Growing up a huge fan of Looney Tunes cartoons, one of my all-time favorites featured the hapless Pete Puma attempting to match wits with Bugs Bunny.

In the cartoon, Bugs’ signature move against Pete was to offer him a cup of tea, and then, holding a jar of sugar lumps, ask: “How many lumps would you like?” Poor Pete would respond: “Ohhh, tree or four,” at which point, Bugs would bash Pete over the head with a mallet three or four times.

Looking at Aberdeen Group’s research into IT Service Management (ITSM), one can make the argument that some end-users feel a lot like Pete Puma when they request assistance from IT support help desks. When we asked end-users about their opinion of the IT service they received, some of the negative responses included:

  • ONE LUMP: The IT service I receive is archaic
  • TWO LUMPS: Service and support personnel are unresponsive
  • THREE LUMPS: Service and support personnel are aloof
  • FOUR LUMPS: Service and support personnel are incompetent

As Pete Puma might say, “IT support gives me a headache. Eeeiiwww!”

Now to be fair, the majority of the responses weren’t negative, with 49% of end-users saying their IT service is competent and 32% saying it’s helpful. But the negative numbers are still too high, and, combined with the cost and time involved in providing IT support, every poor end-user engagement basically costs twice as much, due to lost time and repeat service requirements.

So what can businesses do to improve end-user service, reduce incident response times, and increase user satisfaction? One popular solution is to deploy self-service capabilities.

Now, given how some users view IT service and support, having to utilize self-service may make them feel like Pete Puma at the end of the cartoon, when, faced with another round of lumps from Bugs, Pete grabs the mallet from him, says “I’ll help myself,” and begins to bash himself in the head.

But, when done right, self-service support can be a lot like Pete Puma getting his own sugar lumps, and finally getting to enjoy that sweet cup of tea that he always wanted.

Think about the majority of things that users contact the help desk for: resetting lost passwords, access to network folders and content, directions for connecting to printers and other resources, and so on.

These types of repeated requests, while short in duration, can eat up a lot of time for help desk staff. And these are the types of requests that, when set up correctly, can typically be easily provisioned for users to handle themselves through a self-service portal or channel. Not surprisingly, IT staff strongly prefers self-service options, but there is also good support for it from the end-user community as well.

Luckily, the benefits of self-service IT support extend beyond preferences. In our research data, Best-in-Class ITSM organizations are much more likely to utilize self-service support capabilities.

And end-users who have access to self-service capabilities have a higher level of satisfaction. Rather than feeling like they are simply beating themselves over the head, end-users who have access to self-service support options tend to be nearly twice as satisfied.

So when end-users ask: “What’s up Doc? I need some simple IT support,” rather than saying, “Suffering succotash, not another help desk request!”, organizations with self-service support options can make it easy for end-users to quickly and efficiently handle their basic IT issues themselves.

And by doing this, these organizations can reduce overall IT costs and resources and help make end-users more productive. And that sounds like a very nice cup of tea that everyone (even Pete Puma) can enjoy.

That’s all folks.