Posted: Fri Jul 29, 2005 8:17 pm Post subject: Support teams contacting users
I'm currently in charge of rolling out a new Incident Management process within my company. The problem being is that I want the Second and third line support teams to once contact the customers when they first respond to thier incidents and once when they are resolved.
I'm getting negative feedback saying that this goes against ITIL. However I still want the Service Desk to update users throughout the lifecycle of the incident.
Joined: Mar 12, 2005 Posts: 255 Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posted: Sun Jul 31, 2005 12:31 am Post subject:
2 key objectives for the ITIL Service Desk are to gaurantee access to the IT organisation by the end-user / customer, and to provide a single point of contact for that access.
Note that the Incident Management process 'inherits' these objectives by virtue of the fact that the Service Desk is the start point for Incident resolution.
In fact some KPIs for Service Desk and Incident Management overlap - for example an increase in the % of Incidents resolved during initial contact with the Desk.
Of course the Service Desk can't cover everything in the Incident Managment process - incidents will need to be transfered to Level 2 and greater support staff. Also System Incidents - those raised internally, frequently automatically, may be dealt with directly by technical staff resonsible for the system in error, and Service Desk staff only informed of the Incident's existence and progress. It is their role in these cases, however, to assess business impact, and make necessary notifications to the community, or contact specifically affected areas or individuals.
Obviously, there will be times when Level 2 staff, in the course of their investigations may need to talk directly to customers or users. And I don't think this is 'un-ITIL' - whatever that would be.
The key point is to ensure that you are not splitting responsibilities arbitrarily and allowing multiple paths for the same process - and inadvertantly setting up a situation where things don't get done (or done well) because there is confusion about who is suppposed to do it and when.
Incident Reports will progress through predefined 'states' usually indicated by a dedicated status field - with values along the lines of 'Open', ' Assigned', 'In Progress', 'Pending', 'Resolved', 'Closed'. (It often depends on the tool - some have 'states' like 'Waiting' and 'Abandoned').
It tis the Service Desk's responsibility for monitoring these states and coordinating with the user where the Incident they reported is.
It is probably not a good idea to hand this basic customer liaison activity over to other staff. Having to report status back through the Desk keeps everyone working together, keeps the Desk informed (absolutely critical) and certainly increases customer satisfaction.
Level 2 staff should be able to talk to the user / customer to seek further information, to confirm a site visit where necessary, or other interactions specifically needed for them to play their part.
But account for the customer satisfaction 'risks' in going outside this role-specific communication - for example:
* The risk the customer will be asked to repeat the 'story' to Level 2 staff who don't carefully read the report.
* The risk that your more technically focused staff won't have the people skills to handle end users well.
* The risk that important facts will not be recorded and so shared between the different parties involved.
* The risk that end users having once dealt directly with technical staff will be more likely to try and circumvent the desk to talk to that 'nice young man who was so helpful last time'
And so on.
So, yes Level 2 will need to interact with end users during Incident Management - but stay focused on the objectives of both the Service Desk as a function of your business and Incident Management as a process - and don't compromise the achievement of those objectives.
I think 'locking' Level 2 to end-user communication into your incident life cycle is risking just that. You need to be clear that there are reasons why this is going to achieve better (not equal) levels of customer satisfaction that the 'standard' approaches.
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