One of the challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic has been the inability of business users to leverage IT walk-up support (wherever this channel of support existed before the pandemic struck).
IT walk-up support thrives on a personalized interaction between business users and IT support personnel. Many countries, regions have started opening up their cities and businesses are slowly getting back on their feet. Even under these somewhat normalized circumstances, the fear of a second wave means personal sanitization while at a workplace will play on the minds of business users. Whenever IT leaders decide to make IT walk-up service available, they will need to ensure that the safety of business users and the walk-up support personnel is not compromised during the support interactions.
IT leaders will need to consider the following short-term and long-term actions to ensure continued success of their IT walk-up support channel:
Short Term measures:
- For the first few weeks, allow business users to engage the walk-up support personnel via prior appointments only. This will avoid spontaneous crowds from gathering at the center. Business users that randomly walk-in would only be served if there is no business user receiving service.
- Use of plexiglass at walk-up desks may also instill a sense of security to the business users as well as the technicians.
- Hand sanitizers should be made available inside the center for usage by both – business users as well as walk-up support personnel.
- Equipment drop-in for repairs or upgrades can be dealt with by creating an unmanned desk rather than directly handling the equipment as it comes in. Whenever the walk-up support personnel need to access these devices – they should use disposable gloves for the same.
- Before returning equipment to business users, walk-up support personnel can to sanitize the equipment externally. Take steps to ensure disinfectants do not touch sensitive components, such as the built-in webcam or battery pack. All power-based equipment should be turned off before beginning the cleaning process. The same process should be followed when receiving the equipment from the business users. Refer CDC’s guidance for more details https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/cleaning-disinfection.html
- Avoid using touchscreens to gather spot feedback from business users after fulfilling the request. A feedback survey can be sent after closing the ticket so that the business users can provide the feedback from their desk.
- Make sure these and any other safety measures put in place at walk-up support are advertised to the business users so that they feel safe about using this support channel.
Long Term measures:
- Leverage dispensing machines to allocate fast moving IT equipment to the business users. This will keep human touch-points to the minimum.
- Self-service kiosks can leverage partitions to maintain social distancing between two or more business users depending upon the number of self-service kiosks available in the walk-up support center.
- Consider portable UV sterilizers to sanitize the equipment upon receiving it from the business users or upon returning it to the business users. This will be a much faster process as opposed to manually sanitizing the equipment.
- As you move away from ‘appointment-based’ walk-ins to ‘spontaneous walk-ins’ at the walk-up center, avoid using the touch screens at the entry point of the walk-up center for issuing tokens. Instead use an app-based approach for issuing tokens and servicing the business consumers.
Service level targets for IT walk-up centers will need to be more relaxed (especially in the short term) to account for the situational constraints.
Though IT walk-up support is not appropriate for organizations of all sizes, these service engagement mechanisms have the potential to enhance customer experience for business users where they are operational. Covid-19 has enforced changes in the operational strategy for IT walk-up support. Balancing safety with convenience will make sure that IT leaders continue to provide an enhanced customer experience to their business users via this channel of IT support.
NOTE – The advice provided here is not intended to be comprehensive. This blog is intended to address some of the concerns I&O leaders may have with restarting their IT walk-up support channel specifically post the COVID-19 pandemic. For a detailed guidance on IT walk-up support best practices read “5 Best Practices to Create a Successful IT Walk-Up Center”. Kindly consult your local government authorities and health officials for guidance and requirements for returning to operations.