Simplifying Self Service Is the Secret to Success

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Say that three times fast! Unlike this tongue twister, self service use is infrequent and likely not memorable for the user in the course of an average workweek.

For adoption to succeed, self service must be simple to use without instructions. Business users don’t want to re-learn how to use your self service site every time they access it.

You can gain significant immediate and short-term benefits by following a few best practices that empower your business users to gain the most from self service. Get it right and user adoption will increase. You’ll also benefit from enhanced user loyalty, less Shadow IT, and word-of-mouth endorsements for the self service portal.

Consider these best practices:

Focus on design simplicity

Simplicity doesn’t equal usability, but simple designs are typically easier to use. The 80/20 rule often applies to self service.

Eighty percent of visitors are seeking only about 20 percent of the content. Remove what isn’t used or doesn’t add anything meaningful. Once deployed, go back and track what is used. Move things used less frequently to an “out-of-the-way place,” but make them easy to find when needed. It may sound counterintuitive, but, rather than risk the whole experience being abandoned, provide fewer options to improve the chance that any one option will be chosen. Each additional option adds complexity to your business user’s decision-making process.

Engaging content

Ensure content is written plainly without jargon, especially knowledge articles intended for business users and your ITSM team. This also makes it easier to translate content if you’re serving a multilingual customer base. The more complex the language in your content, the more likely it will be poorly translated or misinterpreted.

Group-displayed items

Place things into logical groups—like all hardware or all software available for a Mac—so they’re easier to find. In the service catalog, highlight featured services or recommended services so they stand out.

Guide users

Enriching your content with product images or icons a user will recognize, videos, and bolded text can increase user engagement and help them select an option quickly.

Think white space

Too much information will overwhelm users and they’ll abandon self service. Create plenty of white space around items, and then use techniques to expand items so more information is revealed if required.

Offer optimal viewing

Craft your self service for optimal viewing and interaction across a range of devices (from desktop computers to mobile phones). Check each device view to ensure the reading, navigation, and interaction can be accomplished with minimal resizing, panning, and scrolling. Make sure the user experience is consistent no matter the device that’s used.

Those companies that achieve the best self service success rates are the ones that make their business users feel self-confident, self-reliant, and empowered. Every self service experience, every interaction opportunity, every process, and every technology chosen for deployment must reflect the requirements of the users it serves.

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