There is a Chinese saying that
A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.
ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) defines the Service Desk Software as the single point of contact for users of IT service. And for these users, options such as Shadow IT, BYOD and mobile apps, make it easy to find an alternative if they don’t get service with a smile. So it is imperative that any IT organization consider Service Desk as a very critical element towards meeting the needs of the users of IT services and hence meeting the needs of the business who fund IT services. In fact, a well-functioning Service Desk can cover up for deficiencies in the rest of the IT organization simply by the way they handle users of IT services. A user who is handled professionally during an incident is likely to be more satisfied than one who is not handled well and there is no system or service outage.
For a service desk to work well, it is imperative that the right tools are issued in order to quickly address whatever the user of the IT service has raised whether it is a query, an access request, a repeat incident or a new service. Such tools or systems should work in a way that makes it easy for the service desk agent to quickly access information, track performance of the service desk agents and keep tabs on the status of customer tickets to ensure the ball doesn’t get dropped anywhere. Let us look at three key elements required for a service desk solution to meet best practice levels.
For starters, we live in an age of enlightenment. So today’s users are less likely to call the service desk just to get help on an issue, but are more likely to log into a self-service portal to find a solution for themselves. In this case, a service desk must have self-service functionality which allows users of IT services to read FAQs, raise service tickets and request for services among other use cases.
So if the customer has less interaction with humans, and can find their solution quickly and intuitively, then the service desk tool is meeting their needs.
Secondly, the IT Service Management tool should have the capability to allow the service desk agent to remotely manage and resolve user issues. In a world where time is money, and organizations aren’t in a position to embed IT support staff on every floor, or every location (considering more and more work is being outsourced to remote workers), then it is imperative that there exists functionality that allows a service desk agent to cost effectively reach into the user’s terminal device and troubleshoot whatever issue ails them whether it is an IT problem or a user limitation. And this has to be traced back to the relevant service desk agent so that the system is not abused but that each remote access activity is linked to a ticket on the ITSM (IT service management) solution. The fewer the agents running around, the more efficiently and effectively user issues can be addressed and customer satisfaction goes even higher.
Finally, any service desk tool worth its salt has to complement other Service Management processes in the IT organization. Apart from handling user issues, there needs to be linkages with IT assets and configurations, change management schedules, incident escalation (functionally all the way to the vendor and hierarchically all the way to the big bosses), billing, HR and Risk Management. For instance, a service or access request has to be reviewed against the HR Management Information System to see if the requester is in the right role to have this request granted. An automated linkage to a change management system guarantees email bulletins that can notify users of a planned service outage. And a known error database can allow a service desk agent to quickly query workarounds and solutions using pattern matching and keyword searching against symptoms. A help desk solution that is integrated to ITSM and business processes, guarantees full value for the user anytime they interact with the single point of contact for the IT organization.
While these three aspects do not exhaustively cover what ITIL says about Service Desk technologies, they are part of what is required for a Service Desk to keep its users smiling. Anytime a customer is able to have their concerns addressed quickly and with high levels of quality, then the Service Desk delivers value not just for the IT organization, but the business at large. And it is only when a service desk agent is appropriately equipped with the right tools, that they can deliver the service levels which delight the users of the IT services, time after time after time.