Who does the service desk serve?

Who does the service desk serve? That comes back to what the support service is there for.

If it is to serve IT then we can focus on capturing incidents and restoring the services we are contracted to deliver, and we can push away "stupid" users who "they" have failed to train. We can work on meeting the SLA instead of doing the best we can do. The service desk buffers IT from the clamour of the users. It is a back-room function. The role has low esteem.

If the Service Desk is there to serve the user, then we can invest energy in assisting the users to help make them more productive and more accepting of technology, in coaching them and in identifying a need for (and providing!) training support. We can cooperate with customers to understand what they need today, not when an SLA was negotiated. The service desk is the sharp end of IT. The role matters.

In some ways ITIL gives us an unhealthily inward view of IT service - it's not truly customer oriented. We need to step away from the internal-centric mindset of ITIL when negotiating what support service we provide to customers - we can do better.


Is SPOC a good idea

Yes, ITIL is very inside-out concept and that can be best seen in the Service Desk function and the Incident Management and Request Fulfilment processes. We have discussed this earlier but I think it is worth repeating that the key things a customer wants from IT are really support and service: help me with this or do this for me. I hope that a lot of people have already seen that ITIL concepts of incident and request for service are not to be applied in real life.

But what about the Single Point Of Contact SPOC. It was a great idea 20 years ago. How well does it fit today when the service consumer (I have decided to stop using the U-word for customers, let's leave that to the Controlled Substances Import and Retail Business) population has developed in IT skills. Back in 80's and 90's IT was new to most people. Today we have a large variation of experience and knowledge. Many service consumers need specialist to support them, a 1st level support generalist is of no use to a person who is already an expert.

I'm not saying that the Service Desk is useless, it is a valuable element of the service if it understands its role right. What we need is a more advanced model for support for a more advanced customer base. Routing all contacts through just one single point of contact is frustrating to both parties. The Service Desk model does not seem to work so well in real life. According to my own research, only 20 % of attempts to solve a consumer problem are done with Service Desk. Service consumers try SD only if nothing else works. It seems that offering some choice to the consumer is a better practise that the SPOC.


Centralized Service Desk


I think you might have too narrow a view of the service desk. Nobody, especially not ITIL v3, defines the service desk purely as a centralized model. The service desk is broader and more flexible than that.


direct access

It is true that ITIL allows distributed service desk models but that isn't Aale's point. I too have pondered how to provide a range of options for engagement with support instead of forcing everyone through a one-size-fits-all lowest-common-denominator gating function of the service desk first-call operators.

oh sure a service desk can be manned by expert support analysts who can immediately adapt their mode of engagement to the sophistication of the caller and discuss knowledgeably the caller's issue. Meanwhile down here in the real world, service desk staff churn on average in less than a year, and the bunnies are assigned to gate the incoming calls, while the experienced staff hide behind the barricades.

i always recommend a "secret red-phone number" for IT staff to get to the service desk manager when the lines are choked, but that is not the same thing. i think there needs to be a way for users to certify as "don't waste my time with some spotty script-reading youth asking me if I have plugged it in" and get direct access to true level 1 support.

Own Guru

Greg is right in that V3 does mention Specialized Service Desk groups and I had forgotten it. The reason for my forgetfulness might be that this is the guidance is quite short:

The selection would be made using a script along the
lines of ‘If your call is about the X Service, please press 1
now, otherwise please hold for a Service Desk analyst’.

Care is needed not to over complicate the selection, so
specialist groups should only be considered for a very
small number of key services where these exist, and
where call rates about that service justify a separate
specialist group.

This is not what I meant. My ISP Elisa suprised me with an invention. They are offering a new support option, Own Guru. I'm not that hot about the name but the idea is good. For a fee, you get a person who is a specialist and who can solve tricky problems. (In my case a Microsoft product had stopped working after I started using an Elisa tool and the reason was a conflict with a Google tool which I was not even using but what I had installed. I thought it was pretty impressive problem solving on the phone. The guy even said that he would add this solution to their KE knowledgebase).

Obviously this solution works only if you can charge for your service. I agree with Rob that we should invent a better standard model which would recognize the customer needs better.


Service Desk topics

1. what does it mean Real world, real life?
Please say it percentually how many users, consumers need special expert advice,
I know lot of companies where don't want to know "how it (IT) works" (banks, car factories,...)
2.Statisticaly approx. 80 - 90% of situation is not new,
do you realy think that it needs expert involving?
3.customers, consuments has developed in IT skills ?
OK, but the IT too, Service Desk peoples doesn't remain "trained cats"
Greater demands ? --- greater skills !
4. Own Guru - you said yourself it is for fee and tricky problems
5. SPOC - probability of record ALL events is rapidly groving against multiPOC, I don't know many experts who like administration work
6. Please write some internal-centric (inside-out) aspects of ITIL


Service Desks do not work as well they think


1-2. Some time ago I did a short survey asking what is the "market share" of the Service Desk, i.e. what is the percentage of incidents that the Service Desk handles. I noticed that the Service Desk people thought this was 60% while their customers said it was less than 40%. It seems that some Service Desk customers tend to use the Desk as the last resort and only 20% of attempts to solve an incident is done with the Service Desk. You can read more of it here: http://www.itsmportal.com/columns/what-market-share-your-service-desk

3. In many companies the Service Desk is the entry point to a career in IT which means that the analysts have very little experience and knowledge. As soon as they learn something useful, they get to leave the Desk.

4. More and more people can solve their simple problems themselves and need support only for the tricky ones. I'm not saying that they are the majority but a growing segment.

5. That is the problem. Most companies I know have Expert Users who offer local and specialized support. None of the expert users log their incidents. It is a challenge.

6. Rob answered that.


inside-out ITIL

"internal-centric (inside-out) aspects of ITIL"? Um... most of it.

Where is the Customer Relations function? Where is the customer involvement in the CAB? In Incident? Major Incident? In Release? How many mentions of the Service Catalogue are there in the five books? How many metrics and KPIs are determined and measured by the customer? Where are any mentions of corporate governance of IT?

Service Desk

All problems start with step 1, I admit I have a problem. So deciding who the service desk serves starts with, a very simple problem. The Service Desk doesn't know.

The Service Desk (Currently) Serves:

The service desk is Polytheistic. All of IT is building figure heads to different Gods. The God of the old testament said screw this, and basically said you can't do these "10 things". Two of these 10, (so a very high percentage for you number perverts) are:

1. You shall have no other gods before me
2. You shall not make for yourself an idol

The latest rev (For you dev perverts) of IT, talks about the #NewBoss, the customer. So IT possibly should just get with the game an go for a monotheistic approach to IT, and make.

1. GOD Customer

This won't happen. We IT folks are a pagan lot who know for a fact it takes ritual and voodoo to get things to happen with machines.

Go forth, frolic and worship all your Gods. Have at "IT".

Tevye the Milkman

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