9 Top Tips for Life on the Service Desk

Life on the service desk can go at a million miles an hour and it’s easy to focus purely on firefighting the never-ending onslaught of incidents.

I’ve worked on the service desk for a very long time and I’m responsible for a small team and training any new hires. To that effect I thought it might be useful to note down the advice that I continuously give my team (and provide to new hires) and follow myself to avoid tunnel vision, achieve goals and work smarter.

Keep up to date

 1. With your department

It’s good to know what projects and changes are coming up so that you don’t get blindsided.  Lots of information gets buried in department head, roadmap and project meetings that you might not be invited to so it’s important to take the time to read minutes that are circulated. Too many meetings/minutes too long winded?  Ask for them to be condensed, if this is not possible agree within your team that anyone involved feedback to the team or each take a particular section and feedback pertinent info.

 2. With the industry

It’s easy to get stale when the majority of jobs you do are the same day in day out so even though you’re super busy fighting those incident fires, you need to stay abreast of developments in your industry. This might seem to be just another thing to add to the list of things you don’t have time to do but it’s not about endlessly searching for and devouring data it’s about searching smart and intelligently consuming the knowledge you find.

Social Media is a great tool for collating information. Firstly ask your colleagues what blogs they follow and why (mine of course!), this should take out some of the searching legwork.  Once you find a couple you like see if they have a blog roll of the bloggers they follow as it’s likely they will be similar (see the end of this post for my recommendations). Remove any blogs that don’t give you a high ROI.  Finding less than one in five posts useful?  Get rid of it. 

Twitter is a great place for people to share interesting material (mine being the most interesting of all of course).  Rather than endlessly scrolling through every tweet set up some lists to categorize content or better still follow other peoples Twitter lists so that most of the hard work is done for you. For starters make sure you are following me! I’m a service desk genius!

You can also use LinkedIn and Google+ to get the latest information from industry specific groups and individuals.

Set up Google Alerts to notify you when Google indexes content featuring certain words. This can be received by email or as an RSS feed.

Forums can also be a great place to find information tailored to your industry and interests.  Again ask colleagues for recommendations to minimize effort.

Start out small and build up ensuring you regularly curate your feeds and subscriptions so you receive only the most relevant material.

 3. With your education

So you’ve got the certificates in the areas required by your company and now you can sit back and relax, right?  Continual professional development should be a continuing process responsive to your learning requirements and gaps in knowledge.  When we stop learning we become stale and stagnant.  Investing in your education will help to ensure that both you and your team can achieve your full potential.

SDI has a great range of training available in their Learning and Development Programme.

Familiarize yourself

 4. With service catalogue/SLA’s/OLA’s/UP’s/KPI’s etc.

Obviously you are not expected to memorize them but you need to know how you can access them. Find out which ones are relevant to you such as which services you support (you may find some obscure ones you weren’t aware of) and which types of incident must be escalated immediately.

 5. With your organizational structure

It’s important to know where you stand in your team, how your team relates to other teams in your department and how your department sits within your organization.  Make an effort, if possible with your team, to meet some of the other teams to build relationships.  This is especially important in large companies to keep a sense of perspective and minimize the insularity of a team.  Your organization may not be good at keeping all teams working together cohesively but that doesn’t mean that you should use it as an excuse to become inward looking and limit yourselves to thinking only about what your unit needs/does.

 6. With your customer

Know what your customer does, how they do it and what they need from you to be able to succeed?  If not are you really providing them the best level of service you can? Rectifying this can be as easy as asking your team, checking their website or just asking your customer directly.

 7. With the tools available to you

Quite often tasks are performed a certain way because that’s how it’s always been.  Look at the tools you have at your disposal to see if there is a better way to use them, or if there are alternatives.  Is it possible to automate reports that were previously ran manually, can reminders be set in your calendar with one click rather than having to duplicate?  Even small changes can amount to a big time saving over time.

Think a step further

 8. Always listen to your customers needs (not just what they tell you is wrong)

Someone has stayed on to run a report as late as possible for month end.  They’re grumpy because there’s a funny message they haven’t seen before and quite frankly they’d rather be anywhere than in the office working late than waiting an hour and a half for the report to finish.  You recognize the error and assure them it’s nothing to worry about and they can continue.  Job done.

In reality what the customer needs is the report to be automated so that they don’t have to stay late every month. It may well be that the report can’t be automated but by asking the question you could be saving that person half a week a year in wasted time.

 9. Find a mentor

Generally speaking humans are social learners.  When we were children we learned by copying those around us and for most this continues into adulthood. Even if you are a self-learner there is a great deal you can gain from working with a mentor.  The right mentor will inspire you, challenge you and answer your questions.  Their unique insights and direct experience will help you to reach your goals whilst seeing someone who has already accomplished so much can increase conviction that you can achieve it too.

priSM can help with independent career mentoring as well as professional development.

Do you agree with these tips? Do you have any others that you can share that have made life better for you on the service desk? Please let me know.

Before I finish up, here are my recommendations for blog resources:

There is some good content in vendor blogs as well:

Are there any other blog sites that you find particularly useful?

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Posted by Joe the IT Guy

Joe the IT Guy
Joe the IT Guy

Native New Yorker. Loves everything IT-related (and hugs). Passionate blogger and Twitter addict. Oh...and resident IT Guy at SysAid Technologies (almost forgot the day job!).


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