A growing number of enterprises are embracing "genius bar" type walk-up service tech bars to resolve employee IT issues. Per HDI's 2018 technical support practices study, the proportion of organizations offering tech bar support jumped from 35% in 2017 to 44% in 2018, and it was projected that 49% of organizations would start 2020 offering a live walk-up support option.
Implementing a tech bar provides a number of benefits to the organization, including:
Beyond these operational advantages, as noted on the Samanage blog , "Deploying...walk-in IT services is often simply a response to a changing workforce. More employees are mobile, working in the field, while traveling, or from home. Laptops and mobile devices have largely taken over for desktop machines in many companies. Creating a place where people can show up, seek help, and interact with IT service desk workers in person has offered promising results."
Deploying a tech bar doesn't require a huge investment in resources. The basic requirements are dedicated space, staffing, and tech bar software that provides capabilities like appointment scheduling, ticket management, and team collaboration.
Per SysAid, "Any good IT service desk is focused on the following three things:
A tech bar supports those objectives, while also minimizing business user disruption of IT. Instead of an employee having to interrupt an IT staff member with a face-to-face question, the tech bar creates a space designed for that type of interaction.
If you organization is among the just-over-50% of organiations still considering implementation, here are five key steps for a great tech bar launch:
1 - Pick a highly visible location in a high-traffic area. This will maximize awareness and utilization, make your tech bar easy to find and convenient to visit.
2 - Offer obvious, extended hours of service. Provide service before and after core business hours, by appointment. Communicate these hours clearly so employees know when the tech bar is staffed, and that they have some flexibility in scheduling an appointment.
3 - Clearly communicate the services offered. Tech bars aren't right for solving every type of IT issue, but they are ideal for fixing simple, common issues, especially for problems with mobile devices (tablets, smartphones, and laptops). To help users resolve their issues most expediently, make it clear what kinds of problems the tech bar does—and does not—deal with
4 - Use tech bar software that enables appointment scheduling. As noted above, you'll probably want your tech bar to be open before and after normal workday hours. But to optimize staff efficiency, use scheduling so you don't need to have an IT pro staffing the tech bar at 7:00 (a.m. or p.m.) if there are no appointments at those times.
5 - Tell people about it. Once you have a firm launch date for your tech bar, start marketing it to users. Spread the word through multiple channels. Create signage. Put flyers in employee mailboxes. Promote it on your intranet or employee portal. Send out an email announcement, then also embed word about it in the email signature of all internal messages sent by IT. When your launch date arrives, hold an open house event to celebrate the opening of the tech bar.
With the right location, staff, communication, and software, a tech bar can simplify resolution for many types of tech problems. Though the average fully burdened cost per ticket is slightly higher for walk-up than for other channels (e.g., email or chat), the difference is more than offset by the reduction in employee downtime.
By "putting a face on IT," a tech bar can also provide benefits that are harder to quantify—like making IT more approachable, and making everyone feel more like part of the same team.