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Top Qualities & Skills of a Great IT Service Desk Employee

Year after year, the technical service and support industry experiences higher-than-average turnover. Research shows that the average service desk employee stays in their position for just two and a half years before moving on. This means that businesses typically are consistently looking for qualified employees to upkeep an efficient service desk staff and support their IT management efforts.  

But your IT service desk often acts as the face of your organization’s IT department. It’s important these employees represent you and your company well—and have the skill to offer the IT support needed, So, what are the qualities and skills needed for a good service desk employee?  

With insights from Evergreen solution architect Kevin Morris, we’ve created a list of the top skills and qualities of an IT service desk employee.

Top Qualities of IT Service Desk Employees

Your business efforts are put at an advantage with a highly skilled service desk team. These team members need to be able to handle requests in a timely, professional, and efficient manner. If they’re unable to do all three, productivity can slow, and so might your business.  

Needless to say, your service desk employees need the technical knowledge and expertise to effectively respond and resolve inquiries. But what about non-technical skills? What soft skills do IT service desk employees need? Here are three skills often overlooked—but arguably the most important—in the recruitment process: 

Empathy and Patience

End users who are experiencing technical issues are often frustrated or confused—and understandably so.  

“When people call a service desk, they’re not looking for casual small talk. They’re calling because something that’s supposed to work doesn’t, or something that isn’t supposed to happen did,” says Morris. “The issue they’re experiencing is probably impacting their productivity, or maybe even halting business operations.”  

That said, it’s important for service desk employees to put themselves in the end user’s shoes and demonstrate patience, understanding, and empathy. These qualities help service desk agents address customer issues more efficiently and accurately, as they can better understand their needs and concerns.

Top qualities of a skilled IT service desk employee graphic

Proactiveness

A common misconception about service desk staff is that their job is reactive, meaning they simply wait for issues to arise and respond to those service requests. But a good IT service desk employee, Morris says, is equally as proactive as they are reactive.  

This means looking past the issue at hand and preventing reoccurrence, predicting related issues, and more. “We look for people who ask questions like, ‘What happened? Why did it happen? Has it happened before? What can I do to keep it from happening again?” Morris says.  

A few examples of proactive IT service desk management include:  

  • Following up on resolved service requests to check if the issue reoccurred  
  • Monitoring equipment, network, or server performance and addressing potential issues before they arise 
  • Conducting in-depth trend analysis and identifying the top occurring and reoccurring issues 
  • Developing strategic action plans and resource guides for addressing and resolving common problems 

Technical Development Aspirations

While both technical and interpersonal skills are critical to a service desk role, Morris emphasized the importance of human skills.  

“You can teach almost anyone how to address others and solve technical issues,” says Morris. “What you can’t teach people is how to be understanding, or how to be empathetic. We look for people with inherent customer service and customer experience skills.”  

But putting customer service first means you might have to invest in developing your candidate’s technical competency. This is why you should inquire about their interest in technical development during the interview process. Are they interested in undergoing additional training? Are they looking to obtain relevant certifications to supplement their current skillset? Do they attend courses, seminars, conferences, etc.? Answering “yes” to any or all these questions is a sign that you have a valuable, dedicated candidate on your hands.  

Hire the Best Service Desk Employees

Despite knowing all the best qualities to look for in IT service desk candidates, hiring is still tough. The labor market is tight, and finding great support takes time, effort, and lots of recruiting power—three resources you may not have an abundance of.  

This is where Evergreen comes in. We specialize in building IT service management teams that are adaptable, customized, and most importantly, managed by us from end to end. So, do you have a need for a fully scaled team of qualified service desk agents? We can develop better workflows for your company—and find the talent to execute.