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ITIL :: View topic - Looking for a new challenge...
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Looking for a new challenge...

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Senior Itiler

Joined: Sep 27, 2005
Posts: 207

PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2006 1:18 pm    Post subject: Looking for a new challenge... Reply with quote

As some of you know, since I posted my resume in the Jobs section, I have a little bit of time on my hands. So I thought of putting this time to good use and write some articles about practical ITIL stuff. I went ahead and put up my personal website with that.

I have just published the below and will be releasing approximately one every week until I'm either bored or too busy. I don't know if this is any value to you guys. I'm looking for feedback.

How do keep my staff on the Service Desk?

The understanding of high staff turnaround on the helpdesk lies with how historically, it has been staffed. Companies used to place young and green resources on their help desk. There are reasons why it is a good idea:

    The function of Help Desk Operator was perceived as lower level. Therefore, the position was easier to fill with inexperienced staff.

    Having to deal with unhappy customers is not exactly pleasant for many people and so companies have naturally filled the position with whoever would accept it.

    Finally, the position is regarded as a "generalist" function. Therefore, companies have filled it with resources that cannot call themselves specialists.

There is also a number of reasons why it is a bad idea:

    By paying the people in the function lower than "specialists", you are encouraging employees to grow out of that function, because it is easy to teach technical skills. It is a whole lot more difficult to teach them to be people persons.

    As long as they will be labelled "generalists" as opposed to specialists, the motivation will be the same. The first thing the Collge grad is going to do is to try to be part of some other team where they will get better recognition for their work

    You have just placed you least experienced resource in front of your customer. How do you think your customer feels about that? How do you think that relationship is going to work?

Today the game is different. Customers, internal or external, are looking for more and better service. IT has been commoditized as a utility. Customers are more demanding than ever.

There lies the essence of the problem. If the right people were in that function, there would not be a retention issue. The reality is that the Service Desk (notice the change of term) does not need College grads, it needs specialists in Customer Relations. We call them Customer Support Specialists.

Customer Support Specialists are chosen primarily for their skills in Customer Relationships. If they need technical skills, you can always teach that. But when you find someone who likes to relate to people, you have found a diamond in the rough, and you need to acquire it. Other skills that you would like to find in Customer Support Specialists are:

    An understanding of the business, its needs and constraints. That skill will help provide a business solution to an IT problem.

    Patience. The Customer Support Specialist's proficiency at computer is not an excuse for treating users like idiots.

    Organization/Structure. You need to be able to keep track of scores of open incidents and communicate when appropriate with the right people
    Willingness to accept responsibility. Whether we like it or not, acceptance is one of the first step in dealing with an incident.

    Interviewing skills. Business people come to IT with an IT problem because that is their understanding of what they are supposed to do. In reality though, even if their problem can be translated into an IT problem, it is nonetheless a business problem they have. The Service Desk needs to probe and question users to understand the impact of an incident and produce an adequate answer.

What do you do with your existing team?

I would not worry too much about how they are going to take the news that we are looking for a different profile on the Service Desk. They are, after all, already looking for a way out, remember?

I would approach the problem in this sequence:

[list=]Identify the people who are doing a good job and who enjoy it. Those need to be nurtured and cared for. Re-evaluate their compensation level compared to other Specialists. Create a "Senior Customer Support Specialist" title and give it to them. They are now your Evangelists. They will be carrying your message beyond what you can do yourself because they are part of the team.[/list]
[list=]Create an internal Customer Support Specialist training program. That program will focus on customer relations, interviewing skills and role playing. Essentially, you are looking for providing a thorough understanding of what the job is about.[/list]
[list=]Define Customer Satisfaction metrics in line with Industry Standards and follow the development directly with your customers and survey reports. Address every issue. That is very important to demonstrate that you are serious about this.[/list]
[list=]Identify the elements that do not fit well enough and figure out your options for using them in other areas. They have motivations. It's only a matter of finding out how they fit.[/list]
[list=]Identify the elements that do not seem to understand the message, open a dialogue, and evaluate the possibility of replacing them.[/list]

How much does it cost?

Transforming the Service Desk does cost money. That money is an investment in an organization with reduced turnaround where people have the function they want, not the one the organization thinks they deserve. It also goes hand in hand with an increase in customer satisfaction, which is usually a door opener to other quality-oriented projects.
Fabien Papleux

Technology Consulting | Service Excellence
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Senior Itiler

Joined: Sep 27, 2005
Posts: 207

PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2006 1:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why can't I edit my own posts?
Fabien Papleux

Technology Consulting | Service Excellence
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Senior Itiler

Joined: Oct 19, 2004
Posts: 173

PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2006 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fabien wrote:
Why can't I edit my own posts?

I think that is turned off. The reason is that some people used to post legitimate messages, then sneak back months later (when the message was buried deeply) and add spam links and other unnacceptable material. This made it very difficult for the mods to maintain quality. I hope you understand.
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