Making IT Self-Service a Reflex, Not a Chore

The Habit Zone

IT Self-Service Should be a Reflex

The goal of your IT self-service efforts should be to make something habitual and top of mind. Any time an employee has a question, their immediate reflex should be to go to your portal and dig up what they need. But they don’t, and frankly they won’t with the way things are set up.

Why?

We’re talking about creating a habit.

Suppose you have perfectly trained employees that are committed to the success of IT self-service. They check it every time they have an issue to see if they can avoid opening a ticket. The problem? The average employee has one incident per month. No matter how useful self-service is, using it once every month is not enough to turn a behavior into a habit.

The result? Most employees don’t use self-service. They bypass it completely and go looking for help, or open a ticket instead. It’s expensive and it wastes time.

The Habit Zone

In the book Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, author Nir Eryal discusses the relationship between product utility and the frequency of use with a visual he calls the “Habit Zone.

He explains the chart by describing why Google and Amazon are habitually-used products.

We use Google frequently, but the utility we gain from each use is relatively low. Our searches help us do things like find new vacation destinations, replace a broken tail light, or figure out if an egg has gone bad. It’s useful, but we could live without it. What makes Google habitual is the fact that we use it frequently–often multiple times per day.

Amazon is equally habitual but for a different reason. We use it much less than Google, but it’s a habit because its perceived utility is high. If we need to buy something, it can almost certainly be found on Amazon, and at the best possible price. Amazon will even display competitor advertisements for cheaper products to maximize its utility. The point is this–if you need to find the cheapest possible option, go to Amazon.

How This Relates to IT Self-Service

People use IT self-service because they have an issue that is halting their productivity, and they need an answer. That’s high perceived utility, but these incidents occur only once a month, which brings us back to the non-habit-forming problem.

If you look at the habit curve, you’ll notice that it never intersects with the horizontal utility axis. It doesn’t matter how useful your product is, if it’s not used frequently enough, it will never be a habit. This means self-service will never be a habit.

So what’s the solution?

Enterprise Self-Service

People have questions all day long–sales, finance, support, services and of course, IT. If you capture them all in a single place and route them appropriately to get answers, you will increase the frequency of interactions with self-service. This will give you a shot at creating a habit, and create a great experience in the process.

As employees start to interact with a unified self-service more often, they will become reliant on its value. They will be able to resolve issues quickly, and regain the productivity time that was previously lost searching for answers. You will save money, and everybody will be happier.

Combining access to portals is a huge first step in revamping your self-service for success. Although improving user experience is a byproduct, there is still significant room for improvement. Consumer products set the bar high, and enterprise products need to start competing. Check out our post, “What’s Answer Management and Why Should I Care.” It explains how to meet these high expectations so you can hit a real homerun with self-service.

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Chris Hill

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