It’s stating the obvious, but the world changed in 2020 – both socially and in the workplace. Workplace changes have brought about the need for IT service management to evolve to better suit the needs of organizations and their employees. The terminology used to describe the new working environment is varied. For example, “post-pandemic,” “the new normal,” “the next normal,” and others. However, for this blog, we use “new normal” to explain the impact of the global pandemic on IT and non-IT service delivery and support practices, as well as what it means for service management.
IT service management and reacting to the global pandemic impact
So much has already changed due to the impact of the pandemic, starting with the heroic efforts of IT teams in rapidly setting up large numbers of employees in their remote environments at the start of the crisis. Now, as many regions still suffer from the social and business impact of the pandemic, the service management consequences are wide-reaching.
Remote working for IT personnel, employees, and the customers they all support is still in effect. Location was just a small part of the impact and is likely part of the new normal for some employees even after the distanced-working precautions are no longer needed.
Tied in with this “remoteness” and the economic impact of the pandemic, is the need to improve operational efficiency across business of every industry and size. Employee productivity just got in the swing of remote life and the introduction of digital workflows to replace inefficient manual processes of office-based working is finally taking effect, but with the return to office we will see new business demands for optimization.
Finally, there needs to be the recognition that things will continue to change, even after employees have returned to the office. There will still be new ways of working – and associated expectations of service and support capabilities – that will continue to drive the benefits discovered through the remote working of 2020 and early 2021.
What you need to do
If your IT service desk has never formally engaged in managing employee expectations, then now is the time to do so. Not only to ensure that employees know how IT support will help them, but to also reset some expectations. By assessing employee expectations ahead of a return to office, the IT department can better understand the needs of employees and the associated expectations. This will give you visibility into gaps between what’s expected – likely based on consumer-world service and support experiences – and what can be realistically achieved due to internal limitations.
This is especially important in the new normal, with ways of working different from those at the start of 2020. There are many differences, some of which have already been stated above. And while it might be easy to get caught up in the fact that employees are likely no longer centralized and are instead dispersed (potentially working from home). It’s also important to appreciate the criticality of technology and IT support to these employees, especially now that the traditional IT support “contingency” options – such as using a colleague’s technology or getting a tech-savvy colleague to assist – are no longer readily available.
The bottom line is that that your IT department needs a service and support delivery plan to meet the needs of a workforce that’s working from different locations. We’ve termed this “Service Anytime, Anywhere with SymphonyAI Summit.” Employees have higher expectations based on both their consumer-world experiences and the increased criticality of their technology to their productivity at work.
How to deliver IT service management anytime, anywhere
There are a variety of things that will help your IT service desk better deliver against employee expectations and needs. Some of the key factors are listed below:
- Offer an omni-channel service and support experience. Not only because this is an employee expectation based on their consumer-world experiences, but also to reflect that different issues and changing personal circumstances dictate different channels (and choice). This not only includes the traditional channels – telephone, email, portal, chat, and walk-up – but also the ability to access assistance via the most common corporate communication and collaboration apps such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, Jabber, etc. Plus of course, employees will also expect access to services across different devices, necessitating a web app and mobile app too.
- Respond to the employee need for immediacy of help (especially for remote workers). While traditional IT support capabilities can, of course, be reviewed to shorten telephone and email response times, improve self-service, and better use of remote support technologies. There’s also the opportunity to leverage new artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities in modern ITSM solutions. For example, the use of chatbots or virtual agents as intelligent first point of contact that can answer common questions and leverage automation to provide immediate solutions. Virtual assistants can also augment the knowledge and capabilities of service desk analysts and can be leveraged to increase the speed and accuracy of their responses.
- Re-examine your service level agreements (SLAs) and set the right expectations. If you don’t already offer SLA-based service and support commitments, then now is the time to do so. Meeting expectations is key to success in the new normal, particularly for remote workers. There are also extra points of failure to consider for such remote workers and even after SLAs are changed to better reflect the new normal (and increased expectations) there’s still the need to be vigilant around the service and support provided to remote workers. For example, while the overall SLA target might be met for a service, the “remote worker only” view might show something different.
- Automate the most common incidents and requests. Use your ITSM tool data to identify the top issues and services requested by employees. If there are pre-defined steps followed to deliver against these support and service requests, then use automation to replace manual tasks or knowledge articles to give employees the opportunity for self-help. Importantly, automation can be provided directly to the employee or it can be leveraged by analysts as part of their work processes.
Hopefully, this blog has you thinking about what needs to change in your organization as return to office is on the horizon. If you would like to find out more about delivering service and support in the new normal, then click here for a SymphonyAI Summit demo.
Kishore Shenoy, Senior Product Manager at SymphonyAI Summit