Six Signs that your IT Help Desk is failing
For enterprises, the IT Help Desk is a critical function. If your employees are struggling with technology, efficiency is being lost. Businesses with good Help Desks can keep their people equipped to be productive, and let their business avoid slowdowns.
That’s all good – for yesterday. But the world has changed. Unfortunately, some businesses are operating Help Desks more suited to the 20th century than the 21st. Measuring a Help Desk on a combination of call clearance rates and caller satisfaction is the most common management approach today, but this model is shortsighted at best.
Here are six signs that your current Help Desk model is doomed:
- The Help Desk is seen only as a cost. Every call to your Help Desk is a piece of free, unsolicited intel on the effectiveness of your operations and systems. Untapping this intelligence and feeding it back into the organization is a key value of a Help Desk. Doing so is also the best way to reduce calls to your Help Desk in the medium term. If you’re not doing this, then you’re squandering the biggest source you have of real user feedback on your systems and technologies.
- The first line Help Desk staff are not domain experts. Using non-specialised labour might make make sense in an outbound call center, but for an internal Help Desk it is just plain dumb. Your own staff do not need layers of process and handoffs when they have an issue – they just need to talk to an expert first time. If you’re concerned about too many “calls about nothing”, then deal with this at the staff information and policy level, not by trying to fob employees off with unskilled call center operators. Keep your ‘catch-and-dispatch’ to a minimum – your internal Help Desk experts should be true experts, able to resolve most issues personally.
- There is no dedicated Help Desk for Mobility issues. It’s not 2010 any more! In many companies, employees now have more compute power in their pockets than they do in the office. Business mobility is growing faster than traditional IT, and the need for Help Desk assistance is following. If mobility technology isn’t already a larger proportion of your Help Desk activity than traditional IT, it soon will be, so plan for it now. Your IT experts won’t be specialized in mobile handsets, apps, coverage, roaming plans, handset ghosting and remote device replacements, and they probably don’t want to be either. This area calls for specific mobility experts, quite separate from your standard IT skills. If you don’t have a dedicated mobility Help Desk, then get one soon. If you can’t build and maintain those skills in-house, or don’t want to, then consider a full mobility outsourcer, who can run and staff you mobility Help Desk like an internal department, and usually more cost effectively than you can.
- There is no collection or assessment of learnings from calls. Categorising and logging calls is not enough. Some calls will contain significant learnings about technology problems or operational blockages. Expert assessment and prioritization of these should be daily, with a clear system for feeding critical learnings back into the operations of the business. Feeding back generic call stats is not good enough.
- Expert analysis is not encouraged. Analysing problems isn’t just about fixing them; it is also about gaining some insight into causes, likely incidence of recurrence, effort to eliminate in the future, and real criticality to the business. This is a human activity, and requires a Help Desk team with a full awareness of the business requirements, not just the mechanics of resolving a particular instance of the problem.
- You don’t track and trend the business requirements of the user base. Trending is the big indicator of business directions and future roadblocks. Your Help Desk is the canary in your coalmine. Being able to trend your Help Desk data against business requirements gives your management team the best possible early indicators of operational and technology issues that are likely to become problems in the future. Trending simple call data is as good as useless. For this, your Help Desk needs to deeply understand the top-level business requirements, so they can assess data against what really matters in the C-suite, and report only on the trends that count.
If your organisation is experiencing some of the signs above, then it’s critical that your management team accept and embrace the #1 principle of business growth: learning from current operations.
There is a reason why large corporations have teams for collecting and reviewing company performance data, and business analysts to interpret conclusions. They know that learning from experience is absolutely critical to achieving future growth. The largest and richest source of internal operational data you have is from your own Help Desk, because your own employees report to it willingly and frequently. Taking your business to the next level, especially in the coming era of mobility-dominant technology and communications, will require a high level of expertise, a high level of specialisation, and a management mindset that your Help Desk doesn’t cost, it pays.
Are you ready to re-imagine your Help Desk?