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Krista Lyons | July 21, 2020

5 Most Important Considerations When Setting Up A Virtual Service Desk

In the age of digital transformation, service desks are changing. As more organizations face challenges keeping staff on-site, many I&O leaders have turned to a new model to provide support: the virtual service desk.


Rather than coordinating agent logistics while attempting to minimize risk of exposure to the pandemic, this option allows service desk agents to meet the needs of the organization anytime, anywhere.



What is A Virtual Service Desk?


The goal of the service desk is to restore service to users as quickly as possible. With that in mind, there are three types of service desk: local, centralized, and virtual.


Traditionally the service desk was local or consisted of a single centralized service desk. These service desk structures are similar because they are either physically close to the community they serve, or potentially in one location or several smaller locations. For example, the image below is a typical structure for a centralized service desk. 


typical structure for a centralized virtual service desk


The virtual service desk has the appearance of a centralized service desk, but through the use of technology, can actually be spread through a variety of geographical locations. This structure allows IT support teams to virtually deploy IT technicians and allows service desk agents to work from home or for a combination of working from home and outsourcing.

It is important to note that a virtual service desk is not the same as a virtual agent or chatbot. Chatbot technology delivers answers and guided support through the use of conversational artificial intelligence.

In simpler terms: a virtual service desk is comprised of humans, while a virtual agent or chatbot is a non-human helper.


Virtual service desks function with the help of IT self-service portals and cloud-based ITSM software, which acts as a single point of contact. Through an employee self-service portal, users can submit tickets and requests which are then routed to agents manning the virtual service desk. The structure of a virtual service desk resembles a sun, like the image below. 

virtual service desk structure resembles a sun


Why You Need a Virtual Service Desk


One of the major benefits of employing a virtual service desk (at least during and post-pandemic) is the ability to minimize the risk of service desk agents’ exposure to illness and elimination of the need to logistically arrange an on-site staff, affording cost effective flexibility.


Additionally, rather than employing round-the-clock staff who may not have availability to work overnight shifts, a virtual service desk can operate in different time zones and overnight shifts can be outsourced for 24/7 availability. The virtual service desk also allows employees to work from home, which is useful during rapidly changing news and pandemic planning.


Five Important Considerations for Setting Up a Virtual Service Desk


Once you have decided to set up a virtual service desk, there are five important considerations to make to keep your virtual team on the road to success:


1. Outline Your Goals and Metrics


To set your virtual service desk up for success, it is important to set clear goals and KPIs. These goals should be actionable and measurable. For example, you may want to set goals around response times, issue resolution rates, customer satisfaction levels, and escalation rates.


With a virtual service desk, the key is communicating these goals to each agent. Goals and KPIs should be easy to review in a self-service portal and agents and managers should be able to quickly pull reports to track progress toward those goals.


2. Make Progress Towards Your Goal


Once goals are defined and set, assess what tools will be needed to make progress toward them. Cloud-based ITSM software is one way to efficiently and effectively provide a virtual service desk with the tools for success. Through the use of ITSM software, virtual agents are able to easily track and claim tickets and resolve issues with maximum visibility for other team members and managers.


3. Know Your Customer


For many service desks, the customer is an employee of a business. For example, the customer may be agents in a call center. Understanding their motivations and needs can help service desk agents more quickly meet their needs and resolve the issues.


It is also important to understand the customer’s level of tech-related knowledge. If the customer is not particularly tech-savvy, the virtual service desk may need to be accessible by phone or email in addition to an employee self-service portal. For the tech-savvy customer, setting up self-service and knowledge management databases with AI and chatbots may be more helpful for the virtual service desk agents to most quickly handle tickets.


4. Fill Positions With The Right Staff


Skilled staff within the virtual service desk is vital. IT service desk teams have kept businesses running despite major disruptions as of late, so finding level-headed service desk agents who can quickly handle tickets is important.


If the service desk will be manned 24/7 and will have agents from around the world, organizing talent and filling the positions with qualified people can be made easier with service management software. HR can also utilize a self-service portal to make the hiring process easier. The hiring process may become lengthy searching for virtual talent, however it is a worthwhile pursuit.


5. Automate Your Processes


Automated processes can help ensure that the virtual service desk team is able to meet their goals and metrics. Workflow automation can shorten onboarding time and make sure that virtual service desk agents are all operating under the same processes and procedures. Further, through the use of a virtual agent, the shift-left initiative can be enabled more easily, freeing up human agents for the space and time needed to work through complex service requests, particularly those accumulated during COVID-19 disruptions.


Create a Virtual Service Desk by and for Human Beings


The service desk is a major part of overall digital transformation in any organization. Having a virtual service desk can not only provide more support to a workforce in-flux but provide consistent service. A virtual service desk also helps meet agents wherever they are, allowing greater flexibility and balance during rapidly changing personal situations and circumstances. The key is to create a virtual service desk that is by humans, for humans, through the use of intuitive tools and technologies. With the right tools, the service desk can thrive no matter their location. 


To learn how EasyVista can support your virtual service desk, click here to get a personalized demo.


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Krista Lyons

Krista Lyons is the Content Marketing Manager at EasyVista and is dedicated to sharing helpful information and industry insights through EasyVista's website, social media, and communications. A graduate of the University of Tampa, Lyons has a background in journalism and communications. She enjoys all things tech and has a passion for reading and writing about artificial intelligence.