Maintaining a fully functioning service desk requires teamwork driven by consistent, candid, and proactive communication. Actionable information must be frequently relayed to staff with the relevant skills and willingness to contribute to the solution. Otherwise, when operational issues are kept on a “need to know” basis, unwelcome repercussions tend to follow over the long term. Agent supervision is the primary component of any service desk solution’s success, but for the organization to thrive crucial information must be disseminated conscientiously and promptly. Like spokes on a wheel, that one-on-one communication must connect to a hub whether that be via weekly meetings, group emails, or a Skype for Business collaborative session. Of course, it’s important to separate the trivial from issues that have major impacts on clients so below is a best of five list of topics worth mentioning at the service desk.
1. Chain of command updates/backfill
First and foremost, it’s important to establish which members of the service desk team are to be in direct communication with client IT management post-implementation. Is there a handoff from sales or does that individual assume an account manager role? Is it absorbed by the CRM? Whatever the role, the level of involvement (cadence and area of responsibility) should be established with the client’s input. Equally important, the service desk should determine who will be the daily operational point of contact when the CRM or Team Lead is absent. Even the backup should have a backup for urgent matters or the client will notice the lack of oversight. Once those secondary and tertiary roles are assigned, it’s up to the CRM or service desk manager to notify the team, preferably in writing so there are no gaps in supervision.
2. Account related news (organizational changes, upcoming rollouts/projects)
Is there a new CIO in town? Depending on the circumstances around the predecessor’s departure, a fair assumption should be that the status quo may undergo a makeover. A diligent service desk will suggest an introductory meeting to evaluate the current strategic plan for IT and prepare to adapt to any potential changes in the scope of services or expectations in delivery. As for upcoming rollouts, the service desk doesn’t always have a seat at the table when client IT organizations evaluate new applications and other technology before adding them to the supported environment. If such changes do arise, even as a brief aside in a monthly operational review meeting, the CRM is well advised to prepare the agents for unique incidents. Ideally, the service desk or client IT should beta test new applications for integration issues and allow the CRM to create new knowledgebase articles and FAQ responses where necessary.
3. Client outages
As the first point of contact on company-wide impacting incidents, Level 1 help desk agents are in the ideal position to alert the client’s infrastructure support team of a server outage or issues at the application level. A standard service desk communication procedure is for the agent or CRM to also notify the rest of the team via group email or chat and update client end users through IVR posts and scrolling alerts on the support portal. That way, the service desk can prevent superfluous contacts related to the known issues pending resolution and minimize associated costs.
4. Additional training opportunities and process remediation
When recurring knowledge gaps reach a critical mass, it’s time to schedule additional training sessions with the agents. Unfortunately, with a 24 x 7 service desk it’s rare that all agents can be off the phones and emails at once so it’s best to record a GoToMeeting or Skype session and capture new support procedures. Q & A from the live agents is much more effective than an instructor-led monologue as the agents have a first-hand perspective at anticipating additional troubleshooting steps that may otherwise remain unspoken. In addition to new technology, additional training may be prompted by changes in workflows and escalation procedures. Often when clients add or reorganize departments or introduce a new platform to their environment, escalation paths for software development issues may need to be rerouted. For unique incidents where documentation has yet to be developed, effective service desk agents flag relevant tickets as knowledgebase article candidates. Assuming they’ve taken detailed and thorough notes of each troubleshooting step that resolved the issue, those steps can be incorporated into a searchable knowledge base and released to the team upon approval.
5. Daily SLA status and staffing levels
While the task of meeting and beating SLAs is more of a marathon than a sprint, service desk teams still need to coordinate staffing levels and remediation efforts every step of the way. Is the service desk understaffed? Are there gaps in agent training affecting resolution rates? Or was it a system related anomaly that momentarily spiked contacts and put the team behind? No matter what the source, the root cause of those very measurable objectives must be relayed to the team in order to collaborate on solutions.