When a company provides an IT Service to it’s customers, they are bound to have questions or just might run into problems for which they need a place from where they can get quick answers, quick resolutions or at least, a quick workaround to their problems so that they can carry on with their work and with their lives.
Customers get easily frustrated if they cannot get help – just when they need it.
An IT Service Desk is meant to be a single point of contact for customers who have a problem with the services they are receiving from the IT Service Provider. This is where they will report Incidents, RFCs (Requests for Change) or just any other problem.
Conversely, the IT Service Provider can also use the Service Desk as a channel through which he can communicate to his customers.
Service Desks are also known as Customer Help Desk, Help Desk, Hotline, Call Center, Customer Hotline etc.. But we will just call it Service Desk. which is nothing but an IT Service Desk. (You need to remember this.)
Why should you have a Service Desk?
- A good Service Desk helps to reduce Customer’s complaints.
- It increases Customer’s satisfaction.
- It reduces Service downtime and wastage of manpower.
- Increase Customer retention.
The Service Level Agreement (SLA) contains specific details about the hours of availability of the service, the time take to resolve an issue and the time within which the user must receive a response from the Service Desk. It is important for the Service Desk personnel to be aware of the SLA parameters.
Some organizations have a Service Desk which is a single point of contact for any issue they might face – from IT Problems to the-lift-is-not-working issues. But we are going to consider a Service Desk which deals only with IT related issues.
An IT Service Desk is responsible to:
- Monitor incidents and user’s queries.
- Keep the user updated about the progress.
- Follow up with any second level team and push for a quicker resolution.
- Make sure that SLAs are not breached.
A good IT Service Desk must have:
- Well trained Service Desk personnel (with good people skills).
- A properly organized system to record and track incidents.
- The Service Desk system should be able to identify similar incidents, even if previously reported/fixed.
- Should have a proper knowledge base which can be used as an important reference point.
- Service Desk Team should be technically competent to deal with users’ issues as and when they arise.
- Proper channels of communication with the other disciplines like Problem Management (for help when there is a major problem), Service Level Management (so that SLAs can be adhered to), Configuration Management (so that the user’s equipment can be identified whenever required) & Availability Management (for analysis of Service Desk related data which could help improve Services).
Types of IT Service Desks:
- Local Service Desk – to take care of regional/local users.
- Centralized Service Desk – which serves users from all geographical regions.
- Virtual Service Desk – is a collection of many local Service Desks, where calls are routed to the most appropriate Service Desk, based on the issue, time of day, location of user and so on.
How to contact an IT Service Desk?
An IT Service Desk gets its inputs from two major sources – Human Sources and Machine Sources.
- Humans can contact the IT Service Desk by Telephone, Fax, Email etc.
- Machines send out system generated alerts to the IT Service Desk.
An escalaton is the process where an incident is forwarded to a higher level or a more expert team for better resolution. Escalation can be of two types:
- Functional Escalation: Where an issue is passed on to a more competent team (Example: Escalating an issue to the Level 2 support team due to lack of enough expertise to solve a certain problem).
- Hierarchical Escalation: Where an issue is passed up the management chain because of lack of authority to do something. (Example: Escalating to the Service Desk Manager).