The importance of the digital employee experience

07.07.2021 | By Mark Speyers

Much has been written on the need for digital transformation when it comes to employee experience over the last half-decade, with organizations needing to better exploit technology and data to create new products and services (and revenue streams), improve customer engagement mechanisms, and deliver better back-office operations and outcomes. Much of the early conversations were related to the first two of these, that is until the global pandemic changed how businesses and employees operated. The need arose quickly for digital workflows to replace what were antiquated, manually-reliant operations that struggled to function when the pandemic caused a mass distributed workforce.

While this points to the need for digital workflows, there’s also a need to look deeper into the increased technology use to better appreciate and manage the digital employee experience. This blog explains why.

Why the employee experience is a top priority

Before the pandemic, employees were already expecting more from their corporate IT and the associated support. Much of this was attributed to “the consumerization of IT”, but it was really “the consumerization of service” – recognizing that their increased expectations relate to more than just the devices, applications, and technology they use in the workplace. The whole service experience became critical thanks to the superior service and support experiences employees are receiving from companies in their personal lives.

This recognition can be viewed as the first driver of expectation-change in the workforce. Then there has been the growth in Millennial employment and these younger employees are even more critical of technology and support. In fact, they probably don’t even view it as technology, it’s just part of everyday life that’s an inherent expectation of their workplace.

Now add the importance of technology to remote workers and accelerated digital transformation strategies from the past year, you have an even greater expectation of technology and support services. Technology issues are truly business issues, and when employees are unable to work when their technology isn’t working as it should, productivity is lost across the business.

The importance of employee experience – especially when viewed through a lost productivity lens – is now at the fore. Technology issues and any delay in their resolution adversely affects an employee’s ability to be productive in achieving what they need to do to deliver the required business outcomes. This necessitates a focus on employee experience and its improvement, especially when traditional IT service delivery and support performance measures don’t highlight the business-level impact of IT delays and failures.

What do employees now expect of their technology and its support?

Not only do employees expect and need a better service experience from IT, but they also have expectations of how that support can be accessed. It means that corporate IT service desks and wider IT support capabilities need to build in:

  • An omni-channel experience that also delivers a unified experience in scenarios where employees either need or want to change their support channel. For example, seamlessly moving from a chatbot-based support conversation to receiving the help they need from a human.
  • A mobile-first ethos such that service and support are available at employees’ fingertips in a similar way to many of the service and support experiences they receive in their personal lives. For example, the ability to engage in a voice-based conversational virtual agent to request help or new services.
  • DIY services and support – with multiple permutations of the self-provision of IT services and support needed. For example, employees using self-service capabilities to get assistance with the personal device they’re using for work purposes.
  • Greater speed of issue resolution and service provisioning. Some of this increased velocity will come from the streamlining of service and support processes but much will come from the use of smart technologies in the form of artificial intelligence (AI) enabled capabilities, such as auto-routing and knowledge presentation.
  • Collaboration and communication capabilities that allow people and technology to work together on issue resolution to the best advantage. This could be an IT support analyst and an end user working together more effectively, different IT support personnel working together, or end users working together.

How modern ITSM technology provides superior  employee experiences

In terms of how best to improve the employee experience associated with IT service and support, it needs to start at a “reason for being” level – i.e. why the corporate IT organization and service desk exist. If the current answer is to provide technology and to fix it when it breaks, then there’s a change needed – to refocus on the business outcomes that IT contributes to. This will affect strategies, policies, and procedures. It also moves the mindsets of those involved from the technology to the people they enable.

There’s also a need to provide fit-for-purpose service management technology for IT, recognizing the benefits that come from using technology to help support technology. The required capabilities are very much in line with the employee expectations outlined above:

  • Supporting omni-channel service and support – this isn’t just the addition of self-service portals and chat embedded on them. Instead, service and support capabilities should be available where employees are working – in Microsoft Teams, Slack, Jabber, emails or mobile etc. – rather than expecting employees to stop what they’re doing to call the service desk or to visit a desktop-based self-service portal.
  • Offering a multi-device experience – employees will be using different devices for different aspects of their work at different times and, as with their consumer-world service and support engagements, they’ll want and need to access IT support in the ways that are easiest for them “in the moment.” For example, via an easy-to-use mobile app with a consumer-app-like interface, when on the move.
  • Providing native automation and AI-enabled capabilities – that allow the automation of high-volume, low-value repetitive tasks plus high-impact tasks where the speed of execution and error-minimization are critical. AlI in the form of machine learning and conversational interfaces not only offers smart automation for “better, faster, cheaper” operations and outcomes. It also allows both end users and service desk analysts to get instant and accurate answers to queries 24/7.
  • Delivering self-service and self-help across devices – from facilitating access to service and support on mobile devices to a one-stop self-service portal to access all services from one place using an eCommerce-like service catalog experience and AI-assisted knowledge delivery.

Finally, while the above relate to IT service delivery and support, modern ITSM solutions also provide enterprise service management capabilities that enable the sharing of these capabilities across business functions. Often delivering the digital workflows and other technology enablement that’s required for digital transformation. For a demo of how SymphonyAI Summit can support your employee experiences, click here.

Kishore Shenoy, Senior Product Manager at SymphonyAI Summit

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