Service Desk Analyst of the Year 2020 finalists Billy Abbas (Leeds Beckett University), Cameron McKenzie (Fujitsu) and Sal De Franco (Bloomberg) answered a few questions ahead of the IT Service & Support Awards ceremony…
What made you decide to enter the awards?
Billy – For the past two years Leeds Beckett has won the award and I believe this year I contributed the most in providing the best service at our University. This is evidenced through my outstanding feedback and positive reviews.
Cameron – The work completed by myself was of incredible value to Fujitsu but also our customer and by extension, the general public. It’s these kind of ideas and opportunities that should be called out and congratulated to help fuel other ideas and motivate everyone to find or make the opportunities to have a significant and meaningful impact to everyone. We are also members of SDI and were finalists last year in the Best Service Improvement Project so it was our hope to enter again and perhaps I could go one better!
Sal – I thought that I might have the skills, charisma, and talent to put Bloomberg on the map as a company with the best service desk team in the world.
What part of the awards process did you enjoy the most?
Billy – Meeting the judges, to be honest with you I was nervous before the interview, but the judges made me feel welcome and put me at ease which enabled me to showcase my skills and I really enjoyed my time speaking to them.
Cameron – Personally the short listed presentation was the highlight for me, it’s lovely to have the opportunity to really invest myself into a conversation about the work that I did and the impact that it has, I take great pride in the work I have done and continue to do and there’s no better way of showing that then a face to face conversation / presentation.
Sal – Sharing my philosophies, experiences, and accomplishments with the judges.
Why did you choose IT Support as a career?
Billy – I always had a passion and interest on how computer systems operated from early age and icing on the cake is that I take great pride in helping others and get a lot of satisfaction of providing great customer service and going the extra mile for the customer.
Cameron – Honestly I got lucky, GCSE results weren’t too kind to me and my opportunities were limited in higher education, during an open day at the local college one of the ICT tutors took pity on me and offered me a position in their class, the rest is a rather boring but personally fortunate tale of history.
Sal – It merged together my three favorite things- problem solving, building
relationships with people, and technology. What more could you ask for?
In the last 18 months, what has been the most successful initiative you have
implemented to help your business improve its performance?
Billy – During the on on-boarding for our business systems teams to our ITSM processes via the Service Desk. Earlier in the year I approached my Manager and the Business Systems Manager to ask if it was possible to Shadow the business systems team and it was agreed so I shadowed the team for 1 day a week for 3 months. I gained the basic understanding of all the systems that are used across the University; this knowledge proved vital when the time came to onboard the business systems teams. I created triaging knowledge articles, liaising with 3rd line colleagues, and helped upskill my colleagues on these systems that were completely new to most. This ensured that go live dates were met and customers had a positive first experience of following a Service Desk model.
Cameron – It’s been the focus of my submission to the awards but the initiative was all around our digital channel shift, we’ve gone from a very ‘traditional’ service desk of phone calls and emails and through the implementation of a plan that I implemented (With help from others) managed to move the majority of our incoming demand from ‘Traditional’ contacts to ‘Digital’ contacts (Last I saw we were at 65% digital) this offers cost savings to the customer and Fujitsu which has significant positive knock on effects.
Sal – While there were so many that helped so many departments, it would have to be the project I took the lead on and saw through to completion, which involved updating our Legal department business unit’s document management system, while also upgrading their workstations and operating systems, increasing their productivity, efficiency and overall happiness in the workplace.
What are your top 3 tips to make a service desk successful?
- Do it with Passion
- Take Accountability
- Can Do Attitude
Cameron – I believe in three important elements that really help a Service Desk stand out (I’ve worked on a few now).
Honesty – Being honest with your customer, whether that’s the person on the phone / WebChat or one of the key service managers of the customer, be upfront and honest, they’ll appreciate it and be honest in kind. This obviously also extends to the rest of the team, my managers and my colleagues to talk about things.
Awareness – A Service Desks most valuable resource is the agents, we’re on the front lines and see everything from the desk perspective and the affected customer perspective. As agents we should be aware of everything, what we’re doing, what we have done, what our colleagues are doing, what’s happening around us and how the issue on the phone affects the person on the other end. This helps provide an exemplar service and all it takes is to listen and understand the things around us.
Decisiveness – Dealing with problems and issues day in and day out can be repetitive and it sometimes requires someone to question something for a problem to be found out. Sometimes all that needs to happen is a conversation and it’s down to the staff on the desk to have the decisiveness to start that conversation and question something they are not sure about and the management team to listen and follow through on it.
- Be communicative at all times, even to a fault.
- Always listen more than you speak during your support day.
- Perform your work with pride and passion!
What one thing do you think really makes you stand out as a support professional?
Billy – I show a great deal of empathy to others, I believe that without this personality trait I wouldn’t be where I am now. I value others and supporting them drives me to become a high standard professional.
Cameron – My absolute pride in the work that I and the rest of the team do and the people that we do it for. Support is a difficult thing to compare yourself against, as agents we’re in the business of helping people solve problems which is pretty stand out in its own right, however I get through the rough days and the challenging days and the great days thanks to the knowledge that I am proud of everything that I and our customers do. I’m proud of the password resets that we do all the way through to the digital channel shift work that saved the customer thousands, equally.
Sal – My sense of empathy in the face of particularly timely, stressful technical
How are you preparing to evolve your service desk over the next few years?
Please share your most exciting plan with us!
Billy – Our aim for next few years is firstly to maintain our 3-star certification and going forward aim to be 4-star sector leading service desk.
Cameron – Now that we’ve moved the customer onto our digital channels this potentially frees up additional opportunities with the rest of the team, as the channel shift continues to grow not only does it bring savings but it also brings efficiencies to the desk. I personally feel that as a desk the agents should be empowered more as the 1st point of contact for our affected customers. There was talk about a potential ‘Social Command Centre’ that put us at the centre of the customers help desks. We’re definitely IT focused at the moment but could we expand and bring more services under our umbrella, even if we just sign-post the end users to different teams I envision us as the one stop shop for our customer? Maybe.
• Continue to develop our people (Sysadmin work to service desk)
• Gain MS certification for all members of the team
• Continue to drive automation
• Continue to look for ways to improve technology and service
What does it mean to you to be a finalist in the ‘Service Desk Analyst of the
Billy – It means a lot because it’s an award for all the hard work that I have done over the years and I can reflect back with great a sense of pride and satisfaction with my work knowing that I have worked to my best of my ability.
Cameron – It’s truly wonderful that the years of work has been acknowledged and potentially awarded, it’s also really important to me because the initial nomination came from my upper management and management team and to be finalist really shows that they genuinely appreciate the work I do and it proves to them that it was the right choice. It’s also a fantastic opportunity for the rest of the team to see what can be achieved and I would love for the nomination alone to motive them into trying new things and putting themselves forward for future opportunities.
Sal – It means being recognised for something I take great pride in and a deep sense of responsibility for. That is, being a service desk representative for one of the most amazing companies in the world.
It also means putting Bloomberg on the map, and representing what I feel to be one of the greatest service desk teams in the industry.
What advice would you give to anyone entering the awards next year?
Billy – If you see any opportunity to be part of any project, go for it and don’t be shy to ask for more. Having the right attitude in terms of stop thinking about the negative effects of extra workload but see it an opportunity to enhance your skill level and that will put your career in the right direction.
Cameron – Be yourself, the nomination for the awards of SDI Analyst award is for YOU, the person it’s about, so show some of that person, put some of your personality into everything you do (The submission / The presentation) just make sure it’s a healthy balance of personality and clear information around stats and figures.
Sal – Be an inspiration to your colleagues, a hero to your customers, and a challenge
to yourself. The rest will take care of itself.
What would you do to celebrate if you won ‘Service Desk Analyst of the Year’?
Billy – Shout out loud on my LinkedIn profile and share with friends, working colleagues. Also take my family out for a nice meal.
Cameron – On the night it would be a responsible amount of celebratory drinks, a few hugs and most likely a phone call to my mum. After that I’ll probably buy a cake and bring it in to the office to share with the team, at the end of the day, while I was travelling to the customer sites to sell the digital channels, it was their work on the incoming demand, that enabled me to complete the project. It’s also our continued dealings with the end users on the new digital channels that have helped make it a persistent success. So all in all, I would love to celebrate with the team –and that might include a team night out with an irresponsible amount of celebratory drinks ☺.
Sal – I would share it with all of my colleagues, as I could not have done it all without their constant support, synergy and talent.