service desks

5 Best Practices for Using Service Desks

Customers expect first-rate service from any company, whether a small business or a multinational powerhouse with vast resources. As long as you have customers, your business will face countless issues, requests, and complaints.  

When this happens, service desk software can save the day and simplify managing customer requests.

Service desk software organizes customer conversations across channels, tracks service requests, and resolves issues quickly. Therefore, you need to implement certain best practices to get the most out of your money.

We have listed the top 5 service desk best practices to help you manage your ticketing system and improve customer and agent relations. 

Before we dive into these best practices, let’s briefly discuss what service desks are and why they’re important.

What are service desks?

A service desk is a communication center between an IT service provider and the service user (employees or other stakeholders). The assistance provided could involve handling an incident or carrying out a customer request. A service desk’s primary objective is to promptly provide excellent service to customers in need of any kind of assistance.

The IT service desk is crucial to most companies’ operations, whether employees work from home or in the office. People turn to the service desk for equipment issues, software questions, or help with new processes. 

For instance, service desks may provide IT support for payroll-related software and systems. If there are technical issues or errors in the payroll systems, employees in the finance or HR departments may contact the service desk for help. Thus, if the service desk solution is inefficient, downtime, delays, and service disruptions may affect the business.

Two key terms are often confused with service desks due to the abundance of complex IT terms:

  • Help desk (also known as “IT help desk”)
  • IT service management (or “ITSM”)

While all three are essential to effective IT support and service delivery, each serves a unique function:

Service desk:

  • Service desks address user issues and offer more services and support than help desks.
  • This proactive service handles incident management, request fulfillment, change management, and even some elements of ITSM.
  • Service desks manage and resolve incidents and provide business-oriented services to improve service quality and user satisfaction.

Help desk:

  • The help desk provides reactive support to end-users or customers with technical issues.
  • Its main purpose is to solve immediate issues, technical issues, and support requests.
  • Help desks use ticketing systems to document and resolve user inquiries.
  • The goal of a help desk is to solve problems quickly and minimize downtime.

IT service management (ITSM):

  • ITSM includes many processes, practices, and tools for managing IT services in an organization.
  • By aligning IT services with business needs, ITSM ensures efficient and effective service delivery. 
  • ITSM includes incident, problem, and change management, as well as other ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) processes.
  • Service desks and help desks provide support, but ITSM provides the framework and best practices for delivering and managing IT services throughout their lifecycle.

The importance of efficient service desk operations

The smooth operation of an organization’s IT and customer relations depends on efficient service desk operations. It’s no wonder that the IT support solutions market is expected to reach $11 billion in 2023.

High-performance teams are at the heart of these efficient operations, as they play a crucial role in delivering top-notch service to customers and employees.

Here are some reasons why service desk efficiency is crucial:

  • Client satisfaction: Service desks are customers’ and employees’ first stop for help. Customers are more satisfied and have a more favorable impression of the company when their issues are resolved quickly, thanks to efficient service desk operations.
  • Minimized downtime: Quick fixes reduce system and service downtime. This is especially important in industries like e-commerce, finance, and healthcare, where even a short downtime can result in significant financial losses. 
  • Cost savings: An efficient service desk optimizes resources. You can cut costs and maximize support staff value by resolving issues quickly and avoiding redundancies. 

Five best practices for using service desks

  1. Implement a robust ticketing system

Service desks rely heavily on ticketing systems for managing issues and responding to support requests. With the help of these systems, you can quickly and easily receive, log, prioritize, track, and resolve employee and customer complaints.

Benefits of using a ticketing system

There are many benefits to using a ticketing system, such as:

  • Effective issue management: Tickets offer a standardized approach to recording and tracking problems, preventing them from being overlooked. For example, phone call tracking systems help service desks manage phone incident reports. Users can call the service desk for technical support and record their inquiries or problems as tickets in the tracking system.
  • Prioritization: Tickets help prioritize issues based on urgency and impact, ensuring that critical problems are addressed quickly.
  • Data analysis: You can address recurring problems to streamline operations by analyzing ticket data.
  • Better communication: Service agents can have conversations with customers without ever leaving the ticket interface. This improves communication and engagement by keeping all relevant data in one central location.

Tips for selecting and implementing the right system

When deciding on and introducing a ticketing system, consider: 

  • Defining requirements: Selecting a system that works for your business requires a well-defined set of requirements and objectives.
  • User-friendly interface: Make sure both service providers and end users can easily navigate and use the system.
  • Customization: Look for systems that allow customization to adapt to your specific workflows.
  • Integration: Ensure the system integrates seamlessly with other IT tools and applications, 
  • Training: Provide comprehensive training to service desk agents for effective use of the system. For example, this could mean training them on incident response management. This is handy since the service desk team plays a critical role in ensuring that access control and incident response requirements for SOX compliance are consistently met when handling financial data access and security incidents.
  1. Define clear service level agreements (SLAs)

Setting reasonable expectations for service quality and response times is critical, which is why service level agreements (SLAs) are so important. They are also important because:

  • User expectations: SLAs help manage user expectations by defining what they can expect regarding support.
  • Performance measurement: SLAs provide measurable criteria for evaluating service desk performance.
  • Effectiveness: They help service desk staff prioritize and address issues in order of importance.

How to create effective SLAs

To create effective SLAs:

  • Understand your customers: To provide the best service possible, you must first learn about your customers and their needs.
  • Clear language: Use clear, understandable language in SLAs to avoid misinterpretations.
  • Realistic goals: Ensure that the goals set in SLAs are attainable with the available resources and capabilities.
  • Escalation procedures: Define procedures for escalating issues when SLAs are not met.

Monitoring and measuring SLA compliance

Regularly monitor and measure SLA compliance by:

  • Tracking metrics: Use ticketing systems to monitor your team’s response and resolution times.
  • Feedback loops: Leverage feedback loops to gauge customer satisfaction with a product or service.
  • Continuous improvement: Use SLA performance data to continuously improve service desk operations.
  • Knowledge management

Knowledge management systems are important in service desk operations because they:

  • Increase productivity: Issues can be resolved more quickly because service desk staff have easier access to the data they need. 
  • Empower users: It provides users with access to self-help materials. 
  • Facilitates knowledge sharing: It improves team proficiency by promoting information exchange between service desk agents. Use a centralized hub, like the one the enterprise payroll from Paylocity has, for announcements, training, and more. 

Creating and maintaining a knowledge base

To establish a knowledge management system:

  • Create content: Make FAQs, guides, and in-depth articles that address frequent problems and how to fix them. 
  • Conduct regular updates: Update the knowledge base regularly to ensure its accuracy.
  • User-friendly search: Make it easy to search by incorporating user-friendly search functionality.
  • Promote self-service options for users: Promote self-service by encouraging users to utilize the knowledge base and find solutions independently. People prefer companies that offer self-service options. For example, you could set up self-service options to help your employees better understand the payroll process.
  1. Prioritize and categorize requests

Prioritizing and categorizing requests offer several benefits, including:

  • Effectiveness: This feature guarantees that pressing problems are dealt with right away, boosting productivity.
  • User satisfaction: Addresses critical problems promptly, leading to higher user satisfaction.
  • Resource allocation: It helps allocate resources effectively by focusing on the most important tasks.

Methods for prioritizing and categorizing requests

  • Impact and urgency: Assess problems according to their effect on users and priority.
  • Classification: Sort problems into classes like “technical,” “software,” “hardware,” and so on for easier management.
  • Automation: Make use of automation to assign priorities according to previously established criteria. This reduces manual effort and ensures consistency in the process.
  1. Create effective communication channels

Effective communication is the cornerstone of successful service desk support because it:

  • Builds trust: Clear and transparent communication builds trust with users.
  • Promotes issue understanding: Helps service agents understand user issues better. 
  • Resolution updates: Keeps users informed about the progress of their issues.

Choosing the right communication channels

Pick communication channels that align with your users’ preferences and needs. Options may include: 

  • Chat
  • Email
  • Phone 
  • Self-service portals

Train service desk agents for effective communication

Service desk employees will have more successful interactions with customers if they have received training in active listening, empathy, and effective communication.

Optimize your service desks today!

Adopting these best practices can transform your service desk into a hub of efficiency and customer satisfaction. From robust ticketing systems to continuous training and smart automation, each practice contributes to a seamless support experience. 

By monitoring performance, fostering a culture of learning, and finding the right balance between automation and human touch, your service desk can consistently excel in delivering top-notch support, meeting user expectations, and driving organizational success.