ServiceNow IT support prides itself on providing world-class support services for employees. Because of the company’s hypergrowth, our previous model of 24/7 IT support couldn’t scale.
We needed a better way to deal with the exponential increase in support case volume while maintaining a lean IT support team that continues to deliver exceptional support services.
Here are four changes we’re undertaking to meet this challenge:
1. Embrace an automation-first, stewardship mindset
As a team, we’re radically restructuring our thinking to view obstacles from longer-term stewardship and automation-first perspectives. Instead of reactively solving one-off support requests and being satisfied with a reduction in mean time to resolution, we’re expanding our responsibilities to include strategic work that traditionally falls outside the scope of IT support.
For example, it was IT support’s responsibility to replace every out-of-date laptop at ServiceNow with a new one. The increase in support case volume caused by aging laptops added unnecessary incidents to the IT support caseload.
We identified areas within the laptop refresh process that were ripe for automation. We collaborated with the IT engineering and IT Asset Management teams to build out a zero-touch initiative, which automated the entire end-to-end laptop distribution process.
For our end users, zero touch means quicker time to productivity when unboxing a new machine. John Lee, a content analyst at ServiceNow, filled out a zero-touch hardware refresh request. A few days later, he opened his new laptop, placed his old PC into the same shipping box, and scheduled it for pickup.
After Lee input his credentials, automation took care of the rest. The same applications, files, and experience of his previous PC were recreated in the new laptop without any manual configuration required.
“Getting a new computer was seamless. I didn’t need to leave my house. I loved unboxing a new computer. I had to fill in my username and password, and I was back working on my files within 30 minutes,” he says.
Collective zero-touch efforts in 2021 resulted in 1,522 completed requests and $152,000 in cost savings, equaling 1,141 IT productivity hours saved. By taking an automation-first perspective, we were able to use out-of-the-box thinking to solve a long-term issue for our team.
2. Dive into Knowledge-Centered Service (KCS®)
KCS is a framework that helps effectively capture and continuously improve and deliver IT knowledge so employees can solve IT issues themselves. The framework is central to our strategy to increase employee self-service and reduce overall support caseloads.
One of our key measurements of progress is attach rate, or how often an IT support team member documents their knowledge from a case. This knowledge is shared with employees through knowledge base (KB) articles. Employees can self-diagnose issues, and IT support can shorten resolution times because issues are solved only once.
ServiceNow IT is early in its KCS journey. Since January 2021, our L2 attach rates increased by more than 30%. Our highest-performing L2 team had an attach rate of approximately 69%, just short of our 85% goal. Here are some hard-earned lessons from our ongoing KCS implementation:
Be ready to shift team culture and mindset.
We knew KCS was a permanent behavioral change for IT support and would require a concerted organizational change management effort. KCS best practices, such as creating and attaching KB articles to incidents and managing knowledge to increase employee self-service, are baseline responsibilities for our team. We’ll continue to expand our expectations over time.
People are core to KCS success.
In the beginning, KCS adoption was uneven. For example, we knew the initial time commitment required for IT support engineers to create and attach KB articles would add more workload but would lead to overall time savings for the IT support team. We brought in resources such as KCS coaches to drive confidence and success and, more importantly, shift the team mindset.
The overall work experience of our IT support agents and advisers has improved. Future support cases can be solved faster by simply attaching a KB article. Employees are empowered to self-solve. IT support can resolve challenges in minutes, not hours. That means we get to spend more time on complex and exciting projects instead of getting bogged down on redundant cases.
3. Use technology to multiply impact and eliminate toil
We use the Now Platform® to operationalize and magnify IT support’s transformation. For example, we built dynamic KB search into incident search for our engineers who handle incidents. KB articles are automatically recommended to engineers, reducing the manual steps to search for a relevant KB.
We also added the ability to create, publish, and check for article quality within the incident record itself to make the entire KCS experience frictionless. To make KCS fun, we’re adding gamification elements that award points for attaching and creating articles. We also use dashboards to track the real-time value and progress of our adoption, so we can celebrate our progress over time.
4. Automate the boring stuff
We investigate every nook and cranny of IT support to find automation opportunities that make human intervention optional instead of not mandatory. For example, a large portion of our inbound IT support cases consisted of access requests related to cloud VPN, RSA tokens, and Okta Verify.
Each incident required a three- to five-minute phone conversation and a lot of toil for IT support, which delayed work on more complex incidents. Never mind the frustration factor when our customers wanted to work but couldn’t.
IT support partnered with engineering to set up automated workflows that redirect employee requests to KB articles detailing a solution for each of these requests. We took this a step further. Now employees can use the ServiceNow Virtual Agent chatbot solution, NowBot, to resolve common issues such as RSA unlock and PIN reset without human interaction.
From January 2021 to the present, NowBot has completely handled—or deflected using KB articles—12,432 tickets for RSA token requests, resets, installation, and login issues. Plus, 60.8% of all RSA-related issues are solved without human intervention.
One of ServiceNow’s biggest priorities is improving the employee experience so our people can be productive and focus on the more challenging aspects of their work. Our implementation of IT Service Management (ITSM) workflows and analytics dashboards have helped us improve how we work, whether in IT support or reporting an IT issue.
The mindset shifts may be challenging, but the end results are happier employees and, in most cases, customers.
Learn more about our internal adoption of ITSM, IT Operations Management, and other ITx products.
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