ITSM Goodness is a dynamic, practical, fast-track approach that cuts through to the core of IT Service Management best practice. Clear and concise, it empowers you to ‘do the basics right’ and achieve the best business outcomes from IT, every time.

6. Invest in the Service Desk

Getting the basics right


The Service Desk is the shop front to your organization – regardless of how good your technical resources and capabilities are, the perception of your overall service quality will be highly influenced by the Service Desk. It’s also an engine for service quality, visibility, and monitoring, a driver for action to maintain service quality, and a touch-point for customer interaction, customer satisfaction, and advocacy.

Yet it is still often seen as a low-level telephone answering service – this perception has improved over the last 20 years, but it still persists and is an obvious sign of an organization’s commitment to service and its customers.

If you don’t invest in the Service desk – in people, skills, resources, empowerment. management time, quality control, training, tools, communications, marketing – then you are:

(1) missing a huge opportunity to manage your customer’s expectations and the view of your service

(2) missing huge opportunities to optimise the quality and efficiency of your overall IT services, and

(3) basically demonstrating that you don’t understand how to manage customer service, or simply don’t care about it.

This is an area of great importance to any IT and supports operation – and as such, it needs to be supported and invested in – both financially and in terms of management commitment and support.

It’s a source of constant amazement how many organisations still the Service Desk as the bottom of the pile in their organisation and worthy only of the cheapest commodity outsourcing – then wonder shy their customers are unhappy and deserting them..! Even the initial ITIL output tended to sidestep the value and capability of what a Service Desk can do and it’s only the last few years where this has really started to be taken seriously.

Service Desk Manager (SDM)

When often asked for ONE tip on ONE thing to do to improve service and really make a difference – my tip has always been ‘hire a great Service Desk Manager’. This role is the most likely to shake things up both at the operational and process level, across the organisation, and to make a noise and get service on the agenda. It’s a key role and requires individuals with a variety of skills and capabilities – in man management, communications, and marketing, customer relationship management, project management, statistics and reporting, tools and processes, plus oodles of tact and diplomacy.

If you think about it, the SDM role has a ‘thankless’ task of trying to manage 3 different communities:

  1. Their own Service Desk team, for quality and performance management
  2. Their customer base – to keep on good terms and provide excellent service
  3. The rest of IT (often the most difficult) – in order to get agreement on collaborative working and getting processes implemented and support on the technicians working agenda.

It’s a great job when you have control over all 3 of these, but a real challenge when all are against you!

Service Desk Staff

It’s vital that you get the right sort of people in this role – i.e. not just the guys who are the most technical or, conversely, people you might think were ‘nice on the phone…’ This role requires greater or lesser levels of technical skills, depending on the organization and service model.

However, the key element is getting positive, motivated, and practical people who will do everything they can to get things resolved – not just what’s written on their job spec. or on a process document.

Making the service desk work

There is a great body of work based around how to manage an excellent Service Desk – spearheaded by SDI and HDI, supported by itSMF and many of the ITSM vendors and community.

Key Points

  1. Know your operational statistics but don’t assume that they are all that matters
  2. Drive the image and positive value of the Service desk across IT and customers/the business
  3. Make time to give staff personal management support
  4. A service desk is only as good as the organisation behind it
  5. Build the right culture – set the tone – to enable brilliant service

ITSM goodness tips

  • The Service Desk Manager has to juggle 3 stakeholders – the Service Desk team, the business/customers, and the rest of IT
  • If you are going to talk about 1st/2nd/3rd levels of support, you need to define what these mean
  • Generally, it’s faster, cheaper + better for the customer if incidents are fixed at the first contact
  • It’s simple – fix it the first time and fast, or better still, stop it failing at all
  • The Service Desk Manager has to juggle 3 stakeholders – the SD team, the business/customers, and the rest of IT
  • Get your team to build a Service Desk Code of Practise – to define goals, what we do and expected standards – great for teamwork and focus
  • Service success is about people – so make sure your Service Desk people have the right range of people skills
  • Make your service desk an aspirational place to work
  • Your service desk is the flagship for all of IT – support it