As a former university IT employee, I've interacted with a lot of users with problems (and emotions) of varying difficulties. Excited parents would set up their brand-new tablets only to forget the password minutes later. Confused professors hauled in their 15-year-old laptops wondering why they weren't functioning as quickly as the ones displayed. Frustrated students strode in with network connectivity issues, leading me to their embarrassing internet histories and laptop screensavers.
I worked as a Tier 1 employee and often found myself referring these people up the levels of the IT service desk chain, sometimes feeling like I was only there to cause more frustration. As a student is crying, while a parent is yelling, one can't help but think that there has to be a better way. However, if we want to optimize a process, we must first understand it.
What is the service desk process?
The IT service desk provides information and support to computer users. It involves a process that is broken down into three tiers:
Tier 1: The initial call for help. This level mainly provides simple checks such as resetting passwords or updating computers. Often users spend time discussing the issues they've been encountering while the technical support tries to solve their issue. This tier can solve basic issues, but if the problem remains unresolved, it is escalated up to Tier 2.
Tier 2: This level offers more in-depth support. This technical support team has more tools and skills to address issues that couldn't be solved by Tier 1 support.
Tier 3: This is the highest (and most expensive) level of service desk support. These are often the engineers that are skilled and considered the experts of the subject. It is not uncommon for this level to try to reproduce the problem to determine if this issue exists beyond just that specific user.
Frequently, users get stuck within these layers of service desk support wasting money, time, and patience for themselves, IT staff, and the organizations that employ the support staff.
IT service desk optimization has been a goal among companies for many years. Optimizing help desks reduces the number of tickets, hastens repairs, saves time and money, and leads to increased productivity. The process of requesting support from IT is a tale as old as time. How can companies take the next step in improving their service desk operations? The key is making use of a rich set of data.
Reduce/Prevent/Resolve with Real User Data
The best way to optimize the service desk process is to have the most privileged view in IT, the endpoint. Commonly, IT staff attempts to solve issues after the time of impact and without any historical record of what actually happened (except the account of the end user, which can vary on the truth). With the ability to track user data from the endpoint, IT can see what was happening on a system at the time of impact as well as the full current state of the system. With the new view of the end user, IT can reduce the amount of tickets, address problems proactively, and, most importantly, speed up the resolution process.
Endpoint insights provide IT with the tools they need to solve an issue at a Tier 1 level instead of pushing it up levels and creating an overflow of tickets. By logging historical data, IT can understand the state of a system at the time of impact as well as its current performance. This valuable information can lead to discovery of the root cause of impact. Through this approach, support teams have access to more actionable information from the start, helping to improve first call resolution.
Continuously monitoring key performance indicators among users within the environment gives IT the power to address issues before they occur. By setting up alarms that trigger when performance deviates from an acceptable level, IT can begin automating problem resolution before a user notices an issue, leading to fewer tickets.
By viewing performance issues at the endpoint, IT can accelerate the resolution process. For example, Tier 1 support can easily identify problems by being able to see the data for a specific user instead of going through the common, generic process of 'How long have you had your laptop?' and ' When did this problem occur?'. Instead, they can easily see where the fault happened, at what time, and with what application. This will reduce redundancy and allow the service desk to identify and resolve the problem faster.
IT service desk optimization is a key component of workspace analytics. Implementing workspace analytics results in increased productivity in the service desk and beyond. When the service desk is optimized, not only are support costs lowered, but end-user issues are resolved faster. This leads to the benefit of increased confidence in support staff, encouraging users to start reporting issues (instead of ignoring them or fixing it poorly themselves), resulting in more problems being resolved. With fewer system issues, end-user experience increases, which IT can track through a quantitative score. Shorter time-to-resolution means that users spend less time with system issues and enjoy better experiences with their technology.
Linda Tsao is an applied engineer at Lakeside.