Service Desk Outsourcing: Scope Expansion and Agent Retraining

A man smiling and wearing a headset

Training time for the primary service desk agents assigned to a new client is critical to the success of its implementation. It allows these IT professionals to become familiar with the technical environment and to document procedures necessary to resolve issues. In fact, the more in-depth the implementation process, the more efficient the agents will be in terms of quantifiable metrics such as resolution rate and average handle time not to mention higher customer satisfaction scores as a direct consequence of this greater proficiency. Ideally, training sessions will prepare the agents for every conceivable issue unique to the client’s IT environment and processes, but the reality is once the service goes live, any agent with significant industry experience has learned to expect the unexpected.

Often the relief of handing off an overburdened call queue to a new service desk outsourcing partner gives way to potential new support requests that may not have been officially handed off yet. Or the callers themselves may select the wrong prompt in the IVR. Whatever the case, to their credit, Level 1 support agents never like to say no to the end users relying on them for support; however, if they don’t yet have the appropriate access, procedural documentation, or training to resolve a new issue not covered in the initial discovery and implementation process the best they can do is triage, document, and escalate the support request.

Admittedly, no one likes to hear an apology in place of a resolution or simply have their issue logged and routed to the next person who may need to delve deeper with additional questions to locate the root cause. In fact, a help desk outsourcing model that only triages end-user issues does a disservice to those callers expecting their issue to be resolved the first time. In such instances, touch point meetings with the client’s IT management should be scheduled frequently to determine what additional documentation should be developed and what additional agent retraining sessions are required. Of course, the post-launch dialogue should remain a two-way street with feedback coming from the client’s IT management regarding incident review and remediation. But if agents are scrambling to develop impromptu Knowledgebase Articles to address the Level 1 impacts of an unanticipated upgrade or rollout, it’s time for a formalized refresher course. While there are no standard operating procedures for a myriad of unique technical issues, below are the three most common themes that arise after service implementation.

  • Application access for agents: Most often, the first post-launch issue that must be corrected is related to agent access limitations. Whether it’s a scheduling tool needed to coordinate an end user upgrade or additional functionality that must be authorized for an application, resolution only increases when those support parameters are expanded. From there it becomes a question of disseminating the appropriate documentation, live training, or tutorial videos to al agents assigned to that account.
  • New software rollout: Thankfully, client management, infrastructure teams, and other key personnel keep the service desk abreast of any impending technology changes so they can be prepared for call volume spikes. If the service desk is performing the remote software installs, what are the procedures? How does it work? What are the most common issues (i.e. fatal errors) and what are the resolution procedures? If access to resolution or approval process is restricted to the client’s internal IT department, what information should be gathered to minimize additional troubleshooting?
  • Remote desktop access tools: According to ABS Team Lead Eric Wiechert (pictured above), “Not being able to remotely connect to the end user’s desktop with a tool such as TeamViewer eliminates an agent’s visual cues for identifying the root cause and consequently presents unnecessary challenges to determining the appropriate resolution steps. While users describe the issue in their own way, in their own terminology, it might not necessarily be how that particular agent might describe the issue if they viewed it firsthand. Could the resolution be as simple as clicking ‘ok’ or just recreating a shortcut link?” Given a choice between a verbal problem description and a quick scan of the end user’s screen, the eyes invariably have it.

Addressing these common issues with client management during weekly operational or touch point meetings is the next step in righting the ship in the direction of increased resolution rates, starting with more in-depth troubleshooting offered by the service desk. If the proper Knowledgebase Articles or procedural documents including screenshots are not available, the team lead typically develops those with the client’s instruction and relays the new information during the additional training session conducted either remotely or on site. Although training is an ongoing discipline for agents supporting any account, addressing corrective measures on those most commonly escalated incidents early on will ensure customer satisfaction and end-user productivity while maximizing the ROI of a true service desk outsourcing solution.