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How to overcome three common IT service desk challenges

The role of the IT service desk is in a state of rapid evolution.

In the past, IT service desks were the go-to for password resets, work computer software updates and hardware quick fixes. But as our world increasingly relies on technology for leisure and work — including a massive influx in remote work — the market is taking a new shape entirely, says Matthew Wilkes, product manager of IT service desk at TELUS International. "The breadth of requests from clients has really changed," Wilkes says. "Now it also includes enhancing the employee experience."

As changes in the market unfold, it's important for IT leaders to keep a pulse on what's working and what requires modernizing. This is especially important given the IT service desk's critical role in the overall productivity of an organization.

In fact, a recent survey of technology leaders conducted by TELUS International found that 60% of respondents estimated that IT downtime cost their business between $500,000 and $3 million in 2021. Additionally, 61% said downtime costs had increased compared to 2020.

Image of three people working at a desk with laptops and headsets

Executive survey results: IT Service Desk optimization

TELUS International surveyed 100 leaders involved in IT Service Desk decision making about their satisfaction with their IT Service Desk and their progress when it comes to AI capabilities.

But it's bigger than just the financial expense. The consequences of downtime and outages range from diminished productivity to regulatory fines. These issues can also cause reputational damage and muddle communication, severely impacting both the employee and customer experience.

Challenges in IT service desk management

Businesses that want to stay ahead need to anticipate the challenges in IT service desk management. Here are three common issues faced by organizations today.

1. High volume of requests

With a growing reliance on cloud-based systems and technology-enabled processes so high within organizations, the rise in IT service desk requests is no surprise. "As people work from home, they can't just go to the IT person around the corner and say, 'Can you help me?' They don't have that HR person in the office to say, 'I'd like to talk about my career, or my stocks or benefits' and just get an immediate answer," says Wilkes. These changing dynamics are leading people to try and find answers elsewhere, which is impacting the employee experience.

It's further compounded by the expanding mandate of IT service desks. Team members support the IT requirements of their company's products across a variety of calls, from troubleshooting, setup and installation, to administration and management. Additionally, Internet of Things ecosystems add a whole new layer of bots and device downtime to manage.

It's a lot to balance, says Wilkes — and sometimes it can hamper the employee experience.

2. Long resolution times

According to a recent TELUS International survey, almost half (48%) of consumers expect customer experience to increase in efficiency with a third (32%) citing long wait times as their top pet peeve.

With higher volumes of requests, it's hard for organizations to balance speed and efficiency when responding to internal and external IT needs. In the same way long resolution times can hinder the customer experience, they can also hurt the employee experience due to extended downtime and a backlog of issues.

With tools such as chatbots and self-service knowledge bases, says Wilkes, an employee shouldn't have to "jump through a bunch of hoops and five different systems" to get their issue resolved. "If someone's PC is down and they need to work, obviously that downtime is a cost factor."

The issues have a tendency to stack up and if they're not prioritized effectively, and that can lead to long resolution times on the customer side of things.

3. Repetitive, time-consuming tasks

Aside from a growing number of IT service desk requests, Wilkes says one of the biggest challenges is tackling repetitive, time-consuming tasks like resetting passwords, rebooting a service or machine, backing up or restoring files, managing antivirus programs and updating software.

"There's a big group of the population that is just used to talking to someone," says Wilkes. But overloading an IT service desk with tasks that can easily be resolved through self-service tools ultimately slows down the rest of the organization.

How to overcome IT service desk challenges

IT support is the central nervous system of an organization, allowing the other parts of the business to function smoothly. But in order to do so, it needs to function smoothly itself. Here are three effective methods to overcoming common challenges:

Identify internal problems

Start with an audit of the challenges you're experiencing regularly and what dominates the IT service desk's focus. Analyze the current process for tackling requests and identify areas of improvement, then come up with a roadmap. "Maybe this month there are a lot more password issues," says Wilkes. If that's the case, it could point to a wider issue with the technology or platform you're using.

Wilkes says the aim is to identify the recurring hiccups while also giving employees the tools they need to solve challenges themselves. Those tools could be as simple as a centralized troubleshooting knowledge base, or more sophisticated applications such as AI or chatbots.

The role of AI and automation in service desk management

According to research from TELUS International, IT troubleshooting is the top time-devouring task being tackled by automation.

The key to an effective automation strategy that satisfies employee needs is starting with the repetitive processes first, then developing an automation strategy that has the ability to scale up. "A simple thing that we've done for years is a password reset tool," says Wilkes. "I can go in and go to a site where I can reset my password, no interaction with an agent."

A TELUS International case study found that using a conversational bot to help users unlock accounts and reset passwords could save the IT service desk 50 staff hours per month. And chatbots are learning to solve increasingly sophisticated IT requests, giving support teams the opportunity to focus on high-touch, more nuanced interactions.

Work with a trusted outsourcing partner

Decentralized workplaces have greatly increased the need for an efficient and adaptable IT service desk. Employees are working across a variety of devices. Cyber threats are increasing. Businesses are relying more on cloud technology. Downtime is costly and far-reaching.

For many organizations, there comes a time when bringing in outside help becomes a must. Make sure to work a partner that can provide support for employees, customers and products, while still aligning with your organizational values.

Reach out to one of our digital IT experts to learn how we can help you overcome service desk challenges.

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