Service Desk Outsourcing Merges with In-House IT

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Outsourcing your service desk doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition. In fact, valuable service desk outsourcing partners offer options that are scalable to various periods of performance, monthly incident volumes, and spikes. They should also be willing to pick up where the client’s internal IT departments leave off, enhancing versus overlapping with their current operations. Depending on the client’s needs, the service desk can add value as the Single Point of Contact (SPOC) at Level 1, delve deeper at Remote Level 2, support all contacts 24 x 7 x 365, or handle them solely on an after-hours or overflow basis.

“We’re essentially offloading or unburdening those pieces of IT support that clients don’t want to handle, not because they don’t have that expertise in-house, but because they’d rather reserve their internal workloads for on-site desktop or infrastructure support tasks,” says ABS Director of Operations Hector Gonzalez.

As the Single Point of Contact, the service desk operates almost like an assembly line in terms of efficient distribution of designated tasks with the end product being issue resolution. The service desk agents handle the initial contact, categorizes and documents the issue, troubleshoots it through resolution, only escalating those issues that require an on-site presence or network access that the client’s internal IT groups maintain.

“When you think about it, a Level 2 technician that’s in the middle of a companywide rollout is not going to want to be distracted every time the phone rings in order to clear a hung session in Citrix or unlock an AD account,” continues Gonzalez. “With the service desk filtering out those inbound contacts, interruptions are limited to those more specialized, permission-based problem incidents that are appropriate for that skill level, not to mention more fulfilling challenges from a career perspective.”

Go with the Overflow

In other instances, clients may already have a fully staffed 24 x 7 x 365 helpdesk, but need to leverage a service desk partner to cover the occasional call volume spikes that may overwhelm its dedicated agents. When such a team is shorthanded, the first Service Level Agreement metric to be adversely impacted is the Average Speed of Answer and, as a natural consequence, an increased call abandon rate. So to counteract potentially high ASAs clients typically set up telecom systems to transfer all calls in queue for more than 60 seconds to a designated 800 number in turn fielded by their partner’s service desk agents. If the overflow solution is private labeled for the client, the IVRs, as well as agent greetings, identify the outsourcer as an extension of the internal IT group. So, unless the end user knows each internal helpdesk agent personally, they won’t realize that their call has been transferred off premises.

After Hours Coverage

On the other end of the spectrum, when call volume slows to a trickle after standard business hours, but clients still want support coverage for their geographically dispersed or night owl employees, they can turn to a service desk partner for after-hours coverage only. Typically, the service is delivered via a per incident shared staffing model to keep client IT costs low. So rather than budget for full-time employees to wait for the phone to ring, such clients only pay for what they use when inbound contacts are minimal. Since most service desk organizations already have that full-time staff handling multiple accounts after hours, consolidating that call volume enables them to offer a per incident model and pass along those savings.

Summarizes Gonzalez, “Although the word flexible is often overused in our industry, the truth remains that a genuine IT partner offers every variable that makes sense for their client while maintaining a balance between cost management, harmonious operations, and service quality. If we can merge solutions under a ‘One IT’ banner for all of our clients’ end users, we’ve demonstrated the ROI of outsourcing where it counts.”