The IT support role can become an elite, respected position within the organisation if the service desk analyses and communicates the impact that experienced, empowered staff have on business performance.
Adam Paton, customer support manager for IDBS, a provider of scientific research software, says service desks can elevate their status by documenting the huge range of tasks they perform and the positive impact that IT support has on satisfaction and productivity.
“People sometimes have a narrow view of what is required – they assume you just need to pick up the phone and perform some basic troubleshooting. My view is that service desk staff should be knowledgable enough to perform any role in the business to understand the context of IT.”
Paton says that to protect service desk funding, you must first understand exactly what you are delivering to explain the impact that losing staff and skills would have. “We defined the tasks performed by the service desk and showed that experienced staff are far more productive at fixing problems and driving customer satisfaction compared to ‘call handling’ front-line workers.”
Of the 12 service desk staff supporting IDBS customers around the world, nine are educated to PHD level and the remainder hold Masters. While the nature of IDBS business and the complexity of its products demands unusually high calibre staff, Paton believes all service desks would benefit from employing highly intelligent people and then treating them as key members of the business, rather than entry level workers. “Our support team is the translation layer between the development team and the customers, this is a pivotal role that requires excellent communications skills. Support at IDBS is not a stop gap job, it is a well respected, well defined career role.”
While the positive support culture is crucial to the team’s success, Paton also explains importance of the tools underpinning the operation. “Without the Hornbill SupportWorks ITSM tool, I can say with 100 per cent of certainty that we wouldn’t be where we are now. We scoped 150 products before deciding on Hornbill. It reduces the burden of administration, drastically reduces the amount of clicks needed to perform tasks and gives our customers access to what we are doing. ITSM is changing rapidly and if the software is very restrictive it stops you moving, Hornbill is the opposite – it allows us to adapt and constantly hone our services.”