All the End Users, All the Time
Boomers (those born roughly 1942 to 1964) still make up 31 percent of the talent pool, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics. Gen Xers (1965 to 1979) contribute 21 percent. And millennials (1980 to 2000), at 45 percent, are now the largest group in the workforce.
This demographic mix has important implications for IT, because each generation consumes technology and IT support differently. In response, organizations have augmented the service desk with self-service options. Most recently, they’ve started incorporating IT walk-up service centers into the support mix, providing flexible, fast, friendly, face-to-face and on-demand support.
“Generation gap” is a term that hasn’t been used much since the 1960s. But it’s increasingly apt in today’s multigenerational, tech-savvy workforce.
With those channels in place, most IT departments think they have end-user support demands covered. But it’s not quite that simple. To keep operations humming, you need new models and technologies to serve the right people with the right support at the right time.
To Each (Generation) Its Own?
It helps to start by understanding how each generation perceives IT, says Sam Gross, chief technology officer for CompuCom®. Boomers lived through the mainframeto-client/server transition. When faced with an IT issue, they’re accustomed to calling an 800 number to connect with the service desk.
Millennials grew up with digital toys. When those toys were outdated in 12 or 18 months, they threw them away. “Millennials view technology at any given time as disposable,” Gross says. “And they don’t have the time or patience for traditional support channels.”
So it’s reasonable to think boomers will use the service desk, Gen Xers will use digital self-service, and millennials will use walk-up service centers. Except that end users don’t always behave the way they’re supposed to.
End users should be able to acquire the support they want, the way they want, wherever they happen to be in the life cycle of their activity. They might start with digital self-service, continue with service desk and finish with walk-up services — or any combination of those in any order. As they do, the support function should recognize them, know which services they’ve already received and seamlessly deliver the support they need.
Walking the Talk
Seamless, multi-channel support calls for an end-to-end support framework, which Gross defines as follows:
- Engagement — Whether support is delivered via the service desk, self-service or a walk-up service center, “it’s not just a potpourri of channels,” Gross emphasizes. “It’s a carefully staged combination.”
- Entitlement — You need to deliver the right support to the right people. “The dark secret of IT support is that not all end users are equal,” Gross concedes. “Some are supported with the most proximate skills, some with first available, and so on.”
- Workflow — Workflow is how you match your many channels with your many users, and then deliver the request to the most appropriate category of support.
- Fulfillment — This phase is the moment of truth, when a service request is addressed, whether by live support or by automation.
- Knowledge — The final phase involves capturing data, from when end users are logged in, to how many service desk calls they’re making, to how satisfied they feel with IT support. “And that provides a crucial feedback loop to the beginning, to ensure that your next service engagement is directed in a way that delights,” Gross says.
Building support around a proven, repeatable framework enables you to address multi-generational needs and serve all employees the right way all the time. “That’s why walk-up services have become such a crucial component of the support toolbox, because you can’t support all end users with only one channel,” Gross points out. “And your walk-up service center itself has to be built on the same framework as all other support channels, so that your entire workforce can leverage it effectively.”