What is a Service Desk Analyst?
A Service Desk Analyst or SDA is a key part of every organisation that offers products or services to its customers and staff. The Service Desk is the face and voice of the IT organisation and is the first point of contact many customers have with the organisation. Therefore, the analysts must consistently deliver a quality customer experience.
The History of a Service Desk Analyst
The history of the Service Desk Analyst role is intrinsically linked to the evolution of computer systems, corporate IT infrastructures, and the growing need for technical support in both enterprise and consumer spaces. The “service desk” was originally called the “help desk”.
In the 1970’s – 1980’s computer systems were primarily large mainframes used by governments, universities, and large corporations. Support was usually provided by specialised technicians who maintained these systems. In the 1980’s personal computers began to proliferate businesses and became a standard tool for organisations, which in turn increased the need for a more structured IT support framework. This instigated the need for IT help desks.
As technology evolved and became more integral for organisations to function, so did the need for more complex IT services and help desks. In the early 2000’s the term "Service Desk" started replacing "Help Desk" to reflect a more proactive, holistic approach to IT support.
With the introduction of the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), which outlined best practices for IT service management. As ITIL became more prominent, it emphasised the importance of a centralised Service Desk.
What is a Service Desk Analyst?
A Service Desk Analyst is a professional responsible for offering technical support to users, either within an organisation or to external customers. Their primary role is to assist users experiencing issues with software, hardware, or other IT-related services.
What is a 1st line service desk analyst?
A First Contact or first line Service Desk Analyst is the first point of contact the end-user has with the organisation and therefore is very important. First contact support aims to provide the end-user with resolution on first contact by using the analyst’s experience and expertise while making the most of the organisation’s knowledge base.
Key elements of First line service desk analyst include:
The analyst only has 3-10 seconds to create a first impression with the customer so it’s important to set the tone for the rest of the interaction.
We only retain 30% of what we hear so it’s important for the analyst to limit distractions and ask clarifying questions to ensure a clear understanding.
Record relevant information such as contact details when needed along with problem descriptions, error messages and steps taken for future reference or knowledge.
Perform basic troubleshooting steps for possible resolution on initial contact.
In cases where escalation has occurred, or further investigation is needed the analyst is responsible for keeping the end user informed of expectations such as response times.
Professionalism and Courtesy
Maintain a professional and courteous manner throughout the interaction to ensure the user feels valued and respected.
Confirmation of Resolution
Checking if the user is satisfied with the solution provided if resolved during first contact.
What can this do for your organisation when it’s done right?
Creates a Positive User Experience
Creates a positive impression on the end-user as they feel heard, valued and supported.
Downtime is reduced for the end-user allowing them to return to work tasks quicker.
Efficient Use of Resources
Optimises the use of the knowledge base reducing the number of issues being escalated allowing support staff to focus on more complex or critical problems.
Improved Morale and motivation
Service Desk Analysts who consistently provide effective first contact tend to feel more confident and motivated in their role. They understand the importance of their contributions to the organisation.
Positive interactions with the service desk contribute to a positive perception of the organisation’s IT support services. This can boost the overall reputation of the IT department within the organisation.
What can happen when it’s done incorrectly?
Frustration and Discontent
A poorly handled first contact can leave the end-user feeling frustrated, unheard, and dissatisfied. This can lead to a negative perception of the IT support services.
Extended Resolution Times
If the issue is not properly documented or if the Service Desk Analyst fails to diagnose and resolve it during the first contact, it may lead to longer resolution times and increased downtime for the user.
Escalation and Additional Workload
In cases where the first contact is not handled effectively, the issue may need to be escalated to higher-level support teams. This adds complexity and workload to the supported process.
Loss of Trust and Confidence
End-Users may lose trust in the service desk’s ability to provide timely and effective support if their first contact experiences are consistently negative.
Negative Impact on Productivity
Prolonged or unresolved technical issues can significantly hinder the productivity for the end-users, affecting the overall efficiency of the organisation.
Service Desk Analyst Roles and Responsibilities
The roles and responsibilities of a Service Desk Analyst can vary based on the organisation and the specific IT environment they support. However, here's a general list of their typical roles and responsibilities:
Log, categorise, prioritise, and track incidents reported by users.
Monitor ticketing or incident management systems to ensure timely response and resolution.
Diagnose and resolve technical issues. This can involve using diagnostic tools, scripts, or known error databases.
Guide users through step-by-step solutions, either over the phone, via chat, or email.
Use remote access tools to troubleshoot issues directly on the user's machine, if necessary.
Identify when an issue needs to be escalated to a higher-level technician or specialist.
Provide clear and concise information about the issue to ensure a seamless transition.
Maintain regular communication with the affected user, keeping them informed about the status of their issue.
Collaborate with other IT teams or departments to ensure effective issue resolution.
Knowledge Base Maintenance
Contribute to and utilise a centralised knowledge base to document solutions and troubleshooting steps for common issues.
Update existing knowledge articles when new solutions are found.
User Guidance and Training
Assist users in understanding how to use certain software, hardware, or systems.
Offer best practices or tips to prevent future issues.
Feedback and Continuous Improvement
Conduct follow-ups with users to ensure satisfaction with the solution provided.
Identify recurring issues or trends to recommend system or process improvements.
Monitoring and Reporting
Monitor IT infrastructure using various tools to pre-emptively identify and report issues.
Generate regular reports on incident metrics, resolution times, and other relevant KPIs.
Supporting IT Projects
Assist in IT projects such as software rollouts, migrations, or updates by providing user support or feedback.
Maintaining Technical Proficiency
Stay updated with the latest advancements in technology, especially those relevant to the organisation's IT environment.
Participate in training or certification programs as required.
Adhere to company policies and procedures, especially those related to security and data privacy.
Ensure software and systems are used in compliance with licensing agreements.
Exhibit strong communication skills, patience, and empathy when dealing with users.
Efficiently handle stress, especially during IT outages or when managing a high volume of support requests.
The role of the service desk
The service desks team has a very important role to play in keeping the desk running at optimal performance and is the responsibility of every person in the IT service and support to do what is necessary to maintain and enhance the customer experience throughout the life cycle of all interactions in a respectful, courteous, and positive manner. The role of the service desk is to:
- To represent the service desk
- Act as the voice of the customer to IT
- Consistently deliver quality customer service
The responsibilities of the service desk
- To manage the customer experience and expectations throughout the life cycle of service desk interactions
- Provide appropriate levels of support, in line with service desk policies and procedures to resolve or assist in service requests, and be able to answer customer’s questions accurately and in an understandable manner
- Consistently document all interactions accurately to ensure that anyone else who might need to help a customer with an issue has the relevant information to enable them to do so
- Maintain and share product and service knowledge to help improve the team’s capabilities, and keep up to date with any changes and new products coming into service
- Follow policies, processes, and procedures to ensure service continuity
- Communicate effectively with all stakeholders
- Promote the available products and services
- Maintain an understanding of the organisation and customers of the service desk
Why are these important?
The roles and responsibilities are the foundation of an efficient and effective service desk. They ensure that tasks are distributed appropriately, resources are utilised efficiently, and that the team can consistently provide high-quality support to the end-user. This leads to increased user satisfaction, improved productivity, and a more reliable and capable IT support system.
What happens when these are not followed?
Not following the roles and responsibilities of a Service Desk Analyst can have far-reaching negative effects on both the service desk team and the organisation. It undermines the effectiveness of IT support services, negatively impacts user satisfaction, and can lead to operational inefficiencies. It is crucial for Service Desk Analysts to consistently adhere to their defined roles and responsibilities to ensure the smooth and effective operation of the service desk. Neglecting the roles and responsibilities can cause:
Decreased User Satisfaction
Failure to follow roles and responsibilities can result in poor service quality, leading to lower levels of user satisfaction. Users may feel frustrated, unheard, and dissatisfied with the support they receive.
Unresolved or poorly managed technical issues can lead to prolonged downtime for end-users. This hinders their ability to perform their tasks efficiently, impacting overall productivity.
Escalations and Additional Workload
Issues that are not properly addressed during the first contact may need to be escalated to higher-level support teams. This adds complexity and workload to the support process.
Loss of Trust and Confidence
Consistent failure to follow responsibilities erodes trust in the IT support services. End-users may lose confidence in the service desk’s ability to provide timely and effective assistance.
If issues are not resolved correctly the first time, they may reoccur, leading to frustration for end users and increased support costs for the organisation.
Neglecting responsibilities related to security protocols and compliance can expose the organisation to potential security breaches or non-compliance with industry regulations.
Inefficient Resource Utilisation
Failing to properly prioritise and manage tickets can result in inefficient use of service desk resources. High-priority issues may not receive the attention they require.
Missed Opportunities for Improvement
Neglecting responsibilities may lead to a lack of data and insights on service desk performance. This can result in missed opportunities for process improvements and enhancements.
Negative Impact on Reputation
Poor service delivery can tarnish the reputation of the IT department and the organisation. It may lead to negative feedback from the end-users and stakeholders.
Demotivation of Staff
Service Desk Analysts who consistently fail to meet their responsibilities may become demotivated or disengaged. This can lead to decreased job satisfaction and lower morale among the team.
Legal and Regulatory Consequences
Non-compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, especially in industries with strict data protection laws, can lead to legal consequences and financial penalties.
What Makes a Good Service Desk Analyst?
The service desk analyst’s role is a specialist role requiring a unique blend of attributes, skills and knowledge that not everyone is fortunate enough to possess.
While skills and knowledge can be learnt through training and experience, attributes cannot be learnt as you can’t teach someone to want to be helpful.
Communication skills such as empathy and listening skills
Empathy is the ability to share and understand others feeling which is not to be confused with sympathy that is feeling sorry for someone’s situation without understanding the feeling yourself. The use of empathy allows the analyst to respond appropriately to our customers emotional needs.
One of the misconceptions around good communication is that you don’t need to be a good listener. This is simply not true as listening is one of the most important facets in communication.
Hearing is a faculty, Listening is a skill
When communication occurs, the customer should be the focus of attention to provide the best possible service while giving them respect and courtesy throughout interactions.
Taking ownership of issues with effective monitoring till resolution and being accountable and responsible for one’s own actions
There are two types of ownership, actual and perceived. Ownership of the service request may have been handed over to another person or area of support but in the eyes of the customer the individual who took the initial interaction has ownership of their service request. This means if someone ‘drops the ball’ the service desk will bear the brunt of the customer’s displeasure. It’s therefore the analyst’s responsibility to keep the customer informed of all phases of the resolution process.
Taking accountability for your own actions can be a hard thing to do but we all need to learn from our mistakes. We need to accept responsibility for the results we create and when something goes wrong or not according to plan, we must explore how we might have affected the results so we can learn and grow as both an individual and organisation.
Good Service Desk Analyst Traits:
- Positive attitude
- Willingness to help
- Ability to adapt to situations
- Being well-organised
- Being a team player
What are the Challenges of a Service Desk Analyst?
Navigating challenges requires a combination of technical expertise, strong communication skills, and the ability to remain calm under pressure. It’s essential for Service Desk Analysts to have ongoing training, support, and resources to help them excel in their role. Below you will find a few challenges that a Service Desk Analyst may face.
High number of requests
A high number of service requests can be stressful and cause interruptions to ongoing tasks.
Repetitive time-consuming tasks
20% to 50% of service requests are password reset related, having a knowledge base that is up to date and well organised will allow for faster resolution times.
No one likes dealing with angry or upset customers, but they are unavoidable. The analyst must keep their cool and get to root cause for their emotional state by taking control of the situation without escalating the emotional response. Allowing a customer to vent is one of the many points used when dealing with a reactive customer.
Not all stress is bad, but it can feel overwhelming, learning to recognise stress is the key step to overcoming. Use of physical exercise, breathing techniques and even talking to coworkers, family, friends or even management can help. Does your business have a support system for its colleagues, or mental health awareness sessions?
Tracking of customers service request
Documenting changelogs and service requests allows for other analysts to resolve future service requests for the same customer or a customer with the same issue adding to the knowledge base.
There are far more challenges that can be faced by an Analyst. By acknowledging and addressing these challenges, Service Desk Analysts can enhance their effectiveness and provide more efficient and reliable support to the end user. Seeking support from colleagues and supervisors, as well as maintaining a growth mindset can contribute to long-term success in this role.
Other Service Desk Jobs
Service Desk analyst/Technician
Are the front-line support professionals who directly interact with the end-user. They handle incoming requests, troubleshooting issues, and providing solutions.
Desktop Support Specialist
Provides technical support for the end-user’s devices and may also handle hardware and software installation, configuration, and troubleshooting.
Application Support Analyst
Specialises in supporting specific software applications or systems and assists users with using and troubleshooting those applications.
IT Support Specialist
This is a boarder role that encompasses various aspects of IT support, including networking troubleshooting, hardware/software support, and general IT assistance.
Technical Support Engineer
Responsible for resolving more complex technical issues that requires in-depth knowledge of the organisations systems and infrastructure.
IT Help Desk Manager
A supervisory or managerial position that oversee day-to-day operations. They are responsible for setting performance metrics, managing the team, and ensuring smooth service delivery.
Knowledge Base Specialist
Creates and maintains a knowledge base that contains articles, and guides for both end-user and service desk staff.
Customer Service Representative (CSR)
A dedicated service desk analyst who focuses on providing excellent customer service and managing tickets in a timely manner.
Service Delivery Manager
A Service Delivery Manager is a higher-level management position that focuses on the overall strategy and performance of the service desk.
Quality Assurance Analyst
Monitors and evaluates the quality of the service desk interactions and implementing improvements to service delivery.
An Incident Manager is responsible for overseeing the handling of major incidents.
A Change Manager manages and oversees changes to IT systems and infrastructure. Whereas a Change Coordinator manages the day-to-day assessment of changes and registers and processes changes through their lifecycle.
Service Desk Analyst Training
Our SDI® - Service Desk Analyst course will teach you:
- Essential skills and competencies to deliver efficient and effective support in the Service Desk environment.
- Practical knowledge of how to use these skills to deal effectively with a variety of situations.
- A clear understanding of how to identify customer needs and motivations, and how to handle difficult situations.
- Understand the importance of teamwork in the support environment.
- A thorough grounding in the skills, competencies, responsibilities, and knowledge required of a professional and effective Service Desk Analyst.
Final words on Service Desk Analyst
Becoming a Service Desk Analyst is not for everyone as you can’t teach the willingness to want help others. Although the Service Desk Analysts role is full of challenges the overall benefits are just too hard to pass up. The benefits to companies can be immense when done correctly compared to when it is not. The skills a Service Desk Analyst possesses are both transferable and desirable for a lot of different industries around the globe as well as everyday life.
Learning to become a Service Desk Analyst teaches you about professionalism, roles and responsibilities within the workplace, non-verbal and verbal communication skills along with resilience and other personal skills that can be used both inside and outside the workplace. The practices, processes and procedures associated with the role as well as technology and tools that enable you to work to your best potential.