Global Help Desk challenge

I received the following question over the weekend and thought the question, , , and my response might be helpful. Here goes:

The challenge from one of my newsletter subscribers
“I am in a dilemma over the Global Help Desk servicing our users.  My company is based in Singapore, but the Global Help Desk resides in the UK. The Global Help Desk is supposed to handle first level calls, and if they cannot help over the phone, the request is then dispatched to my small team of engineers (x 3) based in Singapore. My team is supposed to handle only 2nd or 3rd level requests. However, since we do sit among the users in an open concept office, the users tend to go directly to my team for support instead of following the Global Help Desk support framework.

I have to admit that the Global Help Desk analysts are not exactly up to mark, despite several work improvement plans with their supervisors to improve the situation. Also, it seems to be a cultural thing in Asia, whereby people prefer face to face support versus calling some 10,000 miles away. I explored many areas to improve the issue; for example conducting a workshop to educate the users, putting up posters, even moving to an enclosed room…however the situation still remains the same.

I do not want a conflict between users and my team just because we have to adopt a Global Help Desk framework which just doesn’t work. Users (even senior management) are starting to lose confidence with the overall level of IT support and service in our organization.

What is your advice?”

My response
“This is a good situation to look at because it happens quite a lot, even when users are in the same building as their Help Desk. A distance of 10,000 miles would certainly make your users feel like they are required to contact someone in a “foreign” country, , , even if they are from the same company. The fact remains that people from different countries have different cultures and speak very differently.

Here are my thoughts:

First, you don’t want to create artificial structure or process in supporting your client. What you want is to create an environment where you are providing great support and your clients appreciate what you are doing. More on this in a minute.

Second, clients are like “water”. Water as we all know seeks its own level and flows to the lowest possible point on the ground. Clients are similar in that they seek the easiest and what they see as the best and fastest means of resolving their problem. What this should say to you is that your local clients don’t feel they get the best support when having to go through the Help Desk some 10,000 miles away.

What I would do is analyze the situation from your client’s perspective, , , not from an IT perspective. The client is sending a message that they do not receive extra value when reporting their issue to the Help Desk. What they probably feel is that IT is simply imposing a set of rules on them that makes no real sense, , , “where is the value in calling in a problem to a group we do not know and who rarely takes care of the issue 10,000 miles away”?

You might consider running a research project for 30 days, , , or even just 2 weeks will do. Train your staff to take the call from the client and take care of the problem like they are doing already.  Part of taking care of the issue is to be sure they log any of the calls that came to them directly from a user into the Help Desk issues log. At the end of the month, analyze a few things:

  1. How many calls went to your staff directly versus went into the Help Desk?
  2. What percentage of all calls that went through the Help Desk were handled by the Help Desk?
  3. Analyze the type of calls that come in to determine if the Help Desk should be able to answer more of the calls? Maybe, staff on the Help Desk need to be trained to be able to handle more issues immediately. One way to get users to call into the Help Desk is to  be able to handle their issue quicker.
  4. Can you determine whether the User is getting their problem resolved faster when they go directly to someone locally versus calling in the problem to the Help Desk?

Another way to address the issue is to have a point person on your local staff to field all calls and to be sure the Help Desk is updated. After all, good Help Desk information is a vital source of information to help you know where you need to focus to eliminate calls and to improve support.

At the end of the day, you want to be able to deliver support as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Users typically do not want to change unless there is something in it for them, , , so ask yourself, “How do we provide users more value so they call the Help Desk rather than grabbing one of your technicians?”

This means several things:

  • Being able to respond and resolve the issue as much as possible with Tier-1 support when taking the initial call
  • Being able to get to the problem in Tier 2 and higher as quickly as possible
  • Being knowledgeable and able to resolve the issue effectively
  • Maintaining call and response data so you can focus on eliminating certain types of calls by preventing the problem
  • Being able to track support call status effectively

To me, I don’t care so much about how we take care of the client as long as we are doing so and doing it cost effectively. If one of your local support people acts as a local Help Desk “point person” so you can be more effective for your client, that would probably be a good thing as long as you continue to insure you get the call data into the Help Desk database. This information is very valuable to help you understand where your support resources are spending their time and what kind of issues are taking place with your users.

Ultimately, users aren’t going to change without a challenge unless they can truly see there is more value in calling the Help Desk first. If users start getting faster and more reliable support from IT as a result, , , and hopefully you can show them the data that supports it, they will reinforce within their groups that calling the Help Desk is the way to go.

I hope this is helpful.”

Got a helpful hint of your own? Post a comment and share your experiences.

One response to “Global Help Desk challenge

  1. Hi,
    I have a idea of this. because I have the same situation.
    the normal process are someting like this:
    we have a helpdesk database/system, and our tier-1 log all the issue that report by end users. and if the tier-1 can solve the issue, then the issue is logged and closed in tier-1; if the tier-1 cannot solve the issue, then normally it go to tier-2, if not, go to tier-3. this is base on IT think.

    Base on End-user thinking, when they report an issue to helpdesk, they have to wait, even for 20 minutes, the end-user will feel the time too long to wait whatever you have a SLA with them. The end-user is waiting without the quick feedback/call back on their issue from helpdesk. so they prefer to go directly to IT office or call someone directly to fix their problem even it maybe take long time than 20minutes. that is the feeling differece.
    The IT helpdesk maybe provide a link for users to track their issue status, but I know the end user will not get used to open that link to see the status even it is a very quick click.

    So my idea is do in this way,
    We can develop a small “progress bar” or just put it in the IE/outlook title bar to scroll display the information like below:
    “From helpdesk information, currently the ticket No. 121, No. 122 is handling, and your ticket no. is No. 130, there are 8 tickets in front of you. if you want to more information, please track and click : for the detail status.”

    It is information that can directly show on the title bar, even on desktop top, so the end user can see it directly without go deep into the page.

    I am sure there will still some users will still call directly to tier-2 or tier-3 for support, but I am sure many users will wait the helpdesk to solve or call back.

    additional information,

    like we can draw a lottery per month for a ticket number if the user report and log in helpdesk database himself, that he can win a mouse for the gift. then the user will prefer to log the information by himself in helpdeskdatabase. it is the way for motivate user.

    what do you think my idea is helpful?:)

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