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The Service Desk and CSI: Gateway to Improvement

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img-blog-gatewayWhen you are looking to establish a program and an ethos of continual service improvement (CSI), remember that your service desk team is in the perfect position to discover and drive service improvements that will make a difference to the day-to-day functioning of the business.

The service desk sees and understands the minor irritations that fester and cause customer dissatisfaction. Often, these will be visible and proved with underlying data, but they can also be more personal and emotive in nature and must be recognized as just as valuable in terms of improvement focus. As the conduit between the business and IT, the service desk sees, first-hand, the frustrations experienced by customers and are therefore well positioned to understand where the ‘quick wins’ exist.

Enabling the service desk to recommend CSI initiatives and be involved in the process from design through to delivery gives you a real chance to make the improvements that are going to make a difference to the day-to-day functioning of the business at large.

Your triage team

Consider the service desk as your triage team, assessing the criticality of the calls that come in to the desk. Some of the ‘injuries’ they assess will require immediate action. The recording and resolution of these incidents will always remain one of the key functions of the service desk team.

But, during the triage process, the team will be presented with situations that are not ‘life-threatening’. These will be irritations and chronic aches and pains that do not necessarily need to be cured to keep the business healthy but will improve the quality of life if they are resolved. Often, addressing many ‘small things’ will lead to a big benefit.

These are the CSI opportunities that may never get past the service desk if a clear process is not established that encourages action.

Define the role

When you design your CSI process, the service desk needs to have clearly defined roles and responsibilities. This team has a place at both ends of the CSI process. It will be able to identify improvements readily from their contact with customers and document these clearly for consideration.

At the other end of the CSI journey, the service desk will communicate changes to the customer, and it will assess the effectiveness of these changes as part of the day-to-day work, receiving feedback from the business. IT and the Service Desk should not be ashamed of trumpeting success and improvement to its customers.

The lynchpin in the CSI process

When you look at the Deming cycle of Plan-Do-Check-Act, the service desk needs to hold a key responsibility in each of the four phases:

  • Plan – The service desk has multiple roles to play in this stage of the journey. As part of the normal functioning of the service desk in incident recording, the team provides accurate information that allows for trend analysis that feeds into the CSI process. At this stage of CSI, the service desk will also proactively identify pain points and recommend improvements that will improve customer satisfaction. Also, the service desk should recommend improvements that will benefit the customer even though not formally recognized as a pain point. Why wait for something to be broken and the customer experience degraded. As a service provider, we should take the lead on improvement and use our knowledge and skills to instigate proactive CSI.
  • Do – As part of this phase, the service desk takes a responsibility for communicating improvements to the business. It will ensure that any changes are understood and that everyone affected is aware of their responsibility to report their experience of the change and any issues that arise.
  • Check – At this stage, the service desk will identify any impacts from the improvements that have been made, both positive and negative. Accurate reporting of these in the service desk tool allows for full assessment of the success of these initiatives, checking that what was planned is what was delivered. At the same time, the team will continue to proactively monitor and identify further possible improvements.
  • Act – As the results of the ‘check’ step are analyzed and the improvements are rolled out to the business, or reassessed if necessary, the service desk will move ahead with the communication of the change and will continue to proactively monitor and identify further possible improvements.

The heartbeat of the business

The service desk is where the health of the IT capability of the business is most easily assessed. This is where you can really evaluate the effect of the changes you make. The service desk team is at the frontline, and it sees first-hand the impact of CSI activities.

It plays a critical role in translating the business service data into actions that can be taken by IT to improve services of all types for customers, both internal and external. It is essential that you enlist the support of the service desk and empower it to help the organization embrace CSI as a path to better service delivery.