Too often, service desks are simultaneously asked to keep costs down and be ready to provide service for unexpected new demands. Here are suggestions for how to change that dynamic.

by Doug Tedder
Date Published January 24, 2023 - Last Updated January 25, 2023

Do you feel that your service desk isn’t being valued or appreciated?

If so, you’re not alone. Many service desk managers feel the same way. Your team is answering calls and resolving issues within performance targets, and yet somehow you and your team still don’t get the recognition and appreciation that is so deserved.

You’re under constant scrutiny for controlling support costs. Despite this, you are expected to pick up the slack (and unplanned costs) when a new system is implemented – often without any involvement from or enablement of the service desk – with the increase in contacts from end-users. And end-user training in the use of that new system wasn’t effective, so the service desk (naturally) gets a lot of contacts regarding how to use the new system. As a result, service desk agents are having to provide end-user training - without having appropriate training or knowledge articles to help.

Why isn’t the service desk getting any love from the organization?

The pain that I’ve described above is nothing new. Sadly, many organizations consider that pain as just a part of the “noise” of new implementations or of day-to-day support. It’s pain that those organizations either just ignore or categorize as “the cost of doing business”.

And rather than enabling the service desk to provide the level and quality of support that is demanded by end-users, the service desk gets blamed when things don’t go as needed. This is one of the symptoms of an IT organization that has not defined its services in terms of business outcomes and business value.

These kinds of service management implementations only focus on implementing a tool and setting up a few processes, such as incident management, and service request management. Maybe those implementations will include a problem management practice (well, sort of) and some kind of change management (usually a bureaucratic, rather than a facilitative approach).

Such implementations aren’t focused on delivering business value or enabling a differentiated experience. This approach to service management implementation doesn’t result in an integrated approach to delivering service. In fact, this approach encourages siloed thinking and working within IT – the most inefficient, ineffective, and unsatisfying ways for IT to work. Service management becomes just something that organizations tolerate because they don’t want to deal with the causes of end-user satisfaction – much less hear from dissatisfied consumers of IT products and services. “After all, isn’t that why we have a service desk - to deal with all of that noise?”

With that said, there are, as always, two sides to every story. What are you doing as the service desk manager to change the game? What are you doing to drive better value and business results – not just meet performance targets – at the service desk?

Here are the four keys for driving better business value and business results with the service desk:

Think “big picture”

In addition to the service desk and IT operations, IT security, application development, and quality assurance all have a role in service delivery and service support. As a service desk manager, you know that.

But don't just stop with IT. How does work move through the organization? How does technology enable or support that work? For example, a salesperson making a sale results in a product being moved from a bin in the warehouse onto a truck for delivery. Upon delivery of that product, the organization delivers an invoice to the customer, resulting in revenue for the organization. Understanding the end-to-end view of the organization enables the service desk to provide better support.

Connect IT actions to business outcomes.

How does the use of technology enable or contribute to business results? Think about the products and services produced by your organization. How do the actions taken by the service desk enable business results? For example, by quickly resolving an issue with the system supporting manufacturing enables the business to meet its weekly goals for producing widgets.

Think and act in terms of "business value”.

What is valuable to your business? Who are the "key stakeholders" in the use of technology and services provided by IT? What do they consider to be valuable? Reporting service desk value to the organization is not about reporting response times or number of tickets generated or mean time to resolve. It is about how IT optimizes operating costs. Or minimizes risk. Or improves profitability.

Capture and report measures that demonstrate business value, not operational performance.

Have a continual improvement mindset.

Continual improvement means ongoing activities to align/realign IT products and services to ever-changing business needs. Organizations are continually evolving and reacting to ever-changing market forces. As a result, IT organizations – including service desks - that do not continually improve will quickly find themselves viewed as an obstacle to business success. What is changing with your organization’s use of the service desk? What are the emerging trends within contacts to the service desk? What does the service desk need to do differently in response to these factors?

What you can do to change the game!

As a service desk manager, this may all seem overwhelming. You may feel that there is little that you can do to influence the rest of the IT organization to embrace the four keys listed above.

The fact is that every service desk - regardless of the maturity of the organization’s approach to service management - is sitting on a gold mine of knowledge and data about the organization it serves.

Think about it. A service desk is a single point of contact between end-users and the IT organization. This means that (nearly) every issue that a consumer has with a system or product is reported to the service desk. This provides the service desk with a distinct advantage – it has data about how end-users are using technology.

It’s about using this data, along with a little resourcefulness and initiative, to drive better business value and better business results from the service desk – and ultimately, from service management.

Help elevate your service desk by digging through your data gold mine to provide fact-based answers to these questions:

What is not working well?

It’s not enough to record and resolve incidents. Look for the business impacts behind the incident. For example, if the service desk gets a lot of calls from the sales team regarding the CRM system, how is that impacting the organization? Think about things like loss of company reputation, frustrated sales staff leaving the organization due to continual technical issues, or lost sales opportunities (which means missed revenue).

What are the most frequently asked questions/most frequently issues solved by the service desk?

Many service desks take pride in a high percentage of first call resolution, which can be interpreted as an “enabled” service desk. But challenge that – if the issue is that simple to resolve, why force the end-user to continually contact the service desk for resolution – why not just “fix it”?

What is the business of the business?

Who makes strategic decisions regarding the organization? What are the products and services produced by the organization? What do those decision makers measure value and business results? How does the service desk enable the organization to achieve its mission, vision, and goals?

Keeping these four keys for driving business value and business outcomes, along with getting answers to the above three questions, will make your service desk key for the organization realizing real business value and results from the use of technology.

Tag(s): supportworld, support models, technology


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