The onus on the service desk has changed: today, it’s more customer focused and demands a new combination of skills for successful service desk agents.
Previously, the idea was to spend as little time on the phone as possible, with service level agreements measuring speed to answer, call duration and resolution.
Now, with technology advances and the emergence of customer self-help, technicians are having to up-skill beyond being tier one support: this involves the ability to resolve incidents, document problems but also develop a significant level of “soft skills”.
Luckily, this is addressed in ITIL® 4. The service desk management practice guidance emphasizes the service desk’s need to support “people and business” rather than just technical issues. It also promotes a better service desk understanding of the wider business context.
Service desk: an entry point for the organization
Until the day (if that day ever comes) robots take over completely, the service desk is the gateway for an organization and very much sets the tone for the customer/user experience.
Often, it’s the totality of the user experience that someone has with an organization; therefore, like a waiter in a restaurant, the service desk technician can make or break the experience.
Looking at it constructively, these agents are the first line of defence in identifying the technology and service issues going on in the business. More than that, it should be a holistic cradle to grave experience.
The key difference, as alluded to above, is the shift from a purely technical role to getting different parts of the organization and IT to have greater synergy. That includes playing a collaborative role with development teams and ITIL is great at connecting different IT disciplines and business areas to ensure everyone’s voice is heard.
So, the service desk plugs into the developers when fixing an issue, preventing an issue or providing a level of technology to enhance user experience. This means developers are not working in a vacuum and service desk becomes the liaison between development and end users.
Of course, there are cultural issues in these interactions but this changes as relationships build and credibility is established, backed by data to prove any observations.
For the wider business context, this is about service desk knowing both the business and customer/end user. It’s about being customer obsessed rather than just concerned with the break-fix of technology.
A culture change for the service desk
The level of service desk expertise needs to increase as organizations move into different technologies such as cloud, AI and robotic process automation. All of that and understanding the business too – this is a major cultural shift.
The challenge is creating a pipeline of succession because, traditionally, service desk people move on just as they start getting familiar with the business and its technology. So, to retain that knowledge, it means giving people a pathway to other roles in the same organization.
With ITIL 4, the main thing is showing how the role of the service desk – providing service to customers – fits in the organization. And having the certification enables practitioners to look for areas of improvement. In other words, this is best practices so how close are you to it and what do you need to adapt?
From now on, the best service desks are those that understand the importance of co-creating value. And the greatest value – as an unhappy end user with an IT issue – is coming away from the service desk with a good experience.