Businesses vastly overestimate the benefits of IT self-service, according to Gartner, which identified four myths surrounding the issue.

While self-service is a “great concept”, only five per cent of issues are actually solved by it, the analyst house said. In the next five years only 10 per cent of issues will be solved by it.

The first common myth among businesses, it said, is they assume that self-service significantly reduces costs. But it only works well in call reduction for basic record types, including how-to requests, frequently asked questions and password resetting.

In many cases, businesses’ investment in self-service far outweighs any savings they make using it, Gartner said.

Secondly, firms often expect self-service to be a one-off investment but the reality is that it requires “constant care and feeding”, Gartner said. Articles in the knowledge base need continuous assessment as to their usability, and frequent updating.

Businesses also need to spend time making sure their users know clearly how the service functions and what benefits it provides over calling the service desk.

Thirdly, companies expect that end-users will “flock” to use the system. The reality instead is that the acceptance “varies greatly”, with first-year adoption rates often “very low”.

Gartner said businesses need to understand who will be willing to use self-service, including younger staff and engineers, and that “end users who are stuck in their ways or who are not sophisticated computer users may not be as willing”.

Fourthly, businesses wrongly assume that IT self-service is easy to implement. Many fail to see that it is essential they have the right "companion" tools and processes, such as automated password resetting, in place first.

“End users want an IT self-service portal where knowledge is readily available, where passwords are easy to reset, and that is very intuitive to use,” Gartner said. “It is not the responsibility of the user to dig through knowledge if it is not stored correctly, or care about any processes or roadblock issues that prevent the support organisation from keeping the site fresh and up to date.”

If a self-service project is run correctly, said David Coyle, research VP at Gartner, the benefits “go well beyond service desk contact reduction”. He added that it can “improve customer satisfaction, provide incident trend analysis, identify training opportunities, and consolidate the knowledge that currently exists in silos across the support organisation".