The role of IT support has evolved, but it still has something of an image problem. You only ever need the ServiceDesk when something is wrong; you don't have what you need, or something disrupts your work. Traditionally, the ServiceDesk offers a safety net for IT users. In best case, it functions as a trampoline - quickly bouncing the user back to normal work. But here's the thing: nobody wants a good safety net. They want to not need a safety net.
Good IT is reliable, and ensures peace of mind for customers. For this reason, the ServiceDesk should always work towards eliminating itself. This might seem counter-intuitive, but think of it like mechanics and doctors. The less you need them, the better they are. You might never achieve full redundancy, but working towards it is the mark of true quality.
So how can IT managers enable this?
In the traditional service desk, the goal is minimizing the impact of issues. The focus lies on response and resolution time, and improvements to process efficiency. This is a transactional model, that will always remain a cost. In shifting from a mitigation to a prevention strategy, the focus moves to maximizing IT user self-reliance. After all, the best way to reduce the impact of issues is to have no issues. This puts a stronger emphasis on ticket handling as a data collection mechanism, and (more importantly) a training and adoption opportunity.
How many incidents in your organization result from insufficient knowledge of IT tools? Many reported issues are really questions in disguise. The service desk is usually the first point of contact between customers and IT. As such, it has the best picture of what customers need and experience. If properly empowered, the service desk can proactively improve IT competence (and confidence) among customers, and prevent many issues from ever happening. One part of this is the provision of good self-help information. This content should be constantly improved based on reported incidents – and this should be integrated into the core servicedesk process. A framework like KCS® can offer the right practices and governance for this.
But there is more to it than providing a good self-help portal. The servicedesk can play a leading role in the adoption of new applications. Their direct contact with customers allows for quick response to actual rather than anticipated knowledge needs, within the context of the organisation. Ideally, the servicedesk is directly involved with ongoing IT projects to guarantee optimal adoption. Of course, this puts communication, social, and coaching skills front and center for servicedesk workers.
If this all sounds like a potential opportunity in your organisation, you can start by adopting the Question to Incident (Q/I) ratio. That is, what is the percentage of issues that could have been prevented if only the customer had the right knowledge, or had been able to find the necessary information themselves. The remaining issues should be those the customer could not have solved themselves even if they knew how. Things like insufficient access rights or hardware problems.
The Q/I ratio helps you determine the potential return-on-investment for improved knowledge management. Next step: give me a call, and we'll work out the optimal strategy to help you achieve it.