Will your workplace support perish or survive (better yet thrive)?

Will your workplace support perish or survive (better yet thrive)?

Today, users are very savvy. With a tap of a button, people can rent, buy, lease, sell, talk, chat and basically can do everything one needs in day to day aspect of life. From a business perspective, companies are finding new ways to engage users to do business. The new startups have advantage in that they start fresh, but we have also seen companies pushing digital transformation to either adopt or perish to be meaningful in today’s demanding environment. But we also know that it’s very difficult for companies to adopt and transform their business. Industry is littered with more failures than success and also a heavy cost to pay. One thing that most companies fail is to understand is that transformation is not just about the front office. It’s also very much about the internals – the back office. I would argue that in the new world, there is no front vs back office. You are either digital or in the process of being digital. Remember that today users are savvy, so your employees are your excellent source of both inspiration and also your testing grounds. In any case, employees today expect a similar level of digital touch-points and channels to do their work. The line between B2C and B2B is fading as more and more users are exposed to consumer services delivered via ever evolving technology. Whilst companies feel the pressure, they can also use this as a leverage, an inspiration to act and transform.

Whilst, some companies (B2B) have understood the opportunity and have started transforming their legacy systems to better provide workplace tools, they still fall short in providing the workplace support experience or employee support experience no matter new tools. Workplace support is an integral part of employee support in day to day work for e.g. when a laptop break. When an employee requests a leave, or a new request to access a new application due to job role change, and many more. Today, most of the companies, big and small rely on the traditional model of email and phone (IT Helpdesk) to provide support. Which have worked in traditional (arguably) monolithic age. But these fall short in the modern times, when you have savvy user who probably uses “Alexa” or “Siri” to order food or return a purchase.

In this blog, we will only focus on the elephant in the room (psst… the IT Helpdesk)

One of the first thing to focus on in transformation, is making sure companies properly understand the current environment (or problem statement). And there are many ways to do that. Easiest and generally an effective way is to start with listing down the key areas of to focus. Currently IT Helpdesk is a strategic and tactical way for companies to provide workplace support. Let’s list down the issues associated with it.

  • Cost: on an average and an example, a med size company spends about 12-14$ per support ticket. Some of big items in that costs includes IT support application, connectivity, call management software, Helpdesk agents (Human Labor), office space etc. the biggest cost by far is the IT Helpdesk agents and office space facilities. so, if you are a company with 500 employees and assuming you get two tickets per month per employee, your cost can go up to 12000$ per month alone. That’s a lot on what we could argue as “sunk” cost as it is generating revenue.
  • Agent Productivity: Today, if employees had issues, they call or email IT Helpdesk to get resolutions which is recorded as a support ticket in an ITSM tool (ticketing tool). Some ITSM tools allow for integration with email tools so tickets are created automatically. But most ITSM don’t. regardless, a vast majority of time spent by agents is creating, updating and following up on ticket which involves a lot of time spent on making sure tickets are up to date. Also finding information to provide resolutions is cumbersome because knowledge base is not updated and worst yet, needs constant update in way the information itself is available at the right moment.
  • Data: companies are beginning to acknowledge that data is the most valuable asset (only after employees) and big data can truly help tell (predict) a story that was not possible before. Same applies for support. The issue with tickets and email is a lot of soft (experience) and hard data (problem) are locked in the system. ITSM do provide analytics tool, but it restricts only the hard ticket data, and does not account for other sources such as employee emotions, experience, impact on support resolution.
  • Employee Productivity: companies spend thousands of dollars on training employees, giving them tools to ensure they are successful. But having stuck on a support call for 300 mins and back and forth on email can drain the productivity. The loss is not just productivity and time, it’s also the emotional and psychological aspect of rebound. Imagine you have a time bound deliverable and your account is locked due to some reason. It definitely impacts or halts your productivity.
  • Reactive Approach: Most workplace support waits for issues to be reported. This causes the IT Helpdesk and in general IT team to be reactive in fixing issues. The problem with this approach is basically the cost and resources spent are assuming on skills, amount of resources required etc. The reactive nature of providing support creates a “tech” or “support” debt. i.e. the staff are always chasing to clear the support tickets.
  • Traditional Support Model: the idea of providing support via email and phone call is bit archaic to our savvier employee who probably uses WhatsApp and Uber to get things done. There are multiple issues here with having a “traditional” support. First, it assumes employees do not work out of normal office hours and assumes employees work out of single location which can cause severe inconvenience to employees working in shifts, traveling and or work from home. Even if companies were to add, new channel, let’s say, chat, companies are only adding more costs, tools, and of-course, now more agents. More like a band aid fix.
  • Human Resource / FTE Driven: when employees reach out for support, whether via email, phone or chat, it is still the IT Helpdesk agent who is responsible, and engaged from the moment they have picked up that call or email. So, you can imagine, simply adding a new channel like chat could potentially only increase the agent resources required and essentially the cots. Not the mention, the high attrition, agent training and productivity issues. The problem is that the current model heavily relies on human resources to deliver the support.
  • Analytics: continuing on the “data’ issue discussed earlier, companies who are stuck with data silos lack efficiency, innovation and mainly the deeper insight required to progress. How do we improve something that we cannot track. Companies typically use single source of data i.e. tickets to analyse support. But what about the quality of service? How do we track patterns that could help us be more proactive? Surely analytics plays a huge part to give us the vision to improve but unified data is a challenge.
  • Manual Process: Companies today have several internal applications. Most of these are off-the-shelf with lot of customisations to suit company process and operations. When employees raise a ticket with Helpdesk, agents typically have to follow a process to resolve an issue and this will mean access to different applications. As an example, adding a user to a security email distribution list, may involve the agent or an IT staff to access email application. This involves manual working on the application to be able to support resolution.

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