As consumers we expect a high quality of service and are used to seeing innovation in this area, both in the high street and online. For example just look at Pret a Manger, Richer Sounds, Marks & Spencer, Lands End and Amazon. But when in the workplace, and faced with a malfunctioning workstation or critical application that requires IT support, our expectations of service delivery drops dramatically. Why is this?

Maybe it’s historical. Remember the days when the geeks in IT gave you what they thought you should have, just because they’d spent hours playing with it? When ‘fit for purpose’ was a distant fantasy? And we got piles of printout from clumsy applications that often failed?

Those days are well and truly over. Our latest research shows that a resounding 76 per cent of service desk managers across a broad range of market sectors are adhering to IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) best practice standards, compared to just 50 per cent four years ago*.

Welcome to the new world of IT support. A world where teams are now inspired to get closer to the business, and actually understand it. A world where IT teams have the tools and expertise to develop valid, user-friendly applications that perform reliably. A world where they can consistently improve the performance of IT so it doesn’t fall over and screw up your day.

The rise and rise of Service Management ethos and disciplines has had a two-fold effect. Not only are IT service desks fixing problems more quickly and efficiently, but they are also treating the workforce like a real ‘customer’ worthy of quality of service.

Research for the SDI 2007 Service Desk Benchmarking Report showed that the average first level resolution rate moved from 21 per cent in 2001 to 60 per cent in 2007. It is clearly evident that the IT customer experience has become an important KPI for the IT support industry.

It is not just the IT support industry that is changing; the way businesses approach their workforce is also evolving. Enabling flexi-working and a mobile workforce is steadily becoming an essential part of staying agile and responsive in a competitive business environment. Businesses, undoubtedly, have to adapt to the changing needs of staff and customers if they are going to succeed. Offering home working and mobility to employees will help businesses recruit and retain the best quality staff, improve productivity and asset rationalisation, and cut costs by reducing travel expenses and office overheads.

However, this business model must be underpinned by a robust IT infrastructure and a responsive IT support team. Businesses are fully aware just how mission critical their IT infrastructure is, and many are now taking legitimate steps to ensure that their IT strategy is fully aligned to the overall objectives of the business. IT service desks across Europe are continuing to invest in new processes and customer service training in order to achieve a service-oriented delivery that provides a customer experience equal to – or better than – the high street or online.

Those that don’t invest now do so at their peril!

· UK 2008 Service Desk Software Vendors Report – Understanding the Customer Experience of the ITSM market?

www.sdi-europe.com

About the author

Howard Kendall is the founding director of the Service Desk Institute (SDI). Howard was in the technology arena as a computer operator at 3M, followed by positions in IT support management at Citibank and the Prudential. During his career, Howard recognised that there was a need to boost the service desk and IT support professionals’ ‘image’ within business and help shape industry best practice. In 1988 he established the Service Desk User Group (now HDI) to meet this requirement.