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  • Ben O'Loghlin

This blog series explores the topics discussed in servicely.ai's State of the Service Desk report. More details at the bottom of this blog article.


Introduction


Purpose


The IT Service Management process and tools market is always changing and evolving.

Servicely, as an emerging AI-based service desk vendor, wanted to understand the current trends in the market so as to continue to evolve the product to meet the current set of challenges and frustrations.


In late 2020 Servicely conducted 23 interviews with service management practitioners and their leaders. These interviews were designed to assess the state of the market and document the current challenges being faced by different organizations with different levels of service management maturity.


From the simple ticketing solutions of the 1970s to the helpdesk environment, then ITSM and the professionalization of the support function, to the current wave of enterprise support function consolidation, service desks have been maturing in scope and sophistication for decades.


Within that progression, different organizations find themselves at different levels of maturity based on organization size, sector, trends of outsourcing and insourcing, mergers and acquisitions, and other factors.


Each generation of processes and tools solves some of the problems left over by the previous generation. The current dominant processes and vendors have done a great service to the market by their capabilities and achievements, and in doing so have exposed new opportunities for value creation.


We hope you enjoy this report, see something of yourself in these challenges and opportunities, and welcome the next generation of solutions.


Profile of Contributors


The service management professionals interviewed for this report included CIOs, Heads of Operations, Service Desk Managers, Service Desk Analysts and others. A full list can be found in Appendix A.


The service desks that were studied are predominantly IT service desks, although several customer service desks and field service desks were discussed.


The companies range in size from 1,000 to 20,000 employees, across verticals including healthcare, software, food production, retail, IT services, and others.


These service desks have between two and fifty Tier 1 service desk analysts. They handle between 300 and 28,000 tickets per month across functions such as IT, customer service, field services, engineering and managed services.


A Note on Terminology


For the purpose of this report the word “organization " is used to describe is used to describe the company (in the case of outward-facing customer service desks) or the IT department (for IT service desks).


The word “customers" describes those who access the services of the service desk. In the case of a customer service desk these could be actual consumers (B2C), employees of a customer company (B2B), or in the case of an enterprise service management they would be employees of the same organisation.


Next - Part 3: Service Desk Performance

In late 2020 servicely.ai conducted 23 research interviews with service desk executives, managers and practitioners, to explore the State of the Service Desk in the post-COVID19 world.

The interview results were synthesised into a report that covers the following topics:

  1. Executive Summary

  2. Introduction

  3. Service Desk Metrics

  4. Increase in Demand

  5. Transformation, Consolidation and Integration

  6. Shift Left

  7. Automation and Orchestration

  8. Knowledge Management

  9. People Management

  10. Support Channels

  11. Data Quality

  12. Tools

  13. Conclusion

This blog series will serialise the topics listed above. The full report is available for download at www.servicely.ai/sotsd.


If you would like to discuss any of these topics please get in touch via the website or book a meeting at www.servicely.ai/calendar.

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This blog series explores the topics discussed in servicely.ai's State of the Service Desk report. More details at the bottom of this blog article.


Executive Summary


Service Desk Performance


Common metrics cover areas like customer satisfaction and NPS, call handling performance, service level agreement compliance, and load and capacity.


Many service desks are experiencing an increase in demand leading to degradation of service levels, in the absence of further investment.


These are being addressed by negotiating budget vs performance with the executive, bidding for budget for transformation activities, improvements in product quality, and continuous service improvement.


Transformation, Consolidation and Integration


Digital Transformation is increasing the number of service catalog items and the associated demands on support.


There is an increasing trend for IT’s service desk to take on Enterprise Service Management, the support of digital workflows across the whole organization.


Some organizations are needing to consolidate service desks across departments, geographies, subsidiaries and acquisitions.


Increasingly service desk software is being integrated with other tools to facilitate enterprise service management and automation of workflows across different platforms.


Shift Left


Shift left is an industry term used to describe the desired change of shifting workloads from higher cost resources to lower cost resources. This topic was widely discussed in almost all interviews. Implementation of this strategy is key to overcoming many of the challenges highlighted in this report, but implementation of shift left has its own challenges.


Automation and Orchestration


Automation refers to workflows that can be performed without human intervention in a particular platform, where orchestration refers to the automated coordination of workflows across different systems (enabled by integrations) to produce an outcome.


Automation is necessary to shift left, and orchestration is necessary to reduce the requirement for operators to “swivel chair” and perform repetitive actions in different platforms.


Some organizations reported having automation teams; many reported the tradeoff between putting resources into automation vs into maintaining service levels with the status quo service desk.


Knowledge Management


Essential to the shift left strategy is the ability to shift knowledge left as well, so it is the hands of less skilled and lower cost resources, including the customer themselves. Each level of support should have the knowledge and tools appropriate to their role in the support process. In the absence of this knowledge issues will be shifted right to more expensive resources.


There is a variety of strategies being used to generate and propagate knowledge; many of them relate to the need to liberate specialist and “tribal” knowledge from highly skilled and experienced staff, and put it in the hands of Level 1 analysts.


People Management


There are a number of challenges inherent in service desk personnel management, particularly relating to Level 1 analysts. It is an entry level and potentially transient position, often characterized by a lot of repetitive tasks. There are often few opportunities for ongoing learning and growth, and career development opportunities sometimes require moving on to another organization.


The costs of lack of development and staff turnover are significant. Lost productivity means higher ticket handling costs, and lack of training and experience sends tickets to Level 2/3 that should be resolved at Level 1. This ultimately increases the cost of the service desk, starving it of resources for automation, orchestration and continuous service improvement.


A number of strategies were being used to improve staff capability and retention, from higher than average compensation, internal promotion opportunities, training and certification, involvement in internal projects, and supportive management styles and coaching for culture change.


Support Channels


Fifty years ago support was done by telephone and by the postal service. Today the three mainstream support channels are telephone, email and self-service portal. Despite the effort being put into knowledge and automation at the self-service portal level, customer uptake (and resulting deflection of issues from the service desk) has for many been disappointing.

Others have experienced impressive levels of deflection.


Newer channels such as Slack, Teams, WhatsApp, WeChat and others have the advantage that they meet the user “where they are”, and increase the level of engagement with channels that are lower cost, however unless carefully managed issues can be resolved without tickets being raised, or without the tickets having the level of intelligence required to give good data to the service desk manager.


Chatbots are seen as having enormous potential to satisfy customers at a low cost, however in practice experience is mixed.


Data Quality


"Data is the new platinum", one of the contributors said, but data is only useful if the quality is high enough.


Request and Incident data needs to be high to support continuous service improvement activities, but this is sometimes a challenge because analysts are often incentivized on how quickly they can resolve issues, and this has an inverse relationship with creating the requisite verbosity and accuracy in the ticket records.


Issues raised in some channels, particularly email, social and collaboration tools, often require multiple round trips to collect enough data to solve and issue. It is also often reported that customers don’t want to put in the effort to sufficiently and accurately describe the issue to the service desk analyst, which makes it hard to respond quickly and effectively.


Finally, asset management and CMDB completeness, accuracy and currency are still an area of challenge for some organizations, relying as they do on manual processes.


Tools

There are a plenty of options for service desk tools, and one contributor broke them down into two categories:

  • More simplified SME tools, where the website has a free trial, just pick a plan

  • Enterprise-grade tools, very flexible and customisable but very expensive

Not surprisingly larger organizations and organizations with a more mature service desk function were using tools in the latter category.


Next - Part 2: Introduction

In late 2020 servicely.ai conducted 23 research interviews with service desk executives, managers and practitioners, to explore the State of the Service Desk in the post-COVID19 world.

The interview results were synthesised into a report that covers the following topics:

  1. Executive Summary

  2. Introduction

  3. Service Desk Metrics

  4. Increase in Demand

  5. Transformation, Consolidation and Integration

  6. Shift Left

  7. Automation and Orchestration

  8. Knowledge Management

  9. People Management

  10. Support Channels

  11. Data Quality

  12. Tools

  13. Conclusion

This blog series will serialise the topics listed above. The full report is available for download at www.servicely.ai/sotsd.


If you would like to discuss any of these topics please get in touch via the website or book a meeting at www.servicely.ai/calendar.

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Capturing an organization's Tribal Knowledge.


We have all be there, call the Service Desk and the quality and efficiency of your interaction depend on the Service Desk Analyst you are dealing with.

This is no reflection of the individual but rather a result of what is known as, knowledge is a consequence of experience, or as I like to refer to it, Tribal Knowledge.

Tribal Knowledge is acquired knowledge that is acquired over time by staff members who have been in an organization for a long time, these staff member simply just “know stuff”. They know where to find stationery cupboards and they know the phone extensions for HR, Facilities, etc. Ask them anything about the organization and they just seem to know the answer.

The question is how they know this, well the answer is, knowledge is a consequence of experience. At some point in working for the company, they have had to call HR or needed a new notepad while rushing to a meeting and had to swing by the stationary cupboard. This knowledge is developed over time and allows them to “know stuff” i.e., they have acquired the Tribal Knowledge.

This same process plays out every day on your Service Desk, some analysts just know how to solve a particular issue, not because there is a knowledge article or because they covered it during induction training, they know because they previously dealt with a similar issue and remembered how to solve it. The more time they spend on the Service Desk the more their Tribal Knowledge improves until they become one of your top Service Desk Analysts.

Unfortunately, Service Desk Analysts leave, they go work somewhere else or they are promoted internally and with them leaves this Tribal Knowledge.

Consider the following, 48% of respondents to the Service Desk Institute survey responded confirming they spend on average 10 – 40 hours of induction training on each new Service Desk Analyst.

This is only induction training and does not include ongoing training or ramp time for the new Service Desk Analyst.

Download the full report at SDI

Whilst training is the first step in preparing a new Service Desk Analysts to handle calls, it is only the start of their Tribal Knowledge journey. A journey that is costly for the business with reduced first call resolution and incorrectly assigned calls as the Service Desk Analysts improves their Tribal Knowledge until they a good understanding of the environment and how to resolve common issues. But, then they depart the Service Desk and we start the process over again.

How do we solve this problem of costly induction and ramp time during which the business experiences a reduction in service experience and increased costs due to incorrectly assigned calls?

Imagine you could capture this Tribal Knowledge in an intelligent service management platform. A platform that learns by Observing how your best Service Desk Analysts are solving issues, to Augment new Service Desk Analysts to deliver a consistent and efficient service experience to the business.

Servicely is a new breed of intelligent service management platform that leverage the latest developments in Artificial Intelligence to capture and retain Tribal Knowledge to Augment and Automate common requests and issue, helping improve the productivity of your business while keeping the operational costs in check.

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