The Future Of The Service Desk Requires A "Customer-Savvy" Approach


Last week I took part in a podcast focusing on the "Future of the Service Desk." Unsurprisingly, this is a hot topic at Forrester for the I&O role. The standard equation for measuring service desk performance is simply the highest possible quality or customer service over the lowest possible cost. While simple on paper, the challenge to try and achieve this equilibrium is a complex conundrum for many service desk managers.

Developments such as the "consumerization" of IT further compound this issue. Service desk professionals now operate in a business environment in which their end users or customers are "tech savvy." This leads to a potential conflict spark point where IT customers believe that they have more IT know-how than the service desk. In some cases, this could well be true and it would be dangerous to dismiss these customers and their knowledge. So what is the answer? Well, on the podcast I explained that the service desk and IT as a whole has to focus on becoming "customer savvy" to embrace these pressures.

So what does customer savvy mean?

To me, it starts firmly with the soft skills of I&O professionals. Simply, it is the ability to listen to your users/customers and to take on board their IT service suggestions. Secondly, it is then the ability to apply your IT knowledge and experience to these suggestions from a risk, cost, and potential competitive perspective. Again, it sounds simple on paper but service desks are still tied by the "lowest possible cost" mantra. I would argue, though, that moving to a customer-savvy approach does not need to make your CFO sweat.  There are cost-effective customer relationship solutions that I&O professionals can start to implement today such as "focus groups" in which the service desk manager invites those customers who have raised a large number of service requests and/or incident calls to take part in discussion aimed at improving the service. This can be a first step to proactive customer relationship management.

At Forrester, our next I&O Forum, being held from November 9th – 10th 2011 in Miami, focuses on differentiating with customer-centric I&O and I believe this is a key challenge for the future of the service desk. 

So I would really like to get your feedback on this subject and to hear from you about simple, low-cost solutions/suggestions which your service desk or I&O organization as a whole have implemented or are looking to implement to drive customer-centric  or customer-savvy I&O

Thanks and regards,

John Rakowski


John – good blog and it

John – good blog and it brings up many points that can take us in multiple directions. At the heart of a customer savvy service desk is the challenge for the team to really be on the pulse of its users and know how to address issues in proactive as well as reactive ways. As I am sure you aware our RightAnswers clients focus largely on creating a knowledge driven self-service and service desk culture, this combination helps bring them closer to their fellow employees and/or the college students they support. A key issue is that many of the service desk teams are not necessarily aware of the challenges users have beyond what they might be typically reporting since on a daily basis many issues go unreported. One avenue I have seen organizations adopt is to have a support analyst shadow the department that is the source of high call volumes and use that experience to proactively trigger better problem or incident management within the service desk. This personal involvement from the support team also demonstrates a real form of caring and investment by the service desk that has been lost over the recent years and is often well appreciated.

Jeff Weinstein
President & CEO

Hi Jeff, Thanks for the

Hi Jeff,

Thanks for the feedback. As IT skills and operation diffuse further into the organization then proactive, innovative knowledge management solutions and processes start to become more and more essential to a customer-centric approach.

At Forrester Research we have written a number of research reports focused on Empowered Business Technology which cover this challenge e.g. BT 2020: IT's Future In The Empowered Era.

I love the idea of having a Support Analyst shadowing various departments who may have raised a high number of incidents and or service requests. In my past working life, before Forrester, the system/service integrator I was working for adopted this approach during the transition stage of an outsourcing project and it worked really well. It meant that we got to hear the customer’s pains and praises plus address concerns quickly. It also stopped inaccurate rumors spreading and the great thing was it was fairly low cost and simple to implement. Of course the Support Analyst carrying out this role needs to have great customer facing skills though.

Thanks for the feedback – please keep it coming.



Excellent article; thank

Excellent article; thank you.

Let me just add: Implementing IT management practices to determine how the IT infrastructure fares across an organization is crucial. An IT management software helps organizations assess the viability of their IT operations and orient their budget and resources towards truly worthy investments. All these result to, among other things, better satisfying customer service.