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“ Building a Web Self-Service Portal: Keys to Success ” Paul M. Dooley Principal Optimal Connections, LLC Agenda The Trend toward Customer Empowerment What’s in It for You and the Customer? Popular Portal Applications

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building a web self service portal keys to success

“Building a Web Self-Service Portal: Keys to Success”

Paul M. DooleyPrincipal

Optimal Connections, LLC



  • The Trend toward Customer Empowerment
  • What’s in It for You and the Customer?
  • Popular Portal Applications
  • Key Steps in Implementing Your Web-based Portal
  • Keeping it Going for Continued Success!
  • Q&A
the trend today customer empowerment
The Trend Today:Customer Empowerment
  • The trend today is toward globalization, 7 x 24 coverage, and multi-channel support. Customers are asking for…
    • Choices – support how and when they want it
    • Convenience - right channel for the issue
    • Availability - avoid problems in the first place!
    • Empowerment - be informed
    • Return on Investment - to get the most from their system
  • People – rather than big media - are taking a big part themselves in creating and driving news and information (witness and similar destinations)
  • Traditional media is rapidly migrating to an online formatand leveraging this “new media”
  • In fact, any business without a respectable web site is like a business without business cards – its just plain expected these days!
the web is power to the people
The Web is “Power to the People”
  • More than ever, its power to the people - with new web trends such as …
    • Wikis – where the people publish the content themselves under the guidance of a hosting organization
    • Blogs – web logs where individuals share their thoughts, opinions and advice via online journals
    • Personal websites – MySpace, Facebook, etc., are forming new communications platforms for people
  • For today’s IT organization, the need is for us to function more like a business
    • Where end-users are treated like “customers” and the emphasis is on minimizing costs, while maximizing productivity, customer and employee satisfaction
  • One important way to take advantage of these trends, and accomplish this three-fold purpose is to deploy an effective web self-service portal
what s in it for customers
What’s in It for Customers?
  • Access support anytime– a web support portal is available whenever customers need help – 7 x 24.
  • Better understanding of IT service & support – with easy access to SLAs, policies, and info, expectations are more accurately set.
  • Increased availability of solutions to known errors – customers enjoy increased and faster access to common solutions
  • Higher system availability – fast access to solutions leads to higher uptime and customer satisfaction
  • The ability to collaborate with other customers – a web portal can provide the ability for chat communities
  • Ability to influence service quality – by submitting feedback, requests for enhancements
what s in it for it and the service desk
What’s in It for IT and the Service Desk?
  • Makes it easy for customers to do business with you
    • Be accessible 7 x 24
  • Publish services and set accurate expectations
    • Service catalogs and SLAs
  • Collaborate with customers as “support partners”
    • Empower them to get answers to simple questions, resolve low priority incidents
  • Make it convenient for customers to submit service requests
    • Planned activities, handled more cost-effectively via a portal
  • Facilitate Problem Management: inform customers so as to avoid problems
    • Status updates, advisories regarding solutions to “known errors”
    • Provide standard pre-approved changes
  • Reduce cost, increase customer satisfaction
    • By empowering users, raising productivity for the service desk and users
    • Reduce incidents through self-service, proactive problem management
    • Do more work with the same level of staff
  • Operate Like a Business: Market your value!
    • Display your mission, publish successes, and promote your value
popular web portal applications and sample portal
Popular Web Portal Applicationsand Sample Portal
  • Automated Status Reporting
  • Web incident entry/update for customers
  • Answer “How to” questions and provide solutions to simple known errors
  • Process routine service requests
  • Provide proactive advisories
  • Download center for updates
  • Fast access to online documentation
  • Enable customer collaboration with chat
  • Publish service levels and a service catalog
  • Keep customers informed about policies
popular web portal applications automated status reporting
Popular Web Portal ApplicationsAutomated Status Reporting
  • Most help desks & service desks don’t do an effective job at providing status regarding incidents/requests in process
  • More timely status reporting is an opportunity for improvement in most support centers
    • By maintaining a ‘user profile’ and integrating it with your SMS, your portal can keep customers informed about their incident status
    • Report by number, location, date, and other criteria.
    • Summary information and drill down reporting should be available
  • Benefits:
    • Set expectations more accurately, and keeps customers informed
    • Maintains customer satisfaction levels
    • Averts incoming calls for status, lowering costs and ensuring higher productivity
  • Challenges:
    • Analyst writing skills
    • Quality incident logs to capture timely & accurate incident status
    • Web integration with your SMS to automate the process
popular web portal applications log or update incidents
Popular Web Portal ApplicationsLog or Update Incidents
  • Customers enter/ update incidents by themselves for lower priority incidents. Higher priority incidents phoned in (guidelines)
  • Tip: enforce a search of the KB first before allowing entry!
    • Otherwise you risk unnecessary incidents (a solution may already be available)
    • Key: if no solution, then allow electronic incident entry
  • Route incidents and requests to your normal queues
    • Avoiding the need for special monitoring
    • Establish metrics for service requests as well as incidents!
  • Benefits:
    • More cost-effective way of handling low priority incidents and requests
    • Convenient access and empowerment for customers
    • Forms-based entry provides superior formatting over email
  • Challenges:
    • Web integration to SMS
    • Metrics, monitoring and reporting for quality assurance
popular web portal applications provide answers and solutions
Popular Web Portal ApplicationsProvide Answers and Solutions
  • Provide fast answers to the top Frequently Asked Questions
  • Access to simple, re-usable solutions and answer common questions
    • Through easy, fast access to an integrated, effective knowledge base (KEDB)
    • Facilitates Problem Management
  • Benefits:
    • Quick answers to common questions, users resolve simple repetitive incidents
    • Empowers customers, lowers avg incidentcost according to HDI 2008 study
  • Challenges:
    • Integrating KEDB to your Service Mgt System & web portal
    • Effective processes (Knowledge Centered Support (KCS), Problem Mgt and Incident Mgt)
    • Providing access to only “customer ready” solutions
    • Knowledge Monitoring
popular web portal applications reset passwords
Popular Web Portal ApplicationsReset Passwords
  • One of the biggest sourcesof repeat incidents!
    • 30-50% of calls, in fact, indicates a recent IDC study *.
  • A significant potentialcost saving for many help desks
    • Since many end-users could easily reset their own passwords if equipped.
    • Deploy one of the many software solutions through your web portal to enable customers, freeing your staff for more pressing incidents
  • Benefits:
    • Empowers customers to resolve these simple service requests faster, while freeing up your staff for other work.
    • Lowers costs and improves staff productivity
  • Challenges:
    • Integrating password reset tool to your web portal
    • Providing for security policy compliance
    • Encouraging, educating and training users to use
popular web portal applications enter service requests
Popular Web Portal ApplicationsEnter Service Requests
  • 7 x 24 support for routine service requests
  • Reserve valuable phone support time for processing higher priority unplanned incidents
    • Position the web as a vehicle for Request Fulfillment, and optimize your handling of routine service requests
    • Examples: Standard change requests, requests for upgrades or upgrades, documentation & media requests, enhancement requests
  • Benefits:
    • Conserves valuable analyst phone time for handling incidents
    • Can be an integral part of implementing ITIL V3 Request Fulfillment
    • More cost-effective, automated handling of service requests
    • Convenient 7 x 24 hour access for customers and users
  • Challenges:
    • Monitoring responsiveness to the channel for efficient service request processing, so as to meet customer expectations
    • Service catalog integration, automated fulfillment on back end
popular web portal applications deliver proactive advisories
Popular Web Portal ApplicationsDeliver Proactive Advisories
  • Keep customers informed about known errors and ways to avoid potential problems through timely “service advisory” bulletins
    • Timely bulletins describe reported known problems, and include advice on how to avoid the issue
    • Can link back to support web page for next steps
    • A component of proactive “Problem Management”
  • Benefits:
    • Supportive of ITIL Problem Management, this practice helps customers avoid problems in the first place – ensuring higher productivity, uptime, and customer satisfaction
    • Also lowers support costs by avoiding incidents in the first place
  • Challenges:
    • Implementation of a supporting Problem Management process
    • Standard forms and supporting procedures, automation
popular web portal applications provide standard pre approved changes
Popular Web Portal ApplicationsProvide Standard Pre-Approved Changes
  • Leverage your web portal to cost-effectively provide access to pre-approved standard changes (minor updates and upgrades)
    • Avoid sending out CDs or DVDs, and reduce costs
    • Provide updates or upgrades to software cost-effectively via a “downloads” center.
  • Benefits:
    • Reduces cost for the service desk, while providing convenient 7 x 24 access to popular updates and upgrades. Relieves the administrative burden of processing standard change requests.
  • Challenges:
    • Only use for pre-approved, low risk updates and upgrades.
    • More complex or critical software updates require Release Mgt assistance to ensure trouble-free installation and configuration.
popular web portal applications deliver online documentation
Popular Web Portal ApplicationsDeliver Online Documentation
  • Customers want access, and we want them to be informed about how to use the services we provide
  • Examples:
    • Publish your service desk support policies. Set customer expectations.
    • Your analysts need the customer to refer to a user guide, manual, or other set of instructions from time to time – why make things difficult?
    • Provide HTMLandPDF access
    • HTML enables search, and PDF provides easy download
  • Benefits:
    • Speeds incident resolution and lowers cost – no searching for the right manual!
    • An easy way to ensure the customer always has the proper manual for the job at hand!
  • Challenges:
    • Integration with a document management system
    • Timely updates to ensure accuracy
popular web portal applications enable customer collaboration
Popular Web Portal ApplicationsEnable Customer Collaboration
  • Enableinteractive, real-time two-way chat with customers
    • Extends self-service web portal to assisted service
    • Some audiences prefer this method (ie, gaming)
    • Can be integrated with Click-to-Talk, making it easy to transition to phone
  • Analysts can handlemultiple sessions simultaneously
  • Benefits:
    • Positions you as flexible, ‘customer-centric’
    • Decreases cost per incident*, as someincidents transition to chat
    • Can boost analyst productivity through multi-tasking, ‘canned’ replies
    • Ensures self-service experience is successful
  • Challenges:
    • Lacks ‘tone of voice’, handling emotions
    • Integrating witha SMS to log, track sessions
    • Requires that analysts have typing, multi-tasking skills

HDI 2008 Survey

enable customer collaboration sample chat screen
Enable Customer CollaborationSample Chat Screen
  • Sample apps:
  • LivePerson
  • InstantService
popular web portal applications publish your service levels
Popular Web Portal ApplicationsPublish Your Service Levels
  • Negotiating and documenting Service Level Agreements (SLAs) doesn’t do anyone any good if the contents of those agreements aren’t communicated to customers, end users and the help desk!
    • Customers and users need to know what to expect
    • Staff need to know at what level to deliver depending on the customer
    • Provide a link to “Your Service Levels”, informing users about the contents, terms and conditions of their SLA.
  • Benefits:
    • More effective communications of SLA contents
    • Expectations more accurately set, enabling higher customer satisfaction
    • Service Desk staff better positioned to deliver accurately
  • Challenges:
    • Be sure that any changes to SLAs are reflected in a timely fashion
    • Empower Service Level Management/Catalog Management to make changes and updates as needed to reflect agreements and service levels in force
    • Integration with a complete, web-based Service Catalog
popular web portal applications deploy a web based service catalog
Popular Web Portal ApplicationsDeploy a web-based Service Catalog
  • Go further than just the SLA: let customers know about your services!
  • Start with basics: listing the various services you provide and informing customers in business terms
    • Describe services not in “IT Terms”, but in terms customers understand
    • Include name, description, typical user, features/benefits, availability
  • Include other helpful information with your service catalog to help customers in deciding which services they need
    • Providing pricing information if appropriate(value)
    • Link in the relevant supporting SLA detail
    • Eventually provide links so that once a customer has selected a given service, they go directly to automated service request entry!
  • Benefits: more customer and business centric – making it “easy to do business” with the service desk and IT
  • Challenges: planning your catalog; defining and documenting your “services”; building, deploying, promoting and maintaining the catalog
provide a service catalog
Provide a Service Catalog
  • Sample apps:
  • newScale
5 Key Steps

to Implementing Your

Web Portal

step 1 develop and present a business case before you do anything
Step 1: Develop and Present a Business Case Before You Do Anything!
  • Why? Sets expectations for management on what to expect (and not expect)
    • Defines a mission, clear goals and objectives, a time table, and milestones in the development and deployment of your portal
    • Lays out projected costs with a Cost/Benefits Analysis, proposed investment (people, hardware, software, etc.), a projected Return on Investment (ROI), an Action Plan and a projected timeframe for roll-out.
    • Defines Key Success Factors, so you’ll know when you’ve arrived!
    • Simply good business practice – reinforcing the notion that you “run your support center like a business”
  • 1. Complete a situation analysis
    • Document the current situation with respect to customer self-service
    • Establishes a “baseline” for later evaluation
  • 2. Define your Goals and Expected Benefits
    • Identify and prioritize the key goals for your portal. Identify the biggest quick “wins” – prioritize these, and implement those features first to gain early successes in the rollout
how to develop and present a business case
How to Develop and Present a Business Case
  • 3. Summarize your proposed solution:
    • Provide an overview of the design, features, and functions.
    • Summarize costs and project timeline
    • List assumptions and risks, with contingencies
    • Spell out goals and benefits
    • Provide cost justification, with ROI projection
  • 4. Quantify cost savings expected to be realized
    • Provide projected estimates of cost savings, based on achieving the expected goals and realizing the benefits
    • Convert each projected benefit – performance improvement or cost reduction - into a dollar figure. Include a simple table to illustrate your assumptions and estimates
    • Example:
  • Reduce incoming incidents for simple repetitive incidents users can resolve themselves (“How to” FAQs, simple solutions).
  • 50 calls per week, x 52 weeks = 2600 incidents,
  • 2600 incidents x average cost of $12/incident = $31,200 savings/Yr
how to develop and present a business case31
How to Develop and Present a Business Case
  • 5. Estimate Development and Deployment Costs
    • Itemize project costs; compare total projected costs to estimate savings Examples of costs to factor in: Projected support team costssoftware costs, hardware costs, annual hosting costs, professional services, on-going admin and support costs
  • 6. Assemble Your Business Case
    • Assemble the output and document a logical business case, with supporting and information. Include costs, benefits, and savings over time to illustrate ROI
  • 7. Moment of Truth: Present Your Case to Management
    • Secure management commitment, support and funding

Next Step? Lay the Ground Work!

step 2 lay the ground work assemble your team plan
Step 2:Lay the Ground Work!Assemble Your Team & Plan
  • Like any other strategic initiative, this one deserves..
    • A focused cross-functional team of Subject Matter Experts
    • Budget commitment of people, time and resources
    • A project lead & well defined project plan
  • Incorporate Team Best-practices
  • Engage your Marketing Department
    • Don’t ignore your marketing dept!
    • Usually responsible for the “image” to the business, customers and marketplace
    • Can be a valuable source of expertise and resources, plus ensuring your initiative is in line with corporate policies and standards
  • Involve Your Web Team
    • A valuable resource for technical support, resources, and on-going maintenance
    • Make them part of your team so you can work together to make the portal a reality!
lay the ground work ensure quality processes
Lay the Ground WorkEnsure Quality Processes
  • Provide for Quality in Your IT Support Organization
    • For a web self-service portal to be successful, you must have solid supporting processes in place within your support center
    • These must be positioned to effectively support the customer portal (foundational)
    • Otherwise you seriously compromise your success
  • Key elements for support within the center include:
    • Service Desk function, with adequate resources & capabilities
    • Quality support processes (Incident, Request Fulfillment and Problem Management)
    • Knowledge Management process, system and repository
    • Business style writing skills
    • Quality logging of incident and service request (standards, QA process)
    • A Service Mgt System that supports web integration
    • The ability to budget supporting resources – tools, people, technology
step 3 develop based on best practices
Step 3: Develop Based on Best Practices
  • Align it with Your Organization’s Web Site
    • Should have the same “look and feel”
    • Your portal is your image – make it look professional!
  • Make it FAST!
    • Why users are going to your site? Searching for a solution.
    • Response and resolution time are key customer satisfaction drivers
    • Beware of fancy features which slow performance!
    • Emphasize fast display, fast loading, and fast response
  • Integrate it into your systems to minimize manual updates
  • To manage, establish metrics & tools to measure and report on:
    • Number of page visits, unique visitors, repeat visitors
    • Most popular pages, least visited pages
    • Knowledge base effectiveness; % growth in solutions; % of visits successful; solution re-use; most popular authors
    • End-user satisfaction levels with portal
  • Identify “gaps” and address in a continuous improvement program
develop your portal based on best practices
Develop Your Portal Based on Best Practices
  • Keep it Simple and Easy to Use
    • Be compatible with the parent site
    • Pay attention to easy navigation and usage
    • If you can “personalize” it, so much the better
  • Make it Engaging!
    • Keep all critical resources 1-3 clicks away
    • Like your analysts, your portal should greet the customer!
  • Make it Easy to Find via the Search Engines!
    • “If you build it, they will come”. Not true.
    • Most people arrive at a web sites through a search engine – about 80%; only a small percentage by knowing the URL.
    • Make your web support site easy to locate!
    • Optimize your site so that search engines rank your site at the top of the list when someone types a relevant search phrase
step 4 treat rollout like a product launch
Step 4: Treat RolloutLike a Product Launch!
  • Once you’ve designed, developed and tested your new web self-service portal, you’re ready for roll-out.
  • This is “the moment of truth”, so we suggest managing your rollout just like any important new product or service.
    • Done right is can be very effective and successful. Reduced costs, increased productivity and customer satisfaction.
    • Done wrong, and you end up with disappointed customers, and a difficult recovery (first impressions matter!).
treat rollout like a product launch
Treat RolloutLike a Product Launch
  • Establish a “Product Manager” and support team
  • Develop a Release Plan
  • Rollout it out in Phases to ensure success
    • Internal rollout in the Support Center first
    • Beta phase (to key customers and users)
    • Early adopters
    • Full rollout
  • Consider “branding” your portal
  • Position it properly as an “expansion of services”
  • Assess feedback as you go, and communicate successes early and often!
step 5 keeping it going ensuring continuing success
Step 5: Keeping it GoingEnsuring Continuing Success!
  • This is now one of your key support channels - don’t neglect it!
  • Market it on an on-going basis
    • Play a recording to promote it while customers on are ‘hold’
    • Promote its use via your analysts (during silent time)
    • Offer a free web-based or CD “demo”
    • Post the URL everywhere!
  • Keep it current through automated updates and effective management
  • Report success to your staff, management, and customers
  • Assess your ROI against your initial “baseline” and move ahead into the future!
it s up to you take it to the next level with your web portal
It’s Up To You: Take it to the Next Levelwith Your Web Portal!
  • You’ll be more Customer and Business Centric – making it easier for customers “to do business” with you
  • You’ll Lower Costs – by enabling customers to solve many incidents and log requests themselves
  • You’ll Raise Productivity – helping customers avoid problems in the first place, resolving simple issuesquicker. Higher uptime results, along with higher productivity.
  • You’ll Be More Proactive – staff will have more opportunity to engage in proactive Problem Management, eliminating the source of problems
  • You’ll Differentiate Yourself from the Competition – by virtue of the fact that you offer an effective, proactive “one stop” web channel to assist customers around the clock.
What are You Waiting for? – Get Started!

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Paul M. DooleyPrincipalOptimal Connections, LLCE: pmdooley@optimalconnections.comW: