6.4 Support and Service to Users

Service support responds to day-to-day questions from users, handles service requests and resolves incidents. The range of users served by the service support can include customers and external partners as well as internal employees.

Support and service request volumes are usually very high and variable. For example, service support has to be able to solve and respond to both specific service requests, such as give instruction for using a specific service and routine tasks like resetting a password.

To be able to handle the variety of service requests and solve incidents, service support is organised into tiers where each tier has a different purpose and way of working. The two topmost tiers, self-service (tier 0) and service desk (tier 1), interact directly with users and operate usually 24/7. Service desk agents are trained and instructed to support users in all service-related questions. Requests that cannot be resolved by the service desk are assigned to service delivery organisations or key users (tier 2). Cases requiring in-depth technical knowledge are assigned to development teams or technology providers (tier 3).

Figure 6.4.1 Service support tiers


Four types of user request

As illustrated in the picture above, support and service requests can be divided into four categories:

  • “How do I use?” – This category refers to cases where the user is looking for help regarding how to do something and is guided to visit the self-service portal. If further help is needed, the user is advised to contact the service desk. If the request concerns a business process, the user is guided to contact a key user who works in a business organisation and has more advanced business process and solution knowledge. Service desk maintains a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and user instructions in the self-help portal.
  • “It doesn’t work!” – This category means cases where the user has a problem because something does not work properly. The problem may be caused by a broken device, malfunctioning software or a user who does not know how to use the product. The support steps in these cases are similar to those mentioned above, but in obvious cases, like those involving a broken product, users are provided an option to order a replacement. The replacement process may automatically trigger an approval request which is managed via a service management system. The request process may also initiate repair actions which can be carried out by a technical agent visiting the user or accessing the device remotely
  • “I need something new” – This category refers to cases where the user wants to order new services or products. Users are provided with a user catalogue containing items that are predefined and followed by a specific workflow consisting of approval requests, triggering the right people and services and keeping the user updated on how the order is proceeding
  • “I want to improve” – This category consists of service improvement proposals. The ideas are evaluated, and the ones that are considered as feasible will be turned into development actions.

Self-service and self-help portals assist with predefined service requests and knowledge base articles to provide instant service to users 24/7 and to resolve the FAQs. The use of self-service and self-help together with workflow automation makes the support independent of time and place, thus increasing the user satisfaction and, at the same time, lowering the operational costs. Self-service portal has become today the most important support channel and, in fact, the only reason to name it as tier 0 is to keep the traditional convention to refer to the service desk as tier 1.

The term ‘portal’ is somewhat misleading as, nowadays, the self-service is like any organisation’s web page with fill-in forms and search functionalities. The only difference is the use of the service management system providing service catalogue, workflows for service requests and detailed service information as the logic behind the portal.

In order to gain high self-service portal usage levels, the focus during development must be put on enhancing the user experience. Excellent end-to-end user experience can be achieved by utilising personalised content, user-intuitive language, icons and terminology and promoting the relevant information. For example, customers and users should only see the services available to them and be able to create requests without understanding the service delivery organisation’s structure or processes. In addition, important information like need for an approval should be highlighted when the order is in the approval stage.


Figure 6.4.2 Example of self-service portal


Digital service desk

Organisations are constantly seeking new ways to increase user satisfaction and lower operational costs. One way to do this is to automate the support routines by establishing an artificial intelligence (AI) powered digital worker to extend the human service desk (tier 1).

Figure 6.4.3 Digital service desk


Figure 6.4.3 shows the use of a digital worker in a service desk. The digital worker interacts with the user in natural language and initiates the service routines based on the dialogue. The advantage of a digital worker is its capability to learn from use cases and provide the highest-level service to everyone independently of time and place differences.

In the scenario illustrated above, the need for a traditional service desk is cut in half assuming that the digital worker can understand 90% of the user requests and is able to automate 60% of the required actions. This lowers the cost and changes the role of a human-operated service desk which, by consequence, has to deal less with routine work and can take care of more advanced questions as well as give support to business changes. This way, the traditional service desk is transformed into a business support centre which is an ideal way to support business excellence and transformation in any company.