Do you really a need service desk?

  • Posted on March 7, 2023
  • Estimated reading time 5 minutes
Do you a need service desk?

For years, Service Desks have served an important purpose. They’ve provided a single place for employees to go to get help with their IT issues. But advances in technology and organizational drive for agility, experience and speed are now testing some of the reasons they’ve been valuable in the past. It’s time to re-evaluate the role of Service Desks in the reality of today. I’m sure many of you have strong opinions about this subject, so let’s break it down by topic – starting with the new realities of Service Desks as a single point of contact for IT.

Reality #1: Service Desks were never the only support option
I think everyone will agree that employees should not need to know the internal structure of the IT organization to get the help they need. The Service Desk as a single point of contact for IT, is a key benefit.

But when something comes up, people don’t really go to the Service Desk first. They ask a friend, and in many cases, it may be the best approach. A large proportion of tickets arriving at a Service Desk are for help in the context of a business process, which someone in the business will always have the best answer. For example, a salesperson may encounter an error using a CRM. The most effective person to support the salesperson will be someone in the sales support team, rather than the organisation providing the CRM software such as Microsoft or Salesforce.

This method works great if you have a friendly colleague who’s available to help you. But with hybrid work is here to stay, this option becomes challenged. It may not be as easy to tap someone on the shoulder or ping them on Teams, especially if you’re working odd hours. I think it’s high time to better enable people to help themselves. You don’t, for example, call the power company when a light goes out at home. You check the bulb, then the breaker; you then might look outside to see if your neighbours’ lights are working before calling your energy provider. The same principle needs to be applied to technology. People need to be armed with the basics. Luckily 54% of the workforce typically have high degrees of competence and confidence to do things for themselves. Chances are though, they’re wasting a lot of time googling how to do it instead of following official guidance.

Reality #2: Self-help is now essential
With hybrid work, people must be more self-sufficient, the right kind of training and technology can help people support themselves wherever or whenever they are choosing to work. It’s far quicker to self-serve than to engage a minimally staffed IT support team or on-call person out of hours. But there will always be those who are less IT savvy or willing to do things for themselves, so a level of support is still required. Making resources available for people to help themselves whenever and wherever they are is great, so long as people make use of them. This is where many organizations struggle, in addition to raising their people’s digital fitness.

Reality #3: Automation is on the rise
Service Desks are applying automation to reduce the number of tickets and to optimize handling. Artificial Intelligence (AI) expands the reach. Helping with things like ticket assignment and removing the need for Service Desk to be part of the ticket routing, which is quite a large overhead. Self-service portals are also becoming more common. We've seen a 23% increase in use over the last three years, chat channels still have a way to go, with less than 2% of tickets being raised and handled through that channel. With advances like ChatGPT, we may see a market pivot shortly, with chatbots able to finally deliver some amazing experiences.

Digital experience management and automation tools are increasingly being used to proactively identify and automatically resolve issues. Research says almost 50% of IT issues go unreported. With the right level of insight, IT teams can address the problems proactively and avoid tickets going to the Service Desk altogether – a clearly better experience.

The rise of automation has not been all roses. While simple tickets are increasingly automated, with people getting the help they need quickly. However, what remains is more complex, resulting in the paradox of faster service but average lost time going up. The traditional approach of passing a ticket around through support tiers, on average adds 90 minutes of lost time and negatively impacts experience, is no longer fit for purpose.

We’ve been experimenting with intelligent swarming with a few of our clients, we see it as a better way to work with these complex tickets drastically improving experience and time to resolve. Essentially, it’s like treating each complex ticket as a major incident with a member of the Service Desk retaining full end-to-end visibility and responsibility working collaboratively with the right people to resolve the issue.

What could the future look like?
At Avanade, we continuously look at ways to optimize the value of our services to clients. We don’t want to blindly perpetuate the status quo, particularly when there are better ways to do what matters.

Having Service Desk as a single point of contact continues to make sense and is still a necessity for many. The rise of automation and particularly AI, may mean that we will be less reliant on Service Desks and some organizations may be able to eliminate them. For those that aren’t, there are still plenty of opportunities to adopt these new technologies and adapt how their Service Desks operate to deliver services more quickly, with a better experience, more cost effectively.

In upcoming blog posts, we’ll explore the other key reasons organizations have for maintaining a Service Desk:

  • IT knowledge capture and reuse
  • Support process management and quality
  • Customer service skills and emotional intelligence
  • Language and culture support

Reach out if you’d like to learn more about the benefits of new tools and automation or how to bring new ways of work to your organization.

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