Cherwell IT Service Management Blog
Resources, Best Practices, and Solutions for ITSM Pros

Be Friends with your Users — You’ll Thank Me Later

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Excellent customer service creates an outstanding customer experienceAfter attending a webinar by Gartner’s Jarod Greene, “The Future of IT Support Management,” there were a few points that really resonated with me, as a user. In many past positions, I’ve spent an hour or two of my workday trouble-shooting hardware or software problems for colleagues. I’ve taught one hour sessions at colleagues’ desks on Excel formulas or how to extract data from Salesforce.

I’ve also caused a big ruckus as I’ve built make-shift “applications” in Excel for sales teams to use in the field because IT wouldn’t or it was taking too long to get needed functionality into the enterprise system. Mind you, I’ve never worked as a service desk technician except at home when I built desktops, fixed laptops, or played with a little bit of coding for myself or for friends. I could see why the IT Staff would loathe me and people like me. I just don’t believe in the mantra, “Hurry up and wait!” especially when it concerns technology. If I can fix it quicker, I will.

Situations like the ones I described are happening all the time. The marketplace is evolving into a dynamic collaborative environment and moving away from a cost-centric service desk environment. If the service desk becomes a large hurdle to productivity and revenue creation, the value of the organization may be difficult to prove.

Why leave the users out of the process anyway? Users will either have their senior managers get permission to do what they want or buy what they want. Sometimes the service desk forgets how resourceful users can be, especially since social collaboration tools allow users to interact with each other instantaneously without IT. They will find other ways to get what they need through another accessible person inside or outside of the organization. If the business does not see the value in your IT department, then the service desk will disappear or segment into each department.

The Evolution of Tickets and Requests
Some everyday interactions between employees mirror incidents in a way that is subtle yet powerful and meaningful. I’ve cited examples of these types of incidents above. These small interactions between users are opportunities that IT has either missed or ignored. These are the same interactions that IT needs to “show up” for and have some sort of presence in the problem solving conversation. Business value can be derived from the service desk, regardless if that value comes from a help desk analyst or from a superuser in another department who was referred by a help desk analyst.

The Changing Role of the Service Desk Technician
Service desk technicians and analysts will need business skills to counsel their customers on smart decisions within their respective departments. To help the user accomplish a specific goal or solve a problem will allow the technician to act as an adviser. Developing this type of relationship will not only foster trust but allows the user to have some say in the process while having their expectations met.

Understand Your Organization’s Technical Literacy
High levels of technical literacy are in every department, not just in IT. Take note of who your superusers are. They will be the loudest or the most destructive when they aren’t able to be productive with “broken” technology. Wearing many hats was necessary in lean economic times and I believe that this philosophy has carried through to today’s workforce.Recent college graduates and the Gen Y workforce have armed themselves with more skills than ever before with the massive consumerization of technology. IT and business skills are being demanded on both sides of the fence.

Harness the Superuser and Entice Them to Become a Part of IT
As the service desk delivery model evolves, the IT organization can shrink or it can be augmented by allowing external superusers to join in the conversation. Enable superusers to solve problems that are within their skill set. Enable them to be experts in each field or application by allowing them to choose their involvement level. Ingrain the service desk in the business through users. Understand how to enable your users to help themselves or help others. Allow users to become experts in their respective areas to help provide knowledge creation and delivery for the organization. In essence, they are now an extension of IT.

Influence User Adoption and Consumerization by Looking at it from a Different Perspective
Enable the user to be a part of IT. How do you do that?

  • Ask business-centric questions when gathering customer feedback;
  • Develop a culture that values interdepartmental collaboration at all levels;
  • Create effective user engagement strategies* that enable your users;
    • Content Availability — Knowledge Management
    • Social Collaboration/crowd sourcing
    • Self-Service Portal
    • Gamification
    • The Business Productivity Team

*Review your company’s culture to see if these strategies are appropriate for your organization. Not all suggestions will be appropriate for your organization.

Gartner is calling the current service desk delivery model obsolete. The future of the service desk relies on how well companies adapt to the dynamic environment of new technology. With the convergence of social, mobile, and cloud technologies, the service desk can advise users in many ways, thus allowing IT to be everywhere. Shifting the organizational culture from a cost allocation model to a true service delivery model requires consistent business relationship management by all parties. This modernized model clearly demonstrates the value of IT and is better aligned to address business challenges. This will be effective in creating higher levels of customer satisfaction.

At Cherwell Software, we recognize the evolution of the service desk is necessary for innovation. Our vision for pioneering technology will provide you with the tools to modernize your service desk. We are constantly surveying the marketplace for opportunities that will enhance our product for the changing needs of organizations. Stay tuned to see what’s on the horizon for Cherwell Service Management.

Note: Before you embark on a new journey toward a modern service desk model, verify that your infrastructure and services are stable. Gartner suggests a Maturity Level 3 before modernizing your service desk model.

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