Self-service offers customers a strategy that deploys tools to obtain support services without direct intervention from a support professional. It can be used as a method of reducing operating costs and improving customer satisfaction by allowing them greater control over the transaction, especially out of normal support hours and for non-critical activities. Technologies such as the Internet, Interactive Voice Response systems, and mobile and wireless communications make self-service operations possible.
The primary characteristics of this model are:
- customers determine the point of entry
- customers have direct access to support information and knowledge
- customers are able to manage support transactions themselves
- ease of access and speed of resolution is increased
- demand on support resources is reduced.
- How self-service is implemented can vary significantly, depending upon what the organization wants to achieve and the range of services it plans to offer. Examples of self-service include:
- customers register their own requests and check on their progress
- customers can search knowledge bases for solutions
- customers can download program updates or bug fixes
- customers can order goods or services.
Source: ITIL Serrvice Management, Section 4.3.7
A successful self-service strategy depends on several important factors:
management commitment - any initiative that entails change within an organization requires management support and commitment to execute the initiative
There will always be customers and Users who either need to, or prefer to, talk directly to a support specialist. The key is to provide choices in how to communicate with the support group. By incorporating self-service techniques into the traditional service model, companies add value in being more efficient and cost-effective, along with improved levels of customer service.
- a willingness to relinquish control - it is essential to put the right processes and tools in place to ensure that while the customer is in control, they are following a path that is carefully designed by the company
- business metrics are collected and used to monitor the effectiveness of the service as provided, it is critical to know what self-help services are being requested, how often and what for
- support processes are maintained - it is important that none of the existing Change and Release processes is bypassed or invalidated
- ease of use and quality content- any system that is not easy to use or that does not contain high-quality content will fail, because if customers are unable to get the information they need when they need it, they will immediately pick up the telephone next time they encounter a Problem, indeed, in a worst-case scenario, the support team will find itself supporting yet another application - the self-service system itself
- communication - customers need to know what self-service channels are In place, along with the value and responsibilities of using them.
Source: ITIL Serrvice Management, Section 4.3.8
... tools enable an end user to leverage established problem resolution knowledge. Early attempts at this were
executed with FAQs, which provided answers for common outages or quick fixes, but often
require users to leave the application and connect to enterprise servers. Today.s self help tools
include the definition of common questions with pointers to the source of the answer to highly
structured approaches used in problem resolution and product selection applications. These tools
offer natural language matching between a user.s query and a predefined list of questions,
symptoms, or requirements and then navigate the structured knowledge to provide an answer.
In addition to self-help, the adoption of self-healing has become more widespread among self-
help capable systems. These are tools that maintain a root understanding of the distinct system
and desktop profiles and can restore or heal to a functioning state. Registry settings and key
application executables must be maintained in a desired desktop environment which, when
corrupted, can be reset either automatically and independently of the IT service desk.
Source: Gartner - Key Ingredients of the IT Service Desk