IT Service Management: Creating Touchless Service Requests Improves Efficiency, Reduces Cost
When it comes to keeping customers running smoothly, the more we make requesting and obtaining needed services easy, the more we improve our reputation for being pleasant to work with. Frictionless service operations are the way to go to improve customer service outcomes.
In the beginning, the concept of touchless field service and touchless service requests started long ago when managers realized it was more time-effective and more cost-effective to solve as many service requests over the phone as possible. While people were still involved, travel-time was removed from the equation, which was a considerable savings all by itself.
Then, technology brought about even greater advances in touchless capabilities. Instead of calling, for example, customers can visit a portal that remains open 24/7. Many help desks provide support by taking the most-often-asked questions and making answers available (via knowledge articles). Users can search these knowledge articles to resolve issues or fill out a form and submit their request. Even still, for many companies, the service requests via portals and emails still require a lot of human touches. Although the self-service portal or email is touchless, the agent receiving the service request is still required to perform manual tasks.
Recently, COVID-19 laid bare the importance of developing more touchless services. Before COVID-19, everyone gathered at the company office and worked using one common infrastructure managed by a few key resources. Working from home—whether full-time or part-time—introduces all kinds of unmanaged issues, in which employees, not necessarily the key resources, will have to work through on their own. There’s no way that the same resources can go from managing a single network to then manage all these other points of access. Thus, Self-service is paramount to ensure productivity and survival.
As much as possible, people should be removed from the service rendering process. In fact, the more we automate the provision of services, the fewer touch-points we create, the more we reduce friction and lower the costs.
Don’t Customers Want Interaction?
This is an important balancing point. While we want to reduce friction, speed the process of satisfying customers, and reduce costs, we need to balance that against the customer’s perception of quality service, a solid relationship, and a great service experience. It is all too easy for a customer to feel they don’t need to renew their agreement if they never actually see the service provider. So, it’s important to still interject human interaction with the customer, but behind the scenes, the less human touches the better.
The Touchless Tour
Opportunities to make service more frictionless occur at almost every stage of the process.
Placing a Service Request
Placing a service request used to involve a customer phoning a help desk or service desk. An agent would answer that call and collect all the information required to process the service. Email was added as an alternative, then a portal and mobile apps. Today, customers seldom need to call anyone to request service. In fact, many devices place service requests themselves when they have an issue, notifying their system administrator they have done so. That’s as touchless as it can get.
The service agent would need to determine if there was an active service agreement or warranty in effect to assure payment. Today that’s an automated process keyed on the serial number of the unit under repair, the phone number of the customer, or some other unique identifier that initiates the necessary table lookup without human intervention.
Delivery of Service
This is where there’s the most opportunity for innovative advancement. Here we see lots of capability to automate tasks that are being performed by people. Oftentimes, the process itself can stay the same, instead the service request is processed by an API and workflow instead of through a person.
For example, with our product ServiceTeam ITSM onboarding a new employee can be made much easier. The process of onboarding a new employee involves creating accounts, adding permissions and processing standard requirements. Most of which can be easily accomplished using APIs and automation streams. One of the difficulties of onboarding and other processes like this is tasks might need to be completed over time, across departments, across systems, or as sequential steps. The more moving pieces and parts, the easier it is for people to lose track, make mistakes and then the process either stalls or goes awry. A workflow or automation stream can be set up to automate many of these tasks, or if there does need to have some sort of human intervention, then the workflow or automation stream can help ensure that human intervention happens.
Managing service processes touchlessly requires advanced automation like that found in ServiceTeam ITSM. Share your innovative ideas for removing touchpoints in your process with us and we’ll show you how to apply automation to make that magic happen.