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6 Tips to run a successful service desk

How do you build a service desk that can serve the needs of a scaling organization?

Many organizations have faced this question. We had 150 employees, and that number has exploded in recent times -- we’re well into the thousands these days. With fast-paced growth, global organizations are looking for every opportunity to become more efficient, and running a successful service desk is a big part of it.

What is a Service Desk?

First thing’s first: let’s be clear about what service desks do. The ITIL 4 glossary defines a service desk as “the single point of contact between the service provider and the users.” A typical service desk manages service requests and incidents.

A service desk is a center where customers (e.g. employees or other stakeholders) can find help from their IT service providers. Regardless of what type of help is being provided, the goal of a service desk is to deliver high-quality service to its customers in a timely manner.


There are often questions about the differences between the service desks and help desks.

  • Typically the IT help desk is seen as more tactical and designed to quickly resolve immediate issues.

  • Service desks are considered more strategic and are designed to accommodate broader business needs. They often support multiple ITSM practices.

Service desk best practices

For any organization service desk is the frontline for support, it's a representation of your IT team, and critical in enabling teams. It is at the heart of productive organizations. Embracing service desk best practices can help organizations manage costs and deliver excellent service experiences. Between setting up new offices, onboarding new employees, and scaling at a rapid speed, we’ve learned some things that have helped along the way.

Here are some of our guiding tips:

1. Use your service desk software to its fullest potential

Organizations weren’t using a purpose-built service desk, so with the creation of a global support team, organizations need to switch from tracking issues to using Service Management for self-service, SLA tracking, and collaboration.

Organizations have to evolve and adapt to manage high ticket volume alongside contributing and maintaining their support knowledge base. Organizations also need to embrace knowledge-centered support as a way to ultimately reduce ticket volume and improve resolution times.

2. Stop treating your IT teams as “catch-alls”

Ticket variety can often be a bigger challenge than incoming ticket volume. Like in many organizations, infrastructure is usually pretty complex. It’s safe to say many organizations have miles of cable and tons of metal and myriads of VMs that run across local offices, data centers, and application services. Before launching a dedicated level-one support team, organizations' IT people ran back and forth between user account management, desktop and hardware support, office and network infrastructure, application and system change requests, project work, and maintenance.

Organizations' first major lesson or act should be to stop spreading variety and volume across a single team. Instead, divided it into specialized teams:

  • Office engineering, to handle the local network and technology needs unique to each location

  • Workplace tech, which covers organizations' workplace productivity tools

This way, life became far simpler for the team, as they now receive much more targeted work. Plus, areas of specialization allow team members to become actual experts over a particular domain, which ultimately helps resolve incidents and problems faster because organizations' knowledge is more deeply rooted and attention more focused.

3. Build a customer portal

It shouldn’t be hard for the customer to ask for help. Organizations use Service Management tools (like ServiceNow) to provide a single help center that links the IT service desk and many of its departmental service desks like legal and HR etc., so that all can come to one place to find every service the customer need.

It’s super easy for the customer to get to the portal, too. They just type go/ithelp in their browser, and they are redirected instantly to the right place. New customers/vendors/employees can learn this as part of their onboarding process so that they are now aware of how to get help quickly and easily from day one.

4. Get smart about SLAs

Like every good service desk team, organizations want their customers to get the best service possible. To measure how they're doing, they’ve always set goals for themselves – but they weren’t always easy to track or to customize for different geographies, teams, priority levels, etc.

When an organization launches its global service desk team, it's important, from day one to have clear SLAs that are easy for service desk analysts to understand and track. Plus, they’re extremely customizable, so managers can set SLAs that are meaningful and relevant to their teams, not just arbitrary measurements.

5. Promote self-service for customers

Studies show that over 70% of customers prefer to use self-service support. In order for that to be true, though, it has to be easy to use. The self-service portal that is mentioned above, is one way to make it easier for customers to find what they are looking for. Knowledge bases and Q&A communities are also helpful.

6. Look at the big picture and measure your progress

Organizations definitely keep an eye on key operational metrics like most IT organizations and are way more focused now on measuring what matters most. To summarize, organizations put the customer experience first, and spend their time drilling into the trends and numbers that can help us make the biggest improvements.

Organizations spend time looking at the peaks and valleys in data and then ask “why” to get to the bottom of what causes “good” experiences vs “bad” ones for customers, and low volume vs. high volume days for their team. It's important for the organization to focus on preventing incidents, not just solving problems. This is important both to the effectiveness and the happiness of its support analysts. It’s also been helpful in reporting up to management, who appreciate this view of the business.

As you would expect, organizations' teams experience growing pains as they adapt to new challenges. Yours will too. What’s important is that you have the right tools to measure your effectiveness and make the best decisions to guide your team.

Get in touch with Rede's - ServiceNow Consulting team, to build successful ServiceDesk solutions. Contact us at and our team would be happy to assist.

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