The people working at a service desk are part of one team. They are those who represent the organization. However, these individuals are often overshadowed by smooth processes and a beautiful tool. When you can’t get the most out of your team, or can’t control matters relating to your employees, you will achieve less than you might think.

As soon as something needs changing at a department, like implementing a new tool, attention often shifts towards the process. For example, the activities are better structured and thought out, even though the solution or problem often does not lie in the process. One strategy is to omit the process and tool during a change. It’s important to take a look at the people who work within your department and the critical factors.

The service desk as starting point

The service desk is not the only department that can be improved. Agreements are made in every team, or even in every group in which people collaborate. Using the service desk as a starting point means all customers either have a help or service desk. Moreover, working at a service desk can be hard. Service desk teams are always busy answering a continuous stream of customer questions. All these questions make it difficult to follow certain procedures, even though everyone wants to help the customer the best they can. This creates conflicting situations in the work process.

You can use this method when you want to bring out the best in your team. To achieve this you need to become aware of the forces at the department. Not just as team leader, but also as an employee. Small interventions, such as moving two colleagues may seem insignificant, but they can be useful for the team and contribute to a better work environment.

Forces

To ensure that service desk teams perform at a high level, it is important that you look at the four different forces that can influence your team. The forces are: task, environment, leadership and structure. Using these forces correctly can help you build a department that is fully service-minded. You can use this method when you want to bring out the best in your team. To achieve this you need to become aware of the forces at the department. Not just as a team leader, but also as an employee. Small interventions, such as moving two colleagues may seem insignificant, but they can be useful for the team and contribute to a better work environment.

Force 1: Task

The task is the reason for the team’s existence. The added value the team provides to their customers and the tasks they perform. The customer is important for this force. Keep in mind that being customer-oriented does not always mean that you need to do everything the customer asks.

Instead, try and figure out the question behind the question. You can achieve this by actively contributing ideas and offering customers an alternative solution that helps them even better. It also helps to educate the customer. Be clear on what they can and can’t expect. This creates clarity and avoids false expectations. Of course, you let them know right away why you can’t help them and refer them to someone who can solve the problem. As a service employee, you need to take into account that you should always follow policy. This is exactly where it usually goes wrong: communication.

Management decides on something but does not communicate this correctly with the service employees. In turn, they don’t have enough information to explain something at the service desk. This leads to them having to say “no” to a customer, which is why this information is so important.

Force 2: Environment

This comprises everything that surrounds you during a working day. Not just the work environment and workplace, but also team rituals, habits and stories that are told within the team. An environment can be either inspiring or discouraging for the team members. A colleague who can’t work in chaos won’t be able to work very well at a chaotic department. You can solve this by creating order. However, you do run the risk of making the department too clinical, whereas other colleagues then don’t feel at home anymore. This is not what you want to achieve. That’s why it is important to find the right balance.

Force 3: Leadership

Here, we take a look at the behavior that fits a leader. A leader is an individual who knows what needs to happen and who is an example for others in the organization (not necessarily the boss).Many teams have a team leader and a manager. In practice, each team has some other leaders as well. This can be someone who knows when everyone has their birthday, who buys the presents and decorates the workspaces, for example. Thanks to these activities and personal attention, this colleague has a special status within the team. And if you, as team leader, want your employees to be on time more, you could use the status of this social leader. Chances are that the team accepts the request better when it comes from him or her, because this person is closer to the team than the official team leader.

Force 4: Structure

This comprises all rules and frameworks in an organization. All matters that dictate what can and can’t happen. The structure force is about how everything is implemented; for example, departments with a front and back office. Imagine that you stick strictly to this division and that the department has two employees. In practice, there is one person responsible for the front office and for performing the corresponding tasks. These tasks can include picking up the phone, answering emails and talking to colleagues who have questions.

The other colleague works at the back office and has other tasks, such as long-term projects that he or she can work on without interruption. Because of this strict division, the back office employee can’t help colleagues with their question; not even when the phone won’t stop ringing. You can’t help your front office colleagues, even though you have time to pick up the phone. This not only leads to an unpleasant situation between colleagues, but you’re wasting the customer’s time as well. Being strict about structure doesn’t make you customer-focused. But without structure, there is chaos. Without rules nobody knows who needs to pick up the phone and no one is happy in a situation like that. Structure with a flexible attitude could be a solution here.

Focusing on people

Organizations should not always focus on the process or tool, but more often on people, and provide guidelines to make it easier to focus on people. Hopefully, these guidelines explain which minor actions and interventions can help you improve your service desk.