It’s a pivotal and exciting moment for the service desk. For those still struggling with their traditional IT service desks that might sound like an odd statement, but significant change is coming.
Historically, the service desk’s primary role has been a help desk for when things go wrong. A ‘user’ gets on the phone and the service desk’s task is to understand what went wrong and either fix it or escalate it.
But things are moving on.
As technology has matured – especially with managed services in the cloud, software as a service, infrastructure improvements, and platform software – it has drastically reduced what can go wrong for internal business users and has changed the focus of the service desk. What is more prevalent now is request fulfilment.
Request fulfilment is about how users’ requests for services are fulfilled, managed, tracked and approved. Many service desks have gone beyond ‘fixing broken technology’, becoming a central point of contact in organizations for departments like HR and facilities management.
Modern service desk evolution
The capability of service management tools has caught the attention of other departments within organizations that want better customer interaction, greater automation, consistent workflows and integration with other systems.
System users today are working more remotely, so having a central, easily available portal to report incidents and place requests is often easier to manage via an IT Service Management (ITSM) tool. Many organizations are using the same ITSM technology for both internal and external users and customers, so the ‘portal’ is becoming an expected operational tool.
And so request fulfilment is maturing, with more organizations interested in mapping requests and understanding what approvals are needed. For example, a new employee or user needs many things beyond IT, meaning HR is often the instigator of integration between HR and IT, requesting the use of ITSM tools within its operations.
Organizations are even starting to use ITSM tools for everyday operations, such as recording, assigning, approving, fulfilling and reporting on work.
Modern service desk skills
Where the former help desk approach was very much a ‘grab it, fix it, deal with it’ model, the skills needed for service desk analysts today are becoming much more proactive.
IT departments are considering the end user and this is driving a more incident-trend and holistic problem management approach; defining an overall customer experience rather than a reactive response to incidents as they arise.
Where customer experience was previously handled via a complaint process or in an annual customer survey, now service desk analysts – along with the IT operations manager and CIO – are looking at how to shape the customer experience, align with broader business expectations and get a seat at the strategic table to make the service desk more than an afterthought in case of emergency.
The new customer experience
Getting service when and where they need it – and not just at a desk in their office – is what customers want. Calls for support or other requests need to be seamless and work remotely and across platforms. Therefore the people who operate, manage and plan organizational technology need to have repeatable, identifiable processes to deliver a stable environment and a predictable customer experience.
That includes having information to support decision-making. The asset management database has had its day: instead, configuration management has come of age and needs to be tied in seamlessly with the service catalogue, portfolio and lifecycle.
Best practice guidance - including ITIL®, PRINCE2® and PRINCE2 Agile® - provides the framework for organizations to create repeatable and stable processes that deliver a seamless experience for customers. Having this best practice guidance in place provides the organization with the ability to have control, manage vendors and understand customer use of services (internal or external).
Using best practice guidance supports service desk analysts and technology to enable requests for services, facilitating service fulfilment and service restoration. It also helps to provide information that enables strategic decision-making, bringing value to the business as never before.
Having service desk management that focuses on customer experience enables business functions for the whole organization: effective service fulfilment enables the rest of the business to do the business they need to do, and to do it well, cost effectively and satisfy the business’ own valued customers.