Incident management is one of the most visible aspects of IT operations. Everyone in your organization will no doubt have some form of IT issue, or need for new IT equipment or services, at some point. They will thus need to engage with your IT service desk.
Now, in this post-COVID-19 crisis “new normal,” it’s important not to underestimate the importance of your IT service desk and the need for its processes and procedures to both minimize employee lost productivity and provide a professional and supportive impression of your IT organization. Especially for employees that continue to work remotely.
Need help with your IT support team’s handling of IT issues? If so, here are ten tips for getting the most out of your incident management practice.
Tip #1: Make your incident management form(s) easy for end users
For us, a golden rule of IT service management (ITSM) is – always make it easy for people to access and use your services. So, make your incident management form(s) easy to engage with and easy to use.
All too often, we can get so caught up in what our ITSM tool can offer us and we forget about the user experience. So, when designing your incident form(s) make sure that it’s linked to the user’s account such that the person’s name and contact details are already prepopulated. Add a free text field, such that the end user can give a brief outline of their issue, along with a drop-down menu such that they can select the appropriate service. And keep this menu simple, using terminology that business personnel will understand. For example, instead of listing Service ABC123, label it with what the end user calls it. For instance, reporting service or email.
The easier it is to report an issue the higher the probability that people will provide the right level of information that’s actually needed (because you don’t waste their time with superfluous information needs).
Tip #2: Make your incident management form easy for techies
Hands up if you’ve ever had trouble reporting on the sheer volume of work your IT service desk handles all because not everything is logged. It’s all of us, we’d imagine.
In all seriousness, we benefit from everything being captured so we can identify trends, are able to forecast work accurately, and can identify immediate pain points. However, if it takes too long to log an incident ticket, then guess what? Some calls aren’t going to get logged to save time.
So, configure your incident form(s) such that technicians can quickly log an incident by service and can either resolve it on the same screen (in the event of a first-time fix situation) or swiftly escalate it to second- or third-line support.
Tip #3: Look for ways to increase your first-time fix rate
The more issues your IT service desk can catch at the first point of contact, the quicker your business users can get back to the day job. So, make sure that you’re geared up to fix as many issues as possible at the first line of support. For example, ensure that every person on your service desk has basic training on the commonly used applications so that they can quickly identify and resolve the most frequently occurring issues.
Tip #4: “Game the system” to engage and motivate service desk analysts
Increase business and IT engagement by introducing gamification.
Here, gamification can be used to drive the right human behaviors (in an incident management environment) by making the process of logging or responding to incidents fun (or at least more interesting). By doing so, you’ll increase engagement and reduce the risk of your process being bypassed.
Tip #5: Offer self-service as an easy alternative to calling or emailing the IT service desk
Empower the business by offering an effective self-service channel. In particular, common IT issues and requests such as password resets and account unlocks can be automated via the self-service channel. It’s a win-win – the end user can get a swift resolution and progress on with their work and the service desk has greater bandwidth for dealing with more challenging issues.
Self-service capabilities are a quick and easy way for remote-working employees, in particular, to access the help they need.
Tip #6: Allow service desk analysts to keep on learning
Proactively challenge your service desk analysts to up their game knowledge-wise. Their introductory training might cover the basics but it’s also important for service desk analysts to keep learning.
It’s not only to provide a better IT support service, but there’s also a personal element to consider. For example, if you stop learning new things, then how are you going to be challenged in your role? So, keep your IT support teams engaged by offering people suitable training programs, potentially via memberships with best-practice organizations such as the Service Desk Institute (SDI), HDI, and local itSMF chapters.
Tip #7: Make your incident escalation pathways clear
In ITSM, we generally have two types of escalation – functional and hierarchical. Functional escalations focus on technology and expertise. For example, if the first-line service desk analyst can’t fix an email issue over the phone, then they might pass it to second-line support who have more specialized knowledge of email products and services.
Whereas, hierarchical escalation is typically used if something has “gone sideways.” For example, where something is about to breach, or has breached, a service level agreement (SLA) target or is taking an age to fix and the end user is rightly unhappy. So, a hierarchical escalation could be to escalate to the service desk team leader or management, such that the issue gets greater visibility and the support of someone more senior for applying additional effort to deliver the required resolution.
For both types of escalation, make sure that there’s a defined process and that the right people and responsibilities are mapped out. No one wants a situation where the IT director or CTO is getting calls about password resets – so, make sure that escalations routes are agreed, known, and used when needed.
Tip #8: Kill off your aged incidents
Seriously, we all have them! And there’s nothing worse as a service desk analyst than opening your queue in the morning and not being able to see the wood for the trees (or in our case, the major faults for the password resets). Plus, how are some of these aged incidents affecting end users’ abilities to work?
So, make aged incidents an area of focus for your IT service desk. Report on them, make them an agenda item at team meetings, and schedule times specifically for aged tickets to be tackled to help avoid those frustrated end users.
Tip #9: Remember that it’s good to talk
Talk to your end users, talk to management, and talk to key business stakeholders. In short, great communication can go a long way in improving your IT service desk’s customer experience (and, ultimately, the resulting business outcomes).
Tip #10: Aim to keep getting better
No IT service desk will ever be perfect in what’s a constantly changing world. There’s thus the need to continually improve, even if simply through small tweaks. So, for example, look at how your service desk can add greater value by being part of the change advisory board (CAB) or by offering to spend some time with problem management personnel to identify recurring issues and potential workarounds. By strengthening relationships with other practices, you’ll make new contacts, get more ideas, and open up the IT service desk for new initiatives and improvements.
What would you add to this list? Please let us know in the comments.