Restricting employee access to social networks is an outdated mentality and could lead companies to miss out on the potential benefits that they offer to business, a new study from Ovum has found.
The analyst says service desks should exploit social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook as their exponential growth has led employees to expect the same level of convenient and effective communication from within the world of work, including communication with their IT department.
In a research note, the analyst says: “IT departments are finding themselves reacting to this demand. As organisations welcome more of Generation Y into their staff, there is an expectation that such methods of communication will be available to them.”
“Restricting access to such platforms should be a bygone approach in an organization’s strategy to controlling social network access. Employees should be managed to use and not abuse social networks in the same way that they are managed in regards to other corporate policies,” the analyst adds.
Service desks commonly use email and instant messaging as a means to communicate with their customers and internal employees. Implementing social network tools will not only expand the means by which they can be contacted, but also provide greater opportunities for data capture, Ovum says.
The number of active Facebook users currently stands at 800 million and, of this figure, 50 per cent log in to the site on any given day. A service desk Facebook page, with regular bulletins on service outages and new services available would, Ovum says, attract attention from end users and reduce calls to the service desk.
ISP Plusnet has a member of staff monitoring its Twitter feed throughout the day, posting information on network maintenance windows and responding/redirecting any enquiries that the user base may have. The agent monitoring the queue sets expectations of the service being provided by posting a tweet notifying that the Twitter support service is now live and also advising when support ceases at the end of the day, providing a contact telephone number that queries should be diverted too.
Aside from the improved communication with customers, end users have the opportunity to refer to information contained within a feed and gain insight on a service outage or known issue without the need to call the service desk. This reduces service desk queue times and the amount of abandoned calls – especially important when there is an open high-priority incident.
But a social service desk need not only depend on technologies such as Twitter and Facebook. Ovum says it is important to make the distinction between social media and social networks. Social media is the content created whereas social networks are the platforms that this content is delivered on. It is therefore important to have an infrastructure that supports social content, which could include a SharePoint site, instant messaging or a community forum. IT service managers should harness resource and information where possible from these platforms and use them to build a community with users.