Help Desk – Do Not Disturb

A sign saying “Help Desk – Do Not Disturb” was on an office door in a company many years ago. It remained there for over 5 years.

It always amazed me as absurdly wrong.

The help desk wanted to be called or emailed, but not interrupted by someone knocking on the door so that their “Ticket to Resolution” process was followed.  This is a good intention. Yet they were communicating that they were not to be disturbed. Over a decade later I still chuckle at the absurdity of the sign.

Something needed to be done to change the perception of this service desk to the point that it is considered an asset to the entire company. Here are a few of my thoughts on how I would approach this opportunity.

Help New Teammates

A help desk is often the first operational role that a new employee encounters after human resources. Think of the opportunities for innovation! Instead of reacting to requests that come into the service desk, what would happen if the service team were actively engaged in the onboarding of a new teammate? Could that include:

  1. Being one of the first to greet them.
  2. Having technology (PC, phone, tablet) already set up.
  3. Having communication and security (Email, IM, Homepage on Browser) already set up.
  4. Having basic software already installed that all employees will need.
  5. Having a cheat sheet on procedures.
  6. Having contact information already set up.

In doing these things, the first message that the company gives to the new teammates is that they are wanted, expected, and appreciated. The old adage applies. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Focus on People Not Tickets

Many service desks respond to requests coming in through phone, email, or internal messaging. These often create tickets which are prioritized, tracked, and delegated. It is all very clinical. Yet often the people being served aren’t overly happy. In their time of frustration they have been “ticketed, prioritized, tracked, and handed off.” That sounds a bit harsh, maybe too harsh, but it is often the perceived reality.

The question then becomes, how can you change this perceived reality? Prioritizing people may be an innovation that will help. Easy to say, hard to do! Here are some suggestions:

  1. Track the number of requests coming in by person. Anyone who contacts the service desk more than 3 times in a 48 hour period should be called (not written, not instant messaged, not emailed) so they both know and feel that someone cares about what they are going through and that action is underway.
  2. Form first responder teams.
    1. A first responder team is your immediate triage team that is assigned to try to solve the ticket within the first hour.
  3. Form service “Quick Reaction Teams”. These teams take tougher issues that the first responders can’t or are unable to resolve in their target first hour.
  4. Hire a couple of communicators who are responsible for upping the communication within the company. These communicators should follow up with people to make sure the issue was resolved and not just dropped. They should put out regular emails on “helping yourself solve problems.” They should regularly tweet inside the company (if necessary by email or on an internal web page) of changes that are happening in industry or internally.
  5. Send out handwritten thank you notes to people in the company that helped the service team. You will be surprised how many people are starved for a simple sign of appreciation and this will build loyalty and improve attitudes and service levels.
  6. Use the phone, or an in person visit, to see how the issue was resolved. This personal contact will improve the feelings, and hence attitude, of the people who worked through an issue. These personal touches let everyone know that they matter to the company, and to the IT department.

Don’t Forget the Service Desk are People Too

Lastly, don’t forget that the service desk team are people too. We have all encountered the person calling in who needs an extra measure of grace. However when that extra measure of grace extends to a service teammate being verbally abused, or treated unprofessionally we as team leaders need to step in and protect our teammate. They need to know that we protect them and value them. That may mean taking up an issue with the “extra grace required” person’s manager, or maybe even HR.

That gets us back to the beginning. If service desk teams are partnering with HR and they feel that we are helping them do their job, and improving the culture of the company, what will the result be? They will gladly assist when help is needed dealing with that “extra grace required” individual.


Questions or comments?

Feel free to comment online or contact me directly!


Twitter: @TayloeDraughon

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