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The First Step Toward Employee Service: Communication

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In a recent study by RingCentral, 70% of workers say they’re challenged by the sheer volume of work communication. You can bet that has a major impact on focus and productivity. It’s no wonder they feel that way considering the number of ways they’re asked to communicate. Setting aside external communication, they might talk with coworkers via phone, email, group messaging, project management tools, or a myriad of other apps and tools. In fact, that same study found that workers use an average of four communication apps, and 20% of workers use six or more platforms. It’s an employee’s worst nightmare. Not only does it take valuable time to navigate these communication tools, but they can’t spend that time all at once. The notifications and responses are constantly disrupting the projects they were hired to complete. Why does today’s worker have so many more channels for internal communication? Well, first of all, modern technology has made them available. More importantly, though, it’s easy to lose sight of enabling employees in today’s demanding environment. We often focus on what we want employees to provide instead of how we provide for employees. Organizations use all of these tools because different departments are seeking different goals, and they forget about what makes an employee’s work day easier. There are, however, alternatives to consolidate communication platforms, bringing employees closer to the services they need, and ultimately creating a better environment in which to work. It’s time to start asking how we can make things easy for our coworkers. If we look at each department through the lens of the services they provide to the rest of the organization, we can start to simplify things for employees. The IT department is a great place to start. IT service management (ITSM) has already proven to be a game changer in communication and processes, and it can easily translate to the entire organization. Let’s take a look at how consolidating communication tools and effectively spreading an employee service management strategy to every department can consolidate, improve, and scale communication in key areas of the organization.

Everyday Workflows

What’s the process when the sales manager wants an update to a pricing page on the website? What about when the finance team hires a new accountant? How about when an employee needs a security badge or a change in their dental insurance policy? There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of these types of requests that occur frequently within today’s organizations. Technology can help organize them, creating approvals and workflows, but it can also create chaos if we’re communicating all these requests across different channels. If the sales manager emails the marketing team for a change to the website, now we need to loop in the appropriate parties to execute the request. This probably includes a copywriter, a designer, and a web developer. Perhaps the marketing team will have to create a project through a project management tool that the sales manager has no license for, and therefore, no visibility into the status. Let’s restart this request with employee service in mind. The marketing team is the service provider, so they’ll need a clean request that they can process efficiently. The service catalog (traditionally an IT term) is a great way to provide this service. You can create a workflow, complete with approvals from the marketing team, and tasks for each member that needs to contribute a piece of this update. It will prompt the requester for all of the necessary information to complete the request. Now, everyone can collaborate within that request with comments, and the sales manager will see the status of the request. If you can build workflows and approval processes using ITSM best practices, why can’t you do it for the entire organization? Build out security requests, HR and benefits requests, and purchase order approvals in the service catalog. If there’s a workflow that requires communication with multiple parties, create a consolidated experience with optimal service in mind.

“I Want Something”

The goal is to make employees’ jobs easier, and to do that, we need to complete their requests and resolve their incidents as quickly as possible. The user-friendly service portal, a robust service catalog, and the evolving knowledge base can arm service providers with the resources they need to provide efficient service and communication. It’s important that employees realize that these features are being utilized for their benefit. As you can imagine, the work on the front end always seems easier when you can call or email a request instead of filling out a form through the appropriate channel. Some call it the “I want something” approach. “I want a security code for this facility.” “I want to on-board my new graphic designer.” “I want to request an additional Salesforce license.” It seems easier for the requester to just email an “I want something” request to the appropriate service provider, and up front, it certainly is. They’re just dumping these requests in the providers’ laps. However, when the communication through multiple platforms begins, the frustration often sets in. That request for an additional Salesforce license might require a lot more information. Who is it for? What is it for? What kind of computer? What level of permissions? It might need manager approvals from multiple departments. This process will go much more quickly when a request from the service catalog can collect all of this information up front, and automate the workflow from there. So, while it might seem easier to use the “I want something” approach, the requester is actually well-served by following an internal service process. He/she will spend an extra minute or two up front, but will get the appropriate Salesforce license much more quickly that way.

Cultural Change

As you consolidate platforms, discourage traditional methods of requesting, and cut down lines of communication, there will be roadblocks. It takes a strategic organizational approach. The service portal has proven to be an asset for consolidation in many cases, but not all employees will use it just because you built it. Try to make it easier for them. Put prominent links to your preferred communication platforms on the traditional platforms that you’re trying to discourage. Show your employees tangible results from the new methods of service and communication (Our customers reduce resolution time by an average of 13% in the service portal). Employees’ day-to-day morale is on the line, so make this cultural change a priority!
Danielle Livy
Danielle is the Senior Director, Marketing, ITSM at SolarWinds. She has wide-ranging experience in content production, social media marketing, public relations, and brand messaging. Her…
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