How to Avoid Mediocrity in IT Service and Support

Too often, the system of IT service and support is geared toward maintaining the bare minimum of service. Here is […]

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Too often, the system of IT service and support is geared toward maintaining the bare minimum of service. Here is an argument for why that isn’t enough, and a couple of concrete suggestions for how to change the culture to allow for better feedback and more risk-taking.

What’s more important to your IT service desk – getting a great piece of customer feedback or not getting any bad feedback? The latter is about “not failing” while the former is about “succeeding, and succeeding well”. This blog considers whether traditional IT service desk performance metrics cause us to avoid failure more than they encourage us to succeed.

Think about it – how many IT service desk metrics involve just scraping past a target that the customer might wish was higher? And are employees and/or customers happy with the quality of IT support even when every single IT service desk target is met?

Think of IT service desk metrics scenarios as being similar to how you undertake periodical employee performance reviews. Do you start everyone off with a score of zero and add points based on the good work they do during the year? Or do you start everyone off at 100 and subtract points every time they make a mistake or fail to deliver on something? In my experience, the latter method seems to be more prevalent than it should be – because we, as humans, focus on “the bad stuff”. THis means that people are perhaps more motivated to not make mistakes than to take risks in pursuit of doing great or even exceptional things.

Driving the right service desk analyst behaviors through better performance metrics

The average IT service desk analyst is usually up against it:

  • They spend all day dealing with people who have issues, and corporate contact/ticket volumes are increasing.
  • They’re potentially in an environment that wants to avoid failure more than it wants to succeed – it’s a perpetual case of “looking over one’s shoulder”.
  • The corporate performance management system and their line manager probably remember their mistakes over their successes.
  • They often aren’t recognized for their hard work.

End-user expectations are continually rising, thanks to employees’ often-better consumer-world experiences of service and support, as well as the greater importance of technology availability to employees that are now WFH.

There’s probably an IT service desk strategy to reduce costs despite the growing work volumes.

Not only do these factors potentially demotivate IT support staff, but it also actively encourages them to seek employment elsewhere. This is, unfortunately, yet another barrier to your IT service desk meeting the increasing expectations that your organization and its employees have of it.

Employee experience management can help

HappySignals customer data up to the end of May 2021 highlighted that the top three contributing factors for employee happiness (with IT) were:

  • Speed of service
  • Service personnel’s attitude
  • Service personnel’s skills
  • Whereas unhappy employees highlighted:
  • Their issue not being solved despite ticket closure
  • Slowness of service
  • Having to reexplain the issue and provide details repeatedly, i.e. being bounced between people

Recently, there has been a lot written about needing to better motivate service desk analysts through more meaningful work, usually by removing repetitive, low-value tasks through the adoption of automation. This is something that positively impacts both the delivered user experience and the analyst experience.

Another way to help is provide more real-time feedback that is a two-way street through tech solutions that improve communication within your team. This will also provide better insight beyond the mediocre, periodic end user feedback that happens infrequently.

These are just the starting points for addressing how to create a culture of excellence in your IT service and support organization. What more suggestions can you add?

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