The most unenviable place to sit in an office is next to the printer/copier. Regardless if you even use the device, you become the unwitting participant in every complaint when it stops working. A paper jam, low ink, confusing settings – whoever sits closest to the printer involuntarily becomes the empathetic ear to its problems. As you can imagine, we’d all prefer to sit elsewhere.
IT support staff can relate to the above scenario. Service agents might not be next to the printer, but nonetheless receive all the complaints when technology doesn’t work. And unlike the person next to the printer, they aren’t just used for catharsis. It becomes their problem, and, consequently, any delay caused by technology is their issue as well – even if they don’t control the factors behind the delay.
“It’s a tough job providing IT support, and remote working has made that job tougher,” says Susan Van Zyl, Head Sales and Marketing of JMR Software. “Staff and assets are no longer in the same location. Staff now require remote assistance, often on alien devices and new services. There is no longer the convenience of just walking over to the IT guys with a question. Now everything goes through a ticket, which causes a massive spike in work for IT support.”
Data collected in 2020 by HappySignals, an employee experience management company, reveals user gripes covering a wide range of IT issues. Primary negative feedback includes using inferior equipment at home and challenges with connectivity and VPN access. But much more telling are the positive feedback points:
- 19% – I can easily access the tools I need
- 19% – It’s easy to reach my colleagues remotely
- 18% – Remote working is efficient
- 16% – Our online meetings are easy to arrange or join
- 15% – We have good practices for remote working
- 12% – Image and sound quality in our online meetings are good
“If we can summarise how remote working has impacted IT service management (ITSM) business requirements, it’s clearly about replicating the same effectiveness as being in the office,” says Van Zyl.
“People want to connect to co-workers as well as business systems and knowledge. If we look at companies that did well with IT service support, they used ITSM systems that enable remote engagement and make it easier for users to self-solve rudimentary problems that are big barriers in their world.”
In other words, the right ITSM dramatically influences how well IT support agents and users manage remote working conditions. A suitable ITSM solution should provide features that include:
- Easy remote access to systems for service agents;
- Self-service features, such as password recovery;
- An active and growing knowledge management system to remedy the most common support issues;
- Automation and machine learning features such as chatbots to investigate and direct user queries;
- Secure access with clear pipelines to escalate serious incidents;
- Effective training and onboarding tools for new support staff; and
- In-depth and ad-hoc reporting to pinpoint recurring issues and new problems.
But how can you bring all of those features together? Here’s another insight from ITSM research: almost four-fifths of companies that reported largely positive experiences used cloud-based ITSM services. This approach not only took the pressure off their infrastructure but also resonated with users who are increasingly relying on cloud services to get their work done.
“The cloud makes much more sense to employees now than it did before. They already used it intuitively for private tasks, especially on their smart devices, but remote working connected those dots on a professional level. I’m not surprised that if you apply the same paradigm to IT support, it turns out to be very effective,” says Van Zyl.
IT support won’t ever quite get away from being the guy next to the printer. Technology is too central and pivotal to productivity, and users will look towards IT staff not just for support but a bit of empathy. That relationship is much easier through features such as self-help, accurate reporting and ticket automation features. If an ITSM service can support building such relationships, it will meet the IT support requirements of remote working.
Natasa Dallas – (+27) 11 484 5070