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Making the most of self-service will save a good amount of work for you and the service desk in the long run, but this also requires a bit of work to get started. To get the most out of it, you need to design the portal for your audience — not for yourself. So, keep the following steps in mind as you build.

  1. Make sure all involved parties are aligned

Before setting up your self-service portal (as in any project that involves several stakeholders), it’s important to make sure all team members are on the same page. This doesn’t just mean getting the go-ahead from management but checking that you also are aligned with your own department’s objectives.

It’s important that you don’t only assume you all know what you want out of the portal, but that you make sure that the team agrees with what the goal actually is. Hold a meeting and address this seriously. This alignment becomes especially important if you are working together with other departments such as facilities, HR or even IT. Please note: You should definitely share a portal if multiple departments want one (it’s easier for your customers), but it does require a bit of extra collaboration.

  1. Analyze your data

Once you’re aligned, the next crucial step in creating a self-service portal is determining out what services you will deliver to your end users. While this may seem difficult, a lot of information can be found within your existing data.

For instance, examine the tickets entered over the last couple of months and group these into services that you currently deliver. You can use this information to run some simple analysis on what the types and frequencies of calls are. This provides you a great starting point to building your portal.

  1. Speak to your users

Even at an early stage of building your portal, it’s a good idea to gain some qualitative insight by engaging your end users. This is almost always overlooked. Many departments assume they understand their customers’ needs without really speaking to them. If there is something about the process that your users don’t understand, you must educate them to make the process easier by speaking their language.

Gather feedback in whatever way best suits your business. One way to get responses is the practice of sending a survey to employees, but don’t disregard the effect of talking to your users face to face, either in formal focus groups or even in the corridor on your way to coffee.

While it would be great if your end users always found what they are looking for, don’t be discouraged if they say there is room for improvement. Optimizing processes is the best way to continuously improve your portal. For example, if customers find requesting new workspace material quite complex then help them by creating a simpler process for them to follow next time.

  1. Launching your self-service portal

When thinking about launching your portal, one thing to potentially avoid is launching it then building it as you go along. If you launch and promote your portal with just 5 percent to 10 percent of your service delivery covered, you run a high risk that your users won’t find what they are looking for. Not a great first impression, and they may be reluctant to return.

At the same time, don’t hold back on your launch of the portal just because you are trying to perfect it. Additional improvements are part of your portal maintenance as feedback from members of the organization after go-live. Launching a portal that is about 80 percent ready while keenly listening to your stats and customer feedback may be the best practice.

  1. Optimize

If six months after go-live, your portal still contains almost the exact same information, something is amiss. The services you deliver continuously change. Keep an ear open to listen to your users’ feedback and optimize the portal based on their experience. The better the experience, the easier life is for both your team and your end user.

Making sure that your portal fulfils its purpose gives people a reason to come back to it, and makes it an integral part of your service delivery.