Creating A Customer-Focused Help Desk: How to Win and Keep Your Customers

$29.99

This book came about as a result of the authors’ own practical experience in Help Desk operation and management and of hundreds of workshops the authors have conducted world-wide over a period of fifteen years. It is intended to be a practical reference guide, but the suggestions, checklists and templates all need to be interpreted and amended in the light of the culture, technology, service maturity and constraints of each individual organization.

 

SKU: MM451 Categories: , Tags: , , , , Product ID: 15841

Description

Good help desk customer service has no history. Bad call center customer service has infinite history.

Delegates frequently ask: “What is the best Help Desk software package?” or “What is the best way to set up a Help Desk?” Our only response has to be “Best for whom? It all depends.” A key objective of this book is to show how and why “It all depends” and to provide readers with the best possible information on which to understand and evaluate options and to select the best – for them. If there is one thing we have learned over the last years, it is this: Good service has no history. Bad service has infinite history.

Based on extensive feedback from delegates from most of the Fortune 1,000 companies who have attended courses presented through Frost & Sullivan (Europe), AIC (South Africa), Monadnock (UK), The Infomatics Resource Centre (UK), IIR (UK), Digital Equipment (UK), Logtel (South America), CEL (Asia Pacific), UPMOCL (Middle East), Finborough Seminars, as well as delegates of in-company training for organizations like Dow Europe (Switzerland), The Intervention Board, BP, Shell International Petroleum, Logica (UK), Arthur Andersen (UK), Rolls Royce (UK), Global One (Germany and USA), Caterpillar (Switzerland), GAK (Netherlands), European Commission (Belgium), Transnet (South Africa), Sun Valley (UK), Nikon Precision (UK).

A Rothstein Publishing Classic title.

Acknowledgements……………………………………………………………………………………….. iv

Foreword……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. v

Contents……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. vi

 

1    WHY HAVE ONE? WHAT IS IT?…………………………………………………………………. 1

Why A Help Desk?…………………………………………………………………………………………….. 1

What About the Customers?……………………………………………………………………………… 5

Benefits of a Help Desk……………………………………………………………………………………… 7

Figure 1: IT Equipment Cost, Book & Real Depreciation…………………………………. 10

Scope Of The Help Desk…………………………………………………………………………………. 12

 

2    HELP DESK TRENDS………………………………………………………………………………. 17

Recent Trends…………………………………………………………………………………………………. 17

Organizational………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 18

Cultural…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 19

Figure 2: Help Desk Activities Being Considered for Outsourcing……………………. 21

Technical…………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 21

Figure 3: Ratio of Support Staff to End Users………………………………………………….. 23

Commercial……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 24

 

3    THE HELP DESK SERVICE PORTFOLIO………………………………………………….. 27

General…………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 27

Supporting New Customers………………………………………………………………………….. 28

Passwords……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 29

Calls    30

Call Answer……………………………………………………………………………………………… 30

Call Making……………………………………………………………………………………………… 32

Call Transfer……………………………………………………………………………………………. 33

Call Closing……………………………………………………………………………………………… 33

Requests, Issues and Problem Management………………………………………………….. 34

Logging  = Trouble Tickets…………………………………………………………………………… 34

Figure 4: Help Desk Log Information……………………………………………………………….. 36

Problem Analysis and Definition…………………………………………………………………. 37

Issue and Request Management……………………………………………………………….. 39

Prioritization and Feedback……………………………………………………………………….. 40

Figure 5:  Who Prioritizes Service Requests?………………………………………………….. 42

Escalation……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 42

Sign Off and Closure………………………………………………………………………………… 43

Equipment and Software Acquisition……………………………………………………………….. 43

Equipment and Software Installation……………………………………………………………….. 43

Asset Management………………………………………………………………………………………… 43

Equipment Moves………………………………………………………………………………………….. 44

Virus Cleanup………………………………………………………………………………………………… 44

Manuals, Guides and Newsletters………………………………………………………………… 44

Intranet / Internet Maintenance…………………………………………………………………….. 45

Hardware and Software Demonstrations and Evaluations………………………………. 46

Customer Education & Training…………………………………………………………………… 46

Customer Review Meetings………………………………………………………………………….. 47

Business Satisfaction Analysis……………………………………………………………………. 48

Customer Satisfaction Analysis…………………………………………………………………… 48

Information Analysis……………………………………………………………………………………… 49

Service Level Analysis………………………………………………………………………………….. 49

 

4    HELP DESK TOOLS………………………………………………………………………………… 51

General…………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 51

Tools For Help Desk Staff……………………………………………………………………………… 52

Telephone Tools……………………………………………………………………………………………. 52

Computing Facilities……………………………………………………………………………………… 57

Documentation………………………………………………………………………………………………. 57

Figure 6: Example Notice to Customers………………………………………………………….. 57

Software Tools……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 59

Figure 7: Help Desk Using CTI, Expert Systems and CIM………………………………. 61

 

5    WHO OWNS PROBLEMS?……………………………………………………………………….. 63

Problem Ownership……………………………………………………………………………………….. 63

Figure 8: Problem Ownership Options…………………………………………………………….. 65

 

6    HELP DESK ORGANISATION………………………………………………………………….. 67

Introduction……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 67

Global 68

Central…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 68

Distributed……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 69

Local   69

Real or Virtual?………………………………………………………………………………………………. 70

First, Second and Third Level Support…………………………………………………………….. 70

Reporting Lines……………………………………………………………………………………………… 72

Figure 9: Related Support Functions……………………………………………………………….. 72

IT Operations…………………………………………………………………………………………… 73

IT Customer Support………………………………………………………………………………… 74

The IT Director / Manager…………………………………………………………………………. 74

Marketing and / or Sales……………………………………………………………………………. 75

Audit……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 75

Figure10: Help Desk reporting Lines……………………………………………………………….. 76

Responsibility Without Power………………………………………………………………………. 76

Figure 11: Typical Help Desk Reporting Lines…………………………………………………. 77

 

7    HELP DESK RESOURCING……………………………………………………………………… 79

The New Help Desk……………………………………………………………………………………….. 79

Figure 13: Shift Time Spent on Phone…………………………………………………………….. 82

The Existing Help Desk…………………………………………………………………………………. 82

Figure 14: Resourcing Model for an Established Help Desk……………………………. 83

Figure 16: Average Length of First Level Support Call…………………………………….. 85

Catering for Growth……………………………………………………………………………………….. 86

Full or Part Time Staff?…………………………………………………………………………………. 86

Dedicated Help Desk Staff………………………………………………………………………… 86

Staff with other Responsibilities…………………………………………………………………. 87

Skilled, Unskilled or Semi-Skilled Help Desk?…………………………………………………. 87

Outsourced Help Desks………………………………………………………………………………… 87

Staff Turnover………………………………………………………………………………………………… 89

 

8    HELP DESK SKILLS, STAFFING & PEOPLE ISSUES………………………………… 91

What Skills?……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 91

Figure 17: Help Desk Skills…………………………………………………………………………… 92

Key Qualities in Help Desk Staff…………………………………………………………………… 93

Service Focus………………………………………………………………………………………….. 93

Interpersonal and Problem-Solving Skills……………………………………………………. 94

Technical Knowledge and Skills…………………………………………………………………. 94

How to Recruit Effective Help Desk Agents…………………………………………………….. 94

Validity of the Interview…………………………………………………………………………………. 96

Types of Interview…………………………………………………………………………………………. 97

Guidelines of a Structured Interview………………………………………………………………… 98

Preparation……………………………………………………………………………………………… 98

Interview Structure……………………………………………………………………………………. 98

Interview Conduct…………………………………………………………………………………….. 98

Post Interview………………………………………………………………………………………….. 99

Other Publications by the Authors…………………………………………………………………. iii

Acknowledgements……………………………………………………………………………………….. iv

Foreword……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. v

Contents……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. vi

 

1    WHY HAVE ONE? WHAT IS IT?…………………………………………………………………. 1

Why A Help Desk?…………………………………………………………………………………………….. 1

What About the Customers?……………………………………………………………………………… 5

Benefits of a Help Desk……………………………………………………………………………………… 7

Figure 1: IT Equipment Cost, Book & Real Depreciation…………………………………. 10

Scope Of The Help Desk…………………………………………………………………………………. 12

 

2    HELP DESK TRENDS………………………………………………………………………………. 17

Recent Trends…………………………………………………………………………………………………. 17

Organizational………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 18

Cultural…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 19

Figure 2: Help Desk Activities Being Considered for Outsourcing……………………. 21

Technical…………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 21

Figure 3: Ratio of Support Staff to End Users………………………………………………….. 23

Commercial……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 24

 

3    THE HELP DESK SERVICE PORTFOLIO………………………………………………….. 27

General…………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 27

Supporting New Customers………………………………………………………………………….. 28

Passwords……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 29

Calls    30

Call Answer……………………………………………………………………………………………… 30

Call Making……………………………………………………………………………………………… 32

Call Transfer……………………………………………………………………………………………. 33

Call Closing……………………………………………………………………………………………… 33

Requests, Issues and Problem Management………………………………………………….. 34

Logging  = Trouble Tickets…………………………………………………………………………… 34

Figure 4: Help Desk Log Information……………………………………………………………….. 36

Problem Analysis and Definition…………………………………………………………………. 37

Issue and Request Management……………………………………………………………….. 39

Prioritization and Feedback……………………………………………………………………….. 40

Figure 5:  Who Prioritizes Service Requests?………………………………………………….. 42

Escalation……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 42

Sign Off and Closure………………………………………………………………………………… 43

Equipment and Software Acquisition……………………………………………………………….. 43

Equipment and Software Installation……………………………………………………………….. 43

Asset Management………………………………………………………………………………………… 43

Equipment Moves………………………………………………………………………………………….. 44

Virus Cleanup………………………………………………………………………………………………… 44

Manuals, Guides and Newsletters………………………………………………………………… 44

Intranet / Internet Maintenance…………………………………………………………………….. 45

Hardware and Software Demonstrations and Evaluations………………………………. 46

Customer Education & Training…………………………………………………………………… 46

Customer Review Meetings………………………………………………………………………….. 47

Business Satisfaction Analysis……………………………………………………………………. 48

Customer Satisfaction Analysis…………………………………………………………………… 48

Information Analysis……………………………………………………………………………………… 49

Service Level Analysis………………………………………………………………………………….. 49

 

4    HELP DESK TOOLS………………………………………………………………………………… 51

General…………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 51

Tools For Help Desk Staff……………………………………………………………………………… 52

Telephone Tools……………………………………………………………………………………………. 52

Computing Facilities……………………………………………………………………………………… 57

Documentation………………………………………………………………………………………………. 57

Figure 6: Example Notice to Customers………………………………………………………….. 57

Software Tools……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 59

Figure 7: Help Desk Using CTI, Expert Systems and CIM………………………………. 61

 

5    WHO OWNS PROBLEMS?……………………………………………………………………….. 63

Problem Ownership……………………………………………………………………………………….. 63

Figure 8: Problem Ownership Options…………………………………………………………….. 65

 

6    HELP DESK ORGANISATION………………………………………………………………….. 67

Introduction……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 67

Global 68

Central…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 68

Distributed……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 69

Local   69

Real or Virtual?………………………………………………………………………………………………. 70

First, Second and Third Level Support…………………………………………………………….. 70

Reporting Lines……………………………………………………………………………………………… 72

Figure 9: Related Support Functions……………………………………………………………….. 72

IT Operations…………………………………………………………………………………………… 73

IT Customer Support………………………………………………………………………………… 74

The IT Director / Manager…………………………………………………………………………. 74

Marketing and / or Sales……………………………………………………………………………. 75

Audit……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 75

Figure10: Help Desk reporting Lines……………………………………………………………….. 76

Responsibility Without Power………………………………………………………………………. 76

Figure 11: Typical Help Desk Reporting Lines…………………………………………………. 77

 

7    HELP DESK RESOURCING……………………………………………………………………… 79

The New Help Desk……………………………………………………………………………………….. 79

Figure 13: Shift Time Spent on Phone…………………………………………………………….. 82

The Existing Help Desk…………………………………………………………………………………. 82

Figure 14: Resourcing Model for an Established Help Desk……………………………. 83

Figure 16: Average Length of First Level Support Call…………………………………….. 85

Catering for Growth……………………………………………………………………………………….. 86

Full or Part Time Staff?…………………………………………………………………………………. 86

Dedicated Help Desk Staff………………………………………………………………………… 86

Staff with other Responsibilities…………………………………………………………………. 87

Skilled, Unskilled or Semi-Skilled Help Desk?…………………………………………………. 87

Outsourced Help Desks………………………………………………………………………………… 87

Staff Turnover………………………………………………………………………………………………… 89

 

8    HELP DESK SKILLS, STAFFING & PEOPLE ISSUES………………………………… 91

What Skills?……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 91

Figure 17: Help Desk Skills…………………………………………………………………………… 92

Key Qualities in Help Desk Staff…………………………………………………………………… 93

Service Focus………………………………………………………………………………………….. 93

Interpersonal and Problem-Solving Skills……………………………………………………. 94

Technical Knowledge and Skills…………………………………………………………………. 94

How to Recruit Effective Help Desk Agents…………………………………………………….. 94

Validity of the Interview…………………………………………………………………………………. 96

Types of Interview…………………………………………………………………………………………. 97

Guidelines of a Structured Interview………………………………………………………………… 98

Preparation……………………………………………………………………………………………… 98

Interview Structure……………………………………………………………………………………. 98

Interview Conduct…………………………………………………………………………………….. 98

Post Interview………………………………………………………………………………………….. 99

Staff Retention……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 99

Figure 18: Years at Organization………………………………………………………………… 101

Career Paths………………………………………………………………………………………………… 103

Cultural Issues…………………………………………………………………………………………….. 104

Staff Productivity and Retention Through Leadership……………………………………. 104

Trait Theories……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 105

Situational Theory……………………………………………………………………………………….. 106

Figure 19: Level of Congruence Resulting from Match Between…………………… 108

GNS and Job Scope…………………………………………………………………………………….. 108

Figure 20: Model for Leadership Styles Matching GNS and MPS…………………. 109

Cell 1…………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 110

Cell 2…………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 110

Cell 3…………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 110

Cell 4…………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 111

Managing People…………………………………………………………………………………………. 112

Managing Stress………………………………………………………………………………………….. 113

Managing Change………………………………………………………………………………………… 114

Managing the Complaining Customer……………………………………………………….. 115

 

9    HELP DESK SERVICE ISSUES………………………………………………………………. 119

Standards……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 119

Figure 21: A Tiered Approach to Support Quality………………………………………….. 121

Service Level Agreements………………………………………………………………………….. 121

Objectives……………………………………………………………………………………………… 123

Methodology………………………………………………………………………………………….. 123

Management Reporting, Measurements and Statistics……………………………….. 123

Figure 22A: Example of Management Report on Call Handling…………………….. 125

Figure 22B:  Example of a simple Management Report on Hold Time………….. 126

Figure  23: Who Sees Performance Statistics?……………………………………………… 127

Figure 24:  Frequency of Help Desk Reports…………………………………………………. 127

SLA Content…………………………………………………………………………………………… 128

Implementation………………………………………………………………………………………. 129

Benefits of Service Level Agreements…………………………………………………………… 132

 

10    CHARGING FOR HELP DESK SERVICES……………………………………………… 133

Who Pays for the Help Desk?…………………………………………………………………….. 133

Charging Options………………………………………………………………………………………… 134

 

11    MOVING FORWARD…………………………………………………………………………….. 137

Setting up the Help Desk…………………………………………………………………………….. 137

Phasing and Pilots………………………………………………………………………………………. 140

Political and Organizational Issues………………………………………………………………… 141

People Issues………………………………………………………………………………………………. 144

Communications………………………………………………………………………………………….. 145

Initial Tasks………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 146

Moving Forward – Checklist……………………………………………………………………….. 146

Figure 25: Checklist for Help Desk Progress…………………………………………………. 147

Possible Future Tasks for the Help Desk………………………………………………………. 148

 

 

APPENDIX A:  CONTACTS………………………………………………………………………….. 151

 

APPENDIX B:  EXAMPLE DESKTOP SUPPORT SERVICES AND METRICS….. 153

 

APPENDIX C:  EXAMPLE OF DESKTOP SUPPORT SLA………………………………. 161

Transaction Type………………………………………………………………………………………… 209

 

APPENDIX D:  EXAMPLE JOB DESCRIPTIONS……………………………………………. 219

EXAMPLE TERMS OF REFERENCE FOR CUSTOMER ACCOUNT

    MANAGERS………………………………………………………………………………………………. 220

EXAMPLE JOB DESCRIPTION: HELP DESK ANALYST……………………………… 223

 

APPENDIX E:  HELP DESK CHECKLIST………………………………………………………. 227

 

APPENDIX F:  FEATURES, FUNCTIONS AND CHARACTERISTICS OF

   HELP DESK SOFTWARE………………………………………………………………………….. 231

 

APPENDIX G:  EXAMPLE CUSTOMER SATISFACTION SURVEY…………………. 237

 

APPENDIX H:  STAFF SKILLS ASSESSMENT MATRIX………………………………… 247

 

INDEX…………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 252

 

ABOUT THE AUTHORS……………………………………………………………………………….. 256

 

Why A Help Desk?

Do you want a Help Desk as a strategic tool – the stethoscope on the heart of the organization, identifying the slightest sign of sickness, prescribing treatment to keep the patient – the whole organization – healthy?  Is the Help Desk a key part of competitive edge marketing?

Why do users need a Help Desk?   Users have to deliver their contribution to the corporate plan; they have to meet their own deadlines; they have to live within their budgets; they have their own staffing constraints and may have as their objective a requirement to add value to the services they receive from IT.   In addition they have to live within audit and security constraints.   The users therefore are dependent upon effective and rapid response from IT to permit them to meet these objectives.

They may need instant first aid in several areas:

  • engineering call-out and support in the event of equipment failure
  • provision of service during the hours they require
  • response to operational queries
  • management of their data and retrieval of corrupted or lost data
  • scheduling of their work
  • analysis and resolution of problems
  • rectification of failure of communications or networks
  • applications of changes to the system
  • installation and moves of equipment

Many IT and Computing Service Managers assume they have a good relationship with their users when in fact there may be some serious problems.   Perhaps they do not have regular contact with the users or perhaps the users have just given up trying to get a decent service.

Some IT Managers still do not give a high priority to users’ satisfaction while others expect a certain level of dissatisfaction and as long as this ‘noise level’ is not too high they ignore it.

Users may have built up their own informal contact network to get some satisfaction.   This may be user-oriented individuals within IT; it might be other users from whom they can get advice; or worse still it might be suppliers.  In the worst case the suppliers may be actively working against IT in order to sell users hardware directly and so ‘solve’ users’ dissatisfaction by putting resource directly into their hands.   Even if surveys are carried out the people to whom the survey is directed may be the managers of those who use the service and the message passed back to IT may be highly sanitized or political.

The image of the Help Desk that we would like to aspire to is of a proactive, cutting edge, business oriented, customer focused support function that adds value to services, enhances customer satisfaction, retains existing customers and attracts new customers.

But how true to life is the image? Is the Help Desk really an admission of failure?

There may be a number of constraints on effective use of IT and an effective Help Desk, enabling remedial action to be taken could expose some of these. These constraints could include:

  • lack of user interest and motivation              

             – lack of support staff

             – lack of communication ability of IT staff

             – blocks imposed by user management

  • lack of user skill
  • deficiencies in the software

            – protracted learning curves for user                                                          

            – persuading users to fit the software

  • lack of it resources  

            – possible low priority

            – possible lack of capacity

– possible lack of formal management procedures

If a Help Desk already exists, is it actually a sign of failure? Is it there to handle problems, which simply should not exist:

  • defective services and products
  • software bugs
  • operator error
  • poor management of
  • operations
  • quality
  • change
  • configuration
  • capacity and resource
  • availability and reliability
  • infrastructure
  • people?

Is an Information Technology Help Desk necessary because poor project management, lack of quality assurance and quality control and inadequate testing have resulted in release of software which is bug-ridden, or not fit for its purpose?

Is a widget product Help Desk necessary because the inappropriate quality of raw materials and poor supervision result in excessive re-work? Is it because bad design, poor packaging and careless handling causes damaged product to reach the customer?

In short, is it simply reacting to problems?

The proactive Help Desk can be a strategic tool for building good reputation, for marketing, sales and competitive edge.  The Help Desk that identifies problems can spur business process improvement – better, more reliable processes.  It is seen as an asset to any business.  It has its stethoscope on the heart of the organization, pre-empting problems, creating value and goodwill.  It is likely to be held in high regard by senior management, who appreciate its contribution to business results.  Because of this, investment can be justified: in advanced Help Desk tools; in resource; and in training.  Staff morale is likely to be high.

The reactive Help Desk, however, gets associated with the poor service or product that it is there to protect.  It is seen as an overhead, typically starved of investment, resource and training.  Typically, in the reactive Help Desk, staff are over-worked, under-appreciated and not supported by appropriate equipment and tools.  Staff morale tends to be low and turnover high.

The solution to the reactive Help Desk is simply to get things right so that the Help Desk becomes less necessary. A high problem level is trying to tell the organization something.  That something is usually that management action needs to be taken to fix the problems at source – permanently.