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5 steps to establish a world class IT Service Desk

Elvinas Didika, Head of Service Desk at Danske Bank

Knowing the solutions for all of your questions, kindly helping to solve dozens of your problems, and being a great assistant of yours when it comes to some unexpected technical errors. That’s a typical description of your kind colleague from the IT Service Desk.

And do you know what it takes to build an effective, functional team of these specialists?

Having 5+ years of leadership experience in IT Operations within the financial sector, Elvinas Didika, Head of Service Desk at Danske Bank, knows the secrets behind it. Let’s have a look at the 5 important steps of his choice.

Let’s say you are hired in a hypothetical company with the task to establish a world class IT Service Desk*. What shall you do?

*The term ‘IT Service Desk’ can mean different things to different people, but in this article we will refer to IT Service Desk as a team or department that provides 1st line IT support for questions and requests coming from employees. However, you could apply the same steps when building a customer facing contact center as well.

1. Understand the Why:
Before we start building a new team, we need to understand the purpose of it.
A typical IT Service Desk position in the organization is in between the users (employees needing the service) and the 2nd line teams and vendors that are providing the service:

In such setup the purpose of IT Service Desk is to get employees back to work in the best possible way. Everything else is just supporting this purpose, so let’s always keep this in mind while going through the next steps.

2. Define your scope and targets:
Ok, the purpose is clear. Next – we need to know what is the scope and what are the expectations: 

  • What is the number and complexity of requests/incidents that we will be solving?
  • What are the expectations of the solution time and what priorities do we have?
  • What kind of availability is expected (24x7, 8x5, etc.)?
  • What channels will we support (i.e. chat, calls, etc.)?

Are there any special requirements (i.e. knowledge of a certain language)?
Once we know this, we will be able to create our resource strategy, define the costs and create targets to measure the performance by (incl. answer time, resolution time, user satisfaction, first point of contact resolution and others).

3. Decide on the channels:
Now we need to decide what channels will the employees reach us through. Most typical you would have an option to call the service desk and to raise an incident via a self-service portal, but the last 10+ years Chat channel has been increasing in popularity as well. All in all – a different set of channels work best in different organizations, however investing in something like a self-service portal or chat will lay the foundation for a chatbot later.

4. Build sustainable and continuously improving operations:
When you go to a doctor you would like that person to be able to help you right away and have a lot of experience handling similar issues. That is somewhat similar to IT Service Desk. However, due to the nature of this job, the employees in 1st line usually progress fairly fast with their careers into the 2nd line support or other development teams, therefore we must build operations that rely on proper documentation rather than personal experience. For that we need a knowledge base – a set of documented solutions to issues and the split of responsibilities between the first and second level teams. Normally, we would like to solve as much as possible at the first level (as that improves the user’s satisfaction and reduces the resolution time), but this needs to be balanced with additional risks (i.e. extensive access permissions) and knowledge (i.e. need for an extensive training, programming knowledge, etc.) required to apply the solutions.

Last but not least, we must also log every interaction in an IT Service Management system to be able to identify the main reasons the people are calling us and pass over these insights to the relevant teams in order to improve their services and remove the need to call at all.

5. Give the jobs of the machines back to the machines:
In essence, we could say that users call IT Service Desk for 3 main reasons: something is broken and does not work as expected (incident), something needs to be done (service request), or some guidance is needed (“how do I <…>” kind of questions). Luckily we are logging each of our interactions as per step 4, so we have very precise data split between these types of queries.

Now, we can look into how technology can help us improve the user experience even further and reduce the need to call at all:

  • “Something is broken” kind of issues can be addressed by Digital Employee Experience Management tools, such as Nexthink. This is basically an agent that works in the background of user’s computer and, if something goes wrong (i.e. error message) applies automated fixes without calling the Service Desk.
  • “Something needs to be done” kind of issues can be automated and fully self-served. I.E. Did you need to call someone last time you forgot your Gmail or Facebook password? I guess not.

“How do I <…>?” questions can be addressed in various ways starting from self-help articles and ending with a chatbot.

To summarize – it is kind of a paradox. Firstly, you build an IT Service Desk to improve the user’s life and optimize the organization, but then you slowly deconstruct the IT Service Desk into self-service and automate the solutions in order to improve it even further.