The way many businesses operate has changed for good in recent times. The challenges of 2020 required organizations to embrace flexibility and agility in order to support more remote workers. And one consequence of this is many employees may be using technology they aren't familiar with for the first time.
Whether it's videoconferencing tools to maintain face-to-face discussions or VPNs to ensure workers can securely connect to their firms' network when working from home, there may be a wide range of new issues that’ll require them to turn to their IT department for support.
But with ticket requests on the rise, and many IT support teams still having to work with limited resources, it could be challenging to provide a quality experience to all users.
The changing expectations of workers
A key focus for IT departments will be ensuring they can continue to provide assistance when they can't interact with users face-to-face. Whether this is because of strict social distancing requirements or people working from home, you may often find themselves having to provide more help remotely.
The fact is this new working environment, with a mix of office and home-based working, isn't going to go away any time soon.
PwC found over half of employees in the US (55%) would prefer to be remote at least three days a week once the pandemic has passed. Meanwhile, over three-quarters of CEOs globally (78%) anticipate there’ll be a long-term shift towards remote collaboration.
The firm is also practicing what it preaches, having announced its own hybrid working model that’ll see its staff only expected to come to the office two to three days per week.
This means workers will be interacting with technology in different ways. They'll expect to enjoy the same experience whether they're at an office desktop or working from their own kitchen table on a personally-owned laptop, and this extends to the service they get from IT support.
6 ways to improve the employee experience through IT support
How should IT leaders navigate this and ensure they're able to meet these evolving expectations? Here are some key steps every IT support team should keep in mind.
1. Don't fight against the changes
Embrace change and don’t get stuck in a mindset of trying to work in an environment that no longer exists. For instance, if you're used to providing in-person support, you'll inevitably have to adapt to new ways of doing things, such as phone or web chats. Adopting tools such as video support also helps keep you aligned with how employees are now working.
2. Understand how employees are using your services
It's important to understand exactly what services employees are adopting and have clear answers in place to any frequently-asked questions. Setting up knowledge centers with sections that focus specifically on how to use tools like VPNs or Microsoft Teams is a good start. However, you should also speak directly to users to find out exactly how they're using these tools in order to pinpoint any common issues that can be addressed.
3. Maintain positive interactions
Keeping positive relations with end-users is essential, and in environments where IT support pros aren't interacting face-to-face with employees as often, this means every point of contact has to count. Keep engaged with senior managers and other stakeholders to find out what people's opinions are and make sure you're responding to their needs.
4. Focus on outcomes
Instead of focusing on the processes of what you do, shift your priorities to the outcomes. What will success look like for both the department and the end-user, and how can you achieve this? For example, proactively notifying remote users when they can expect their issue to be dealt with, and setting up alerts to warn you if a ticket is likely to breach a service level agreement (SLA) before being resolved helps ensure people aren't left waiting for issues to be resolved, and avoids problems caused by 'out of sight, out of mind'.
5. Offer an always-on self-service
Hybrid workspaces may often mean more flexible arrangements for not only where, but when people work. Therefore, it pays to have a strong self-service option in place that can be accessed at any time, from anywhere. While more complex issues will always require human intervention, setting up automated services for everyday tasks such as password resets and account unlocks, as well as a range of clear guides and FAQs, can help ensure users get answers faster without having to wait.
6. Look beyond traditional SLAs
Many IT support teams still run on a few key SLAs, such as a requirement to handle tickets within a certain timeframe or number of interactions, based on how urgent they’re rated. But will these still be applicable in the new normal? As well as reassessing your service commitments to better cope with a changing environment, you should also consider adopting experience level agreements (XLAs).
These ensure the customer experience is a top focus for the IT support team. While traditional SLAs tend to be quite technically-focused - assessing things like performance and uptime - XLAs help ensure users receive a quality service from beginning to end.