Good Service Desk vs. Bad Service Desk

I have been sharing my experiences on customer support at Freshworks product trainings, demos, and implementations and, I thought that maybe I should share where the gaps in our support processes were, even if only at an individual level, and how we fixed them.

Although these ideas related to our externally-facing support team, they are very much applicable to a good, internally-facing service desk team too.

Common service desk issues

Our service desk improvement journey highlighted a number of common IT support issues that need either a new way of doing things or a more consistent approach to be taken across the support teams.

  • Not logging calls or tickets. ITIL suggests that every call to the service desk must be logged and that the ticket ID or service request (SR) number be shared with the end user. However, sometimes service desk agents might think that simple contacts such as requests for information (RFI) calls need not be logged as tickets. It might seem like a personal time-saving technique but it will understate the performance of the individual and the team, and prevent management insight into potential future issues or additional training needs.
  • Not understanding whether the request should be logged as a service request or an incident. Try not to make it complicated. I use a general rule of thumb. If a device, service, or process fails, it’s an incident. If someone calls for information to make changes to an asset, or to request new software or assets, then it’s a service request. With the gray areas, such as password reset, make a corporate decision, communicate it, and then stick to it for consistency.
  • Not tagging assets to incidents and requests. This not only misses out on the opportunity to understand if certain assets have more issues than should be reasonably expected, it also loses certain asset management opportunities. For instance, knowing that an asset is still in use. This might be a good thing as part of an annual asset audit, or conversely, it might be a less desirable situation such as where an asset should have been returned to IT after an employee has left but it continued to be used at an unnecessary cost to the organization.
  • Improper identification and escalation of incidents to level 2. There are many times when teams miss following the agreed escalation matrix or miss escalating the incident altogether. Both can lead to an inefficient service desk.
  • Overpromising on resolution timeframes. Customers might want quicker resolution but sometimes incidents will take as long as they need to be resolved. Giving out false ETAs is a big mistake that can cause more harm than good.
  • Not identifying frequently asked questions (FAQs). Service desk agents can be so focused on responding to tickets that they miss out on the opportunity to create FAQs for end-user self-help. They continue receiving the same issues and respond in the same manner, with the same content, which can make their job repetitive and potentially boring.

How a good service desk should support their customers

These are some of the methods that we use in our team:

  • Use an intuitive self-service portal. It’s not just a “good to-have” capability, given the advances in consumer-world support, it’s now a must-have for end users to reach out to the service desk, search for solutions themselves using self-help,  and track the progress and status of their tickets.
  • Ensure that solution articles are created correctly and tagged for search. Make it part of the service desk agent role to create and share their troubleshooting steps as solution or knowledge articles. Agents should be empowered to contribute to the knowledge base, writing the knowledge articles in a manner that is easily consumable by end users, and tagging them sufficiently for easier search.
  • Ensure the proper routing of tickets.  Use automation rules to handle how tickets are assigned to the right team or person, ensuring that there is no delay in support and faster response time.
  • Use satisfaction surveys, and use them properly. Send satisfaction surveys to end users, even if only on an every-nth-contact basis, to obtain feedback and insight into agent and service desk performance for the opportunity to improve.
  • Maintain low response time and average agent interaction rates. Give an immediate response to your customers, even if it’s just acknowledging their request and ensuring that you can provide the right support. If possible, include some solution links to help keep conversations short.
  • Use canned responses. Ensure that your service desk team leverages its FAQs in canned responses, which can be used to improve first contact resolution levels and average response times.
  • Use escalations at the right time, to the right person. Ensure that your service desk team pushes tickets to the level 2 team at the right time, without frustrating the customer. Customers can get frustrated when their request is not handled and escalated to the right person in a timely manner, and they are left with no proper updates. Also, use automation to bring in escalations and prioritization without the need for human monitoring and decision making.

What would you like to add to the list?


Also, read: 11 tips for reducing service desk agent stress

10 things you need to stop doing in your service desk