3 tips for improving your IT service desk
Get ideas on how to improve your IT service desk so you create a support loop that benefits the entire company—and your customers.
Published June 11, 2020
Last updated June 4, 2021
The terms IT service desk and IT help desk are often used interchangeably, and it’s easy to see why. Service and help are synonyms, after all, and the goal of both desks is to resolve issues and restore normality as quickly as possible. But each desk has a distinct role.
- An IT service desk is where your employees go if they need something fixed. It traditionally supports a business’ technology infrastructure.
- An IT help desk is where customers and employees go to get answers about your company’s products or services, including solutions to any IT outages or end-user issues.
Agents on the IT service desk may not work directly with customers, but a smooth, fast-moving IT service desk plays a key role in keeping customers happy. How? By keeping employees productive with functional technology.
The faster your IT service desk resolves internal tickets and gets employees back to work, the sooner they can get back to serving customers. A high-functioning IT service desk can also help your IT help desk react more quickly to problems and increase customer and employee satisfaction.
Here are three ways businesses can improve their IT service desk and, in turn, provide better support for agents, employees, and customers alike.
Use your customer support software for your employees
Support software isn’t only useful for IT help desks—it can also automate the workflow of IT service desk agents. Specifically, support software allows IT service desk teams to set up triggers that automatically prioritize IT tickets, enabling them to quickly assist employees.
Xerox found this to be true for its own service desk. Agents had trouble supporting employees because tickets could only be submitted via email.
“We couldn’t mark tickets pending or close them out,” says Lucille R., eSolutions manager for the NA Global Delivery Center at Xerox. “As a result, there was a real danger of issues falling through the cracks.”
But after seeing a vendor use Zendesk to help its customers, Xerox realized the same software could improve its IT service desk. Today, Xerox’s employees submit requests through web forms. Agents triage each ticket in Zendesk with a drop-down menu that instantly triggers escalation, routing the ticket to the support tier best equipped to solve the issue. Xerox now fields 20 to 30 tickets per day from employees.
The Australian mobile service provider amayism had a similar experience. The company loved how easy it was to assist customers through Zendesk, so they decided to use the same software for their service desk.
“[In two years], we’ve gone from handling 200 [service desk] tickets a month to more than 1,000 a month now,” says Peter James, IT and operations director at amaysim. “Seeing the ticket breakdown per agent and physical site is how I’ve been able to justify growth in the IT team.”
By using customer support software to run their service desks, companies like Xerox and amaysim give their employees consumer-grade support experiences. Their IT leaders also gain more visibility into the type and frequency of tickets, helping them make more informed decisions. These benefits ultimately lead to happier, more productive employees.
Build an internal knowledge base
Not only can you support employees by using customer service software, but also by building a knowledge base—a repository where users can find articles, how-tos, and other content structured to help them solve problems independently.
An internal knowledge base frees up agents to focus on urgent, complex issues. At the same time, it helps employees solve their own IT problems without waiting on anyone, steering your IT service desk’s ticket deflection rate in the right direction.
“Investing in our knowledge base meant we saw a massive decline in the number of [service desk] support requests coming in,” says Mike Cartwright, chief of partner solutions at Expedia Affiliate Network. “Partners were getting what I consider to be the very best service—which is that they never had to log a ticket in the first place.”
To build a knowledge base, start by running a ticket-creation report in your support software, and then organize the results by tags. This will help you see what issues consistently pop up in your ticket distribution.
Among those recurring issues, identify the ones that employees could solve themselves if a knowledge-base article existed. Issues like connecting to printers, resetting passwords, or ordering a second monitor are all things most employees could probably do themselves with a basic guide.
From there, produce and publish internal articles (like guides and FAQs) that describe how to resolve each issue. Consider using knowledge-base software to create this content and analyze performance metrics, such as how many searches lead employees to the right resource.
Regularly collect and implement employee feedback
To improve your IT service desk, collect employees’ feedback on how it currently operates. Their input will help IT service desk agents understand where problems are happening and how they can be resolved.
OpenTable was able to strengthen its IT service desk experience by surveying team members.
“Our employees said it was cumbersome to submit support tickets to our internal help desk,” recalls Russ Gangloff, director of customer support at OpenTable. His team realized that OpenTable’s employees needed more channels to submit tickets and regular status updates on the progress of their tickets.
Since implementing these two updates, OpenTable’s IT service desk has created the smooth, transparent process that employees asked for—and their follow-up surveys prove it.
“We keep hearing [from employees] that we’re so much more responsive now,” Gangloff says.
To collect feedback from your employees, set up triggers in your support software to automatically send a survey to employees when their tickets close. Ask survey questions about an employee’s level of satisfaction with their service desk experience and how much effort they had to put in.
By sending these surveys, you capture feedback that helps you continually get better at supporting your employees through your IT service desk. Plus, you make employees feel heard, which can lead to higher productivity and lower turnover.
“Engagement is strongest in companies where employees feel they have an active voice in shaping strategy and execution,” says corporate wellness coach Naz Beheshti.
IT service desk improvements strengthen your IT help desk—and your customer support
Imagine a customer puts in a service request to your IT help desk, but the team is experiencing their own outages or user issues. These problems hinder your IT help desk agents and consequently hold up your support—not a great situation for your team or your customer.
An IT service desk that minimizes these delays means a smoother employee experience, which cascades into a positive customer experience. So, use the tips above to improve your IT service desk—you’ll create a support loop that benefits the entire company.
When your customers reach out for technical support or help desk support, your IT help desk technician will be in a better position to fix their problems because they aren’t struggling with their own internal tickets. And by building an internal knowledge base, you’ll help agents and employees solve issues on their own, leading to higher productivity and more satisfied customers.