IT Help Desk: focussed on IT or Help?
Ever since the mouse was invented, our industry has circulated jokes about users and mice, or users complaining about blank screens when the office cleaner unplugged their monitor to plug in the floor cleaner. It’s convenient to have the dumb user image to fall back on. Everything about modern PCs (which for most, means Windows) is so intuitive and easy, right? After 15+ years of evolution, is Windows now so simple? Likewise the standard Windows applications? It’s also easy to assume that anyone with a job that is intellectually demanding will be computer literate, but why should they be?
So, how does your IT help desk perceive its role? Is it an elite team of technical wizards that can fix any broken Windows system? Is it a group of agony aunt style social workers able to counsel users struggling with weird PC behaviour? It probably needs a mix, if it is going to work to the organization’s best advantage.
IT Help Desk: what metrics matter to you?
Most help desks are all about resolving users’ IT related problems in the shortest possible times, or at the least resolving them within parameters that reflect the impact on the organization of the combination of the issue and the affected user. So Service Level Agreements are ‘must-haves’ for many organizations. How else can you set objectives and measure incident resolution performance? And a demand for constant improvement means we must have some trend measurement. If your help desk is large, you are probably segmenting and summarizing performance by specialist groups within the analyst team. One characteristic shared by all these perfectly valid reports is that they class users and their incidents as statistics.
The role of the Help Desk – back to basics
The basic role of IT is to provide technology that enables the organization – and its people – to achieve the organization’s goals. There are other sexier goals such as innovating to provide more competitive edge, but most organizations depend on people doing their jobs efficiently and with high motivation. The user’s experience of IT is critical to both those angles – efficiency and motivation.
The IT help desk is a part of the overall IT picture, and is identified with IT in general. It is also a great means of looking into the totality of how IT works for your users – and the organization. The help desk is probably the one and only channel in many organizations for any feedback of how IT works for the users. Maybe you have the resources and economies of scale to also set up focus groups and a regular forum for listening to users’ views on IT – in which case the help desk provides a parallel, independent means of cross-checking what you hear in the focus groups, user forums, etc.
Customer Experience – the ultimate metric
The help desk will get value and guidance from seeing each incident resolution cycle from the user’s perspective.
Firstly, the incident itself.
- What was the impact on the user’s function and objectives?
- Was there a specific tangible impact on the organization, which might suggest that there would be value in evolving an additional response to this type of incident in the future?
Then the process of resolution.
- How did the user rate the politeness and consideration of the analyst?
- Did the user feel their incident was given an appropriate level of priority?
- Do they feel equipped to handle a repeat instance of the incident, or to avoid it happening again through a better understanding of the IT they are working with?
Finally – and here’s the big opportunity – what do they feel about their IT provision in general?
- Is it easy to use?
- What irks them as users?
- How could IT help them do their jobs better?
An automatic user survey on incident closure is a feature to look for in the IT help desk software that you use. But getting answers to these questions is not down to the IT help desk software, it’s down to the relationship your help desk team builds with the users. And that is going to start with how the help desk team feels about themselves and the organization they work for, and tools they are given to work with.
While we are so hot on innovation with virtualization etc, we should never ignore that the most successful organizations, long term, are those whose employees are motivated, well lead, and try hard for the organization. IT, and the IT help desk, have a key role to play in demonstrating they understand that, at the end of the day, IT is still about people.