Harnessing the power of self-service: 4 questions you need to answer

Giby Varghese
November 11, 2019

When it comes to measuring the success for any technology, two key factors are user experience and how widely it is adopted.

No matter how good a certain technology is, it will not add the value you intended to your business if users don’t adopt it – and one reason for that lack of adoption could be poor UX.

Self-service is one of the disruptive ways of making something user-friendly. It’s a growing focus for businesses and solution providers, including ServiceNow.

Traditional forms of service delivery are expensive, can involve excessive wait times for end-users and, importantly, they don't enable the effective measurement of user experience.

Although self-service offers a much better alternative to traditional forms of delivery, if not done right it can make the user experience worse.

If an organisation’s self-service solutions are sub-optimal, users will end up preferring to wait for a “shoulder tap” from a real person tasked with completing their service request rather than face the uncertainty of how that request will be dealt with through a self-service portal. If a business finds itself int that unfortunate situation, it’s experiencing the technological equivalent of going back to the stone age.

Doing self-service effectively isn’t so much about the technology that’s being serviced – rather, it’s more about user behaviour within the organisation. With that said, let’s have a look at how you do it right.

When considering an effective approach to self-service, bear in mind that users adopt a particular way of doing things based on the answers to the following four questions.

1. How easy is it to find?

As with most things, if it’s not easy to find, it doesn’t get used. When it comes to self-service, users tend to follow the herd. They will look at what someone else is doing and try and mimic that.

Therefore, to encourage self-service:

  • Find champions within the user community who can become role models for how to use self-service. This will drive increased uptake more effectively than all other adoption strategies combined.
  • Provide search capabilities that work consistently. Self-service needs to be intuitive, and if training is required to encourage uptake, then you haven't done it right. Users only know what they are looking for, so the search should be able to guide them to what they are looking for and not a list of 100 items that could be similar.

2. Does it make my life better?

One query you may get from people within your organisation is: “I have a friend in the IT department who helps me get things done. Is self-service going to be faster and easier than that?”

Most people are busy enough within their own roles that they don't want to get into the complexities of how something else gets done. Self-service needs to be a “raise and forget” activity.

One way of thinking about why “raise and forget” matters is that from a user’s perspective, the pleasant surprise of requesting and then – without having to devote any further thought to the matter – receiving a service, is far more satisfying than going through the anguish of following up on what's happened to your request at each stage of the process.

In short: you can make users’ lives better by streamlining the underlying processes that deliver your services.

3. Can it keep me up to date?

Another question users will ask is: “I know I’ve ordered X, Y and Z via self-service, but I want to know when I’ll get them and whether someone will let me know if there are any delays.”

In the real world, not everything happens at a level of 100% accuracy and/or efficiency. As an organisation, there are some things that are out of our control when it comes to delivering a service. When things don’t go as intended, users are more likely to become frustrated about not being told there is a delay than they are as a result of the delay itself.

While there may be nothing you can do about the delay, keeping customers up to date with the status of the item or service they’re expecting is definitely something that’s within your control. 

Keep in mind that streamlining processes that allow fulfillers to inform the user of the status of their order is as easy as requesting it in the first place.

4. Is my feedback being heard?

As with any business transformation, feedback during the journey is an important element to ensuring success.

Rolling out a self-service solution will always involve starting with a minimum viable product. It's simply not possible to convert an entire traditional service model into a self-service model in one iteration.

As you progress along the journey, it’s important to collect feedback from your users at regular intervals – and also to respond to that feedback.

Users who are listened to become involved in the design process, leading to better self-service implementations. Being heard results in users taking ownership and responsibility for the ultimate user experience.

Measure it

Finally, bear in mind that improvements to service require more than just being responsive to user feedback. This is because there are processes that aren’t visible to the user. 

Therefore, KPIs should be defined to measure the impact of the changes that are made. This allows a more informed approach to be taken when it comes to assessing the improvements that an organisation is making to its systems.

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If you would like to find out more about how an effective self-service solution could add value to your organisation and bottom line, contact Red Moki today.