chat also provides the ability to multitask. Customers can be at a coffee shop ordering a coffee and still engage the support services they want.
Community forums: This is a great way to tap into a large community with a shared experience and history of using the same products and that can help others with similar issues. The best forums are run by experts who add their own advice and guidance.
Vendor forums: Users and subject-matter experts respond to questions related to vendor products and services.
Self-help: A new set of IT support services are becoming popular based on how people get help for consumer devices and products. These new channels are largely based on self-help via video and search tools, where information and answers can be found in seconds.
Here's a personal example of how these new support channels helped me:
I was bequeathed a very good vacuum cleaner, but it was broken and sat in the cupboard for quite some time because there's no service for it in Australia, where I live. Eventually, I turned to the Internet and discovered a forum devoted to repairing this specific vacuum cleaner. By browsing the forum, I learned my cleaner needed a new impeller fan. But I didn't know how to install it. I ordered the fan from a vendor that provided a video of how to do the work. When the fan arrived, I put it and the vacuum cleaner on a workbench and followed the step-by-step video on how to install it. I turned it on, and it worked! Now I would be lost without it!
Right then I realized that IT support services need to offer the kinds of help that are now available to consumers—support forums, self-help videos, Internet searches, and easy-to-navigate knowledge bases. Think of it as the consumerization of IT support. People expect this kind of help in their personal lives, and they want it in their business lives as well.
How traditional channels integrate with new ways of support
Enterprises need multiple engagement channels for IT support, ranging from the traditional, like phone support, to newer ones like self-help videos. Employees should be able to pick and choose what they need, depending on their circumstances, the criticality of the situation, and the kinds of tools and capabilities available—at any point.
Channels also need to work together seamlessly. Employees should be able to start on one and easily switch to another when related information is required or when they want help presented differently. Channels must also be proactive vs. reactive, issuing alerts for potential problems before they become catastrophes.
Here's an example of how channels can work together to provide IT support in a proactive, integrated way.
Imagine an IT specialist configuring a new virtual environment. As she works, an alert pops up, warning her about potential risks in the way she's configuring it. The alert includes a link to a knowledge base article. She reads the article but wants more information, so she clicks a link from the article to a video, which answers many of her questions. But she's still not completely clear about how to properly configure the virtual machines in the safest way possible. She heads to a forum linked from the video and gets answers from forum members who have had the same issue she's having. She still needs one piece of information about how the risk might affect the specific environment. She clicks a link on the forum to chat with an expert—and using this one-on-one interaction, she's able to resolve the issue.
Through these steps, she has quickly received very detailed information about the issue and solved it in a few minutes by seamlessly moving among many of the support channels available to her. Previously, without these new channels integrated with existing ones, resolving the problem could have taken much longer.
What to look for in support services today and in the future
Encourage staff to find and use the tools and information available, as well as the right operational partner to provide the right services. However, merely providing multiple channels isn't enough—the partner and business must work together to integrate them into a support experience. Channels that don't work well together make it harder, not easier, for enterprises to get support.
Organizations must evolve in order to accept and leverage new ways of working. They must be open to new engagement methods and recognize that new resources are available. These new information and knowledge sources can help reduce workload and increase efficiencies.
However, remember that not all information and knowledge are equal. New sources must be reputable and validated. Encourage staff to seek new information and leverage social knowledge and emerging repositories with eyes open and not become complacent because information "was found on the Internet."
Choosing the right IT support services, from the right partner, leads to improved efficiency and productivity, faster problem-solving, more stable operational infrastructure, and increased agility. New support options that are proactive and predictive in nature will help you avoid as many emergencies as possible by solving small problems before they turn into bigger ones. And you'll also have a more engaged workforce, who will be able to get faster assistance at work, in the same ways they're used to getting help as a consumer.
IT support services: Lessons for leaders
- Choice is key. IT support services should be available in many forms.
- Service options should include the traditional as well as self-help via videos, search tools, knowledge-bases, and other tools.
- Support channels must work well together. Just having more channels is not enough.
- Companies and service partners must work together to integrate them into a support experience.
This article/content was written by the individual writer identified and does not necessarily reflect the view of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company.