Help Desk Operations

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Chapter 2. 2. Objectives. In this chapter you will learn:The different types of customer service and support organizationsThe components of a help desk missionThe role and operation of internal help desksThe role and operation of external help desksHow size influences a help desk's operation. C

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Help Desk Operations

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1. Chapter 2 1 Help Desk Operations A Guide to Help Desk Concepts, Second Edition

2. Chapter 2 2 Objectives In this chapter you will learn: The different types of customer service and support organizations The components of a help desk mission The role and operation of internal help desks The role and operation of external help desks How size influences a help deskís operation

3. Chapter 2 3 Objectives The benefits and challenges of centralized and decentralized help desks The benefits and challenges of managing a help desk as a cost center or a profit center The role of outsourcing in the support industry The characteristics of a support center

4. Chapter 2 4 Types of Customer Service and Support Organizations One type of customer service and support organization is a call center, which is a place where telephone calls are made, or received, in high volume An inbound call center receives telephone calls from customers and may answer questions, take orders, respond to billing inquiries, and provide customer support An outbound call center makes telephone calls to customers, primarily for telemarketing

5. Chapter 2 5 Types of Customer Service and Support Organizations Telemarketing is the selling of products and services over the telephone Some call centers are blended call centers, which means that they receive incoming calls and make outgoing calls The term contact center is being used increasingly to refer to a call center that uses technologies such as e-mail and the Web in addition to the telephone to communicate with its customers

6. Chapter 2 6 Types of Customer Service and Support Organizations Help desks are often structured in a series of levels, an approach commonly known as a multi-level support model The help desk refers problems it cannot resolve to the appropriate internal group, external vendor, or subject matter expert A subject matter expert (SME) is a person who has a high level of experience or knowledge about a particular subject

7. Chapter 2 7 Multi-level Support Model

8. Chapter 2 8 Help Desk Mission Without a clearly defined mission that is determined by its customersí needs, a help desk can fall prey to the ďall things to all peopleĒ syndrome A help deskís mission is a written statement that describes the customers the help desk serves, the types of services the help desk provides, and how the help desk delivers those services There are two principal types of help desks: internal help desks and external help desks

9. Chapter 2 9 Help Desk Mission An internal help desk supports internal customers, or the employees who work at its company, whereas an external help desk supports external customers, the people who buy a companyís products and services

10. Chapter 2 10 Internal Help Desks An internal help desk responds to questions, distributes information, and handles problems and service requests for its companyís employees A company can have several types of internal help desks that employees contact for support

11. Chapter 2 11 Internal IT Help Deskís Role Historically, IT departments focused solely on the technology for which they were responsible, such as hardware, software, and networks, and concentrated on ensuring that the systems were ďup and runningĒ IT departments are now being challenged to function as internal vendors An internal vendor is a department or a person within a company that supplies information, products, or services to another department or person within the same company

12. Chapter 2 12 Internal IT Help Deskís Role In an effort to satisfy their customers, most IT help desks strive to resolve 70 percent to 80 percent of reported problems and service requests They also take ownership of all incidents, whether or not they can resolve them Taking ownership of an incident means tracking the incident to ensure that the customer is kept informed about the status of the incident, that the incident is resolved within the expected time frame, and that the customer is satisfied with the final resolution

13. Chapter 2 13 Internal IT Help Deskís Role Training Training involves preparing and delivering programs that provide people the knowledge and skills they need to use technology effectively The help desk may also provide ad-hoc, or informal, and one-on-one training in the course of responding to usersí questions and problems Training might take place in a classroom setting with an instructor, on a one-on-one basis in a userís office, through media such as audio, video, computer-based training, or Internet-based training

14. Chapter 2 14 Internal IT Help Deskís Role Training Computer-based training (CBT) uses computer software packages to train and test people on a wide range of subjects Internet-based training (IBT) uses training systems that people access from any personal computer that has an Internet connection and a browser

15. Chapter 2 15 Internal Help Deskís Role Network and System Administration Network and system administration activities include day-to-day tasks such as setting up and maintaining user accounts, ensuring that the data the company collects is secure, and performing e-mail and database management Other activities include file management, printer and server management, monitoring server and network performance, performance tuning, and capacity and disaster recovery planning

16. Chapter 2 16 Internal Help Deskís Role Asset Management Asset management activities include moving equipment, installing and configuring new systems, and upgrading existing systems These activities are often referred to as moves, adds, and changes (MACs) Most companies prefer to have experienced staff perform these tasks because they can complete them more quickly than an inexperienced user, and they know about and can avoid many of the problems that may occur during the installation process

17. Chapter 2 17 Internal Help Deskís Role Asset Management Some internal help desks operate very informally Others have very formal processes and require users to follow clearly defined procedures to obtain services Some organizations have established Service Level Agreements with their internal clients A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is a written document that spells out the services the help desk will provide to the customer, the customerís responsibilities, and how service performance is measured

18. Chapter 2 18 Internal Help Deskís Role Asset Management Examples of customer responsibilities include: Customers must call the help desk (not someone else in the company) when they have a problem Customers must maintain their systems Customers must attend training

19. Chapter 2 19 Internal Help Deskís Position in the Organization One ongoing challenge that internal help desks face is proving their worth to the company Although computers, tracking systems, and people are expensive, they are investments that help the company avoid lost productivity and lost opportunity, which are also costly but harder to quantify An efficient, effective help desk can help lower those costs by increasing the effectiveness with which employees can use technology

20. Chapter 2 20 Internal Help Deskís Position in the Organization The technologies that internal help desks use to do their work usually reflect the companyís willingness to invest in the help desk The best help desks strive to provide high-quality service within the limits of their funding Instead of rejecting requests that are beyond their capabilities (sometimes called out-of-scope requests), under-funded help desks provide the best possible alternative by directing the customer to another source that can help

21. Chapter 2 21 External Help Desks External help desks support customers who buy their companyís products and services Most hardware and software companies have external help desks to support their customers The services that external help desks provide vary by industry

22. Chapter 2 22 External Help Deskís Role External help desks can provide a variety of services to customers Some external help desks provide pre-sales support, meaning that they answer questions for people who have not yet purchased the companyís products or services and may take orders and respond to billing inquiries Most external help desks provide traditional post-sales support, which involves helping people who have purchased a companyís product or service

23. Chapter 2 23 External Help Deskís Role Post-sales support activities include: Answering questions Helping the customer learn to use the product Explaining the advanced features that the product offers Resolving problems Customer relationship management (CRM) involves using customer contact and relationship information to generate additional sales and increase levels of customer service and retention A CRM initiative involves implementing software products and processes that enable the help desk to collect, maintain, and share information about the companyís customers with other authorized company employees

24. Chapter 2 24 External Help Deskís Position in the Organization In much the same way that an internal help desk shares information with other groups, such as development and network support, an external help desk exchanges information with its companyís sales, marketing, field services, development, and research and development (R&D) departments External help desks have become a major focal point for customer interactions They are responsible for creating a customer memory, a record that includes all the information and transactions relevant to a given customer

25. Chapter 2 25 External Help Deskís Position in the Organization As with internal help desks, the resources available to an external help desk reflect the companyís commitment to customer satisfaction and willingness to invest in the help desk

26. Chapter 2 26 Sizes of Help Desks Help desks range in size from small to large Although it may seem logical for small companies to have small help desks and large companies to have large help desks, that is not always the case The size of a help desk is determined by its mission and the scope of its responsibilities

27. Chapter 2 27 Small Help Desks Small help desks have anywhere from one to 10 people on staff Companies may have small help desks for a number of reasons Some companies have a single-person help desk, although most will grow to have more people in time, if only to provide backup for the primary analyst Efficiently and effectively operating one-person help desks are rare, but they do occur Some large companies prefer to have a number of small help desks, rather than one large help desk

28. Chapter 2 28 Small Help Desks Some smaller companies set up their help desks as a one-stop shop, which means that the help desk is fully responsible for resolving all problems and service requests, even if the solution requires extensive research or even coding changes Small help desks tend to be people-dependent, which means that individual analysts specialize in a particular area, such as a customer community, vendor, product, or suite of products Medium help desks have between 10 and 25 people on staff and can take on the characteristics of both small and large help desks

29. Chapter 2 29 Large Help Desks Large help desks vary in size, depending on whether they are internal or external Large internal help desks have more than 25 people on staff, whereas large external help desks can have as many as several hundred people Large help desks evolved in several ways

30. Chapter 2 30 Large Help Desk Setting

31. Chapter 2 31 Large Help Desks Many grew from small help desks over the years as the company produced more products The challenges that large help desks face are different than those for small help desks Large help desks, particularly those that have evolved over time, may lack the discipline that a larger work force needs Large help desks enable people to work in a team setting and usually offer many opportunities for advancement

32. Chapter 2 32 Help Desk Structures Some companies have a single centralized help desk that supports all of the technologies used by its customers Others have multiple decentralized help desks that support specific products or customer communities

33. Chapter 2 33 Centralized Help Desks A centralized help desk provides customers with a single point of contact for support services Customers appreciate this approach because they do not have to determine whom to call within the company Customers contact the level one help desk, which contacts the level two resources at the remote site only when the level one help desk cannot resolve an incident A trend is to provide on-site analysts with personal digital assistants (PDAs) that can be used to capture information about customer problems and requests when they cannot readily access the companyís call tracking system

34. Chapter 2 34 Centralized Help Desks A personal digital assistant (PDA) is a small mobile hand-held device that provides computing and information storage and retrieval capabilities for personal or business use A centralized help desk receives a wide diversity of calls on any given day Because of this, effective tools and adequate training are key Without them, analysts can find the centralized help desk a frustrating place to work

35. Chapter 2 35 Decentralized Help Desks Some companies establish multiple decentralized help desks in an effort to provide a high level of service to customers with specific needs When help desk services are decentralized, procedures or technology must direct customers to the appropriate help desk, based on their questions or problems A decentralized help desk can provide fast resolutions for incidents because customers receive expert assistance immediately from someone familiar with their needs and who may be on-site as well

36. Chapter 2 36 Decentralized Help Desks Help desks can be decentralized in several ways Some companies establish internal help desks at each of their corporate offices This approach provides customers with on-site assistance but can duplicate the same services from office to office Decentralized help desks face challenges in providing quality support and service They sometimes have difficulty justifying the resources that a centralized help desk can justify

37. Chapter 2 37 Centrally Decentralized Help Desks Some companies, particularly large companies, take a ďcentrally decentralizedĒ approach to delivering help desk services This approach combines a single, central help desk with multiple, specialized help desks The process of determining a customerís need and routing him or her to the appropriate support group is known as triage

38. Chapter 2 38 Help Desks as Cost Centers or Profit Centers Help desk services can cost companies a considerable amount of money Whether internal or external, small or large, centralized or decentralized, help desks need many resources To pay for these expenses, help desks are run either as cost centers or as profit centers

39. Chapter 2 39 Help Desk Expenses

40. Chapter 2 40 Help Desks as Cost Centers Historically, help desks have been cost centers, in which the budget items required to run the help desk are considered a cost (or expense) to the company When a help desk is run as a cost center, managementís main objective is to minimize and eliminate expenses so that profits will be as high as possible Figure 2-8 shows the expanded services being offered by support centers

41. Chapter 2 41 Support Center Model

42. Chapter 2 42 Help Desks as Cost Centers Technology is enabling this further consolidation of support services Another area in which technology is consolidating support services is remote support In the past, the help desk dispatched a field service technician to investigate problems it could not properly diagnose, or required customers to ship their equipment to the help desk, resulting in a delay of hours or even days

43. Chapter 2 43 Help Desks as Cost Centers With remote support technologies, the help desk can take control of networked devices to resolve problems, distribute software, and deliver informal training on the spot Under the support center model, companies can deliver services more efficiently and effectively, increasing customer satisfaction The help desk industry is growing and changing, and clearly, one size does not fit all

44. Chapter 2 44 Summary Although the underlying purpose of the help desk is the same from one organization to the next, the services it offers and its operating characteristics such as type, size, and structure vary, depending on the needs of the company and its customers Call centers, contact centers, help desks, and support centers are all examples of customer service and support organizations Help desks and support centers tend to handle technology-oriented problems and questions

45. Chapter 2 45 Summary Customers can contact call centers using a number of methods, including the telephone, fax, e-mail, or the Web The two principal help desk types are internal and external help desks Within these two categories, some organizations are small and others are large, some are centralized and others are decentralized, some are run as cost centers and others as profit centers Help desk outsourcing is a rapidly growing industry

46. Chapter 2 46 Summary The success and profitability of a service agency is based on the quality of the services the help desk delivers to its customers The consolidation of support services continues to be a primary theme in the support industry The support center model challenges managers throughout the company to move transactions that directly involve customers into the support center Technology is enabling a further consolidation of support services, which is resulting in more efficiently and effectively delivered services

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