Quality Assurance and Remote Service Desk Monitoring Tools

A help desk agent sitting in front of his laptop and wearing a headset

For service desk outsourcing organizations that follow the sun, have staff working in different time zones or logging in after-hours, expecting all personnel to report to a traditional office location is not always a practical solution. As a result, most engage both virtual service desk agents as well as those who are physically located at the call center. That being said, it inevitably prompts the question, “How do you monitor remote agents to make sure their performance is as good as those working on site?” Quite simply, there are various technical tools that can be leveraged by the watchful eyes and ears of management to ensure quality service is consistently being delivered. Below are some service desk tools of the trade that not only keep telecommuting IT staff honest but enable them to thrive.

The Set Up

Obviously, working from home is an appealing option for most service desk agents which promotes employee retention and increased experience, but the privilege itself is not without its conditions. Starting with the workspace, it must be a separate, enclosed office entirely free of distractions and noise. The virtual agent is equipped with all the necessary hardware (laptops, dual monitors, headsets) and software to support clients from anywhere at any time.  Access to the service desk ticketing and VoIP phone systems is essential via high-speed internet allows them the same proficiency and access provided in our call center.  Home-based agents connect over a secure VPN connection that, at the same time, restricts individual access to client end-points for support. Should clients require integration with specialized tools for access, a dedicated VPN connection at the organization level is recommended. Whether agents work from home offices, client sites, or the call center, the same stringent requirements must be met.

ACD extras

Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) systems offer a single point of contact via multimedia such as VoIP/phone, email, video, web form, and chat. While most IT staff understand the primary function of the ACD is to route such media to the service desk via telephony integration, the supervisory monitoring capabilities inherent in the technology often go overlooked. It’s also through the ACD that all service desk voice calls and simultaneous agent screen activity are digitally recorded. So they can be retrieved and reviewed by client management upon request, enabling them not only to hear what was said, but see how the agent navigated through the troubleshooting process on their screen.

Supervisory Interaction

From a more proactive standpoint, service desk team leads review a percentage of calls weekly for each agent while completing scorecards that rate their performance in terms of customer service quality. They also have the ability to listen in on live calls and provide coaching if necessary. Being integrated with all communications media, the team leads as well as other agents can provide additional troubleshooting tips either via group chat, email, or even brief video sessions using tools like Skype for Business.

Log in records and KPIs

The service desk can also remotely monitor when agents log in to work and track employee productivity on the job using several automated and time stamped support industry measurements such as first call resolution, the average speed of answer, average talk time, utilization rates, and customer satisfaction scores. Otherwise known as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), these benchmarks are established for each service desk agent and are referenced on an ongoing basis to measure efficiency, productivity, effectiveness, and client satisfaction ratings.

Live and recorded training videos

The best form of quality assurance is keeping agents current on the latest technology and procedural updates that are being introduced to the supported client’s environment. Understandably for 24 x 7 coverage reasons, they can’t all attend the live WebEx or GoToMeeting session at the same time. So taking advantage of the built-in recording feature and file sharing the captured videos is a pragmatic approach to rolling out educational materials at the service desk. For remote agents, it is ideal. And since most help desk outsourcing companies consider learning new technology standard operating procedures, they normally absorb those costs versus recycling the implementation process. After all, ramping up knowledge that increases resolution rates and abbreviates average handle times is in their best interest.

Using a multi-faceted approach of remote monitoring tools, training, and individual performance metrics all under the constant supervision and guidance of IT management staff, home-based agents will remain part of the service quality equation. And since most end-user satisfaction surveys are typically submitted via email, positive results may be remotely delivered, but not so remote in the realm of possibility.