Working on an IT service desk is different from working in other corporate departments. After all, IT workers have to handle a huge range of problems, and some of them are tedious and not terribly rewarding.
Thankfully, new service desk workers can learn from those who have been in IT long enough to have experienced the highs and lows. Here are some words of wisdom from those who have spent time in the IT trenches.
Customers Should Be Treated as Capable Until Proven Otherwise
An ArsTechnica discussion on “What’s Wrong with Tech Support?” from 2012 drew a comment on the dangers of assuming that easy problems indicate incompetent end users. “We conflate the problem with the customer, and assume that easy problems mean a stupid customer. And then we end up treating the customer badly. And yes, I’m as guilty of that as anyone else is. But it’s how Tech Support got its reputation.”
Outsourcing Plus Metrics Can Equal Bad Results
A thread on Reddit’s “TalesFromTechSupport” subreddit took on metrics and outsourcing with IT service desks. One participant put it this way: “Especially under outsourcing, you get techs who work the ticket instead of working the problem. If you can close the ticket without fixing the issue, it still counts on their stats.” In other words, what makes the service desk metrics shine may be the opposite of what end users actually need.
Some workers at outsourced call centers are so focused on metrics that actually helping end users becomes almost an afterthought: “Every single day, management would come in saying we all need to stay on the phones with mandatory overtime to get our stats looking better.”
But Metrics Can Be Done Well
Another ArsTechnica discussion brought up the subject of doing metrics right, with Rackspace as a case in point: “While they [Rackspace] do collect metrics, managers in support are encouraged to have their techs bring positive and negative tickets to their one-on-one reviews, rather than relying on metrics to show tech performance. Metrics are a piece of the picture, but more on an aggregate level (do we have enough staffing, etc). RS techs take great pride in a good support experience. It’s a huge part of the internal culture.”
Newer Help Desk Tools Can Bridge Gaps Between the Help Desk and End Users
Later in the same thread, a service desk worker extols the value of remote desktop access: “After a brief description of the problem, we instruct the client to download and execute our remote desktop support application … Instead of frustrating the technician and the client, we’re able to keep verbal communication to a minimum and fix the problem in the fastest way possible.”
There Are Dangers in Being Too Good at What You Do
A thread on Spiceworks about the help desk experience led to a cautionary tale about making yourself un-promotable by, ironically, being too good at what you do. “If you dig in too deep and simply know how to fix stuff with no documentation, it is way too easy to slip into a special un-promotable category… If they start to think that there is no way they could make it from day to day without you doing your current job, you become un-promotable.”
Great Tools Lead to Great IT Service Desks
When your IT service desk is powered by SaaS service desk software like Samanage, the stage is set for a better help desk / end user experience. Not only does the software include remote desktop capability, self-service portal, and easy tools for building a knowledge base, it also includes apps that make tasks like IT asset management much faster and more accurate. When solutions get added to a growing knowledge base, you don’t have to worry about expertise leaving with a service desk star who got promoted. And the Samanage self-service portal allows end-users to tackle simple problems themselves, giving IT service desk workers more time for dealing with bigger issues.