What is the value of the Service Desk in your organization?
A.) They are a strategic asset to the organization. They effectively manage end user’s IT related issues and we view them as being IT’s most knowledgeable resources about the customer’s experience with technology. We often consider their recommendations when evaluating IT and business strategy.
B.) They deal with end user issues. They are necessary evil to protect our expensive IT resources from answering customer calls yet they still escalate too many incidents to the next level.
If you answered “B” as the Service Desk is considered a necessary evil, you should consider if the Service Desk could bring additional value to the organization and evaluate the root cause of their current situation.
Mature Service Desks can provide tremendous value to the organization. They understand the end user experience. They know how to troubleshoot an issue often gaining valuable knowledge about the business process and how technology enables the required outcome. Experienced Service Desk agents will recommend workarounds to an end user which will allow them to complete critical tasks even if the root cause of an incident has not been addressed. They often keep the end users productive while their technical issues are being addressed.
The mature Service Desk understands customer impact. They recognize the business impact of technology issues and this can be translated into a cost to the business. This department has a wealth of information about which technologies are causing inefficiencies in the business or creating unnecessary interruptions in productivity.
The relationships developed with the business, the focus on productivity, and the information relating to customer impact are all strategic assets. This department provides tremendous value to the organization yet many times, this value is not realized.
Why isn’t your Service Desk a strategic asset? Why isn’t the Service Desk providing significant value to the organization? Consider the following top three reasons that Service Desks aren’t positioned to mature into strategic assets:
When evaluating your Service Desk, consider if they are positioned to mature into a strategic asset. If not, steps should be taken to remove the barriers to success.
The Service Desk should be a strategic asset. They are the first point of contact for the customer. They directly impact customer satisfaction and they hold the keys to a wealth of information which can help to improve the effectiveness of the IT Service Provider and reduce or optimize IT costs.
If you find yourself saying – “not in my organization, we call them the helpless desk”, you should consider if your Service Desk has the right leader.
Strong Service Desk leaders are passionate about their role. They have a laser focus on how their teams can provide a high caliber of service. They are using metrics to manage their departments and based on those metrics, they are instigating improvement actions such as training initiatives or process changes. They recognize that providing a high caliber of service means more than just solving a technical problem. The Service Desk Agents have development plans which address customer service, interpersonal skills, multitasking, writing, processes and procedures, etc. as well as the technical skills required to efficiently and effectively resolve a customer contact at first call or first level.
Service Desk Agents managed by a strong leader will be recruited to work in other areas. Their skills will be broad and valued. The Service Desk will become an entry point into the IT organization but that doesn’t mean it is entry level. When a strong leader is in place, they cultivate an environment that requires each new hire to have specific relational and technical competencies. They are careful about hiring as they want to ensure new hires will complement the existing team and ultimately, be successful in the role.
Strong Service Desk leaders are not solely focused on their departments. If improving service means addressing an issue that spans the entire IT organization, they don’t hesitate to start the discussion. They will provide information to developers and infrastructure teams on the volume and type of incidents being reported. They won’t stop there….they will go a step further by providing information about what it is costing the Service Desk and the IT organization to manage those incidents. They will request fixes to services or components and they will have the data to justify the necessary changes.
You will see the strong Service Desk leader or their representative at most project meetings. Their peers recognize them as providing valuable feedback on behalf of the customer experience and the Service Desk team. They are aware of changes in the environment and their team is prepared to support new services when they are moved into production.
When there is a major incident, the Service Desk leader is involved in the discussion about the incident, the resolution, and the communication plan. In small to mid-sized organizations, they may be at the helm during this crisis providing guidance and leadership to everyone involved until the incident is resolved.
Service Desk management is not an easy job. Projects, normal operations, and improvement initiatives often impact the Service Desk in some way. There are days where the sheer volume of change occurring is difficult to fathom much less manage. When something goes awry, they are also managing upset customers. Now add the complexity of navigating the IT organization and the reliance on other teams to effectively meet customer expectations and you can easily see that this is a profession requires specific personality traits and skills. Many IT Managers will say they have managed a Service Desk but few have really embraced the role. Without a passionate leader that truly understands the value this team brings to the IT Service Provider, your Service Desk will always be known as “the helpless desk”.