Its never too early to enable a self-serve internal support channel for your organization, but at some point after many repeated annoyances, the evidence becomes so painfully obvious that you simply cannot deny addressing the need any longer. Refusing self-serve support is both costly and unsustainable in companies the midst of growth.
Choosing a platform that will power IT support productivity from BOTH sides of the support equation (ie. helping the support seekers and the agents that provide the support service) should have critically important features that will not only reduce the workload of your SupportOps staff, but will have a much higher adoption rate on behalf of support seekers. The four features that separate the proverbial wheat from the chaff for internal support solutions are:
- Deep workflow (Slack) integrations
- Knowledge Base that is optimized for fast answers
- Robust universal search
- Automation that employes AI and NLP
Let’s examine each item in further detail.
Deep Slack Integrations
Slack is becoming the operating system of the of the modern workplace. It has become the destination for much of the work that is done throughout the day. That is why support tools must deeply integrate with this platform.
A self-serve support product that claims to optimize for “workflow” is really just giving good user experience (UX). A good user experience means that users have a delightful interaction when using the product. An example of poor UX is when you invest in an expensive support ticketing platform, but no one uses it because it is easier to just ask for support from IT in Slack. In the context of a self-serve support tool, one of the most criticized failures is that they don’t integrate well with common workflows, like those that happen in Slack.
For example, if someone is working away and gets confronted with an IT issue such as being unable to connect to the company VPN, they might know that the right thing to do is to self-serve some knowledge about how to use the VPN first, then if unresolved, log into Jira Service Desk and create a ticket. Instead of following this workflow path, they just visit the #it-support channel in Slack and leave a random message, hoping that it gets picked up and resolved. It seems like a very low lift to simply open up a browser and create a ticket, but that just doesn’t happen. Sending an Slack message is a much easier route for many.
So to maximize adoption, the solution you choose should have a deep integration with the places where support it sought and questions are asked. If that place is indeed Slack, find a tool that brings support directly into Slack.
- Ability to search, capture and share knowledge without leaving Slack
- Ability to create tickets directly from within Slack
- Content previews in Slack using unfurls
Any IT support tool that is worth one’s salt will have a solid knowledge base component. This is because deflecting support tickets with self-serve knowledge is a much lower cost outcome (especially for low-value issues) than involving human intervention. But there is nuance to the knowledge base component of an IT support tool – it needs to be optimized for faster resolution. This sounds canned, but in fact it is true with some thoughtful consideration to how users seek and receive IT support.
The key to the nuance is to prioritize a few specific features. Hint: its all in the formatting.
- Limit knowledge to snippet size, which are optimized for quick consumption and rapid copy-pasting
- Restrict style richness, so that there is no distractions and can be copied without
- No media or video
This knowledge format is best described as an FAQ. Just as you would see on many company websites, the content is displayed as a common question with a short and simple explanation of the answer – its ubiquitous.
This style of format is also perfect for both counterparties in the support transaction. It can give a very concise resolution in for an employee that is self-serving support. And it can also be a fast copy-paste reference for an IT support agent that is providing assistance via a ticket.
- Delineate between wiki and FAQ knowledge formats
- Connect knowledge to where questions are asked (like Slack)
- Allow capture amidst workflows (eg. create an FAQ by clicking a message in Slack and add to the knowledge base)
Search functionality seems like an obvious feature that should receive some attention during your evaluation of IT support solutions, but you shouldn’t be satisfied to just see a search box at the top of your support platform software.
Search capabilities should extend to a number of scenarios beyond the search bar. For example, consider these issues:
- Where are questions asked and answers given? Slack, perhaps?
- Which silos does knowledge reside in? Confluence? Google Drive?
The point is, a search bar which is exists in one of 30-ish browser tabs that are open might not even connect to the correct knowledge. Source a solution that puts search where you need it the most.
- Federated search, to search across multiple silos
- Search from Slack, which is where knowledge is often shared
- Search from Browser Extension to reduce number of open tabs
Having your IT service desk run on autopilot, handling all of the lowest value tasks automatically, is the holy grail of a finely tuned SupportOps machine. Using Natural Language Processing (NLP) to match question text to knowledge base articles can be a valuable feature that accelerates issue resolution without human intervention.
- Use AI and NLP to sense when questions are asked and surface knowledge proactively in Slack
- Prompt users that are searching for knowledge to resolve an issue to create a support ticket immediately if the search query does not resolve the issue
Are you looking for a better way to handle IT support without a massive overhaul to your SupportOps stack? Book some time with use to find out if Obie is a good fit for your needs.