Want to understand your end users? Try talking to them!

By Ville Tukiainen, - Employee experienceService Intelligence

Whatever you think about Richard Branson, he made a good argument when saying: companies should put employees, not customers, first.

His point: if you provide your staff with a brilliant experience the customer experience will take care of itself. Those employees will be empowered and compelled to do their very best work.

Easier said than done in many cases. When it comes to designing employee and customer services the needs of end users have fundamentally changed over the years. Employees expect the experience they have with technology and service at work to reflect that which they have as consumers: engaging, personalized and hassle-free.

Much of this is driven by the changing nature of work – 70% of organizations will provide flexible working by 2020, according to our research. By 2025, millennials will make up 75% of the workforce and 41% of this group prefer to communicate digitally.

As a business, then, you need to provide not just personalization but choice – something to suit the different types of people you have in your organization and their preferences, but also to cater for the increasingly flexible nature of people’s working day.

To achieve that, however, you have to ask: What do your specific end users need and how do you ensure a seamless and integrated experience across your different applications and services?

Only through answering that question thoroughly can you create a personalized and unified end-user experience that reflects the technology expectations people have today.

Thankfully we’ve already started this process several years ago, and I’m in a position to share exactly how we did it.

Talking to our end users

When measuring the usage and effectiveness of a service, businesses traditionally relied on analyzing data. But while this is a good start it only really gives you a small piece of the bigger picture.

To understand why the data looks like it does, you need to engage with the end users and listen to what they have to say.

This kind of qualitative research will help you understand the reasons why people use or don’t use a particular service.

When we set out to develop the Next-Generation Service Desk, the Social Command Centre, we needed to understand how users were engaging with support on a personal level.

So we conducted on-going interviews across our existing customers, from people who already used the portal daily to its full potential to those who barely used it at all. We also had a paid sample group – a separate group of people who used a variety of service desks outside of our own offering.

Following the research we drew out five design principles. But these points can – and should – be applied when designing any online service to achieve an excellent user experience and minimize resistance to change.

  1. Integrated
  2. Transparent
  3. Personal
  4. Seize the moment
  5. Full package

Let’s go into each of those in a bit more detail…


Principle: Never ask a user for information you already know.

Users told us that most online services repeatedly ask for information they’ve already entered, especially when moving from one channel to another (e.g. chat to phone).

We now offer a multitude of integrated service channels to accommodate all types of users. The virtual assistant can solve problems and trigger automations, like resetting a forgotten password instantaneously. It can also hand over the chat to a service desk agent if needed. Information about every user interaction (automatic or human) is passed on to the next stage.

This allows us to always present the users with the fastest automated way of doing the task at hand, whatever channel they use. If the task needs manual intervention, we already have all the information we need.

This enables people to take the fastest route possible and reduces ‘downtime’ spent trying to fix a problem, while saving money for the company by both reducing spent working hours and manual intervention.


Principle: Make it clear to users what is happening, why it’s happening and how long it will take at every stage of their journey, from their initial contact to the final delivery.

Users found it unclear what actually happened to the support requests they made online. Some even suggested those requests simply “disappeared somewhere”.

Through the new Social Command Centre, users can now track the progression of all their requests and orders through every single stage with ease, in a single view. We’ve also mapped the Service Desk processes to a new, user-friendly interface that tells people whether their ticket is being resolved, escalated to a specialist group or waiting for additional information.


Principle: You need to understand users’ motivations. Why are they using the service and what do they ultimately want to achieve?

An example of this is when we discovered there were a surprising number of users supporting others in the organization, even though it was not their official role to do so.

To help them, we created features that made it easier to carry out tasks on behalf of others. Users can create service requests on behalf of someone else, for example, while the other person still gets updates on how the issue is being resolved. So people can still assist their colleagues if they want, but thanks to a more streamlined process it won’t take up nearly as much of their time.

Seize the moment

When the user needs something done, they want it done at the point when they are engaged with the issue. Delaying this opportunity will make the user lose interest or move to another service.

Our users told us they found it quick and easy to call the service desk. But often there was actually automated technology available to them that could have solved their problems without the need to wait on the phone.

To make the online service even faster, we introduced a range of new technologies like the virtual assistant integrated with live chat support. These quick online channels are a compelling option for contacting the desk, and they allow us to present the user with automated and self-help features they wouldn’t otherwise know existed.

Again, this ultimately ensures huge cost savings for the business and time saved for users. Why? Because by improving the self-service options, users are encouraged to choose them over more costly and time-consuming human interactions like calling the service desk.

Full package

Every user has different needs and prioritizing these is challenging. But it’s essential to build a service that encompasses everything users need.

Even though our users found the online self-help channels and automated services helpful, they had trouble finding them and felt like looking for them was an ‘extra step’. That can be jarring for people who are used to a quick and seamless technology experience as consumers.

So we streamlined the online experience, suggesting self-help and automated features but also offering service desk support for those who need it.

Now users start by describing their issue instead of being pointed to an enormous set of instructions. They are presented with only relevant automations and self-help features, along with their options for contacting the service desk.

By doing this we’re not forcing them to choose a support channel they don’t feel comfortable with. This is all about flexibility – giving people choice based on their preferences, their current situation or which device they happen to be using.


Understanding the end user is not a hard thing to do. It just requires you to have an open mind and not let existing processes getting in the way of delivering what end-users want.

The most expensive thing you can do is to develop a full service and then realize after the launch that it doesn’t meet the demands of your users.

You have to get user feedback right from the start. Too often we think we know what our users want, but that is rarely the case. Prototyping together with your users allows you to get different points of view and valuable feedback on what really works for them.

And when you find something that doesn’t work? That’s when you open the champagne.

You just saved yourself a whole lot of wasted time and money!

Download our Next-Generation Service Desk whitebook to learn more about the trends impacting the service desk

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