Sometimes you need to take the time to step back to see where your IT service desk could do better. Including where it sometimes manages to make issues for itself that just go unnoticed in such a chaotic work environment.
So in this blog post, I want to look at a few areas that your IT service desk should explore – to help it to “work better” and to thus add more value to your organization.
Shift-left is an IT service management (ITSM) concept that aims to move the resolution of issues, or provision of service, closer to the customer. So, Level 2 tasks are moved to Level 1 where possible, and Level 1 (and potentially Level 2) are moved to Level 0, i.e. self-service. With the ultimate goal being for the customer to help/serve themselves whenever they can – saving time and money while offering a quicker and better IT support experience.
Think about your own organization, I bet there are engineers doing tasks that lower-level personnel could be doing as well but more cheaply. This means your organization is currently paying more than it needs to for IT support.
Perhaps your desktop support engineers are doing simple first-line support fixes because your service desk doesn’t have the right tools or training for the job. Or maybe your service desk agents are logging tickets for end users because you don’t have a self-service portal.
You see how this works?
When you start to shift tasks left your customers log their own tickets, check their own updates, and can even start to resolve their own incidents. First-line support can then take on more Level 2 tasks, which frees up second-line support to focus on more technical issues, etc.
When you shift left correctly you also begin to empower your customers because they can take matters into their own hands. You also create a happier workforce because each support level is doing the work that’s meant for them. And, you save your organization a lot of wasted time and money by ensuring that you aren’t paying more-experienced support staff to complete tasks that their lower-paid roles could be completing. Plus, of course, issues are resolved quicker and each team is freed up to focus more on what they need to do.
For some great tips on shift-left, I recommend Joe the IT Guy’s blog 5 Tips for Shift-Left Success on the IT Service Desk.
Automation is the route all IT service desks should be taking given the ever-increasing need to “do more with less.”
If you’re not already on the automation train, then you need to get on board now! And if you are already exploring and employing automation, are you getting the maximum possible impact from it? If you’re not, expanding your automation possibilities could be the quick win that you need to help with the “doing more with less.”
Here are five areas that you can look to automate right away:
But it’s not all about saving money and time. The key to successful automation is to ensure that, as well as speeding up ITSM processes, it enhances your customers’ experiences. For example, customer notifications should be personalized and sent only at relevant times. No spamming here, please.
Further reading on this: Oded Moshe’s “6 Reasons to Automate Your IT Service Request Tickets.”
Aged tickets can be a big problem for IT service desks. They’re the kind of ticket that no one wants because they become notoriously difficult to fix, mess up your service level agreement (SLA) stats, and have the potential to be forgotten about until your agents are drowning in a backlog of them and they suddenly become an emergency.
Thus, your IT service desk should be tackling aged tickets on a consistent basis before they drive up complaints to the desk and/or become a big cause of duplicated effort.
Sometimes it’s inevitable that you’ll have incidents that take a long time to resolve but if your agents are focused on these tickets they can still send customer updates and chase the resolution teams involved. Without this kind of focus, there’s no one holding teams accountable and your aged ticket queue will most likely continue to grow.
Hopefully, your IT service desk is already reporting on its daily, weekly, and monthly performance stats. If the volume of aged tickets isn’t on these reports, then it’s a great addition to make. It might be scary at first, especially if you haven’t looked at these for some time but putting a process in place to handle aged tickets can help to reduce chaser calls and complaints into the desk. Thus, saving time and costs. Plus, customers should appreciate that some things are difficult to fix but they will never appreciate being left in the dark.
Are all of your IT service desk agents delivering consistently-great customer service?
One “bad egg” can be detrimental to your team, so you need to ensure that all of your agents are doing the job to their best of their ability, and consistently.
Now don’t get me wrong, everyone has bad days and that’s understandable. Customer complaints and incidents that need to be resolved by yesterday can really take their toll. But, when the bad days outnumber the good days, you might find that one unhappy agent has the power to bring down the rest of your team. Plus, negativity breeds negativity, so you will need to stamp it out before it spreads.
So, ensure that your agents are regularly motivated by praising them often, giving them regular feedback, and using tactics like gamification. Make the service desk as fun a place as you can to help compensate for the grind of daily tasks.
And when you notice that an agent is not performing well you’ll need to nip the problem in the bud rather than letting it drag out as it will only get harder to fix.
The customer service delivered by your IT service desk agents should be the one area that you have complete control over and is also an area that really has the potential to influence whether your IT service desk sinks or swims. So, you’ll need to ensure that your team is performing well on a daily basis – and with great customer service even the most difficult end users will hopefully begin to value what you’re doing.
There’s a big difference between having a self-service portal and having a self-service portal that your customers actually use. I speak with a lot of IT service desk managers who tell me that they have implemented a portal, but they just can’t get their customers to actually use it.
Often this is because customers either don’t know it exists or they don’t know how to use it. Luckily these are both pretty simple issues to fix:
You can find more help on succeeding with self-service in this blog by my boss (SysAid’s CEO) Sarah Lahav: Everything You Wanted to Know About IT Self-Service but Were Afraid to Ask.
This is also part of the shift-left tactic that we’ve already discussed. A self-service portal is the start of your journey for getting users to resolve their own issues.
There are, of course, other ways for your IT service desk to add greater value to your organization. These five areas are great ones to get you started, but please let me know, in the comments section, other areas you’re exploring.