Updating the Service Desk with Unified Communications

The contact center is most commonly associated with outbound sales calls and inbound customer service requests. It is a primary point of interaction with the company, and can make or break the customer relationship. As a result, smart organizations are investing in unified communications (UC) technologies that enable them to create an omnichannel experience across voice, email, messaging, chat and social platforms.

The service desk is often overlooked in the development of a contact center strategy. Also known as the help desk or support desk, it serves as the point of contact for customers who need technical assistance with a product. It may also refer to an internal resource for the “customers” of the IT department. Either way, the service desk is a vital point of customer contact for any organization that must support and service products in the field.

Traditionally, the service desk was a centralized call center staffed with “Tier 1” technicians who could handle many basic issues and refer complex problems to more experienced personnel. They would sit on the phone with customers and walk them through the steps needed to diagnose and troubleshoot the problem. They would then document information related to the transaction into a ticketing system and schedule any necessary follow-ups.

That model is changing rapidly due to the mobile and the cloud. Mobile devices and near-ubiquitous Internet connectivity enable service desk personnel to work from virtually anywhere. They are as likely to take calls while in the field or working from home as while sitting within the call center environment. Cloud-based ticketing and service desk management systems further enhance flexibility by providing easy access to these software tools.

When technicians are freed from the confines of the centralized service desk, they become more productive and can solve problems faster. Organizations are able to tap into a larger pool of talent — a real business benefit given the chronic shortage of IT and other technical skill sets. Turnover is often reduced due to the enhanced employee satisfaction that results from a flexible workstyle.

UC is tailor-made for the modern service desk. In addition to integrating multiple communication channels, UC makes it possible to access all phone system features and functionality from a mobile device. Technicians can receive calls directed to the service desk line on their smartphones, without giving out their personal mobile number. It’s seamless to both the customer and the technician.

Field technicians can use the video conferencing features of UC to collaborate with in-house experts on difficult problems. Similarly, phone support personnel can use instant messaging to get input from a supervisor or expert while they are still on the phone with the customer.

The latest UC solutions can also be integrated with ticketing and support desk software to create a seamless workflow. For example, the system could deliver the customer’s account information along with the call so that it’s immediately available for the technician.

The contact center has been a focus for technology investments, but the service desk plays an equally important role in the customer experience. UC platforms are a natural fit for the modern service desk, enhancing technician productivity and customer satisfaction.