A core goal of any service desk outsourcing solution is to maximize First Contact Resolution (FCR). Service Level Agreements are established to hold the vendor accountable for hitting those numbers and getting end users fully operational ASAP. To achieve those target metrics, Level 1 service desk agents must be fully trained on the client’s IT environment and unique processes. In addition, agents must have access to the necessary systems to perform their troubleshooting tasks. To support FCR, operational review meetings are conducted regularly to identify gaps in access, training, or documentation and bring more incident categories into the realm of the remotely resolvable. That being said, there are a number of contact types that remain outside of the Level 1 agent’s control to resolve and must be escalated to another group. They often require the following:
• An on-site presence for issues such as a hardware/break-fix
• Access or privileges not granted to the service desk
• Client network outage resolution (internal infrastructure services)
• Approvals from procurement/purchasing (new device or software request, parts, peripherals)
• Approvals from HR (onboarding, terminations, add/remove access)
• Third party vendor involvement for warranty support
Whose Ticket is It Anyway?
In such instances, it is imperative that service desk agent clearly communicate the situation with the end user before escalating their issue to another group. This means identifying the group or team member responsible and offering a resolution ETA whenever possible. A service desk that doesn’t set those expectations is setting themselves up for negative feedback. Simply forwarding a call or a ticket without clearly stating that transfer of ownership only leads to confusion about which group will provide follow up. Skipping this crucial step, especially when the ticket cannot be resolved and closed within a reasonable time frame can lead to complaints. Due to this failure to establish ownership, such complaints are often directed at the service desk even though another group may be holding up the resolution. If a warm transfer of the call and introduction prior to escalation is not possible, another best practice is to include ticket assignment workflow on the ticket and email or call the user with the info. The handoff should be as apparent as the passing of a baton in a relay race.
Is TCO the Way To Go?
With Total Contact Ownership (TCO), there is no ambiguity regarding who to contact for support of your ongoing issue. Simply stated, the service desk agent who fields your initial inbound support request is the sole owner of the issue through its resolution. Even if the agent needs to escalate an issue to another group or otherwise cannot resolve it on first contact, his or her name will always be associated with the issue as its documented owner in the ticketing system. As a result, the agent truly does have a stake in its resolution. While it’s extremely beneficial for end users to have that single point of contact for their issue, the main caveat with a TCO model is the higher number of contacts generated solely at the service desk often come with a higher price tag.
Regardless of who is communicating with the end user, time is money for all involved in the dialogue from first contact to ticket closure and everything in between. Short of executing the appropriate resolution procedures or working towards that end, the next most efficient use of that time is spent relaying clear, concise status updates to end users on open tickets including pending items and current ownership. Eliminating end user guesswork will ultimately save them on follow up time and prevent unnecessary interactions with other resources including the client’s own IT management who may be pulled in to field a complaint or any team handling the status inquiry that should have been proactively related. A service desk that relays pertinent information at each step in the troubleshooting process not only has a positive impact on the operational bottom line but will also manage to retain happy clients. Talk may be cheap, but silence can cost a fortune.