Service Desk Outsourcing Operational Check List

A man in a suit is checking off illustrations of checkboxes in front of him

At the service desk, operational standards are implemented and managed with the focus on delivering both high availability and high-quality service to end users on a 24 x 7 x 365 basis. It’s not just about maintaining the status quo, but looking for opportunities to improve the service, increase the efficiency of the end users, recommend new tools and technology, and ultimately contribute to lowering IT costs. To achieve that, the service desk team lead must constantly monitor the gauges of performance and, like the pilot of a transcontinental jetliner, look for ways to right the ship, change course when necessary, and navigate the route between where the service desk is and where it’s going. But before launching any new service desk outsourcing solution, procedural best practices have to be in place and reviewed with the same level of diligence as a pre-flight checklist. They are as follows:

  • Quality Monitoring: Team leads ensure all agents follow processes, policies, and procedures with regards to calls, tickets, web submits, chats and emails. Since most service desk organizations record their calls, team leads regularly play back those voice contacts in order to evaluate individual agents for customer service skills as well as technical and procedural acumen. Did they empathize with the end user’s issue? Did they ask the right questions to determine root cause? Tickets are reviewed for accuracy and detail in the notes with a particular focus on troubleshooting steps, especially those that might fill gaps in the knowledge base.
  • SLA Monitoring: To make sure they’ve got their finger on the pulse of operational adherence to contractual commitments, team leads keep score of SLAs as displayed in real time on the performance dashboard. Although service levels are established on a monthly basis, they can fluctuate minute to minute due to call volume spikes, client-server outages, etc. It’s up to the team lead to summon additional resources when necessary in order to meet the demand.
  • Customer Satisfaction Surveys: Review customer surveys for feedback regarding the quality of service provided. Follow-up as needed with individual agents and end users as well as the management team. While proactive quality monitoring is the ideal method for maintaining operational excellence, customer satisfaction surveys prompt service desk management’s attention to both high and low ratings in addition to specific comments.
  • Trend Analysis: Review ticket and contact trending for use in forecasting. What are the seasonal peaks? Depending on the industry of the client supported, should staffing levels be adjusted for their peak seasonal periods (i.e. healthcare insurance open enrollments, scheduled proprietary software rollouts, etc.). The service desk must stay ahead of the curve by engaging client IT management in a dialogue about strategic initiatives in conjunction with historical data in order to anticipate the ebb and flow of contact volume and type.
  • Problem Management: Depending on ITSM platform capabilities, service desk agents can create new problem records for identified problems and document workaround steps when available. Team Leads assist in performing root cause analysis with clients in order to prevent future occurrences. They also recommend updates to the IVR system as well as the self-service portal to alert end-users of known problems. Agents know to associate incidents with known problems to ensure proper tracking and metrics for root cause analysis.
  • Agent Key Performance Indicator Review: Monitor KPIs for agent performance and training opportunities. In the same way that SLA metrics gauge the overall performance of the service desk, KPIs rate individual agent performance against help desk outsourcing industry benchmarks as well as the other agents. Productivity measurements include the Average Speed of Answer, Average Handle Time, and satisfaction scores on the aforementioned surveys.
  • Training: Training is part of the service desk’s daily routine as client processes, procedures, and IT environment are in constant flux. Continuous training helps agents hone and retain top-notch skills as well as rapidly adjust to a dynamic environment. While preparation for new technology rollouts is a primary impetus for ongoing training, how it integrates with other applications and impacts functionality should also be anticipated and unique procedural documentation (KBAs) created and disseminated to the agents. In order to maximize coverage, training sessions are best captured in WebEx or GoToMeeting videos so agents can access them outside of their regularly scheduled shifts.

Indeed, the team lead is the focal point for daily operations, SLA adherence and tracking, staff changes, training opportunities, and complaint resolution. But beyond that, a valuable lead serves as a consultative liaison, bridging the gap between daily operational efficiency and the greater strategic vision of the client’s IT organization. While keeping a constant vigil of the service desk checklist is a good place to start, interpreting the proper course of action and affecting that change judiciously is what makes the difference in delivering service desk operational excellence.