Improving Your IT Service Desk With a New Shift

IT service desks that focus on technology should strive for nothing less than providing resolution on the first call. The higher the resolution rate, the better it is for your company’s bottom line.  Long end user downtimes due to technology problems are eliminated, workforce morale increases, and ultimately increased productivity improves service to your customers.

The best way to improve resolution efficiency, and reduce cost, is often hiding in plain sight.
Before explaining the solution, let’s first examine common problems with the typical IT service desk.

Usually, when an end user has an IT issue, they call the service desk. This may not be so much of an issue if you are a single-location company, but single locations are unusual these days.  And remote employees can be spread out over great distances. 

So, here’s how it goes.  Typically, level one support will triage the issue and attempt resolution.  If the issue cannot be resolved by the level one analyst, it is escalated to a higher-level support group.

There are four major problems with this model, simple as it may sound.
  1. It can be expensive
    1. There is a high cost to resolve IT service desk calls if the analyst sitting at the desk regularly has to escalate issues to field resources.
    2. The model requires more than one high-level resource on staff to address multiple problems in the field at once.
    3. The time high-level resources spend traveling to end users has a cost. It’s unproductive time that the company has to pay for.
  2. It can be inefficient
    1. If the problem cannot be resolved at the IT service desk, it takes time for a field resource to be dispatched, arrive at the end user’s desk, and attempt to fix the problem.
    2. If the problem was not properly triaged the field resource may be unprepared to fix it, causing the cycle to repeat and further delaying resolution.
  3. End user experience can be impacted
    1. In addition to requiring more staff, the model is inherently slow to fix end user problems.
    2. It’s hard for the end user experiencing issues to know how much time it will take to resolve the problem.
    3. Time in the dark causes frustration and makes planning around the issue difficult.
  4. It’s a poor experience for the IT service desk workers
    1. They never learn how to solve problems above their level and must start from square one if they are promoted.
    2. Level one support is notoriously repetitious making talent retention difficult.
Shifting problem-resolution back a step, from the user’s desk to the service desk, addresses the problems inherent in the traditional service desk model. Ultimately, the more problems that can be resolved at the service desk, the better.

A quick way to add resolution power to the IT service desk is simply to assign high-level field resources time at the desk. This minor reshuffling of resources allows level one support to escalate a problem to a higher-level resource at the service desk, instead of escalating to a resource that needs to be dispatched into the field.

The result?
  • There is a greater likelihood of the problem being solved at the service desk.
  • Resolution is faster
  • There is better communication back to the impacted employee
  • Less resources are required to deal with problems in the field because more problems are localized and resolved BEFORE resources are dispatched.
  • The solution enables collaboration
A second way to make the service desk more effective is to improve its knowledge base.

Here’s the beauty of this scenario:  Closer proximity and collaboration among various levels of support staff at the desk – a solution we just addressed above – is also a way to grow the IT service desk’s knowledge base organically. Increased visibility to the resolution process for more advanced problems empowers level one resources with knowledge unavailable to them in the old model.

If a level one resource learns how to solve level two problems, the former resource increases his or her ability to resolve a problem that they would have escalated in the old model. Better knowledge equates to faster resolution, better end user experience, and a more fulfilled service desk employee.

Scripting resolution processes is an effective inorganic way to develop the knowledge base. A good library of scripted resolutions can deliver the same improvements stated above.

What if the service desk was an employee training tool instead of just a problem response center?

With a good knowledge base, it can be. With scripted answers to training related questions and collaboration on operational best practices, the IT service desk can become a centralized training center for the employees of the company. If this is the case, employees have one number to call to fix issues and learn how to use their technology and applications better.

By shifting where resources do work, we’ve created a new system that is faster to solve problems, improves the end user experience, improves the service desk employee experience, costs less and adds additional value to the business through centralized training.

One shift, big result.