3 tips on how to improve your IT service desk

By Liz Coffman

Published June 11, 2020
Last updated December 10, 2020

The terms service desk and help desk are often used interchangeably, and it’s easy to see why. Service and help are synonyms after all, and the goal of both desks is to resolve issues and restore normality as quickly as possible. But each desk has a distinct role. A service desk is an IT function that traditionally supports a business’s technology infrastructure. It tends to support employees rather than customers.

While agents may not work directly with customers, a smooth, fast-moving service desk does play a role in keeping them happy. How? By keeping employees productive with functional technology. The faster your service desk resolves internal tickets and gets employees back to work, the sooner they can get back to serving customers. In this blog, we’ll take a look at three tips for improving your service desk that drive tangible business value.

1. Use your customer support software for your employees.

Support software isn’t useful just for help desks. It can also automate the workflow of service desk agents, allowing them to quickly assist employees. Specifically, support software allows service desk teams to set up triggers that automatically prioritize IT tickets. Those minimized delays mean a better employee experience, which cascades into a better customer experience.

The workplace solution and document management company Xerox found this to be true for their own service desk. Agents had trouble supporting employees because tickets could only be submitted by email. “We couldn’t mark tickets pending or close them out. As a result, there was a real danger of issues falling through the cracks,” said Lucille R., eSolutions manager for the NA Global Delivery Center at Xerox Corporation.

But after seeing a vendor use Zendesk Support to help its customers, Xerox realized the same software could improve their service desk. Now, employees submit requests through web forms. Agents triage each ticket with a drop-down menu that instantly triggers escalation and routing to the support tier best equipped to solve the issue. Today, Xerox fields 20 to 30 tickets per day from employees.

The mobile service provider amayism had a similar experience. The company loved how easy it was to assist customers through Zendesk Support, so they decided to use the same software for their service desk. “We’ve gone from handling 200 [service desk] tickets a month two years ago to more than 1,000 a month now,” said James. “Seeing the ticket breakdown per agent and physical site is how I’ve been able to justify growth in the IT team.”

By using customer support software to run their service desks, companies like Xerox and amayism give their employees consumer-grade support experiences. That makes employees not only happier and more productive but also likely to stick around longer.

2. Improve your service desk by building an internal knowledge base.

Just like you can support employees by using customer service software, you can also support them by building a knowledge base—aka a repository where users can find articles, how-tos, and other content structured to help them solve problems. An internal knowledge base serves employees; an external knowledge base serves customers.

An internal knowledge base frees service desk agents to focus on the most urgent and/or complex issues. At the same time, it helps employees solve their own IT problems without waiting on anyone, driving your service desk’s ticket deflection rate in the right direction.

Expedia’s internal knowledge base became such an effective self-service channel that agents saw a big drop in requests from employees. “Investing in our knowledge base meant we saw a massive decline in the number of [service desk] support requests coming in,” said Mike Cartwright, chief of partner solutions at Expedia Affiliate Network. “Partners were getting what I consider to be the very best service—which is that they never had to log a ticket in the first place.”

Start by running a ticket-creation report in your support software, and then organize the results by tags. This will help you see what issues consistently pop up in your ticket distribution. Among these recurring issues, identify the ones that employees could solve themselves if a knowledge-base article existed. Issues like connecting to printers, resetting passwords, or ordering a second monitor are all things most employees could probably do themselves with a basic guide.

From there, produce and publish internal articles, like how-tos and FAQs, that describe how to resolve each issue. Consider using knowledge-base software to create this content. Your team can use it to rapidly collaborate and analyze performance metrics, such as how many searches lead employees to the right content. By building your knowledge base, you will help both service desk agents and employees continually make incremental gains that translate into higher productivity and better customer experiences.

3. Collect and implement employee feedback regularly.

To improve your service desk, collect employees’ feedback on how it currently operates. Their input will help service desk agents understand where problems are happening and how they can be resolved. OpenTable was able to strengthen its service desk experience by surveying team members. “Our employees said it was cumbersome to submit support tickets to our internal help desk,” said Russ Gangloff, director of customer support at OpenTable.

Gangloff’s team realized that OpenTable’s employees needed more channels to submit tickets and regular status updates on the progress of their tickets. Since implementing these two updates, OpenTable’s service desk has created the smooth, transparent process that employees asked for—and their follow-up surveys prove it. “We keep hearing that we’re so much more responsive now [from employees],” Gangloff said.

To collect feedback from your employees, set up triggers in your support software to automatically send a survey to employees when their tickets close. Ask survey questions about an employee’s level of satisfaction with their service desk experience and how much effort they had to put in.

By sending these surveys, you capture feedback that helps you continually get better at supporting your employees through your service desk. Plus, you make employees feel heard, which can lead to higher productivity and lower turnover. Apps like SurveyMonkey that integrate with your support software make this quick and easy. “Engagement is strongest in companies where employees feel they have an active voice in shaping strategy and execution,” said corporate wellness coach Naz Beheshti.

Keep learning how to improve your service desk with more resources like the ones above.

By using the tips above to improve your service desk, you’ll create a support loop that benefits the entire company. Agents will get their fellow employees back to work faster, and employees will have an easier time focusing on your customers.

For more on how to improve your IT service desk, check out _how we run our own internal service desk here at Zendesk. And if you’re curious about how some of the best companies in the world handle support, check out industry benchmarks for customer service here.

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