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ITIL :: View topic - Career Paths for the Service Desk
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Joined: Sep 27, 2005
Posts: 207

PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2006 8:22 am    Post subject: Career Paths for the Service Desk Reply with quote

Here is a new article I posted on today. I thought it may be of some value to you guys. Don't hesitate to give me your feedback.

Career Paths for the Service Desk
Written by Fabien Papleux
Saturday, 09 December 2006

Understanding people’s motivations and offering them a path to develop a career is one of the most interesting aspects of re-designing a Service Desk structure. In this article, I will offer a new perspective on what is possible to grow out of a Customer Support-based Service Desk, as opposed to the more common technically-skilled-based Service Desk.

As I highlighted in my previous article about Service Desk Operations, (see “How can I keep my staff on the Service Desk”), it is very common for companies to recruit Service Desk operators for their low cost, low-level of experience, or technical skills. What would typically happen is that the Service Desk will quickly fill with young IT grads or undergrads, with little experience, and an appetite to learn about technical fields. There will typically be little interest in customer satisfaction. I will always remember one of the tickets I read earlier this year while evaluating a client’s support responsiveness. It read: “Told the customer it was the last time I do this for him.”

As a consequence, the first goal for Service Desk Operators is to find a way out of it, and into a “specialist” team, where they will be able to learn something they perceive as valuable. When you think of it, we would be much better off putting them there in the first place. There is no employee development necessary in such a model because there is no future in such a Service Desk.

However, as soon as you start populating the Service Desk with employees who may have less technical skills, but more people skills, you not only acquire a new employee, you are potentially acquiring your future boss.

This idea is not as wild as it seems. This new breed of Service Desk Operators, that I will call “Customer Support Specialists”, because they really are specialists, will focus their energy on the following activities:

  • Meet and exceed customer expectations
  • Manage customer issues to a successful closure
  • Keep customers updated on case status
  • Keep internal teams working on outstanding issues
  • Assist in managing priorities
  • Knowing the organization’s commitment level to the customer
  • Understand the customer’s business, its needs and requirements

Now, let’s take a step back and reflect on those activities for a second. Above this list of activities, what if you replaced “Service Desk Operator” with:

  • Sales Manager
  • Marketing Manager
  • Customer Relationship Manager
  • Service Level Manager
  • General Manager

You may have just realized that the potential of someone who masters the Service Desk activities could go beyond what you generally accept, because the nature of the activities is similar across all those functions. Therefore, we could argue that those different and much higher positions in your organization could very well be filled one day by someone who grew out of the Service Desk.

It also means that while restructuring your Service Desk, you very much need to design Personal Development Paths for your Customer Service Specialists to allow them to fully realize their potential, and bring maximum value to your organization. That development plan will include a number of training and evaluation programs to develop the specific skills needed for those functions. Generally, it should include:

  • A Customer Support Specialist training program focusing on general customer service issues, active listening skills and relationship management skills.
  • A Sales training program to supplement the customer service skills with sales.
  • A Management training program
  • A Leadership training program
  • And other field-based training programs to specialize in one area or another.

The concept behind this of course is that specific skills can be taught easily while people skills are much harder to develop.

Finally, to be complete, a career path requires an organization to be structured in a way that not only allows people to grow into different positions, but also that invites to do so. Because employee turnover at the Service Desk is always an issue, it is important to develop a structure that is rich in opportunities.

The following diagram offers an idea of such a structure.

[diagram cut. visit website for more]

More details about implementing and transitioning to such a model, as well as specific job descriptions, recruitment tips, training and communication requirements are available offline.
Fabien Papleux

Technology Consulting | Service Excellence
Red Badge Certified

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