IT service desk managers, leaders, and supervisors regularly spend time checking how well their service desk is performing, often using a basket of metrics such as average call handling time and customer satisfaction (and probably lots more).

But how accurate of a picture do these types of measures paint of your IT service desk’s and people’s performance? Especially in the eyes of the end user or customer? And particularly in terms of value.

Do such measures give service desks a false sense of security? And do they give enough granularity relative to the things that customers find most important about their engagements with your IT service desk? Ultimately, is your service desk offering capabilities and services that meet your customers’ wants, needs, and expectations? This blog is the start of a journey that questions the industry status quo and offers practical help to improve the value of your IT service desk.

How to understand, and improve, the value of your IT service desk

To help your IT service desk to deliver greater value, there are different aspects of IT service desk operations (and performance) that need to be considered and addressed:

  • Understanding the IT service desk status quo
  • The issues with traditional IT service desk metrics
  • Balancing and meeting different stakeholder expectations
  • The successful adoption of new (and existing) IT support capabilities
  • Getting the most out of service desk data

In this blog, I’ll talk to just the first three of these, and at a high level.

Understanding the IT service desk status quo

Many IT service desks, wherever they are in the world – are currently faced with a variety of challenges and constraints, which might be one or more of:

  • Meeting increasing customer satisfaction levels and expectations – potentially needing to understand and reduce an “expectations gap”
  • Budget cuts, often even mid-way throughout the financial year each and every year
  • Staff recruitment and retention issues across both existing and future skills needs
  • Keeping up with the changing business and technology landscapes – from meeting new requirements to managing and exploiting new technologies
  • IT service management (ITSM) tool issues – where the current enabling technology is considered to hinder more than it helps
  • Getting some basic ITSM capabilities right, in particular reporting and IT self-service
  • Finding the time for operational and service improvement
  • Struggling to quantify what “value” is in both business and end-user terms, and then to demonstrate it.

And importantly, the last, value-related, point is difficult to achieve while the other challenges continue to cause your IT service desk pain.

What your IT service desk needs to do

Many of the solutions lie in the application of an oft-quoted Albert Einstein statement, that:

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

Thus, returning to the remaining aspects of IT service desk operations listed above, there’s a need to understand what’s working, and what needs to be improved upon, across:

  • Traditional IT service desk metrics
  • Balancing and meeting different stakeholder expectations
  • The successful adoption of new (and existing) IT support capabilities
  • Getting the most out of service desk data.

For example, to the first point directly above, traditional metrics are commonly not specifically aligned to desired business outcomes. Instead they’re often focused on transactions and process efficiency and effectiveness – thus measuring how well people, teams, and processes operate rather than how well they deliver against business and customer needs and expectations. To then understand what’s achieved rather than merely what’s done.

Or, in terms of the second point, and taking employees as one of the many stakeholder groups, understanding the importance of the various factors that influence how they feel about their IT service desk experience and the value delivered. So, does your existing use of customer satisfaction questionnaires truly give your IT service desk insight into this? Enough to let you understand how well the IT service desk is really doing and to avoid watermelon SLAs?

There’s a lot more to be said on each of these – and I will in future blogs. You can also check out the recorded webinar (below) that further explores how to add value to your service desk.

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Stephen Mann

Principal Analyst & Content Director, ITSM TOOLS