How to Build a World-Class IT Service Desk

IT Service desk - man operating a laptop

How to Build a World-Class IT Service Desk

You are working on a deadline. The presentation date is tomorrow, and the schedule is tight, your plate is full, and you are working feverishly to get things ready. Of course, your computer decides to glitch and suddenly you need help.

There are countless scenarios in our companies every day just like this where team members need to get IT assistance. Sometimes it is urgent, and sometimes it can wait. It is often a quick fix or question, but sometimes, it is a tougher issue that requires significant troubleshooting.

What is it that people want when they are having technology issues? Most often, it is the same four things: a simple and clear process for getting help, a response that meets the urgency of their need, communication that does not make them feel less-than, and a competent person who can resolve the problem efficiently.

A simple list, but simple does not always mean easy. Creating a consistent and responsive service desk requires people, processes, and systems.

Here are 10 Components of a High-Performing Service Desk.

#1 People Focused on People. It is, after all, a “service” desk, and the people who are providing service must have a focus on helping others. Empathy and genuinely caring about others must be engrained in the values of the people serving in this role. So often, technical people focus on technical details and forget the people which doesn’t work!

#2 Broad Technology Experience. Nobody wants to be escalated four times to get the right person to help them, yet this is how big corporate IT almost always works. To truly provide excellent service, the front line on the service desk must have enough technology exposure to handle at least 75% of the problems that come to them without passing off the trouble ticket.

#3 Availability. This is a simple one, but so often, the service desk is a dead end. People create a ticket, which seems to go into a black hole. Or they place a phone call, and it simply goes to voicemail. A phone call needs a live answer, and a ticket should generate a response!

#4 Ticket Tracking Software. This seems simple, but I often see companies with one or two IT people who rely on email and word of mouth to track problems and issues. The problem is that even if the IT person is very good, they are entirely reactionary, taking problems as they come. Working without ticket tracking software produces a single-threaded and completely reactive IT resource that can’t accomplish anything beyond putting out the fires.

#5 Response-Time Tracking Process. Prioritizing trouble tickets and working on them in the order of importance is so crucial. A spurious glitch that only affects one user and does not prevent them from working should not take precedence over an issue causing multiple workers downtime. Allowing people to guide the priority of their issue provides a guideline for response. Defining response times for each priority level provides structure for the service desk team. The ticketing system should cause the priority issues to rise to the top, so the service desk team handles them quickly. Keeping response metrics and reviewing them ensures that the team is meeting the demand.

#6 Remote Access for Support. The service desk must have remote access to every user’s desktop without having to load temporary software or involve the user for more than a quick granting of permission for access. The whole process of remotely logging on for support should take 30 seconds or less. Some methods for remote access are far too complicated and slow the process down.

#7 Documentation and Reporting. Tracking solutions for future reference is a huge part of the process. Solutions need to be documented, so that when others have the same issue, the team solves it more quickly. It should also be documented so that if over time, the issue returns, further troubleshooting can occur without re-inventing the wheel. Documentation also serves in handing issues off between service desk team members. Finally, documentation may help identify a recurring issue that needs a bigger solution than the fix done by the service desk.

#8 Setting the Baseline. Having a solid platform to work from is vital to the service desk team. The team should know that there is a proven solution for patches and updates, and that they are working on a solidly up-to-date system. They should also be confident that the right security software and systems are in place to provide a baseline of safety. While this is not the job of the service desk, it is something they should be able to rely on.

#9 Keeping Up. Technology is constantly changing. For technology people to be relevant and helpful, they must get regular education and expand their skills. Part of the service desk process should be a regular process of education. The service desk team needs to have education goals and work to continuously improve their knowledge and skills.

#10 Satisfaction. People using the service desk should have an easy way to give the service desk team feedback. Trouble tickets should offer a survey that lets the person seeking help offer feedback on how they are doing. This feedback can be used to coach and encourage the individual service desk team members and should fuel a metric for the whole team. If they are doing their job, the feedback survey offers validation and encouragement!

The IT Service Desk is the team most of us think of when we think of IT. Whether you are running your own IT department or have an outsourced team, implementing these 10 components is essential to making the IT Service Desk a productive resource for your company.

We have worked on improving our IT Service Desk for years at CTaccess. We set the goal years ago to be known as the BEST IT Service Desk. Based on the feedback we get from our customers, I think we are succeeding, and we won’t rest but continue to press forward in providing world-class service to our customers! Kudos to our amazing service desk team. You rock!