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