Navigating the Crucial Soft Skills for IT Service Desks
January 30, 2024

Ruben Franzen
TOPdesk

Share this

Our technology landscape seems to be advancing at the speed of thought, so the significance of soft skills within service desk teams cannot be overstated. Out are the days of solely relying on technical expertise. In an era dominated by artificial intelligence (AI) and constant technological shifts, the human touch sets IT service desk professionals apart.

The rapid pace of technological change renders hard skills obsolete over time. The influx of AI into business has further emphasized the need for distinctly human skills. Emotional intelligence (EQ) emerges as a frontrunner in this scenario, encompassing traits like collaboration and empathy that machines simply cannot replicate.

Research conducted by the Service Desk Institute reinforces this shift in demand. Emotional intelligence, problem-solving, and analytical thinking now take center stage while traditional requirements like programming and managerial skills dwindle in importance. The message is clear: the future of IT service lies in embracing and enhancing soft skills.

So, what essential soft skills will future-proof IT service desk teams?

There are several factors, but the leading five include communication, emotional intelligence, failing (forward), continuous learning, and the ability to embrace agility.

1. Communication

Strong communication skills are the backbone of an effective service desk. The ability to convey technical solutions to customers in a clear and understandable manner is indispensable. In an era where miscommunication can lead to costly errors, mastering this skill ensures smooth interactions and satisfied customers.

Mastering communication in the service desk is critical to ensuring smooth operations, customer satisfaction, and overall success. Key strategies that organizations can implement to excel in communication within their service desk include:

Establish Clear Communication Channels: Ensure that there are well-defined and easily accessible communication channels. Implement tools such as ticketing systems, chat platforms, and email to streamline communication.

Provide Comprehensive Training: Train service desk personnel in effective communication skills. This includes not only technical communication but also customer interaction. Emphasize the importance of clarity, empathy, and active listening. Training should cover both written and verbal communication.

Develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs): Create clear and concise SOPs for common issues and scenarios. SOPs serve as a guide for service desk staff, ensuring consistency in communication. They also help in providing accurate and standardized information to customers, reducing the likelihood of misunderstandings.

Implement Knowledge Management Systems: Utilize knowledge management systems to centralize information. This ensures that service desk personnel have access to accurate and up-to-date information. A well-organized knowledge base facilitates quick responses to customer queries and promotes consistency in communication.

Utilize Automation for Routine Communication: Implement automation for routine and repetitive communication tasks. Automation can send status updates, confirm ticket receipts, and provide initial responses to common queries. This allows service desk staff to focus on more complex and personalized interactions.

Encourage Collaboration and Information Sharing: Foster a culture of collaboration among service desk team members. Encourage the sharing of insights, tips, and solutions. This approach ensures that everyone benefits from the collective knowledge and expertise within the team.

Implement Customer Feedback Mechanisms: Establish mechanisms for collecting customer feedback on communication processes. This feedback can provide valuable insights into areas that may need improvement. Act on constructive feedback to continuously enhance communication practices.

By implementing these strategies, organizations can create a communication-rich environment within their service desk, enhancing efficiency, customer satisfaction, and a positive reputation for IT support.

2. Emotional Intelligence

With AI becoming more prevalent, the ability to empathize and ask insightful questions is invaluable. Understanding the human aspect of IT issues saves time in issue resolution and significantly enhances the overall customer experience. Emotional intelligence is now the linchpin that holds together technical expertise and human-centric problem-solving.

3. Failing Forward

The fear of failure can stifle innovation. Encouraging service desk teams to experiment, take risks, and learn from mistakes fosters a culture of continuous improvement. "Failing forward" is not about avoiding failure but about extracting lessons from it. This mindset shift propels teams toward creative problem-solving and ensures ongoing progress.

4. Continuous Learning

In a field where technology evolves at breakneck speed, the ability to learn continuously is paramount. Service desk teams must have access to learning and development opportunities to stay abreast of new technologies. A commitment to continuous learning benefits the individual and translates into organizational growth and adaptability.

5. Agility

The rapid evolution of IT demands an agile mindset. Service desk professionals need to be adaptable to new technologies and challenges. An agile approach ensures quicker responses to issues, drives innovation, and ultimately leads to elevated customer satisfaction.

Developing an agile mindset involves cultivating attitudes and behaviors prioritizing adaptability, continuous learning, collaboration, and a proactive approach to change. Practical steps to foster an agile mindset include:

Embracing change: Recognize that change is inevitable and view it as an opportunity for growth rather than a disruption. Embrace a mindset that sees change as a chance to learn, improve and innovate.

Open to feedback: Be open to feedback, both positive and constructive. Feedback is a valuable source of information that can guide improvements. Embrace a culture of continuous improvement by actively seeking and incorporating feedback into your work.

Encourage learning: Foster a culture of continuous learning. Stay curious about new technologies, methodologies, and industry trends. Actively seek opportunities for professional development, training, and acquiring new skills.

Adopt a collaborative approach: Collaborate with colleagues, stakeholders, and customers. An agile mindset values teamwork and recognizes that diverse perspectives contribute to better solutions. Actively participate in collaborative activities, such as brainstorming sessions and cross-functional teams.

Develop resilience: Cultivate resilience in the face of setbacks or failures. Understand that failures are opportunities to learn and iterate. Embrace the concept of "failing forward," where each failure is seen as a step toward improvement.

Break down silos: Break down organizational silos that hinder communication and collaboration. Encourage open communication and information sharing across teams and departments. An agile mindset thrives in an environment where information flows freely.

Iterate and experiment: Adopt an experimental mindset. Be willing to try new approaches, technologies, or methodologies. Learn from the outcomes and iterate on your processes based on the results. This iterative approach promotes adaptability and innovation.

Promote autonomy: Encourage autonomy and self-organization. An agile mindset values individuals who can make decisions independently, take ownership of their work, and contribute proactively to team goals.

Stay adaptable: Be flexible and versatile in the face of uncertainty. An agile mindset is characterized by the ability to pivot quickly when circumstances change. Instead of resisting change, be ready to adjust plans and strategies accordingly.

Remember that developing an agile mindset is an ongoing process. It requires self-reflection, a commitment to continuous improvement, and a willingness to challenge the status quo. As you incorporate these practices into your daily work, you'll be better equipped to navigate change and contribute to agile, dynamic teams.

Conclusion

The IT service desk of today and tomorrow must be equipped with technical prowess and a rich set of soft skills. These skills, including effective communication, emotional intelligence, a culture of learning from failure, continuous learning, and agility, are the keys to success in an ever-transforming IT landscape. Embracing and honing these skills will meet the industry's current demands and future-proof IT service desks in the face of technological uncertainties.

Ruben Franzen is President of TOPdesk US
Share this

The Latest

February 21, 2024

Generative AI will usher in advantages within various industries. However, the technology is still nascent, and according to the recent Dynatrace survey there are many challenges and risks that organizations need to overcome to use this technology effectively ...

February 20, 2024

In today's digital era, monitoring and observability are indispensable in software and application development. Their efficacy lies in empowering developers to swiftly identify and address issues, enhance performance, and deliver flawless user experiences. Achieving these objectives requires meticulous planning, strategic implementation, and consistent ongoing maintenance. In this blog, we're sharing our five best practices to fortify your approach to application performance monitoring (APM) and observability ...

February 16, 2024

In MEAN TIME TO INSIGHT Episode 3, Shamus McGillicuddy, VP of Research, Network Infrastructure and Operations, at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) discusses network security with Chris Steffen, VP of Research Covering Information Security, Risk, and Compliance Management at EMA ...

February 15, 2024

In a time where we're constantly bombarded with new buzzwords and technological advancements, it can be challenging for businesses to determine what is real, what is useful, and what they truly need. Over the years, we've witnessed the rise and fall of various tech trends, such as the promises (and fears) of AI becoming sentient and replacing humans to the declaration that data is the new oil. At the end of the day, one fundamental question remains: How can companies navigate through the tech buzz and make informed decisions for their future? ...

February 14, 2024

We increasingly see companies using their observability data to support security use cases. It's not entirely surprising given the challenges that organizations have with legacy SIEMs. We wanted to dig into this evolving intersection of security and observability, so we surveyed 500 security professionals — 40% of whom were either CISOs or CSOs — for our inaugural State of Security Observability report ...

February 13, 2024

Cloud computing continues to soar, with little signs of slowing down ... But, as with any new program, companies are seeing substantial benefits in the cloud but are also navigating budgetary challenges. With an estimated 94% of companies using cloud services today, priorities for IT teams have shifted from purely adoption-based to deploying new strategies. As they explore new territories, it can be a struggle to exploit the full value of their spend and the cloud's transformative capabilities ...

February 12, 2024

What will the enterprise of the future look like? If we asked this question three years ago, I doubt most of us would have pictured today as we know it: a future where generative AI has become deeply integrated into business and even our daily lives ...

February 09, 2024

With a focus on GenAI, industry experts offer predictions on how AI will evolve and impact IT and business in 2024. Part 5, the final installment in this series, covers the advantages AI will deliver: Generative AI will become increasingly important for resolving complicated data integration challenges, essentially providing a natural-language intermediary between data endpoints ...

February 08, 2024

With a focus on GenAI, industry experts offer predictions on how AI will evolve and impact IT and business in 2024. Part 4 covers the challenges of AI: In the short term, the rapid development and adoption of AI tools and products leveraging AI services will lead to an increase in biased outputs ...

February 07, 2024

With a focus on GenAI, industry experts offer predictions on how AI will evolve and impact IT and business in 2024. Part 3 covers the technologies that will drive AI: The question on every leader's mind in 2023 was - how soon will I see the return on my AI investment? The answer may lie in quantum computing ...