Complete Guide to the Future of IT Self Service

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The idea of self-service has been around for decades, and the advent of the internet and smart devices has only made it more commonplace. The movement that started with vending machines and self-serve gas pumps has evolved into online shopping, smartphone banking, and DIY...everything. No one wants to go into branches or offices when you can simply use an app, and most people would rather watch a YouTube video than read an instruction manual or call for help. So where does this trend in consumer behavior leave the IT industry?

What this article will cover:

  • What is IT self service?
  • What is an IT self-service portal?
  • Choosing a self service portal

By and large, people love to learn. There are certainly some variables in terms of skill level or attention span, but consumer trends tell us very clearly that most people like learning how to do things for themselves. We like taking control and solving our own problems. It’s perfectly logical.

This trend also sets a few expectations that some industries are only now catching up to. We expect intuitive user experiences. We expect the internet to give us access to what we need, when we need it, without fail -- and that translates over to our personal errands and professional responsibilities.

If I need to pay a bill, it’s pretty much unacceptable for that process to take more than a swipe on my smartphone. If I need a question answered, there should be a dashboard with the needed data or a live chat option that gets my question answered within the next three minutes. Heaven forbid anything requires me to wait in a line. What is this, the dark ages?

Am I entitled and spoiled? Only as much as any other consumer who has become accustomed to the comforts afforded by modern technology.

We live in a world of easy and intuitive instant gratification. The question now is this: what do MSPs have to do to stay relevant and successful in such a world?

What is IT Self Service?

With consumers so attuned to a culture of self-service and speedy results, the demand for such functionality extends to every aspect of life, both work and personal. While ticket counts aren’t dropping to the floor for most IT providers, they are steadily decreasing across the board. As this trend plays out, we’re going to see more people wanting to find answers to their own problems rather than calling up their MSP/IT department and submitting tickets.

The rate at which support ticket counts fall will likely be tied to the increasing functionality of self-service portals. Currently, level I problems are the domain of such portals, allowing end-users to handle their own password resets, device registrations, or other minor tasks. They are also making use of resource centers, forums, and knowledge bases that allow them to find solutions to their problems without having to escalate to their IT provider.

Naturally, the more resources like this become available and the more tasks are relegated to these self-service portals, the fewer tickets will need to pass through the helpdesk.

What is an IT Self-Service Portal?

It’s probably safe to say that most people in the Western world are very accustomed to self-service portals, even if they don’t realize it. Amazon is a self-service portal that replaces trips to the mall. eBay is a self-service portal for auctions. Entire industries -- like the travel agency business -- have been laid low by online self-service portals. And how often does the average consumer actually set foot inside a bank?

We’re all so accustomed to self-service that most people don’t consciously acknowledge that they’re actually using it. Such experiences are second nature.

IT self-help portals have evolved to keep up with this trend. As technology became intertwined more and more with business, IT departments likewise became more involved in the function and sustainability of those businesses. Over time, the demands of end-users applied pressure toward self-service as it’s what we’ve all come to expect. Those demands are continuing to increase.

IT departments are still, and may forever be, adjusting to this new normal of self-service and DIY. Whereas the old paradigm was “boutique customer service”, the modern milestone is “streamlined and painless self-service”. The more that can be accomplished without having to break someone’s routine or forcing them to pick up a phone, the better.

What to look for in an IT self service portal

Self-service sounds fairly simple and straightforward as an idea, but successful IT self-help is typically more complex than ordering shoes online or depositing a check through a smartphone app.

IT service portals must be robust, providing users with as many resources and DIY options as possible while still delivering a seamless and frustration-free user experience.

It’s not enough to use a portal that’s feature-rich; you must seek out a forward-thinking portal that’s actively evolving to meet growing user expectations. In many ways, adaptability is more important than features, as not every user, client, or situation can be approached the same way.

Additionally, IT departments and MSPs should look for software that offers:

  • A knowledge base and tools for educating and showing video walk-throughs
  • Easy search and cross-referencing functions
  • FAQ capabilities
  • Live chat to work with the IT team and community forums to share DIY tips and ask questions
  • A ticketing system (or integration with your preferred PSA)

Most importantly, make sure the portal is easy for the average end-user to navigate. Tools are only valuable when they’re used, and one of the key objectives with self-service is to provide that hassle-free user experience.

Why is IT self service becoming more popular?

In the modern organization, IT can either be the weakest link or the department that pushes the business to new heights. The usability and reliability of technology can make or break us, and thus any measures that can improve the speed and ease of IT management can have a positive effect throughout the organization. IT self-help is part of that optimization, and can afford a range of benefits, including:

Lower support ticket volume - The more issues that are (safely and properly) addressed before escalating to the IT team, the more time can be allotted to technicians for more broad-stroke tasks.

Reduced IT costs - IT professionals are highly skilled, in-demand, and well-compensated employees. You wouldn’t want your highly-paid accountant cleaning the bathroom, so it doesn’t make sense to pay a skilled engineer to reset passwords and install printers.

Improve employee productivity - When end-users are able to resolve their own minor issues, they spend less time waiting for support or queuing up in a chat window. Remember that your self-service portal needs to be easy to navigate and streamlined, though -- productivity is still lost if employees must spend extra time on a self-service learning curve.

Get help any time, anywhere - There are often situations where the IT team can’t be reached. 24/7 access to a knowledge base and user forum gives end-users a fighting chance when they have no other means to get help with their IT issue.

Improved team/client satisfaction - Whether talking about an MSP or an internal IT department, the end-user is the “customer” and their satisfaction is a major gauge of IT success. If end-users can find fast, frustration-free solutions to their own problems, operating on their own terms, the likelihood of unhappy stakeholders goes down considerably.

Conclusion

Self-service is a consumer trend that’s been a long time in the making, so it’s hard to imagine that it’s going away any time soon. While there’s definitely a place in the IT industry for great customer service, there’s also a need for practical, easy-to-use self-service options. Some portals are better than others at providing this experience to your end-users -- and as always, not every solution is the best fit for every situation.

Why NinjaOne? 

NinjaOne is a powerful, easy-to-use remote monitoring and management platform that provides a single-pane-of-glass view into all the endpoints within an organization, and all the tools IT teams need to improve delivery. Our platform simplifies and automates the day-to-day work of managed service providers and IT professionals so they can focus on complex, value-added services, end-user relationships, and strategic projects.

  • Month to month: no long-term contracts
  • Flexible per device pricing
  • Free and unlimited onboarding
  • Free and unlimited training
  • Ranked #1 in support

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5 Bite-Sized Ways to Improve Your Business Every Week

Join fellow growth-minded MSPs and feed your business with new tips and tutorials delivered straight to your inbox.