How to get employees to use and adopt the self-service portal

When your service desk is facing many thousands of incidents and service requests, presenting home workers with a self-service web portal is essential to ensuring your people can get the services and assistance they need to be productive

Axios Systems’ Markos Symeonides lists these goals and how best to deliver them…

24×7 support availability means:

No time wasted waiting in call queues, especially when the service desk is dealing with a much larger volume of calls

Information requests are handled digitally, taking strain off your service desk staff

Better employee experience, with a choice of self-logging and self-resolution options across Mobile and Web

Faster service provision: Integration between a service catalog and service orchestration enables instant delivery of digital services with zero human intervention from the service desk—taking further strain off your agents

Significant reduction in the handling cost of issues and service requests.

However, the benefits of a self-service portal will only be realized if it is designed and delivered in a way that appeals to employees. The user experience (UX) that your employees get from your IT portal must be superior to calling the service desk.

In an omnichannel support model where customers can call, email, self-serve there is often little guidance as to how these differ.

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The 4 common pitfalls and how to avoid them

There are a number of ways in which a self-service initiative can fail—and all of them are avoidable. It’s important to separate symptoms from their root causes. For instance, if the issue is that employees aren’t using the new self-service portal, then it’s a symptom. The root cause might be one of many:

1 – They don’t know it exists

They don’t know that there is a self-service portal they can use to avoid waiting in a call queue—because it has not been properly communicated. Draw-up a communications plan to ensure everybody in the organization hears about this new support option. This might include a combination of town-hall meeting announcements, emails/enewsletters, wall posters, line manager memos, and other communications options. Introducing the self-service portal and virtual agent channels when users call or email support are a valuable adoption tool.

2 – It’s worse than the other spport channels

If there’s no benefit to using the self-service portal over other channels, people won’t use it. In order to attract employees to this channel, it needs to be the “line of least resistance”—a frictionless experience which makes it the channel of choice. If it’s still easier to throw an email at the service desk, that’s what they’ll do.

This is why it’s so important that you start from a design/usability perspective—to ensure the experience is a simple and fast. Typically, self-service portals that are built purely to meet a need to save money fail to appeal to end users and they don’t get the adoption levels they needed to hit to reduce costs. When you build for the end user, you’ll get the adoption you need to make sustained savings.

Consider offering better service levels around delivery times when users interact through self-service Vs traditional support channels.

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3 – Legacy technology & lack of omnichannel

Some legacy ITSM tools cannot provide the modern, consumer-like experience that end users have come to expect from online and mobile interactions in their consumer lives.

Employees simply won’t tolerate an interface that belongs in an IT museum. They expect to see an interface and channels which mirrors today’s leading retail and social media platforms.

Users expert to be able to interact through messaging and collaboration tools they use every day as well as through Apps on their own mobile devices.

Through the provision of support across the channels our employees use we can make the support services more accessible and increase adoption

4 – The content isn’t there

Employees want to finding what they’re looking for, fast—whether that’s a piece of information, where to order the service they need, or where to log an incident. This part of the experience relies on two key aspects:

How well the search function performs, and whether the content is optimized to be found.

The quality of the content in terms of relevance and consumability. This is particularly important for “how-to” knowledge.

Often, the language used is too technical, so employees can’t tell if they’re in the right place. For example, where IT uses the word “incident” HR people use the word “case”. These are small differences in the that make a big difference to the user experience.

To get it right, you need to start off with a servant approach—the portal is there to serve the IT customer, not to save the IT department time and money. This will happen, but building your portal around the customer is the #key to unlocking the value of an IT portal to IT itself.

First, you will need to understand what your employees expect from an IT self-service portal. Think about the customer journey and what they need to help them do their jobs. Each role is different and in turn their content should be as well.


If you only make some services available in your self-service portal – for example – software access requests, you will see a dramatic increase in adoption. Use wisely!

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