Implementing a Self-Service Knowledge Base: Strategies and Advice
January 22, 2018

Nancy Van Elsacker Louisnord
TOPdesk USA

Share this

Self-service and the concept of “Shift Left” are some of the phrases you will hear the most in the modern service management industry. The reason being is that you want to provide your users with the most important knowledge that you can to help them solve their issues and problems themselves, saving you time to focus on more important priorities. It’s a common problem, sort of a chicken and egg approach, but when you help your internal teams better meet their needs through such efforts, you also want to make sure that what is best for your service department also is best for your users.

What do I mean?

Self-service is the gold standard for helpdesks across the spectrum of IT, facilities and HR.

Automate where and when you can, but don’t leave your users trapped in an endless maze of autonomous circle flow pages containing redundant information. Self-service is the gold standard for helpdesks across the spectrum of IT, facilities and HR.

And managers love it because it helps reduce the workload of their team.

And their teams often love such approaches because it helps them focus on solving issues rather than spending hours on the phone or dealing with walk-ins and unscheduled appointments.

Unburden the Burdened

However, despite such automation, you must ensure that you don’t let your users and customers carry the whole burden. There is a fine line here because you should not assume that just because you have a self-service portal set up, and added some level of automation on their part, you can’t leave everything to the customer. For example, in my own environment at work, I’ve seen plenty of examples of support sections on websites that — although they give tremendous access to knowledge and community support — there are no options for contacting actual service desk staff.

A simple way to think about this is this: What do I do if all that knowledge doesn’t answer my specific question? The first thing I do is get frustrated. After that, I might attempt to bring the problem to someone who has the power to force changes. If you’re in the service desk, that’s not the kind of feedback you want to receive, especially if it comes from on high from the executive members.

This is the mortal sin of self-service. Even trying to help users to self-solve their own issues doesn’t mean you can leave them alone in the dark. It can be helpful to suggest answers for users, perhaps even when they are writing a ticket or when searching. And, ultimately, users should be able to contact your service desk.

Keep Your Knowledge Base Up To Date

Additionally, once you set up the self-service portal, you must maintain it. You can’t just set it and leave it. Also, processes, equipment and best practices change over time. You must reflect these changes in the knowledge base. The best way to do this is to keep an open register or an operational task list where each knowledge item is linked and anyone updating the knowledge base can let the rest of the team know an item is now up to date, or check what items may need a quick update.

What is Best Shift Left Practice?

A major bonus of having a knowledge base is the accessibility of more technical knowledge for the service desk staff. The same benefit pertains to users. There’s no reason the knowledge base should not be opened directly for users. Let them use it to try solving some of their own problems and if they can’t, let them get in touch with the service desk. Your service desk staff will have access to vast amounts of more technical knowledge that they can use to help their customers (the users).

At the core of this is that even though self-service is the new flagship for most service desk software, the “service” element should be key. At the end of the day, all the technological improvement in self-service is still aimed at improving the service that you can provide to your customers.

You want to win at self-service? Doing it in a way that improves your service, rather than restricting users to FAQs pages and community support, is key.

Nancy Van Elsacker Louisnord is President of TOPdesk USA
Share this

The Latest

June 25, 2020

I've had the opportunity to work with a number of organizations embarking on their AIOps journey. I always advise them to start by evaluating their needs and the possibilities AIOps can bring to them through five different levels of AIOps maturity. This is a strategic approach that allows enterprises to achieve complete automation for long-term success ...

June 24, 2020

Sumo Logic recently commissioned an independent market research study to understand the industry momentum behind continuous intelligence — and the necessity for digital organizations to embrace a cloud-native, real-time continuous intelligence platform to support the speed and agility of business for faster decision-making, optimizing security, driving new innovation and delivering world-class customer experiences. Some of the key findings include ...

June 23, 2020

When it comes to viruses, it's typically those of the computer/digital variety that IT is concerned about. But with the ongoing pandemic, IT operations teams are on the hook to maintain business functions in the midst of rapid and massive change. One of the biggest challenges for businesses is the shift to remote work at scale. Ensuring that they can continue to provide products and services — and satisfy their customers — against this backdrop is challenging for many ...

June 22, 2020

Teams tasked with developing and delivering software are under pressure to balance the business imperative for speed with high customer expectations for quality. In the course of trying to achieve this balance, engineering organizations rely on a variety of tools, techniques and processes. The 2020 State of Software Quality report provides a snapshot of the key challenges organizations encounter when it comes to delivering quality software at speed, as well as how they are approaching these hurdles. This blog introduces its key findings ...

June 18, 2020

For IT teams, run-the-business, commodity areas such as employee help desks, device support and communication platforms are regularly placed in the crosshairs for cost takeout, but these areas are also highly visible to employees. Organizations can improve employee satisfaction and business performance by building unified functions that are measured by employee experience rather than price. This approach will ultimately fund transformation, as well as increase productivity and innovation ...

June 17, 2020

In the agile DevOps framework, there is a vital piece missing; something that previous approaches to application development did well, but has since fallen by the wayside. That is, the post-delivery portion of the toolchain. Without continuous cloud optimization, the CI/CD toolchain still produces massive inefficiencies and overspend ...

June 16, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has exponentially accelerated digital transformation projects. To better understand where IT professionals are turning for help, we analyzed the online behaviors of IT decision-makers. Our research found an increase in demand for resources related to APM, microservices and dependence on cloud services ...

June 15, 2020

The rush to the public cloud has now slowed as organizations realized that it is not a "one size fits all" solution. The main issue is the lack of deep visibility into the performance of applications provided by the host. Our own research has recently revealed that 32% of public cloud resources are currently under-utilized, and without proper direction and guidance, this will remain the case ...

June 11, 2020

The global shift to working from home (WFH) enforced by COVID-19 stay-at-home orders has had a massive impact on everyone's working lives, not just in the way they remotely interact with their teams and IT systems, but also in how they spend their working days. With both governments and businesses committed to slowly opening up offices, it's increasingly clear that a high prevalence of remote work will continue throughout 2020 and beyond. This situation begets important questions ...

June 10, 2020
In recent years, with the emergence of newer technologies ranging from the cloud to machine learning, IT modernization has evolved from a replacement of end-of-life infrastructure to an enabler of innovation and business value. It is a complex process that can take months or even years, but a recent survey shows that the effort begins to deliver measurable results almost as soon as an organization executes the first steps on its roadmap ...