IT Walk-up Services: Creating Business Value

Walk-up service centers are transforming IT support — and the business.

Walk-up service centers are transforming IT support
Walk-up service centers are transforming IT support] Most organizations don’t think of IT support as actually generating business value. Sure, your service desk is a business necessity. When it runs well, it helps keep your employees productive and your operations humming. But most CIOs — and CFOs and CEOs, for that matter — don’t look for IT support to be a creator of business value.

That’s changing rapidly, however, driven by a new innovation in enterprise support: the IT walk-up service center. These on-campus, in-person facilities allow employees to stop by and get real-time, face-to-face “how-to” help and break-fix support with their IT equipment. In the process, they’re changing the face of IT — and the calculus of IT support.

Consider one global pharmaceutical company that deployed CompuCom®’s Solution Café® walk-up service centers in several campus locations. The facilities drove down support costs by 25 percent and enabled support staff to handle twice the number of incidents. They also increased end-user satisfaction with IT support by 10 percent — a huge shift for a function employees don’t typically feel passionate about.

Numbers like those aren’t just a feather in the cap of IT. They represent real business value. And a growing number of organizations are realizing they can achieve similar advantages.

Service with a Smile You Can See

Best suited for sites with large employee populations, IT walk-up service centers specialize in supporting technology employees carry — smartphones, tablets and laptops. Inside the walk-up service center, technical support specialists provide on-demand or by-appointment support for issues like hardware repairs, technology refreshes and software upgrades. Employees can wait for their devices or drop them off for later pickup.

"IT walk-up service centers specialize in supporting technology employees carry — smartphones, tablets and laptops."

Walk-up service centers augment but don’t replace the service desk. The service desk remains a vital part of supporting employees with desktops, networks and related issues. “If I need my password reset, it makes sense to call the service desk,” says Mike Flanagan, vice president of End-User Enablement for CompuCom. “If I have a mobile device I can’t get to work properly, it will be much easier if I can talk face-to-face with an expert in a walk-up service center.”

Mobile equipment is often the walk-up services sweet spot — especially in an era of bring your own device (BYOD), when employees need help with a growing range of personal devices. “Whenever I talk with a company about walk-up services, BYOD always comes up,” Flanagan notes.

A key question is whether walk-up services should support both the business and personal sides of an employee-owned device. “I recommend that companies get started by supporting company-supplied devices,” Flanagan explains. “Then, if you allow BYOD, support only the enterprise apps on the employee’s device.”

You might, however, offer break-fix services for employee-owned devices for a reasonable fee. “The employee pays for the repair, but service is done right where they work, it’s warrantied, and that’s a real perk,” Flanagan says.

If the Shoe Fits

Deciding the level of support to offer is part of determining what you want to achieve with walk-up services. “The goal is usually to improve end-user services, lower support costs or some combination of the two,” Flanagan explains. “Knowing what you want drives the level of investment.”

For example, some companies mimic the Apple® Genius Bar® approach, with a full-service facility located in prime campus real estate and techs who wear branded jerseys. Others take a more bare-boned approach. “We implemented a walk-up service center for a major food retailer, and they didn’t want to do the fancy stuff,” Flanagan relates. “But they put it in a good location, and it became a one-stop support shop for employees. And the CIO was happy, because he actually got fan mail from end users.”

For a major healthcare provider with 18 locations, CompuCom implemented walk-up services targeting specific users and specific needs. In a healthcare environment, many employees don’t need a mobile device for work, while physicians and other medical staff rely on them extensively. “The clinicians use specific devices and specific apps, so we implemented walk-up services for their unique needs,” Flanagan says. “The facilities also provided a location where they could securely print from their devices.”

Something for Everyone

Walk-up services extend benefits to virtually every corporate stakeholder. For employees, the advantages are clear: faster and more convenient IT support, a more positive IT experience and the ability to get back up and running quickly. The result is end users who are more productive and use IT more effectively to get their jobs done.

For IT, walk-up services offer an opportunity to rebrand the function. Instead of being perceived as a traditional command-and-control function, IT can be seen as an enabler of end users, as responsive to employee and business needs. It can also be an avenue for direct feedback from the user community on devices, apps and other technology issues.

For CFOs, walk-up services can lower operational costs. Employees not only get their IT problems addressed quickly, but they also gain direct knowledge that helps them avoid support calls in the future. What’s more, walk-up service techs can be more efficient — for example, avoiding costly deskside support calls, or handling service desk calls when the walk-up center is slow.

"For IT, walk-up services offer an opportunity to rebrand the function."

CEOs are all about empowering employees to innovate and serve customers, and that’s where walk-up services shine. End users can find new ways to leverage technology, and they can avoid IT headaches that distract them from business goals. And as more millennials enter the workforce, they’ll increasingly demand the consumer-oriented support walk-up service centers provide.

“Based on what I’m seeing, walk-up service centers will be table stakes in 70 percent of enterprise-class companies in the next couple of years,” Flanagan predicts. “There’s no question that walk-up services are transforming IT support and delivering business value.”

Infographic: The Workup on Walk-ups

(Click image to enlarge infographic)


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