This article is meant to give more attention to what I didn’t think was a big issue around the IT world: how to get the best our of your Global Service Desk team! I saw a question on LinkedIn where somebody was going to implement a Global Service Desk team and wanted some suggestions and also shared his fear about the possibility of Service Desk representatives leaving tickets in the global queue because “somebody else” will pick them up.
I was the first to answer the question, then over 120 other people did, so I started reading and reading as I was really curious what others thought. Many agreed with me, many gave extra arguments and some where bad comments such as “Don’t centralize it then!“. The problem is not only the fact that they were suggesting not to proceed with what I think it’s an improvement, but these comments were missing the reasons why they shouldn’t have done that. Note also that centralising a team doesn’t mean you have to have them in the same office! They can even be in different Countries.
So this article wants to try to grab all of the comments I found and put them together even though the main steps that somebody must follow to achieve this are pretty much two:
- Get a Ticketing system in place, possibly a high-customizable one that will allow you to create Categories and Reports.
- Get one or more Team Leaders/Managers depending on how big the team is.
There are many variables in play, so nobody will be able to describe a combination of scenarios that match your enviornment from an article like this one, but I can try to give a high level of ideas that will help you. One of the things I don’t know for instance is how many other teams you have (i.e. second level support, 3rd level Unix support, 3rd level Infrastructure support, Windows and so on). Let’s just say there’s one or more teams you’re able to escalate tickets to.
So how can we improve the whole process? I put together these core points:
- Training. This is super-important. If you can train your Global Service Desk representatives to most of the applications used by your company, he or she will be able approach any kind of issue and start performing a great first level troubleshoting, if not even second level. You will receive better feedbacks from the teams above that won’t need to waste time by dropping tickets back in your queue for missing info/1st level troubleshooting! Remember that somebody with more experience and knowledge will be able to pick any sort of ticket up reducing cherry picking!.
- Company training can be achieved by asking help from the “Subject Matter Experts” (SME) of a certain area or application and have them to perform the training. You don’t need to have somebody in the Service Desk team (but it’d be good to have SMEs withing the SD team, see below point about this). You can actually grab somebody from the 2nd or 3rd level teams to do the training. They’ll be able to go also into deeper details. The people joining the training will feel guided and at the same time the person performing the training might feel rewarded of the fact that he was chosen to perform the training (not everybody likes it of course 🙂 ). It doesn’t have to be hours and hours in a single day, you can have an hour per week at the beginning and every now and then when new technologies are implemented.
- Personal training. This is more meant for the personal growth of the employee. Nobody wants to be in Service Desk forever and paying for any sort of Certification will help the employer and the employee as you will gain in a more knowledged representative. Also the employee would feel rewarded of the fact that a company is actually investing money for his or her career.
- Knowledge Base Center. Keep a KB site and fill it with all procedures, work instructions and documents for the Service Desk. They’re utilised a lot as you cannot expect them to know everything. The KB Center should be the first tentative (the second one is Google 🙂 ) to search for a specific solution to an issue or work instruction. You can build that the way you prefer like with SharePoint or any online KB solution or even with just WordPress and a webserver inhouse. Whatever you prefer, just have one! Note, it would be great if you can get a KB Center that is accessible (partially) by the end users too. You will speed up the work and ticket closures by just providing links to standard request that can be resolved by the end user. Also, with a KB in place, you can make sure you state all of the cases you need to escalate a ticket to X team and when to Y. Finally, you would want the Service Desk team to collaboarate to the KB site, so whenever there’s something new such a known issue with its resolution, have the one who discovered to write a work instruction and upload it to the site!
- Reporting. Using a reporting tool within the ticketing system will help you in so many ways, such as:
- Keep an overview of the Service Desk queue at all times.
- Help you respecting any Service Level Agreement (SLA) you may have in place.
- Track representatives’ statistics such as number of tickets closed last week or the daily tickets closure average and so on. It’ll also help you understanding if there’s a person cherry picking tickets or another one preferring a certain category over the other.
- Hire a Team Leader/Manager. Depending on how big the infrastructure is, you may want to add at least one Team Leader (that can also work on tickets if it’s a small environment) that will be responsible to make sure the SLA is respected and all tickets are assigned. Normally you would let the representatives go in and assign whatever they see available but in case they fail to do so, then the Team Leader can always get in and manually assign them. Giving the freedom of self-assignment will increase the chances of people assigning easy tickets as they come in, hence why the above point (Reporting) is important. It would be best to start hiring somebody with (possibly) a lot of experience. He or she will bring a bag full of knowledge that can help you build the team. If you have a limited budget or just want to promote one of your Global Service Desk representatives to Team Leader, you will have to make sure this person will be able to be responsible to guide the other Service Desk representatives as well as following any rule you will have in place (for instance, respecting the SLA).
- Create multiple Smart Matter Experts within the Service Desk team. This will avoid escalation for simple issues and will improve the quality of the support. It’ll also allow you to share the knowledge within the team as person A will go to SME B for problem X.
- Create Auto-Assigning rules for tickets in specific categories. It is possible that you might want, for instance, a failed backup alert to go straight to the second level support team rather than spend Service Desk’s time to manually assign the ticket. That’ll also reduce the time for such ticket to be in the right queue.
- Please pay attention with the rules! You might have users not caring on what category they choose and they might get escalated automatically wasting more time than before. Make sure you train the users on utilising the ticketing system correctly, explaining them that their mistake might result in delayes.
- Implement a Service Level Agreement (SLA). This has to be done with attention to the details and reporting is the key to this point. You must read out the reports in details before complaining to somebody who closed fewer tickets than averange (or praise somebody who closed the most). I worked with people that closed loads of tickets because they weren’t paying attention to the details and a new ticket would have been raised a few weeks later and I worked with people that were very careful and deliver a 100% score on their tickets in exchange of time. Obviously if the average closure is 100 tickets per month and somebody closes 10, there’s a problem. But there’s an issue with who closes 250.
- Implement weekly or monthly meetings. They can last for an hour or so and they’re best placed at around 9AM EST so that both the US and EU can be online as well as other Countries (you won’t be able to make everybody happy, in which case is best to split the meetings for other Regions). You could track down in a sheet or online (Asana for instance) all of the projects the Global Service Desk team has worked on. Most importantly, your employees will be able to raise concerns or problems/tickets they’re unable to fix for which they require some help. You may also use these meetings to host training sessions from time to time.
- Use the company language as ticketing language. If you work for an internation company, it’ll probably be English, if so, have the end users to submit the requests in English. I noticed that in a few Countries that is not always possible, in that case you must have a multilanguage speaking team which means the tickets will have an extra category, their language. I’m not a fan of that though.
- Teach the users to utilise the ticketing system for every single request. This is very important if your company hasn’t had any ticketing system at all. The end users will still come straight to you via email, phone, Lync and in person. And all of this won’t be tracked unless the SD representative goes and creates a ticket for himself. I think there are reasonable exceptions (such as when you’re helping your CEO) but 99.9% of the users must use the ticketing system. It’s great for both parties. They’ll be able to track and escalate a ticket to the SD Manager in case of no response/issues with the help received so far and at the same time the Service Desk team can show the work being done, can include the request in the Reports and it’s easier to be re-assigned should a user be out of the office.
Here are a few ticketing systems that were mentioned in the comments:
- Spiceworks Help Desk
- Service Now
I did work with iSupport and the reporting, auto-assigning etc is very customizable.