The Service Desk
As discussed earlier, the Service desk is "the" point of contact between the IT organisation and customers and users. It is therefore essential that:
- It be readily accessible.
- It offers a uniform service of consistent quality.
- It keeps users regularly informed and logs all interaction with them.
- It provides support for the business.
To achieve these goals an appropriate physical and logical structure is needed.
The members of the Service Desk team must:
- Be familiar with the protocols for interaction with customers: scripts, checklists, etc.
- Be equipped with software tools they need to log their interactions with users.
- Know when to escalate incidents to higher levels or contribute to discussions on the compliance with SLAs.
- Have the relevant knowledge bases at their fingertips so as to give a better service to users.
- Receive training on the company's products and services.
The structure of the Service Desk opted for will vary depending on the service needs (global, local, 24/7, etc.).
There are three basic formats:
The main characteristics of each format are described below:
Centralised Service Desk
In this case all contact with users is channeled through a single central structure.
The main advantages are:
- Costs are reduced.
- Resources are optimised.
- Management is simplified.
However, this approach may have significant drawbacks when:
- Users are spread across several geographical locations, with different languages, products and services.
- Maintenance services need to be delivered on site.
Distributed Service Desk
This is the structure traditionally used when the company offers services at different geographical locations (whether these are cities, countries or continents). The advantages are clear in these cases. However, geographically distributing the Service Desks in this way can entail serious difficulties:
- It is generally more expensive.
- Managing and monitoring the service is more complicated.
- It is more difficult for data and knowledge to flow between the different Service Desks.
Virtual Service Desk
Thanks to high speed communications networks, the geographical location of the Service Desk can nowadays be irrelevant.
The main aim of a virtual service desk is to utilise the advantages of both centralised and distributed service desks.
In a virtual Service Desk:
- Knowledge is centralised.
- Unnecessary duplication is avoided, with the consequent cost savings.
- A "local service" can be offered without incurring extra costs.
- The quality of service is uniform and consistent.