What sort of imagery do the words “white glove treatment” conjure? Is it a concierge at a 5-star hotel that welcomes you by name as you enter the lobby and leaves a complimentary bottle of champagne in your room? Is it a team of uniformed movers who deliver and reassemble your four-poster bed right where you want it and all without a scratch? Or is your interpretation more literal, meaning a cleaning crew has left your premises so spotless that running a white glove along the top of your furnishings gathers not a speck of dust?

Whatever the imagery, whatever the industry, the term applies to meticulous attention to detail and is all done with an emphasis on impeccable customer service quality. In the IT support industry, there are many parallels, but below are what managed service desk customers generally consider key elements of the white-glove treatment.

White-Glove Treatment for users

Rapid ASA, High Resolution

No matter who the client is or how high up the chain of command the end-user may be, service desk agents must always have a sense of urgency and awareness of the consequences of a delayed resolution. Obviously, a thorough technical grasp of the client’s IT environment is crucial to resolution, but understanding the companywide impacts of service interruption as well as the personal impact on the individual user should provoke heightened empathy and be prioritized accordingly.

In order to achieve rapid  Average Speed to Answer (ASA), the service desk must be fully staffed 24 x 7 and be prepared for seasonal peaks and short-term spikes in contact volumes. To accommodate a full staff from a solution development standpoint, the service desk vendor typically proposes accessing the shared team for such busy periods. If the solution is strictly a dedicated model, a finite number of dedicated agents will not favor rapid ASA unless staffing levels are set so high that they are no longer cost-effective.

A fully managed Service Desk becomes a more valid proposition when the vendor not only proposes the right solution for the target ASA but takes on the responsibility of having the right number of agents available at the right time.

Depth of familiarity with people, processes, and environment

Following personalized scripts prompted by an Automated Call Distributer (ACD) that identifies the name of the inbound contact is a good start, but developing and maintaining that interpersonal familiarity goes beyond that, injecting an element of humanity into that procedural automation. Understanding the role of end-users in the context of their department and the industry in which they operate sheds deeper insight into their duties and goals, communication style, and ultimately their support expectations or how they want their issue handled.

All contact data may be stored indefinitely and referenced for any repeat customer, but when past interaction is summoned from the agent’s own memory bank, customer service quality is of exponentially greater value. Do they want play-by-play or small talk from the agent while they troubleshoot? Do they prefer to stick to the business at hand or be hands-off and let the agent remotely accesses their desktop until the problem is fixed?

Total Contact Ownership

Does the issue require escalation, additional access, or an on-site presence? If so, agents must be prepared to follow up with the end-user should the Level 2 or Level 3 teams be unable to do so. Do you just need them to track the status of a new device request?

No matter how comparatively minor the issue is, in a Total Contact Ownership (TCO) model, the agent remains the single point of contact from the moment the incident or service request is logged until it is resolved. This also entails making outbound calls even when the end-user cuts the resolution short with a higher priority. TCO involves providing status updates on open tickets or scheduling a call back when more complex remote troubleshooting procedures take up too much of the user’s time. In such instances, the agent resumes this process when the end-user has more time or wishes to step away for lunch while these tasks are performed.

Proactive management, continual service improvement, thought leadership

White glove service isn’t only about the little things. Service desk team leads, managers, and directors of operations provide big-picture input by evaluating emerging technology, making strategic recommendations, and developing proactive solutions for introduction into their environment.

In the meantime, as agents continue to support current technology, the service desk analyzes ticket data while seeking opportunities for incident management process improvements as they arise, not simply during scheduled operational reviews.

Deliver high customer satisfaction

While the metric itself is more an effect than the cause of how well the service desk is delivering on white-glove treatment, the focus on customer service all stems from that first impression. White glove-oriented service desk agents approach each contact with a consistent level of personality, energy, and professional presence and convey equal parts empathy, technical acumen, and the aforementioned familiarity in their communication style. If this concept is ingrained in the soft skills training process, it will manifest in the desired results.

So whether you call it “high touch,” “VIP” or “rock star” treatment, the overall methodology transcends the synonyms and the industry to which it is applied. For service desk outsourcing vendors, friendly, quality support delivered by detail-oriented professionals means both the incident and the end-user will be handled with the same level of care. If this approach remains consistent, the service provider can anticipate a high retention of appreciative customers as well as happy employees.

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