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Help Desk, Service Desk - 5 Items That Matter More

07/17/2012 by: The SunView Team

Internally, though they might refuse to openly admit it, many members of an IT organization debate over what to call the department that handles incoming incident reports, service requests, and every other sort of related issue. Help Desk, Service Desk, and Support Desk are the most common ones. Though I have seen some as grand as the "Center of Excellence and Satisfaction." That one stings a particular amount if you don't happen to work in the CoE, but perform the same, or at least similar duties.

This struggle with identity can manifest itself in some really ugly ways. In fact, try using them interchangeably in your own organization, and it can carry a derogatory punch so strong, you might think you were telling them they do a really poor job. Oddly enough, the same name in another organization is clearly acceptable.

Sadly, even when standards or best practices are in place, like those from ITIL, more confusion is added. Of course, being backed up with volumes of content based on a tested approach helps add weight to those naming conventions. In the end though, does it really matter, and if it does, is this part of why IT can be viewed as hard to deal with? Depending on your view point, it just might.

The best among us have figured out, that this doesn't really matter. Well, that is, what we call ourselves doesn't matter. Rather, they have put past them the sensitivity of focusing on a title, and shifted their concern to ensuring customers appreciate the value a desk of help, service, and support. In short, they pay attention to what does matter, customer satisfaction and perception. This is something that doesn't happen overnight though, and it does require a shift in thinking towards five key areas.

1. Process - IT organizations that provide service (help and support) to ensure the business can function at all times, should be documenting and regularly reviewing the processes for everything they do. From how incidents are submitted, to how change requests are approved and release, understanding the process, and seeing how it flows will provide a special level of understanding to everyone within the organization. The processes can then be used within your IT Service Management tool to build complex workflows.

2. Access - The way in which your customers can interact with their service provider (IT in this discussion) changes regularly. The days of being able to only interact with customers via phone or email are waning. Tools like chat, or social media, are becoming the norm, while face-to-face physical interaction is going away. The important thing to remember is that your team needs to be accessible to match the needs of the business. This doesn't mean you necessarily need 24/7 coverage, but you might want to investigate a number of beneficial self service options.

3. Communication - Communication is something that must be "full-duplex." In this, we me there must be an ability to talk back and forth, simultaneously in most cases. Much of this no longer has to be manual, as a modern IT Service Management solution will allow you to automate notifications for status and progress on an issue. Your customers need to be informed though, so they can better plan their commitments.

4. Resolution - Sometimes teams can become too focused on workarounds, and never get back to actually creating a resolution. Workarounds are just that, and tend to add complexity and inefficiency to a process. Customers can often become so used to the workaround they just accept the inconvenience. However, even if something must be done out of immediacy, it should never be abandoned of passed off as a true resolution. In the end, when fingers are pointed, it will likely be in the direction of the workaround. Best yet, your IT Service Management solution can track resolutions in a knowledge base, and allow your customers to resolve an issue before they even need to contact you.

5. Service - Internal or external, value is added when attention to service is given. Perhaps this is why ITIL may win out in the end when it comes to desk naming. If we think about service - mainly continuity and quality, we put ourselves in the role of our customer, and will tend to make the right choice. Many times though, we are hampered by the tools available. A modern IT Service Management solution will help bring everything together, including keeping a careful eye on service level agreements, and any potential breaches.

In the list above, the type of desk you work on is essentially a moot point. This is because in the end, a customer is more concerned with making sure the services they need work when they need them too, and are repaired when they don't. This experience is improved by paring a sensible IT Service Management approach with tools that work with your own initiatives.

If you find you have the first part of this equation, but your technology isn't meeting expectations, take a look at our Getting Started Guide with fifty requirements for an IT Service Management solution. It has everything you need to get started, and evaluate your current tools. That, inevitably, will give you a lot more time to think about a new name for your desk of support, help, service and/or excellence.