MS Lync Features, Benefits, and Support at the Service Desk

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Now that more and more organizations are adopting remote collaboration strategies to accommodate a dispersed employee base, they are requiring their service desk outsourcing vendors to support this popular and emerging technology. MS Lync offers seemingly endless features and benefits including instant communication essential to resolving urgent, business critical issues. It also merges with other forms of communication media for more proactive initiatives. Thankfully, due to Outlook integration, Lync indicates when an end user who emailed a support request can potentially be engaged in a chat session. In addition, such integration allows users to schedule online meetings and indicate their availability to all meeting attendees. Best of all, simultaneous collaborative brainstorming features include a white board in which the meeting organizer can set contributor status of all attendees. Lync also incorporates a poll feature in which participants can specify questions and options allowing selected team members to vote. Feedback is captured in real time and delivered to all participants for consensus building.

At the service desk, Lync users can share screen shots for additional troubleshooting with authorized IT support professionals. Federation capabilities are available as well so end users can collaborate with other companies. If the service desk agent needs to remote into the user’s desktop to perform more advanced troubleshooting he or she can gain access through Lync’s integrated screen share function. Or, if federation with a third party is not authorized, the agent can send the link to another Remote Desktop Management tool such as TeamViewer via the chat window. Lync also includes multi-lingual functionality so chat sessions can be automatically translated into the recipients’ preferred language. For a Global Service Desk supporting end users in numerous countries and in just as many languages, enabling text settings that align with the voice capabilities eliminates media limitations.

While Lync itself has multiple features and benefits, any time a new application is launched, it presents challenges to the service desk, particularly with organizations that don’t integrate with a single sign on the tool. Common end user login issues with Lync are easily resolvable at Level 1. Frequently, a new user’s email address used in their default Outlook profile is different from the sign-in address used in Lync. If for security purposes, the service desk has limited permissions to make Outlook profile updates, service desk agents may simply instruct end users to change their default Outlook profile to match the sign in the address they’re using in Lync. Access should be re-enabled once the user signs out and then signs back into Lync. On the other hand, companywide issues or problem incidents related to access could be attributed to organizations that set up an Office 365 custom domain. Again, depending on permissions to troubleshoot the root cause, the service desk or network admin may need to verify that the client’s Lync server deployment is set up to work with Lync Online and Office 365. If not, the issue is normally escalated to the appropriate Level 3 engineers to make those network related adjustments.

Lync also allows the end user to store their chat transcript or retrieve their archived “conversation history.” For a service desk that records all voice calls for both training and customer service monitoring purposes, having a record of the chat dialogue is equally beneficial; however, should a new resolution procedure be developed through the course of the chat session, the agents can save those steps to a new Knowledge Article. And if the client promotes call avoidance and self-service component to the service desk solution, the agent can send pertinent links for self-help, Knowledge Articles and FAQs for future reference. ABS Director of Operations Hector Gonzalez elaborates. “Whenever you’re integrating new technologies with various internal systems like Outlook and Active Directory, especially in scenarios that haven’t been thoroughly beta tested, the initial impacts to Level 1 can be significant. In such instances, the service desk team is often called upon to develop unique resolution procedures in response to those unforeseen compatibility issues.”

From the point of access, Lync related troubleshooting is typically “how-to” related or becomes the means to an end in resolving other unrelated issues, but it’s frequently the initial launch of the application or new department rollouts that prompt call volume spikes at the service desk. “Because Lync is so intuitively designed in terms of its collaborative tools, the learning curve is minimal,” adds Gonzalez. “So once we’ve addressed access points and configuration issues we usually just let the end users get back to work. After all, that’s when Lync’s ROI is most effective.”