Another day at the service desk. The phone is ringing off the hook with calls from anxious customers, incidents are piling up, and inboxes are overflowing. You don’t know where to start. And then, just when you’ve managed to get settled, a walk-up arrives, asking for help with a password reset. They want to be helped. And they want to be helped now.

These days, it seems like customer expectations are only getting higher. And, when your team is stuck firefighting all day, meeting them feels like an impossible task. And it’s not in your head! In fact, Microsoft’s Global State of Customer Service Report showed that 55% of customers expect a higher level of customer service year on year, with a whopping 70% of those aged between 18 and 34 reporting increasing expectations. And, while 73% of support leaders say that they think customer expectations are getting higher, only 42% are certain they are meeting those expectations.

But what’s behind this recent rise in customer expectations? And what does it mean for you and your team?

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The consumerization of IT

For IT departments, this first means recognizing that the standards being set for their services are no longer within their own control. As TechTarget puts it, “in our technology-rich environment, we first need to recognize that customer expectations are being set by their best experiences with technology — and those expectations are being set by someone other than the IT department.”

It also means added pressure – on both front-line service desk employees and their managers – to deliver fast, smooth services that match their customers’ experiences in the wider world. Not only do end users now expect to be helped quickly, via their preferred channel, but organizations also expect their IT departments to adopt all the latest tech trends, from AI to the Internet of Things, to mobile. The result? The service desk becomes a pressure cooker.

Customer expectations are being set by their best experiences with technology — and those expectations are being set by someone other than the IT department.

When work gets hard, switch to smart

To keep up with these demands, IT departments need to find a new, smarter way of working. But when you’re working reactively, finding your first step can be a challenge.

Our suggestion? Think big, start small. Adapting your team’s way of working in order to meet rising expectations isn’t going to happen overnight. But there are small switches you can already make on Monday morning to make your own work more efficient and help you maximize your time.