Developing a good improvement strategy can be hard, so we've compiled a list of best practice principles to give your support organization a leg up.

by Doug Tedder
Date Published May 2, 2024 - Last Updated May 2, 2024

I’ve always had a deep admiration for a great service desk. The ability of those service desk agents to jump from contact to contact, resolving consumer issues and requests efficiently and effectively, and interacting with consumers using the right mix of professionalism and friendliness has always impressed me.

Even when some consumer interactions are less than positive, the great service desk agent can mentally let that horrible interaction go and engage with the next consumer in a positive way. Watching a great service desk in action is truly a thing of beauty.

It's too bad that more people don’t recognize the value and beauty of a great service desk. It’s too bad that more people don’t appreciate the work being done at the service desk.

To many, the service desk consists of faceless exchanges between an agent and a consumer, rather than human-to-human interactions. Some see the service desk as an obstacle, rather than a way to improve their productivity and job satisfaction. Some feel that the service desk can be easily outsourced, or most interactions replaced by chatbots and automation.


The service desk matters!

What would happen if the service desk just stopped operations?

It’s the service desk that acts as the first line of defense for consumer issues to minimize the impact to personal productivity and business outcomes. It’s the service desk that is the primary channel for humanizing technology by applying empathy with those that become frustrated when things aren’t quite working. It’s the service desk that diffuses that frustration and turns the interaction into a positive outcome for both the consumer and the service desk. It’s the service desk that is doing the behind-the-scenes work of writing knowledge articles and researching and resolving issues and making telephone calls to other IT members to resolve escalated incidents and service requests.

But rarely are any of these actions recognized by anyone outside of the service desk. How can all the work being done at the service desk become recognizable? Perhaps the service desk should stop waiting to be recognized and become recognizable!


The building blocks for recognition of the service desk

Rather than waiting to be recognized, how can recognition be built into the service desk?

In many cases, consumers aren’t aware of the role of the service desk, much less its capabilities. Identifying and publishing, using business language, the service offerings provided by the service desk is a good start.

But it’s not just an issue with consumers. Sometimes, service desk personnel may not be able to articulate how what they do contributes to business success. Understanding the mission, vision, and goals (MVG) of the organization establishes the foundation for service desk recognition. Mapping service desk activities and accomplishments to the organization’s MVG further enables the recognition that the service desk deserves.

The business of the business – knowing what your business does to achieve MVG - is the next step. Understanding revenue drivers, patterns of business activity, the impact of governmental regulations, and other market drivers helps the service desk earn the recognition it deserves. When service desk agents understand the business of the business, it helps them better understand the impact of an issue or request and better prioritize and escalate those issues and requests.

Making regular investments in service desk agents’ skills and competencies is another building block for recognition. Enabling service desk agents with up-to-date knowledge and training enables them to deliver service and support that is differentiated and recognizable.


Start being recognizable!

Ready to have your service desk become recognizable? Here are some suggestions for getting started:

Measure and report on the things that matter – to the consumer.
Often the service desk reports on things that only matter to the IT organization or to the service desk. Frankly, consumers could care less about measures like FCR , MTTR, and user satisfaction – these measures represent service desk performance. They do care about measures that matter to them. Find out what consumers want to know about the service desk – and then measure and report on that.

Start – and continue – marketing the service desk.
"If you don't tell your story, someone else will - and you may not like what they say." One way to become more recognizable is to start and continue formal marketing campaigns regarding the service desk. Publicize how that behind-the-scenes work being done by the service desk is preventing future issues or minimizing impact on consumers. Provide training sessions or “lunch-and-learns" to help consumers get the best use and value from the technology being provided by the organization. Publish regular tips for helping consumers effectively use the service desk and associated resources. Showcase the work being done by service desk agents. Consistent marketing changes perceptions.

Start a continual improvement practice.
The service desk is collecting a gold mine of data. Think about it - every consumer interaction with the service desk is logged within some kind of record or recorded within some kind of log. Regularly review this data to identify potential improvements, both within the service desk and within other parts of the organization. Identify the “top three” consumer issues – then take actions to eliminate those issues. Then do it again. Make continual improvement a part of the DNA of the service desk.

Make service desk interactions more human. Too often, IT makes the decision how a consumer will interact with a technology, or with a service, or…with the service desk. Go beyond just sending out surveys (that go unread) and conduct focus groups with consumers to discuss the good, bad, and the missing with interactions with the service desk. Prototype solutions with pilot groups of consumers and incorporate their feedback for better human-centered interactions.

Too many service desks do not get the recognition that they deserve. Rather than wait to be recognized, do the things that make the service desk recognizable!
Tag(s): supportworld, ITSM, service management, process management, process-improvement, practices and processes


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