advice

Building the service desk of the future starts with understanding what it’s being used for

By David Ewart, - Advice

Service desks are typically set up to support people with their IT issues. We need to rethink what we mean by support – and what a service desk can do for end users.

That begins with understanding not just how people use the service desk, but how they want to use it.

A traditional service desk monitors service level agreements, showing green lights for all those instances when targets were hit and issues solved.

The problem with this is that this kind of measurement doesn’t always take into account how the end user is feeling about their interaction. The user, after all, isn’t particularly interested in how the overall service is performing – especially if they don’t feel satisfied with how they’ve been served themselves.

In an ideal world, the user wouldn’t have any need for a service desk at all: things would just work. Of course, we don’t live in an ideal world but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try and create it.

Analytics, automation and enhancing user experience and productivity via self service are three of the methods by which we’re moving towards that world.

Automating the obvious – it’s obvious

In terms of smoothing the administrative process of running a service desk, the potential benefits to be gleaned from automation are perhaps obvious.

The time and effort that goes into solving low-complexity problems is the bane of the traditional support system and a major suck on agent resources. It’s simply not productive for service desk agents to be spending the bulk of their day responding to password change requests.

These are exactly the kind of solutions that can be automated or moved to a self-service model. Helping people to help themselves is key to productivity not just of the service desk, but the end user too.

In doing this, you achieve a couple of things: you make it easier for the end user to consumer support (since they don’t have to go via the service desk), and you free up the service desk to deal with much more complex challenges or proactive system improvements.

As agents work more efficiently, you save on costs too – a crucial concern for any CIO, and one that in the past has arguably curbed the potential of the service desk.

Analyzing for greater understanding

Underpinning all of this is analytics.

At a very basic level, by analyzing the way people use the service desk it’s possible to build a picture of how to shape the service to improve it for the people that matter most – the end users.

Analytics enhance our ability to identify and understand the reasons why users are contacting the service desk in the first place.

From identifying peak periods (such as Monday mornings when, yep, the desk receives lots of password change requests), to spotting call trends that can be focused on to improve call resolution methods, increase first time fixes or identify automation opportunities, understanding how the service desk is used is vital to being able to improve it.

With this understanding, it’s possible to provide a more user-centric experience, and a support process that’s tailored and personalized to an individual based on their skill set, location, device types, and the applications they’re using.

In this case, a user-centric experience is one that automates or provides a self-service option wherever possible. No one wants to spend all day calling the service desk trying to get an update installed or a password changed.

Automated and self-service processes are in turn analyzed to help understand further where we need to evolve and enhance the quality of support provided via these channels.

This can be anything from finding out how many people are using a particular self-service channel, to investigating those cases in which users attempt to use a self-service option but still end up needing to pick up the phone to engage a service desk agent.

Analytics can help to hone in on and pinpoint what needs changing to continue to provide a self-service support solution that people will choose to use – rather than picking up the phone as a first port of call..

A user-first future

When we developed our current service desk iteration – the Social Command Center – we started with the end user.

This means not only understanding user pain points but also developing solutions that meet their expectations. These are expectations that increasingly are influenced by people’s experiences outside of the workplace.

The way you receive technical support for your personal devices is completely different from how you access help in the workplace – with the Social Command Center we’re aiming to bridge the gap between home and the enterprise, and offer a great user experience in the process.

In an enterprise environment, you might be using multiple business systems for HR, expenses, timesheets etcetera, all of which have different interfaces and require different passwords. It’s an often frustrating, and occasionally unworkable experience – not to mention a real time suck that can stop people from being productive.

By converging available support facilities, the Social Command Center acts as a ‘one-stop shop’ for the user, with lots of bleeding-edge technologies and tools integrated in a seamless experience for the user. Omni-channel, 24/7 support as standard enables people to access support on their terms – meaning they’re not restrained by operational support hours.

In the past, often constrained by cost pressures, IT departments would select a single support tool, deploy it, and then mandate that end users adopt it. This approach misses the point, ignoring as it does the variety and individual circumstances of problems that users will be experiencing across the board.

With a strong analytics-led approach, we have the ability to provide our customers end users with a continually-evolving experience that can meet their expectations and – with a smart, individualized, flexible support system – even surpass them.

Want to find out more? Take a read of our Service Desk White Book and infographic.

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