Self-service rather than the service desk, or the other way around?

Booking meeting rooms with a smart phone, submitting a work order to IT, or recording the number of hours spent with a client; the work applications of self-service are endless. Yet self-service is not always the best option. For example, consider complicated processes like applying for renovations, major relocations or setting up events. In which instances is self-service desirable, and why?

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The workplace has changed dramatically in recent years. Huge offices with fixed workplaces are giving way to flexible working areas, including mobile staff with their personal devices. Alongside the employer’s equipment, the employee’s telephones, laptops and tablets have also become part of the corporate network. You might suggest that an employee’s personal smart phone has become an extremely compact, multifunctional workstation, running applications for both personal and business use.

The employee expects to be able to arrange everything himself

Depending on the time and place, many employees opt for a specific device to work more intelligently, more efficiently and more effectively. A well-known term for this is “Bring Your Own Device,” or BYOD. By making functionalities available such as a knowledge database, a self-service portal, and mobile access to business software, today’s employees increasingly expect to be able to arrange everything themselves, without the intervention of third parties. The service desk is then, as the name already implies, an extra service. It is only contacted after self-service has not offered a solution.

The more accessible self-service applications are, the less pressure is brought to bear on the service desk. But there are further advantages: by setting up processes well, the best possible collaboration is enabled, which in turn produces cost reductions. Requests and reports are also recorded and documented properly, so that there is a reduced possibility of errors. The employee can track the progress of the process, and he or she receives feedback once the process has been completed.

Service desk rather than self-service

It sounds like an ideal combination: employees gain greater control with self-service, and pressure on the service desk eases. And yet self-service is not the holy grail in every situation. For employees in jobs that make little use of computers or portable devices, there is often resistance to the introduction of self-service. This group prefers to stick with the traditional way of working; for them it’s often easier just to get in touch with the service desk. So you might say that not every employee becomes happier thanks to self-service. And of course there are always the previously mentioned, more complicated requests which belong with the service desk.

Every organisation has its own structure and culture. And so there’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach to self-service. However, in practice the benefits far outweigh any possible disadvantages. That’s because the introduction of self-service also forces your organisation to consider standardising and optimising processes. This enables pressure points to be identified and resolved more quickly. Perhaps the greatest advantage is that thanks to automation and self-service, a good balance has been created between operations carried out by the employee and by the ICT department, resulting in time reductions and cost savings.

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