D'Arcy Gue

How Satisfying Your Hospital Service Desk Analysts Can Satisfy Your Users

November 5, 2013

IT Service Desk 5 Minute Read

It should come as no surprise that when your Service Desk users are unhappy with your service, many of your analysts are likely to be unhappy employees. Which causes which?

It’s a rhetorical question, really; in the best Service Desk operations, many independent performance indicators are used that are important factors in satisfying both users and analysts. Nevertheless, any competent Service Desk manager will tell you that job satisfaction is one key to the success of the operation. The analyst’s job is often stressful, sometimes boring — and extraordinarily customer facing. He or she has to be constantly “on” and smiley-faced, at least in the user’s perception, regardless of the most negative circumstances.

A recent survey by CBS MoneyWatch showed that 29% of employees who were asked “What motivates you at work?” responded that “doing something meaningful “is most important to them. Money motivated 25 percent of the respondents, and recognition 17 percent.

Assuming your organization is wise enough to provide competitive wages and benefits, let’s look at how to create an environment that fosters “meaningful” work.

Doing Something Meaningful

Convincing analysts who support hospital staff that they are “doing something meaningful” would seem to be obvious and easy. Analysts often have to deal with incidents that can have a major impact on protecting or even saving lives. Analysts who work in healthcare know this, and for many, having such significance, is one reason why they choose to work in the field. Surprisingly though, many analysts and their managers lose this perspective after time, and especially when the going gets rough.woman yelling at phone

How “rough” does the “going get?”

  • Physicians are renowned in the service management field for displaying impatient, angry, and (I apologize to any easygoing doc reading this!) verbally abusive behavior. A connection error or frozen patient chart is not part of any physicians’ care agenda, and time is critical. Physicians are known to yell. Analysts are known to dislike being yelled at.
  • On your Service Desk’s busiest days, analysts may find themselves handling back- to-back calls for several hours straight. The day can become so frenetic that analysts may “forget” that they are working with human beings who have feelings, justifiable expectations, and fallibilities. The work may start feeling robotic and rote –  unrelated to anything that matters.
  • Analysts often must handle the same issues with the same people repeatedly, or solve problems that seem very simple to the analysts themselves. They deal with users who don’t listen well, or who have trouble understanding answers. Service Desk staff who resent listening to, and answering “dumb” questions are a risk to your users’ satisfaction.

I have yet to see a successful Service Desk operation with happy, dedicated employees,  if it isn’t managed by quality managers who are happy with their own work, and — most importantly — fanatically committed to service. Such extreme dedication has to start at the top of your leadership team and fan outward and through the organization, creating a strong service culture. If that exists in your environment, your Service Desk Manager can leverage this built-in ethical framework within the Service Desk team to mold analysts’ own sense of accountability, caring, and making a difference that matters.

Ensuring a service environment that is “doing something meaningful”

  • Train, communicate, reinforce…then train, communicate, reinforce. Again. Your Service Desk must have weekly team meetings; some teams have daily “Get up and GO!” sessions.  A fundamental tool in ensuring that your service staff feels “valuable and valued “is showing them, over and over, how they actually have made a difference.

Train your analysts in methods for working with angry users, e.g. listening calmly, allowing the fuming to vent, demonstrating concern, etc. Build a knowledge base that your people can dip into when they hit walls. In your meetings, make sure you recount recent case situations that “saved the day.” Announce users’ accolades. Give your people credit.

Do not assume that any employee goes home at night cheerfully saying, “I am doing something meaningful,” when he or she has been white-knuckled with stress for the previous three hours.

  • Open communication channels with your analysts and listen to what they have to say about the state of your services. Provide the team an open, non-judgmental forum for group analysis of their comments. If your analysts feel they can talk openly about issues and problems with management, they will feel more confident that they can provide service that “makes a difference,” despite user gritches that are hard to handle.

As your managers achieve greater insight into their people and their concerns, they should translate that knowledge into providing better analyst support and achieving better customer experiences in the future.

  • Understand, promote, and demand your Service Desk’s value proposition.  Realize how you deliver value to users, and communicate that value proposition to your staff. Managing your IT value proposition, being accountable for it as a manager, and holding the analyst team equally accountable is a critical success factor.

Service Desk managers must achieve a cohesive service culture that their analysts will be proud of — both individually and as a team.  If you have outliers who continually refuse to get on board, despite training and encouragement, do not hesitate to terminate them. Their co-workers will understand, and probably appreciate your action.

Your Service Desk team works closely together; the environment is, without a doubt, one where the “bad apple” impact can become very real. Focus on the “good apples” and help them become even better.

Creating a positive environment for your Service Desk employees is imperative to the success of your program. We will continue to focus on the factors that contribute to a positive environment for analysts. In my next post I will provide suggestions for creative and effective ways to recognize and motivate your Service Desk Analysts.  Stay tuned!

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