At the Tech Lounge, the human touch makes all the difference


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In the middle of preparations for a ServiceNow product release, Roni Fontaine’s work calendar shut down. The marketing operations director couldn’t book meetings, and colleagues couldn’t invite her to any. Her calendar looked completely greyed out. 

So Roni, who works in the Santa Clara headquarters, paid a visit to the Tech Lounge. The technicians were initially stumped. The email program wouldn’t load sufficiently for them to see the problem. Resetting Roni’s password, profile and reinstalling the app didn’t help, either.

Tech Lounge technician Darpan Patel contacted Systems Engineering, which helped him open a case with the vendor. After further diagnosis, Darpan saw that one of Roni’s meetings had been scheduled 70,000 times. Just syncing the meetings was hogging all of the calendar’s resources.  

As Darpan explains, this was one of his most challenging and puzzling cases he has encountered recently. He  wound up manually deleting all 70,000 meetings to get Roni’s calendar working again—and her attention back on the release. “We both wanted to get my email working  as quickly as we could, so I could keep up with all the deadlines for the upcoming release” she says. 

This is what the Tech Lounge aspires to be, says Director of IT Service Management Mirza Baig—a space where employees get personalized attention on complex tech issues. As ServiceNow works on automating many common requests and providing easy to find, self-service options,  the IT Support technicians have more time to focus on the tough cases. That makes their jobs more challenging--and fulfilling. 

“I have a pretty lofty goal of having all employee requests solved via self-service,” says Mirza. “Anything that’s more complex, time-consuming, or consultative in nature—that’s when we want employees to go to the Tech Lounge for help.” 

 

Automation frees up agent brainpower 

Seven global ServiceNow campuses now have Tech Lounges, which handle 30% of IT cases. It’s a physical space where employees can meet face to face with technicians to fix issues, add software, or request hardware. They can make an appointment, request the next open appointment (and be notified when to walk down to the lounge), or work in the area while they wait for assistance. Employees generally wait less than 15 minutes to get help.

The concept is working.  The Tech Lounges received a 98% CSAT (customer satisfaction) score by employees, a jump of five points from last year. 

The role of the Lounge is continuing to evolve , thanks to IT’s efforts to automate basic services. If an employee has issues with conference room hardware or software, they can scan the room’s QR code. IT is automatically notified and starts on a fix within 15 minutes. If you need extension cords, chargers, and other accessories, you can visit  a vending machine in the lounge. Among other services, IT technicians spend time educating employees on how to set up two-factor authentication on a new device, so they show can do it on their own the next time.

 

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Personalized consultations 

Sharron Dawes knows the San Diego Tech Lounge well. Sharron, who was previously a neuropsychological researcher at UC San Diego, is ServiceNow’s only dedicated statistician on the Core Platform/Machine Learning team. 

“My needs from the Tech Lounge and Help Desk have been a little unusual,” she says. 

Sharron recently needed to upgrade her standard-issue laptop. She works on HealthScan, software that assesses the health of  ServiceNow cloud instances to spot performance issues. A typical analysis might involve 140,000 rows of data and more than 3,000 variables. To handle that level of data crunching, in her first months on the job, Sharron was working with three laptops: two for analyses and one for email. 

“It was taking me 10 hours to do an analysis that should have taken six minutes,” says Sharron. “We had to find a faster, more efficient way.”

Enter the Tech Lounge, where Sharron worked with techs to find a better computer. The technicians researched the options and ordered her a Lenovo P52 gaming laptop.

“The promptness of replies, willingness to go above and beyond, professionalism, and attitudes were just fantastic,” says Sharon of her friends at the Tech Lounge. “They made it a pleasure to interact with them.” 

The biggest payoff: she can run analyses in minutes, not hours. 

 

Automating the routine

The role of the Tech Lounge will continue to evolve, says Mirza, as more automation comes into play. For example, when VPN connectivity issues became a common issue—draining productivity and creating frustration—IT got busy looking at how it could proactively fix this issue, a hugely complicated process involving multiple vendors. 

Using machine learning and AI, the AIOps team designed a workflow that automatically identifies VPN issues as they occur, creates a ticket, and notifies a technician. Technicians, like Darpan, then reach out to the affected employee via instant message to resolve the issue. If multiple tickets about an issue like VPN begin popping, they are automatically combined into a parent incident and the appropriate teams are notified.  

Automation is even changing how employees get new applications. Instead of requiring a technician to log in as an administrator, employees can install the software with a simple challenge code from the technician, minimizing time spent in the Lounge downloading software.

“We are always finding new ways to improve how and where employees work,” says Mirza. “That translates to happier employees and technicians, who can then focus on other things, like educating employees new technologies like the Now mobile app and the desktop chatbot.”

 

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