ITSM

How Slack is Connecting Employees to IT Support

February 9, 2018

How Slack is Connecting Employees to IT Support

There are billions (yes, billions) of emails traveling the internet every day. Come to think of it, about 600 of them are in my inbox right now… I’m going to show you how to streamline communication for your IT service desk, making internal services easily accessible to employees. This will make communications, updates, and notifications clean and visible, improving the experience for the entire organization. But first, let’s look at that email problem.

Obviously, you still need your email account, but the goal here is to cleanse the constant barrage of emails from within your organization.

Meet Slack, a versatile messaging app that can integrate with a variety of business tools.

Replacing Email for Internal Communication

Slack is a workplace communication platform, and it has disrupted the space to the tune of 9 million weekly users, over 50,000 organizations, and now over 150 corporate giants in the enterprise world. In fact, 43% of Fortune 100 companies use Slack, according to Silicon Republic.

Jeff Dow, CIO of 20th Century Fox told Silicon Republic that “Slack has been the hammer that helped us tear down walls of silos.”

Wow! That’s a strong endorsement from a global enterprise, where communication must be one of its greatest hurdles. While email once helped break down departmental and geographic silos, the needs of many organizations have outgrown the capability of email. Still, nearly two-thirds of working adults still use email as their primary method of workplace collaboration, which begs the question, why?

Slack is separated into specific channels for teams and/or projects, and allows for direct instant messaging (between groups or individuals). The notification settings are versatile and customizable, so it’s no wonder organizations are choosing Slack to foster collaboration, and it’s no wonder users have bought in. An email inbox needs to categorized and maintained manually, but Slack can handle all of that for you.

These ideas of breaking down silos and positive user experience lead us naturally to IT support.

Slack for Employee Services

These communication challenges are amplified in IT support. When employees experience technical errors, they want an easy way to communicate their problems to the service desk, and quick resolutions.

“Who should I email about a problem with my monitor?”

“I need that conference room for a presentation tomorrow. Did support see my message about the broken speaker?”

“The internet is really slow today. I’m sure IT is working on it. I hope IT is working on it. Wait, IT knows, right?”

Perhaps employees ask similar questions in your organization. Communicating technical errors can cause stress, frustration, and even chaos within the workplace.

While technicians try their best to address users’ issues, it can be difficult to keep everyone informed on everything they’d like to know. Throw in the fact that they all prefer different forms of communication, and perhaps operate on different business hours, and now the task is impossible.

“Which request should I answer first?”

“Why are these emails coming to me? This should go to another department.”

Clearly, communication barriers and visibility issues frequently arise with internal support.

As the statistics indicate, many users prefer internal messaging with Slack over email in general, and though the decision to move from internal email to Slack is usually independent of IT support, its versatility and ability to integrate with the service desk can make it a key asset. In fact, Slack can change the game for internal service. Ask the members of any organization that have married the two, and they’ll tell you it’s one of the best decisions they’ve made.

How it Works, Technically

All users can participate, and they can customize the presentation and notification settings of this application. Your support solution can be fully integrated with Slack. Now, if the user has an issue, they can open a ticket simply by typing a message in the appropriate Slack channel.

“My laptop battery isn’t charging.”

That’s it. The user types it into a designated Slack channel, a ticket is submitted to support, and the process to resolve the issue begins. Even if the computer battery is dead, the user can type this into Slack on a smartphone, with the same result.

On the technician’s end, these issues reported through Slack pop up as tickets in a clean format on the support application. When the technician makes a comment, requests more information, or resolves the incident, the requester will receive a notification.

As the technology grows, imagine the possibilities to communicate. Technicians could organize and access tickets remotely through Slack on their phones. They could upload pictures and loop in someone from that area of expertise. All of this could be done without picking up the phone or flooding someone’s email inbox.

Employee Experience Above All

As Slack co-founder and CTO Cal Henderson says, business product designers need to consider the users and their experiences if they want to be successful. He argues that too often “products are designed for the CIO to tick a number of boxes.”

Henderson identifies a point that’s starting to catch up with IT service desks, as well. Employees are consumers in their personal time, and they’re used to a personalized and catered experience. Workplaces need to offer these types of services to meet their needs.

In this case, connecting IT support to the entire organization through Slack requires that employees find it convenient and easy to use.

Well, 9 million of them already use Slack every week because they prefer it. Now when they have support issues, they can simply create a ticket through a designated Slack channel. It’s one click away. Even if their hands are tied up, it can be one voice command away. They can access it from any devices.

As far as visibility goes, the customizable notifications will help. Updates to tickets can trigger notifications. Technicians can reach out to requesters directly on Slack if they need additional information or want to provide an update.

Technology is evolving, and fast. The time when Slack connects with all of the service desk capabilities isn’t far away, especially if your organization is following ITSM best practices. You have an employee service portal set up — complete with a service catalog and knowledge base. Imagine connecting your internal communication platform to those resources. They immediately become more accessible to employees.

The introduction of AI to the process could take a brief Slack message and return suggested solutions or workarounds (which would also save the technician time). In a large organization, users may not know who is supposed to receive their requests, so Slack could take that one line (My laptop battery isn’t charging), relay it to the support desk, and route the issue based on past behavior within the organization.

Your IT support solution should be intuitive, and more importantly, convenient. Service expectations are rising. It’s time to start putting employee experience first, and this is one way to do it.


As a Marketing Manager for the ITSM group, Chris works with SolarWinds customers and our internal team of ITIL pros to share best practices and stories of service management success. He leads production of ITSM videos, podcasts, and customer stories with over ten years of professional experience in multimedia content.