In today’s rapidly shifting landscape, Service Desk roles are a solid IT career foundation.
9:32pm on a Friday evening in the UK. Thunder rumbles softly as rain pelts the flagstones outside the 18th century former lace factory in Nottingham, cutting through the hot, humid summer air, as the drought finally breaks.
29-degree, high humidity days, are normal in Guanajuato in late July, where it’s 3:32pm on Friday afternoon. As María tries to log in to a web portal, she gets an error message telling her the server is down. The page won’t load. The message fills her with dread. She has an hour left to generate and file her weekly reports before she must leave on time to catch her flight – she’s heading to a weekend family gathering that’s been planned for months. She picks up the phone and calls the IT Service Desk.
5,500 miles away in Nottingham, it takes Chris a few seconds to pick up the phone. María recognises Chris from a previous call. As he calmly re-assures her in Spanish, her native tongue, she relaxes a little. Chris asks María to click on her desktop LF Live icon so he can work on a solution in the background, meanwhile, she can continue to work. As María works, Chris isolates the problem: it lies with the 3rd party software and is thankfully minor. While he speaks to the software provider he logs the issue so it can be monitored for re-occurrence, and records the solution, saving vital seconds and preventing duplication if one of his colleagues in the ‘Pod’ picks up a similar issue in the future.
At 3:43pm Central Daylight Time, María receives a call from the IT Service Desk. Chris is aware of María’s urgency so briefly explains what caused the issue, before confirming it’s now resolved and will be monitored closely. He wishes her a good weekend and she thanks him, taking a moment to rate her support session as ‘Excellent’ before getting back to her vital reports. She’s going to leave on time and make her flight.
Although María’s example is fictitious, the narrative and user experience are typical of the many real-life interactions that play out 24 hours a day in the best modern Service Desks – reflecting the fundamental shift in focus from technology, to the people using services and technologies.
Organisations are reliant on digital technologies – email, websites, software tools – IT is now the central nervous system of business.
Despite this, many organisations still view the ‘IT department’ as a cost centre rather than a value enabler. But things are changing. While cost reductions remain a business goal, progressive organisations increasingly look beyond ‘efficiencies’, to the potential value IT can add to the organisation. IT is viewed less as a ‘department’ and more as a business driver – with people at its centre. Specialist providers are often chosen to deliver all, or part of the service.
Consider the overall benefit to a business, when its users can expect a response within seconds during those high stress moments after something has gone wrong, and when most problems can be fixed during that first point of contact.
Over 12.5 million working days were lost due to workplace stress in the UK in 2016-2017, according to the Health and Safety Executive’s 2017 report. Seemingly minor contributing factors like poor Service Desk response can potentially impact employee well-being, with the knock-on effect of reducing productivity.
Think about all the processes and tasks people perform at work each day. Imagine if the time required to perform those tasks was reduced by just 1%, freeing up time to work on other projects. The potential impact of effective collaboration between IT and the wider business is huge, meaning IT is now considered a business transformer.
One company positioned at the heart of this seismic change, is Managed Services Provider Littlefish. From its Lace Market home, Littlefish provides 24/7 multilingual support services to over 35,000 people working at organisations worldwide. Littlefish services support customers as they undergo this transformation, revolving around its industry leading Service Desk.
Service Desk roles are now constantly adapting to keep pace with the shift in focus towards business value and user-experience, and can provide a solid foundation for many successful IT industry careers paths.
Alongside gaining new technical skills on the job, there are opportunities for more formal qualifications. The Littlefish Academy for example, gives employees access to the leading online training platform so they can achieve industry recognised certifications and accreditations, complimenting hands-on learning.
For Littlefish, this means its Service Desk teams are highly qualified and able to resolve a higher number of customer problems at the first point of engagement. For its employees, not only does this mean broader knowledge and recognised qualifications, it also results in pay increases beyond annual salary reviews.
Littlefish Service Improvement Manager Becky Roberts explained the Academy’s purpose:
“The IT industry is moving very quickly and we need to ensure our engineering teams are kept up to date with the latest technologies, so we developed the Littlefish [training] Academy. Using the industry leading online training platform, we deliver easy to manage bitesize chunks so our teams can fit learning around their busy lives. We’ve also introduced actor-led role play based training focused on specific situations. We’re giving our engineers the technical and soft skills to support our customers and deliver them genuine business value.”
The ‘coalface’ nature of Service Desk roles makes them ideal development grounds for vital soft skills including communication, empathy, adaptive learning and relationship building – all essential attributes for successful business leadership. Likewise, exposure to users across a diverse range of organisations, the case for Managed Services Providers’ Service Desk agents, develops in-depth understanding of various industries. As the central focal point for IT services, Service Desk staff work collaboratively with other IT functions – such as the teams who manage infrastructure or implement cloud projects, meaning opportunities to learn other disciplines, and to progress their careers faster.
Littlefish Operations Director Mike Relf explained the opportunity:
“At Littlefish teams work collaboratively in open plan offices, sitting side by side with senior managers. Our rapid growth is inevitably generating new roles, and in this kind of environment it isn’t difficult for people to progress.”
“There are several recent examples of people who have been promoted within months of starting here, because they demonstrated the right attitude, experience and skills to thrive in newly created positions. For ambitious individuals, this is a fantastic opportunity.”
If you’re interested in learning more about the range of vacancies currently available at Littlefish, visit our IT careers page.
This article first appeared in the Metro on 2nd August 2018