10 Things You Can Tweak on Your Service Desk


Some of you might know that next to my blogging on TechAcute, I am also a Project Manager and ITSM Advisor at Global Media Services GmbH, helping enterprises to better manage and leverage communication technology. From my experiences with building service desks or centralizing service desks and the general service operations around SL1, SL2 and other kinds of third parties, I have found several things that might work for your service desks just as well.

I have originally composed this pointers for a BrightTALK presentation in 2014 but I thought this information should be shared more and made available on the internet for all ITSM people to review and maybe even learn from.

The Problem

Legacy processes, routines and workflows disrupt the Service Desk Operations and often no longer add value. Innovation has fully stopped as staff is usually ‘full up’ and busy with fire fighting. With too much focus on the fire fighting, however, you lose track of the actual fire prevention and proactive approach. Does that sound familiar? Here are 10 considerations to think about, in order to improve your Service Desk.

1. Too Much Workload

Who has never encountered this piece of ITSM artifacts? I guess you all have. Too much workload can be either only emotion within the teams or worse, it could be real. What can be done against that?

  • Check work items against SLA scope
  • Find processes that do not add value and remove them
  • Automate standard activities
  • Consider self-service possibilities
  • If nothing else, you need more people in your team

2. New Team Members

So if you really needed new staff members for your service after all, how do you get them up to speed with everything as fast as possible?

  • Turn tacit knowledge into organizational memory
  • Have a workflow for the on-boarding process
  • Standard Operating Procedures can help new joiners
  • Facilitate test calls / emails in save environment
  • “Shadow-working” with a senior team member
  • Gamification is useful: Why not have a quiz to complete for new joiners? They need to find their way through digital information and go around asking co-workers

3. SPOC status not active

Okay – So you have set up your Service Desk and at least in the Service Design it states this team is the SPOC (Single Point of Contact) for users, but somehow users are still reaching out to whoever they think could help, which processes slowly and disrupts people’s work unnecessarily.

  • Utilize a User Portal with FAQ and ticketing function
  • One group inbox instead of individual email accounts
  • Make 3rd parties invisible to users (hide email / phone)
  • One group hotline, preferably with an IVR solution
  • User communication only sent by Service Desk

4. Increase Service Availability

Fire prevention is more valuable to a User than fire fighting. This is why we must strive to increase the overall Service Availability.

  • Separate testing and production environment
  • Improve Resilience Design
  • Test fail-over scenarios often
  • Demand more from your Technology Provider
  • Have a separate testing environment that does not affect production space (User space)
  • Test new software versions or hardware revisions against a standard test plan
  • Enforce strict and meaningful Change Management policies

5. Restoring Failed Services

One of the core responsibilities of the IT support team is to recover failed services in scope. Here are some hints on how to improve recovery processing and preparedness:

  • Use less-busy times to train recovery steps
  • Have a weekly / daily pow-wow to share special cases
  • Have team study developer documents and release notes
  • Assign subjects to staff for internal trainings
  • Provide Service Desk with testing devices / software for training and solution testing

6. No Value for Users

In case the Service Desk is newly established or was centralized from something that were previously regional teams concentrated on local matters only, sometimes the Users will not feel an improvement. In the early days, even, they will be confused and refuse to use it properly. Here are a few pointers:

  • Make sure to announce the Service Desk to Users
  • Merge and collect tacit info into central knowledge base
  • Be swift about moving tickets between groups
  • Update users on the progress of their request or incident
  • Facilitate User surveys to identify new demand

7. No Value for SL2

So what if the SL2 team does not feel that the SL1 is adding value? If the first level resolution rate is bad or if incidents just hang in their queue?

  • SL1 to tag along throughout SL2 troubleshooting for learning
  • SL2 prepares work instructions and knowledge articles
  • Staff rotation programs aid greatly in sharing knowledge
  • Check if SL1 has access rights to actually be of help
  • Ensure that communication between SL1 and SL2 is as close and quick as possible, when it has no user exposure

8. Motivate the Team

Sometimes a side-effect of generic issues is that you lose momentum and motivation within the team. But there are a few simple things that could help steering against that.

  • Share goals and KPI with the team
  • Help Agents create side-projects to shine
  • Assign product ownerships within the support group
  • Sit in the same office space as the team (sometimes at least)
  • Create a skill set of the staff and assign tasks accordingly
  • Listen to the team members very mindful
  • Make sure the workload is evenly distributed among team

9. Inconsistent User Experience

Measuring user satisfaction and similar is a very tough subject and often it cannot be clearly reported. One large issue around this is an unequal user experience, meaning User X calling Agent X receives a different answer than User Y got from Agent Y.

  • A knowledge base is great to compile standard information
  • Agents use a standard call-tree guide for phone queries
  • Prepared email copy text for standard correspondence
  • If you manage a globally distributed team, use a permanent video conference to create an immersive office experience. That way the Agents can update themselves instantly.

10. Incident Tickets Are Not Evil

This is the real deal, so watch out. I have often encountered teams who try to avoid incident tickets like the plague. Neither raising them nor receiving them is actually a bad thing.

  • Helps to measure the service and stability
  • Recorded effort time beyond agreements is leverage for additional staff
  • Incidents around legacy technology leverage a tech refresh
  • Incident data is a really good foundation to check for CSI initiatives
  • Incident tickets let you identify problems
  • Users can have insight into the work status (prevents calls and follow-up mails)

Avoiding this is like going to the doctor and not tell the doctor what’s wrong.

What Does the Future Hold?

Having addressed these 10 subjects, one might be wondering about the Future of the Service Desk. Are the users now on the tech level of the Service Desk from ten years ago? Here are some pointers for you to think about:

  • End-Users to interact with Service Desk via App on the spot
  • More technology solutions to allow Self-Service
  • If needed, End-Users will require instant assistance

But don‘t forget: Not all users will be tech-savvy. Don’t shift-left until there is nobody left in the Service Desk. Evaluate trends carefully before you buy in and not blindly follow the ‘latest’. If you have any more pointers or some comments on the ones above, feel welcome to drop me a note below in the comments section. Many thanks!
Photo credit: Sebastiaan ter Burg

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Christopher Isak
Christopher Isakhttps://techacute.com
Hi there and thanks for reading my article! I'm Chris the founder of TechAcute. I write about technology news and share experiences from my life in the enterprise world. Drop by on Twitter and say 'hi' sometime. ;)
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