Three IT Self-Service Myths to Avoid


IT self-service has been in practice for over a decade, yet many organizations are still struggling to achieve expected benefits. Why?

Self-service comes in various forms: knowledge management systems, FAQs, portals, custom dashboards, etc. It’s like chocolate cake. Many different recipes can create one that’s delicious, but they all share some key ingredients. One cannot, for instance, replace cocoa with carob powder and still call it chocolate cake.

Years of testing have helped identify some essential characteristics of exceptional IT self-service initiatives, but a few stale misconceptions persist. Check out the IT self-service myths (and facts) below to help your organization succeed with self-service and achieve a better-optimized support process.

Why Bother with Self-Service?

I might be getting ahead of myself here, so let’s go over why self-service is worth pursuing in the first place. If you’re already familiar with the benefits, you can skip ahead to the myths.

There are several popular reasons why organizations choose to implement self-service IT:

  • Self-service helps support an anytime, anywhere workforce by offering 24/7 resources
  • Many frontline service desk tickets and requests are for repeat, low-level incidents
  • Consumer technology has raised users’ expectations not only for how devices function, but also speed and quality of support

A well-developed self-service practice also brings a variety of benefits, such as the following:

  • Enabling the service desk to shift left and resolve common incidents at Level 0, thus deflecting incidents from the support chain and reducing costs
  • Freeing up Level 1 support to work on more complex problems, thereby decreasing the number of incidents that get escalated to Level 2 and above
  • Improving end-user experience by decreasing downtime and offering a more consumer-like process

Wondering if self-service is right for your org? Check out our podcast: “To Self-Service or Not to Self-Service?”

Three IT Self-Service Myths

Myth #1: End users don’t like self-service 

There is a real and valid fear that IT could spend time crafting self-service resources only to have users choose an alternate path. But how do people really feel about self-service?

The Service Desk Institute (SDI) released a report examining whether organizations that implemented IT self-service had achieved their expected ROI. Interestingly, organizations that had under- and over-performed both reported “end users prefer the human touch” as the primary obstacle to the success of their self-service initiative.

However, if we look at the consumer sector, survey data suggests an appetite for self-service:

  • 50% of customers consider the act of self-service important and 70% expect websites to have self-service resources (source)
  • 81% of consumers will try to resolve a question on their own before reaching out to an agent (source)
  • Three-quarters of customers would prefer online support if it’s reliable. The same survey found that 37% of respondents say they actually attempt self-service and over 40% contact a call center if they can’t find answers (source)

While there’s some discrepancy in these findings, overall, they suggest that people prefer self-service for answering questions online or completing simple tasks.

So yes—end users preferring the human touch is a real concern, but it still doesn’t mean that people don’t want to use self-service. The takeaway from these surveys and the SDI report is that, while there will always be situations that require human support and individuals who prefer it, the key to overcoming this obstacle is to enable self-service for cases where users are already inclined to help themselves. It’s also important to design resources in a way that end users find approachable. Not sure how this issue is affecting your implementation? Try using surveys to solicit end-user feedback.

Another area to consider is how your organization’s generational composition could influence the popularity of self-service. For instance, users’ ability to easily adopt self-service will likely change as Generation Z enters the workforce. A recent report from Dell Technologies found that 80% of Gen Zers want to work with cutting-edge technology and 73% characterize their technology literacy as good or excellent. These findings suggest that IT will continue to be pressured to provide a consumer-level or above experience for end users.

IT self-service provides a vehicle for everyone, but especially digital natives, to have more agency in optimizing their workflow.

Myth #2: If you build it, they will come 

You could create the most exquisite and impossibly comfortable pair of shoes on planet Earth and still no one would buy them if you didn’t get the word out. Even practical, well-made things need marketing to take off.

The SDI report also found that 74% of severely underperforming self-service initiatives suffered from a lack of marketing awareness versus 14% of overachievers. This is a good lesson for the introduction of any new technology-related process in the workplace: don’t assume people will use something just because it’s helpful. First, people need to be aware that it exists and, second, they must be convinced of its value and able to experience it for themselves.

Myth #3: Self-service is a replacement for IT 

Rather than making IT obsolete, self-service should be designed to complement IT. Still, the question remains: if a self-service program deflects incidents away from Level 1 support, what will Level 1 do?

In the ideal scenario, Level 1 will be trained to handle some incidents traditionally escalated to Level 2, eventually freeing up developers to focus on strategic work instead of troubleshooting internal issues.

Realistically, not all incidents typically handled by Level 1 can (or should) be resolved through self-service for a few reasons:

  • Many organizations don’t give users local admin rights, meaning that there’s a limit to what users can do on their machines
  • Someone must be responsible for creating and maintaining self-service resources
  • There are diminishing productivity returns when too much responsibility is placed on end users

Finding a healthy balance between self-service and traditional service desk resources is critical to the success of a self-service program. Relieving IT of mundane tasks while minimizing end-user productivity impact is a win-win.

Making Good Self-Service a Reality

Overcoming popular myths about self-service is the first step to realizing the benefits of a well-rounded practice: better optimized Level 1 support and increased end-user satisfaction.

SysTrack can help you measure the impact of a self-service project by providing visibility into both end-user experience and system performance. These metrics show whether self-service is benefitting end-user productivity and help demonstrate an initiative’s ROI.

Other ways SysTrack supports IT self-service implementations:

  • SysTrack’s rich endpoint data helps IT identify new self-service use cases
  • Click-to-ticket functionality with ITSM tools allows users to easily submit support requests
  • Powerful connectors allow you to add SysTrack’s endpoint data to ITSM tools like ServiceNow
  • SysTrack’s self-help app assists end users in troubleshooting issues
  • SysTrack’s out-of-the-box survey feature helps gather and analyze end-user feedback

Contact our team to learn more about how SysTrack can help improve and expand IT self-service.

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