There is often some friction between users and the service desk, especially when service desk workers are communicating with people who have vastly different terminology, technical knowledge, and skill sets. How can you implement a cross-department service desk successfully? The key is communication. Not just what is communicated, but how it is communicated to those without the technical language, savvy, and skills as the help desk workers have. Here are the best practices when implementing a company-wide help desk.
Determine the Expectations of Your Users
Some of the frustration comes from the IT department’s and other departments’ lack of understanding when it comes to expectations. What do the service desk workers expect users to know? Are there manuals, training sessions, and memos that users should have read that would answer many of their questions?
On the other side, what do users expect of the help desk? Should the help desk be more aware of bottlenecks and difficulties within the systems? Are there software or hardware issues that are repeatedly causing problems that IT hasn’t addressed? It’s important to define what each party expects of the others so that these issues can be resolved.
Simplify Processes and Terminology
When the help desk is charged with meeting the needs of vastly different departments — such as accounting, human resources, research and development, sales and marketing, and production — processes need to be clearly defined and streamlined to work for the different users and their needs. There are some excellent ITSM tools to help, as well as developments like a IT services catalog, user forums, and other means for making information readily available in a language everyone understands.
For example, many of your users likely don’t know the differences between hard drives, servers, silos, and other terms to define specific means of storing data. They won’t ask for or look for these terms. The help desk needs to communicate in terms like “saving data” or “database” that users can understand and relate to. Not only should documentation reflect easily-understood terms, but service desk employees should learn to communicate in ways that users can follow.
Focus on Relationship Building
There are lots of ways to foster strong, understanding, mutually-respectful relationships among the departments and the help desk that serves them. Many companies are using social-media type ITSM software to allow for user-friendly communications. Other ways are to participate in Myers-Briggs type training, which helps different personality types better understand and communicate with each other. Team-building exercises are also fun and foster camaraderie. Whatever method you choose, definitely invest time and funds into projects to help users understand where the service desk is coming from and vice-versa.
Don’t Skimp on Training
Training is necessary on both ends: users need training and good documentation on the systems and applications they use to do their jobs. Service desk workers need training on these things, as well, along with some understanding of how the workflow processes operate. For example, it’s impossible for IT to provide production workers with the right tools if they don’t have a grasp of what the production processes involve. IT can almost always find great solutions if they know what the challenges are. Additionally, service desk workers need training on non-technical issues, like interpersonal communications, leadership, diversity and sensitivity, and problem resolution.
It’s More Than Metrics
Focusing only on the number of tickets resolved and the length of time it takes to resolve tickets is too narrow-minded to make cross-departmental service desk implementation effective. Look outside the metrics to see how well workers are communicating with users, how happy users are with the solutions provided to them, and how the service desk has been able to reduce calls about a particular issue with good problem-solving skills.
It takes many departments to operate a successful company, but with the right approach and mindset, the help desk can work with all of these departments successfully, pleasurably, and with a positive outcome for all.
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