If your IT organization doesn't currently have an IT service desk capability but would like one, then there are three vital ingredients you’ll need: the right people, the right processes (or “practices” if you’ve already swotted up on ITIL 4), and the right technology. Of course, there’s more that’s needed, such as a vision and strategy for the service desk capability. And a performance measurement system – plus, funding!
But in this blog, we want to share four important things – across people and technology – that will help to ensure that your creation of a new IT service desk capability both goes smoothly and delivers against your expectations.
Let’s start with the people.
1. Hire the Right Staff
Finding and hiring the right service desk staff can be hard. But, with good planning – in terms of the attitude, skills, and people you expect – you can avoid interview and hiring disasters and hopefully recognize the applicants you need to hire.
So, what are some of the key personal attributes you need to look for in a service desk analyst? Here are five that are a good place to start when defining your organization’s IT support needs:
- Patience – This is a must have quality. In its simplest form, patience enables the analyst to provide a better service by spending time with the customer and understanding their issue in a more detailed way. Remember, dealing with customers on a daily basis can be hard work, then combine this with the fact that customers only tend to contact the service desk for help when things go wrong, which usually means they’re confused and frustrated, and it means an analyst must have patience, a lot of patience.
- Active listening – Customers want to be heard; they need to explain the whole picture to the analyst so that they can them help them correctly. More often than not, customers won’t understand the terminology and they communicate issues in a different way. The ability to listen and absorb what the customer is saying is therefore crucial because, if the analyst misses something, it could make it a lot harder to resolve the customer’s issue.
- Good organizational skills – The role of a service desk analyst involves juggling multiple tasks at once. Having good organizational skills will reduce the number of errors during this and allow the analyst to meet the customer needs more effectively and efficiently.
- Creativity and flexibility – Dealing with customers with issues that need fixing means the service desk analyst may have to use some creativity if the usual “fixes” don’t solve the issue. Regardless of the complexity of the issues thrown their way, analysts need to have the ability to come up with workable solutions. Along with this creativity comes flexibility. The analyst should be flexible enough to meet the needs of different kinds of customers.
- Empathy – After receiving the call or email from a customer detailing the issue they have; the analyst will need to be able to take a step back and put themselves in the customer’s shoes. This will enable them to understand how the customer is feeling and the impact of their issue. If the customer is upset, and the issue demands an apology, then the analyst will also need to be able to apologize and show sincerity when doing so.
It’s also important to understand that analysts are the “public face” of your IT organization, and it’s therefore crucial to bring the right people on board.
2. Have a Plan on How You’re Going to Keep the Right Staff
Can you imagine spending all that time and effort on finding great service desk staff to then not be able to keep them! Here are some of the ways you can not only retain your service desk staff but also have them feeling happy and motivated to provide the best IT support possible:
- Share team performance – It can be very disheartening, even demotivating, to work hard yet have no idea of how you’re performing (from an “official” perspective). To help alleviate this, keep track of your team members’ performance and have open communication with them about it on a regular basis. And provide real examples of why good and bad results occurred. Doing this will help to show that each team member is essential to the team’s success.
- Promote from within whenever possible – Surveys of employees will often show that the lack of opportunity for advancement is a top reason why they left their last job. It’s therefore important you don’t just sell the job to new staff, but also the future and where the job can take the individual. Importantly, if some of your service desk people are promoted, if done correctly then others will also see that there’s potential for advancement.
- Help your team to maintain a good work-life balance – It’s great that customers can contact IT support 24/7, but at what cost? This kind of schedule can be demanding on employees and make them feel exhausted and sometimes even resentful. This can also then lead to poor health and wellbeing. By actively encouraging your team to have a better work-life balance, they’ll feel happier when coming to work and even have an increased level of energy. As famous billionaire and founder of the Virgin Group Richard Branson once said “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”
Now onto the technology…
3. Make Sure You Understand the ITSM Tool’s Licensing Model
Different ITSM tool vendors have various ways of licensing their solution. So, as you begin the process of selecting a new ITSM tool, it’s important that you understand the shortlisted vendors’ particular licensing model, policies, and enforcement methods. This increases your chances of avoiding unexpected costs and ensures the ITSM solution you choose meets the business’ requirements and not just from a capabilities perspective.
There are two common licensing models, which can then be used in either an on-premises or SaaS delivery model (so, licenses versus subscriptions):
- Named Licensing – This enables a specific individual to access the functionality of the software. This type of licensing usually makes more sense for IT personnel who work frequently in the system and require guaranteed access.
- Concurrent Licensing – This type of licensing model gives any authorized person access to the functionality of the software, so long as the maximum number of users at any one time does not exceed the total number of licenses purchased. Concurrent Licensing is more suited for personnel who work in the system less frequently or hold a less critical role within the IT organization.
A software vendor might also offer enterprise licensing that better suits the largest of organizations, but this isn’t common for ITSM tools.
It’s important that you understand which licensing model (plus, delivery model) is going to work best for your business, otherwise you could end up wasting money. Especially when business requirements change and more tool users are required.
4. Ensure the ITSM Tool and Its Access Channels Are Easy to Use
Although this may sound common sense, it shouldn’t be hard for IT staff to use an ITSM tool nor should it be difficult for customers to ask for help.
Sadly, research shows that the end-users of an IT service desk are rarely asked for feedback on the considered products during the selection process. And by not listening to the end users, it’s easy to end up with a service desk that’s being led by technology, as opposed to it being led by user needs.
For an IT service desk to be effective and have end users consistently use and engage with it, it needs to be highly user-friendly, simple, and ideally frictionless to use. It’s also a good idea to incorporate training on how to log requests and report incidents into the onboarding process. This way, any new employees immediately know the best way to engage with IT support.
You also need to take into consideration the various ways customers will want to engage, such as email, phone call, text, chat, or via a self-service portal.
What have you found to be the most important ingredients when creating a new IT service desk capability? What would you add to our list? Please let us know in the comments.