The Top 7 Reasons Your Service Desk is Terrible


Have You Evaluated Your Help Desk?

In my 20 year IT career, as a former L1, L2, L3 and eventual Service Desk manager turned ITSM consultant, I’ve SEEN some things. I’ve been around the proverbial block when it comes to Service Desking this century.

Service desk can be horrifying

Thanks to ITIL, along with a few really service desk jobs – I hold some very strong opinions about what the Service Desk function *should* be. Imagine my surprise when I had to learn that the Utopian promise of situating your service desk as the  Single Point of Contact is just as foreign of a concept to some IT departments as the metric system (and metrics, in general).

“What do you mean I’m not the center of the universe?”

Henceforth, I present to you the top 7 reasons your service desk is on fire.

“Does anyone smell a listicle?”

1. You are either not gathering metrics or mistaking metrics for KPI’s.

Speaking of metrics, you might not using the right metrics, or are not looking at KPIs/CSFs.
Do know your cost per ticket?  You should. Focus on getting the cost of your most expensive tickets down.  Are you looking at your call metrics? Without these, it’s like working with one arm behind your back. Wait a minute…..are you even using an ACD? It can be difficult to measure abandoned calls without an ACD.

While we are at it, are you surveying your customers? Do you use these surveys to improve your service and catch any issues with your support staff?

“The Force might not be with you”

If you don’t know the answer to any of these, or the answer is NO….the this article is for you.  Your Service Desk is terrible.

2. You are not doing chargebacks

Chargebacks can provide accountability and transparency to IT, and help flush out the needy departments who would rather suck IT resources then train their own personnel. By gathering the proper metrics, we should be able to help upper management demonstrate the total cost of providing services to different departments. Even if you don’t formally charge back the cost of your IT services to the business, consider creating a “Consumption” report that details the overall amount of work you are doing for each department to find the heavy consumers of your services.  Look for ways to build efficiencies into your environment and agreements.

3. You are not tracking time

While this might seem like an extension of our metric conversation, it is worthy of its own point.  How much time does your staff spend actually working support tickets?  Are they even doing a ticket for everything they do?  Seriously, you should be doing tickets for meetings too.  If you work in the support team the Service Desk manager needs to know what you are doing.   Without tracking time we don’t know where resources are being allocated, and as such we cannot anticipate the impact of any changes to our workload.  Is Jimmy Technician spending 6 hours a week supporting Citrix?  Why is that?  What’s wrong?  Using time tracking methods you should begin to expect 85% of your staffs time in tickets.   When you start getting tickets for folks standing at the water cooler, its time to cut back. Problem Management can use this measurement too so be sure to share the data with your teams.

“Its always taken four hours to fix that error message! That is why I volunteer to do it

4. You are not using VDI

Server virtualization has been a thing for many years with most IT departments going through a server consolidation project or two by now.  However, the startup cost of implementing the same technology for desktops puts many teams in a sore position.  The Savings garnered long term by implementing Virtual desktops make up for the cost in spades – Hardware failures, Upgrade Costs, speed and performance all improve.  And the cost of supporting the end user drops.  Drastically.

“Implement VDI at your Service Desk and this can be you!”

5. You are not dealing with personnel issues

Sure, Nick has been here for 10 years and has more tribal knowledge than anyone else.  But, everyone knows he is really hard to work with.  Like, sometimes impossible to deal with.  Do you really need that kind of negativity on your team?  Step up your Knowledge Management game and get rid of the dead weight.  Your staff (and customers) will thank you.    Be careful though!  Sometimes firing a Nick wreaks havoc on your network – and they love that.  Make sure you have the documentation you need to support his systems so he’s not bragging to all his gamer friends about how your team had to call him for the SA passwords.

“Debug this, Nick!

6. You do not own your ITSM implementation or do not appoint the right person to own your tool

In my role as senior IT Service Management Consultant, I have worked with over 300 different companies and counting.   If I had a quarter for every time I began working with a customer who was not prepared for their ITSM implementation, I would be able to afford a Senior ITSM Service Management Consultant of my own.    If you expect the network guy to know or understand and explain what your Service and Operating Level agreements are or should be, you will probably not get what you need from your IT Service Management tool.  As a service desk manager, it is imperative that you find the time in your schedule to meet with your ITSM Vendors and make sure you are involved in the design and build out of your tool.   After all, if you don’t own your ticketing system, who should?

“The network team gets a four week SLA!

7. And Finally… You are letting your service desk agents leave the phones to do desktop support

Sure, everyone needs a break from the never-ending phone calls, but we can use shift rotation for that. Hire folks that are good on the phone for phone work, and hire folks that are good in front of people for desktop support.    Answer the phone Every.Single.Time.  It costs more money to put Boots-on-the-Ground support, and with good remote connectivity tools, your cost per ticket will go down substantially by fixing things remotely.    Save the desktop support team for hardware issues and make sure the service desk gets that phone answered.

“Maybe I’ll get a Bluetooth headset so I can walk around”

In Summary, your desk might be terrible.  But awareness is the first step in improving.  Using the ITIL, SDI, and HDI along with a qualified ITSM Consultant, your desk CAN improve.  Keep reading all the different resources available to you and your desk can go from TERRIBLE to Terrific!


About the author:
Linda Kirkpatrick is a senior IT Service Management Consultant for Flycast Partners.  She is certified in ITIL SOA, OSA, PPV and RCV.  She has performed over 300 ITSM tool implementations in her five-year consulting career and closed an estimated 10 million service desk tickets in her 20-year career.  When not working she can be found pondering service level agreements at her farm in Jacksonville, FL.


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