Our new guest blogger is a service desk manager for a major UK organisation. Here we learn the service desk challenges faced and the proposed solutions.

We all understand that the service desk is the ‘face’ of IT, this means users judge your entire IT department based on their interactions with the desk.  For IT to reflect well across the business you need to have a desk that your end users want to interact with, not one where they approach you kicking and screaming and wishing beyond all measure that they could go elsewhere. Unfortunately the latter can be true for some organisations.

I currently manage an IT service desk that services more than 2500 end users across four different locations around England.  It’s safe to say that currently we’re not mature, we’re pretty reactive and most of our users probably don’t hold us in high esteem.

However, we’re on an exciting journey to change business opinion and make the service desk the best it can possibly be.

Below I have listed some of the challenges we are facing and what we are doing to get over these.

Challenge #1: Do more with less
If you work in IT support I am sure you are familiar with this – there seems to be a constant pressure to handle higher work volumes without increasing staff levels.

Proposed Resolution: Our main focus here at the moment is automation. I am working with our developer to route tickets that cannot be handled at first line to the correct resolver teams, this is freeing up the analysts from unnecessary admin tasks so as that their time is spent in more meaningful ways. So far our automation work accounts for two full-time employees and is rapidly rising.

Challenge #2: High call volumes for simple IT fixes
We currently deal with a huge volume of calls from users for simple issues they could tackle themselves, if only we were showing them how.

Proposed Resolution: knowledge management – dedicating time to beefing up our knowledge base is absolutely critical here. A good knowledge base will help customers find solutions to their problems which saves us a call to the desk. By giving users the power to fix basic tech issues themselves we’re driving customer satisfaction up and bringing ticket volumes down. People are so used to getting what they need in an instant these days, there’s no reason why their service desk shouldn’t offer them the same.

Challenge #3: Low CSAT scores
Our customers rate us individually on the desk incredibly well, the customer service provided by the analysts is second to none. So what’s driving our CSAT scores down? Aged tickets, failure rates (re-opening tickets) and ‘black holes’.
We have a lot of tickets that are more than 90 days old and an ever larger amount more than 30 days old. When you consider our SLA is 48 business hours you can see how bad that looks. Most of the telephone calls into the desk are users chasing for updates. Failure rates are where a ticket is closed but hasn’t been completed correctly which leads to the re-opening of a ticket.

Black holes are our ticket queues that aren’t effectively managed, this leads to tickets being placed in a queue and forgotten about until it becomes an escalation.

Proposed Resolution: Focus on resolver teams is really ramping up now, teams are being held accountable for the tickets in their queue which helps us to provide focus on problematic areas.

The automation work we are doing is really helping some of our black hole ticket queues and we hope to continually increase this moving forward. Rather than a ticket being placed into a queue we aren’t looking at, automation is moving these along to where they need to be.

Looking forward on this one, when we are in a more manageable state, we will look to have alerts on tickets due to breach and automated updates to customers to let them know we’re still looking after their ticket.

Challenge #4: Too many phone calls
Our users love getting on the phone to us, regardless of the issue/request, they pick up the phone even if it means waiting for ten minutes in the queue.

Proposed Resolution: Using self-service their incident/request could be logged in under a minute allowing them to crack on with their day and us to work on more meaningful tasks.

We have been working hard to change this business habit and have started to direct people to our self-service portal. We’re pushing for 70% utilisation and to help us achieve this we are soon launching a new portal which is now personalised, looks great and is so much easier to use than the current version.

What do you think of the service desk challenges I have listed? Does your service desk suffer from the same? What are you doing to overcome these? Let me know in the comments section below.

Author Bio:

James West

Editor, SITS Insight

If you have service desk news to share or would like to become a SITS Insight blogger, please get in touch with James

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2 Responses to “How I’m tackling our service desk challenges”

  1. Chris Price November 9, 2017 at 14:59 #

    Hi James! What a truly refreshing article where you honestly highlight the problems that you are facing. I can see echoes of this in everything that I do with my team!

  2. Jim Higham November 13, 2017 at 13:12 #

    All good common sense. Good luck. I’d caution the following however: “automated updates to customers to let them know we’re still looking after their ticket.”.

    Sounds a little too similar to the old phone queue message ‘We value you custom and will connect you as soon as we can’. The first time you hear it, it might be ok, but more than once and it starts to sound like ‘We don’t care at all about you waiting and have simply automated a reply to try to con you into thinking we care, when actually we’ve simply not paid for enough staff to get the response quick enough for you’.

    I think a personally crafted update to a ticket which may take some time may be a better option:” Sorry this is taking a while – its a complex issue, however we hope to give you an update on progress by ….”or some such.

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