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Throttling the Help Desk Like a Wireless Carrier (AT&T, Verizon, etc.)

03/05/2012 by: The SunView Team

If you have been paying attention to mobile and/or wireless news, you likely read that ATT will be throttling the download speeds for certain customers. At least, it will be doing so for those using more than three or five gigabytes (depending on whether they use 3G/4G speed respectively), and also have unlimited data plans.

Now, AT&T has tried this before, and not fared well. In fact, a lawsuit brought to small claims court by a Simi Valley, CA man ended with damages paid to the consumer, and essentially a settlement that AT&T was not within their right to limit the amount of an unlimited data. That is, directly, throttling data is a limitation of something unlimited.

On the counter side of this argument is AT&T's position that only a very small amount of users - somewhere around five percent - actually fall into an situation where throttling would be necessary. Further, they put forth that this relatively small group of customers/users create disproportionate costs, and moreover strains their networks to such an extent the service to the remaining majority of customers is affected.

Ultimately, this consumer versus corporation battle over airwaves and data will most likely be played out in court. No matter which side of the fence you sit on with this issue, there are some eerily striking similarities to what tends to happen on most Help and Service Desks. Rather, a small population of customers tend to cause a disproportionate amount of work. Taking that a step further, this in effect reduces efficiency and in some cases may bring down the overall quality of service provided. So, the natural question that seems to pop up is, "How can we provide the highest quality service to our customers, while also creating or maintaining value with particular attention to efficiency and servicing all customers equally?"

While in a perfect world, a limitless budget which allowed us to simply add more support personell, would be a better solution - perhaps. However, we don't exist within that paradigm, so we must address, and develop a way to service as many customers as possible while keeping a strict focus on cost and customer service. Essentially, you will need to throttle your Help / Service Desk.

Slowing down certain customers or limiting there interactions isn't as simple as slowing down the throughput the way AT&T will do. For an IT organization, researching and improving processes will be at the heart of any project looking to gain departmental or organizational efficiencies. Of course, automation and the implementation of self-service options will be critical steps as well.

Essentially, if it isn't already a part of your IT organization, a project like this will allow you to begin developing the foundations of a true IT Service Management approach. While that will result in efficiency gains, there will need to be changes to your ITSM tool as well. If you find your current tool presents a major roadblock to this type of change, you should think about taking an objective look at the implementation of a new ITSM Solution. One of the best places to assist with a project like that is our ITSM Solution Guide. Just click the banner below to download the free getting started guide. Once that is in place, you can begin the five step approach to throttling your Help or Service Desk.
1. Analyze Requests, Incidents, and Problems
Even if you are handling these items through an email client like Microsoft Outlook, you should make an assessment of the most common occurrences. If you run into a situation where you predominantly handle unique incidents and problems, don't worry too much. There are always ways to make significant gains with improving the way in which you gather information, as well as what information you gather.

2. Evaluate IT Processes
Process improvement revolves around asking the right questions and taking detailed observations of how, essentially, "work gets done." The first question to ask is "How are tickets submitted to the Help/Service Desk?" Next you will want to follow a ticket or request from origin to resolution. Be sure to note how certain, more common tickets follow a common path. Again, don't worry if they don't. The next step can often reduce incoming and outgoing bandwidth from your Help or Service Desk.

3. Develop Customized Forms
If your first reaction to this step is, we don't use forms, be very happy. The massive improvements you stand to make from the likely tireless back and forth with your customers can be improved exponentially. Even if your customers already submit incidents and requests through an ITSM tool, lack of customization could reduce the gains from this step. Investigate a solution like ChangeGear that offers unparalleled form customization that doesn't require complex knowledge of coding or software development. Changes to forms can and should be done in minutes, not weeks or months.

4. Automate Business Policies
Speaking with customers that implement ChangeGear, we often find that their current solution does not encourage routing of incidents and requests automatically. Even if it does, it's not an easy endeavor. To make matters worse, many organizations tend to dedicate human capital towards simply assigning incoming tickets. Again, don't fret. The automation possibilities and efficiency gains for those of you in this scenario are near endless

5. Rollout Self Service Options
As one of the four essential components of the modern Service Desk and IT Operations organization is the Service Catalog. A Service Catalog, like the one included in ChangeGear ITSM suite provides a modern Web 2.0 interface where all available IT services can be published, and even organized to a level that will only display those services available to a specific user. Further, a robust set of communication tools will allow you to reach your customers with relevant information like announcements, documents, or a knowledge base. Now, don't be discouraged if your first step isn't a Service Catalog though. Posting available services and the information required to request them is a great first step.

 50 Questions for Building ITSM Requirements
Image: Flickr | Jinx!