The help desk was first introduced as companies began to embrace computers in their business processes. It was there to fix things when they broke. But as technology shifted, so did the help desk. It started providing more services and enabled end-users to get help with things that to be done, not just break fixes. Complete IT solutions became a core focus of the standard help desk transforming the day to day functions.
Today, we are beginning the next evolution of the service desk. It’s doing more than just supporting end-users and their technology. It’s becoming a corporate differentiator that can have an impact on the bottom line. Today’s workforce expects their help desk to be proactive, resolve issues at their root, and engage with them when and how they prefer.
While this can be challenging to implement a concierge level support program, it’s also a great opportunity to delight your end-users and showcase IT as much, much more than just another cost to your business.
The key driver in keeping up with this evolution is data. You need to know your KPIs, measure your work, and continuously build improvements into your processes. But if you aren’t collecting that data today, where do you begin?
Know Where You Stand
If you work on or manage a help desk, you know there is always room for improvement. For example, you can work to lower your average talk time, decrease L1 incidents with self-service options, or increase the accuracy of your escalations. But in order to make notable changes and improvements, you need to be able to do two things:
- Measure and baseline your work
- Provide a knowledge base of IT solutions for your technicians
Measurement and knowledge are a match made in heaven because they help build upon each other. As you begin to measure your KPIs, you will know where you can make improvements. By documenting these improvements, you make it easier for your technicians to learn and share best practices. This solidifies your processes and paves the way to being able to measure new and more complex KPIs, thus the cycle continues.
Define Success by Measuring
You can’t know what you need to improve on if you don’t know what success looks like. And you can’t define success unless you have some measurements to go by. So, if you aren’t currently measuring your operations, you need to start.
A few basic key metrics you should become familiar with right away are:
- How many calls do you receive monthly?
- How many emails come in?
- How much do your end-user leverage their self-service options?
These metrics are important because they factor into the rest of your measurements. Want to know where you can reduce ticket volume or what incident types are most common? You need to know how many tickets you have and how they come in first!
Some other metrics that are relatively easy to start measuring are:
- First Contact Resolution Rates (FCR): how many incidents are resolved on the first interaction?
- Cost per Contact: how much does it cost your service desk for each interaction?
- Customer Satisfaction (CSAT): do your end-users think you’re doing a good job?
Measuring customer satisfaction is an important metric to work towards for two key reasons. First of all, your service desk is the face of your IT department. They are the first and main contact that most people have, and those interactions will shape their perception of how the IT organization is doing. You want to make a good first impression. If you want to gauge or improve IT’s reputation among the company, looking at your CSAT scores is a place to start.
Secondly, if you’ve been making progress on your other metrics (reducing your call volume or increasing your FCR), but your CSAT scores are dropping, that’s a strong indicator that you may need to revisit your measurements or your processes.
Service level agreements (SLAs) can also play a big role in these processes since they let you set expectations with your internal and external customers from the start, before the first interaction. For example, by committing to respond to any L1 incident within 4 hours, your customers won’t be submitting tickets and wondering when (or if!) they will hear back. Taking a look at how well you’re meeting your SLAs can help shed light onto your CSAT scores as well.
With 1/3 of the current American workforce being Millennials, B2B customer expectations are being heavily influenced by the B2C world. This means that people are less inclined to wait for responses and will try to work around the system if they think it will get them a faster response. Providing SLAs up front will help combat this if you aren’t in a position to handle incidents the second they come in.
And if you don’t have SLAs at your organization today, that’s okay! SLAs aren’t a requirement for a top-tier service desk. But they do provide transparency, help set expectations for your agents and your customers, and add another layer of metrics you can measure, so you’ll want to add them to your roadmap for the future. Properly setting expectations is a core component of providing complete IT solutions.
Create a Knowledge Library for IT Solutions
A 2017 research article from the University of Wollongong in Australia, found that “the main type of waste [in an organization] is reworking, largely caused by employees having incorrect or incomplete knowledge about how to perform a task within the process.” By building a knowledge library over time, you can make sure your agents have a documented process to log incidents, utilize shared knowledge to increase their FCR, and leverage this data in your self-service portals to give your end-users even more ways to troubleshoot before submitting incidents.
Here at Virteva, we are knowledge fanatics. Every one of the 30,000+ incidents we log each month requires our agents to attach a knowledge base article to it. We do this because knowledge is at the core of our 24/7 Service Desk. It helps us turn IT problems into math problems, measure results, and continuously build improvements into our processes.
But building a knowledge base can be a monumental task. So how do you eat that elephant? One bite at a time. Where should you take the first bite?
Holly Petersen, one of our Training and ITSM Consultants, offers this as a first step:
“Make knowledge a leadership opportunity for a few of your employees to become subject matter experts for a certain topic. This is a great way to not only kickstart your knowledge library, but to foster a culture of employee development. There are usually a few agents that are excited to volunteer for this type of program.”
Service Desk Maturity Index
The last thing to keep in mind as you start to measure your metrics and build your knowledge library is to take small steps. You won’t change overnight. Take a look at the Maturity Index above, you won’t jump from a 1 to a 6 all at once. We typically expect companies to progress about one or two levels over a 12 to 18 month period. But make sure to celebrate all the small wins in between!
Remember, difficult or undocumented processes mean analysts won’t log tickets, you can’t measure what’s not logged, and you can’t manage what you can’t measure. Make sure to make it easy to capture key data with discipline!
Becoming a proactive, integrated service center that provides complete IT solutions isn’t going to happen overnight. It requires small steps that build upon each other. The key to becoming a data driven organization is taking that first step and building a foundation for constant measurement and improvement.
Start Expecting More From Your Service Desk.
When’s the last time you took a step back to truly examine your service desk operations?
Take the next step in maturing your service desk by getting a Service Desk Assessment. Complete with benchmarks, gap analysis, and future state design recommentions, you’ll have a roadmap to achieving a truly proactive service desk.