This entry is written as part of "The End User Advocate" blog series, an informal examination of IT processes and the people who interact with them.
When your end users have a problem, they don't want to spend hours on the phone trying to resolve it. Attention spans are going increasingly short and users want to interact with organizations in the ways they're most comfortable. The challenge for IT is streamlining the complex process of diagnosing problems through a variety of channels to both improve efficiency while at the same time, improving the user experience.
Here are 10 ways you can improve your service desk experience:
1. Create a Self-Service Portal
Users may be able to avoid calling the service desk altogether by maintaining a robust portal with knowledge base articles, FAQ's, user support forms, etc. This will gives users the opportunity to resolve their issue without human intervention. If that's not possible, it can at least help rule out potential problems but walking users through various trouble shooting steps.
2. Clearly Communicate BYOD Policies
We live in a world of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Try prying a millennial's cell phone out of their hand and you'll soon realize how fruitless it would be to restrict access. That said, user devices bring a unique set of challenges to an IT organization. Software updates, new devices, apps, and security all play into how end users experience their company and their personal communications. A clear communication of what's allowed and what's not, when new devices are supported and what security needs to be enabled all help users from being stymied from getting the access they need.
3. Document What You Learn
It's easy for service desk staff to spent countless hours solving the same problem that others may have solved earlier. Make sure there's a system in place to document and index the solution for east reference. Quickly create a knowledge base article or FAQ so users can resolve the issue on their own.
4. Understand Your Users
Have you ever tried to beat a teenager at a video game? Seen your grandparents struggle to set the time on a digital clock? Or sat in frustration as the person ahead of you in line seems unable to decipher has to use a drive-up ATM? Technology baffles some but not others. If you treat all users as if they're are naive to the world of technology then you're bound to create a bad end user experience. Instead, take notes and listen intently. People quickly give you clues as to their knowledge and skill level. Nothing's more frustrating that someone talking above or below your knowledge level.
5. Be Upfront
How many calls could be avoided if you simply posted important information about system problems or outages in a place where users could easy find it?
6. Be Honest
"We are experiencing higher than normal call volume." This maybe true of your the Butterball Hot Line on Thanksgiving but most of the time the message really should say "We are experiencing lower than needed staffing levels." Of course you'd never actually admit that but don't create a phony reason for poor service levels. Give people a realistic time estimate and make sure you're giving the same level of attention to all your inbound channels.
7. Be Patient
Service desk employees are trained to "troubleshoot," which means they can't assume anything. Listen to what a user has done, what they've experienced and understand the issues. "Fixing" the wrong problem only compounds the frustration of your end users. Take the extra time to make sure you're solving their issue, not just rebooting the machine and hoping the problems disappears.
8. Document the Interaction
Notes can be extremely valuable to subsequent staff members who must do additional work to resolve an incident. Data fields should capture the main elements of the issue but the notes on your interactions or other steps taken to resolve the issue can prevent cost delays and frustrations to the users.
If an issue is complicated enough that you need to follow up later, discuss what days/times would be best. Modern service desk solutions will include regular email notifications to keep users informed on the status of an incident but how about a text message for those critical issues?
10. Conduct a Post-Incident Survey
Most service desks value customer feedback and use the results to enhance future experiences. Don't force these by pushing people too aggressively for feedback, especially when they're frustrated. But a day or two after the event, a survey may yield some valuable tips that can improve interactions going forward.