Why Defining Service Desk Management Roles Matters

A quality service desk doesn’t just happen. It takes a team of leaders to harness the people, the processes, and technology to ensure day-to-day operations are running smoothly. It takes relentless communication both in new directives relayed to the agents and dialogue regarding unique support scenarios with client IT management. Resolution ownership can never be kicked down the road. All key personnel must be accountable from strategic planning to the most granular of incident management tasks. And wherever there are gaps in training or documentation, service desk management must recommend, develop, and maintain thorough troubleshooting procedures within a comprehensive knowledge base accessible to all IT support staff. Most importantly, when there are gaps in communication or agent coaching due to unavailable supervisory staff, backup personnel must be identified in advance and prepared to take action on behalf of the team.

Below is the service desk chain of command in order of rank, not of importance considering how one agent interaction can make or break a relationship. Though the titles themselves may carry a certain degree of prestige, it’s the well-defined roles and responsibilities contained within that are the heart of the service desk’s success.

Director of Operations

Core operational directives are handed down by the aptly named Director of Operations who is responsible for oversight and reviews service levels daily, weekly, and monthly.  Should an issue warrant management attention, the Director of Operations escalates the matter to the Client Relationship Manager who, depending on the issue, can involve senior executives for resolution.  A flexible service desk tends to be flat at the executive level with key decision makers readily available to meet with clients and offer additional oversight.  Regular access to these decision makers ensures their personal interest in seeing that the client is served to the best of our ability.

Client Relationship Manager

The Client Relationship Manager serves as the client liaison and advocate and works closely with service desk management to exchange information and to communicate client perceptions, requests for process changes, concerns, etc.  The Client Relationship Manager is responsible for developing and maintaining a strong relationship with clients at all levels: executives, managers, etc.; understanding the client’s business goals; reviewing contracts, service level agreements, and scope of services; determining the best strategy to meet client objectives; addressing and documenting all issues and resolutions immediately.

Service Desk Manager

The Service Desk Manager is be responsible for overseeing the entire service desk team for the client.  This includes management of team leads and agents, compiling and analyzing metrics for monthly reviews, and conducting monthly client reviews.

Team Lead(s)

Team leads assume responsibility for the overall performance of their team and serve as a coach/mentor to its members and as an ambassador and point of contact for the client.  Team leads inform their management of critical issues regarding personnel, performance, client perception, and work closely with co-workers to ensure consistent, high quality, friendly service to all clients.


The trainer develop plans and programs to educate agents on each new account and to provide on-going updates as changes occur and services are added by the client.   In addition to in-house training, the service desk designs career plans for its staff which includes personal as well as professional training based in some instances on client requirements.

Quality Assurance Specialist

Quality Assurance Specialists are experienced service desk agents reporting to the Director of Operations.  QA Specialists are responsible for helping monitor performance metrics, call volumes, and SLAs;  recommending and implementing improvements; coaching leads/agents on end user interaction; advising others on how best to work with agents; taking a proactive position in identifying critical situations and responding with appropriate action. QA Specialists review a percentage of recorded calls weekly for each agent as well as a detailed review of ticket content.

Level 1 (Tier 1) and Senior Agents

Level one agents support end users on a variety of issues; they identify, research and resolve technical problems; respond to inbound contacts via email, chat, web submits; open tickets/incidents, document, track and monitor the problem to ensure a timely resolution; and meet all client specific Service Level Agreements, end-user satisfaction goals, and personal key performance indicators.  A senior agent is a more seasoned and skilled agent.  In addition to the Level 1 responsibilities, they serve as a technical resource and point of escalation.

Borrowing from a topical NFL analogy, executing at the professional level means every position player has to be on the field. Any time there are fewer than 11 players available, a substitute has to be ready to join the huddle at a moment’s notice and understand exactly what is expected of them. Minus the helmets and shoulder pads, the main difference is, unlike the backup for a healthy, hall of all pro quarterback, no member of the service desk team gets to stand on the sidelines for long.

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