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Using self-help to ramp up IT support for remote workers

(Image credit: Image Credit: Perfectlab / Shutterstock)

Working remote has become more than just a trend large tech companies participate in. Companies around the world went from centralised offices to having their entire employee base working from their homes. Within the span of three weeks, nearly half (46 per cent) of U.S. organisations have implemented remote work.

The ability to have a remote workforce may be ideal in these turbulent times, but it doesn’t come without consequences for certain internal teams; naturally, the speed at which all workers were forced to move remote has directly impacted IT teams. Many workers had always worked from a corporate office and struggle with remote working technologies. With support systems and staff overwhelmed by ticket requests from employees and customers adapting to their remote offices, IT teams are barely keeping their heads above water. In fact, 68 per cent of support organisations saw an increase in ticket volume over the past year. That number has only increased considering the current circumstances.

This is largely due to the fact that remote work requires new equipment, upgraded systems and increased accessibility to servers for home offices. More often than not, these at-home office setups are ill-equipped and cause increased external issues, providing a new set of problems for IT teams to manage. Therefore, during this time, IT teams need users to be able to identify and remedy their issues effectively and, when they can, independently of human intervention.

The strength of IT teams will be especially significant during this time. Teams must focus on a new era of knowledge management – one that leverages the power of unparalleled user experience, AI / chatbots, and knowledge base to provide remote teams with omnichannel self-service, ensuring the right answers are available for employees wherever and whenever they need them.

Self-service technologies offer the necessary capabilities for IT teams to become the backbone of a remote workforce. A “shift-left” approach, involving the movement of incidents and requests to the lowest support tier possible, is the best way for businesses to integrate self-service in a way that the remote workforce will engage with answers and remain productive. The modern knowledge base made accessible via omnichannel self-service will greatly reduce ticket volume and the IT support workload.

The most impactful way to prepare for increased remote work is to identify why businesses may need self-help, acknowledge remote employee needs focusing on the high-volume task-based work, understand the value of self-help and measure its success with detailed analytics.

Identify the need to initiate self-help

Research shows that 81 per cent of all customers across industries attempt to take care of matters themselves before reaching out to a representative, so IT teams should encourage and empower employees to do the same. Further, self-help leverages AI technologies to help IT teams follow users' habits and accommodate for their needs more effectively, making the solution a win/win moving forward.

Initiate a knowledge base that resolves user needs and offers them quick and efficient support

IT teams should build a knowledge base to identify key questions, starting with the most frequent questions and requests. The knowledge likely exists somewhere and can be automatically imported or accessed from a modern self-service system.

A knowledge base can exist as the front page of an IT team’s ticket dashboard, where users have access to the most common issues listed out, based on the most popular searches and knowledge used to resolve the most issues. This knowledge base will then indicate how users can solve common problems and answer common questions by themselves, by directing them to an existing resolutions page. Acting as an in-depth, data-based FAQ, both IT teams and its users can leverage this knowledge base to their own advantage.

Providing prior searches and results for the company as a whole, and common searches for specific employees based on their job roles, saves IT departments both time and resources. Similarly, employees will not have to fill out a laundry list of repetitive information to get the help they need.

Deliver knowledge where employees are

Having a self-service portal where knowledge lives is not enough. In order for knowledge to be successful, especially during times like these, access to knowledge needs to be where employees work. That means Slack, Microsoft teams, Salesforce, or the homepage of your website. Leverage chatbot technology that integrates with other applications to provide omnichannel support no matter where employees are. 

Know the value of self-help to a business

Self-service brings lower cost and increased efficiency by reducing the financial burden of overworked support teams and unproductive users. It also reduces the amount of time it takes to manage system issues, while empowering users to resolve their own issues (and quickly!).

Systems like self-help improve user adoption by combining a consumer-grade self-service experience with interactive knowledge that provides users the answers they need without any training. It also expands support availability outside of business hours by automating answer through chatbot with knowledge-base access.

Measure IT team success 

IT teams can measure their success through self-service by identifying: 1) the number of knowledge procedures executed, 2) the average time taken to complete a procedure, and 3) the quality of service (this can be gauged by tallying the number of questions that were successfully answered versus those that were abandoned).

Contextualising tracked user data will better IT services and validate that the knowledge base is working to automate ticket resolution. In addition, gather feedback directly from users to see where your system succeeds and, most important, where improvement is required such as when a search does not return valid knowledge.

A knowledge base for the best self-help service is conducted with an omni-channel baseline of data. IT teams don’t need a million pieces of data to build one, they simply need data from top line tools to launch a system that incorporates an intelligent knowledge framework, chatbots and responsive access. By starting “small”, IT teams can slowly expand to provide more user audiences with what they need across more channels,

While remote work comes with its challenges, it also brings opportunity – and with nearly everyone in a similar situation, many employees will be able to hone their self-help skills while IT teams manage the rest. Overall, self-help and knowledge-based systems will ensure IT teams are not overwhelmed and other users can flourish from remote locations.

Evan Carlson, Chief Revenue Officer of North America, EasyVista