Turbo charge your support

Working with IT means doing many different things and our field, like most fields, changes with new technology, new demands, new methods and much more. But one thing stay the same, we are and have always been here to service our dear users, the people using our services, systems, infrastructure and much more. In some cases simply called “the business” but who can really tell these days, everyone is using IT, even we in IT so maybe its time to drop the IT department and the business, that is however, as they say, another story. One of the biggest items of personal service, besides our actual IS/IT services, we provide is support. The main part of support is to solve problems for our dear users, most of the time when something unexpected happens, what we in ITSM call Incidents. Based on these circumstances one can easily draw the conclusion that it makes sense to be really good at managing incidents, since it’s a vital part of what we do everyday, and more importantly, something that most users thinks about when they think about the IT service provider, everything else is mostly taken for granted.

If you want your users to apreciate you, turbo charging your Incident management is always a good idea. I am going to tell you a couple of ways to do this.

First of all, of course the incidedent management process alone, and its most common place, the service desk, cannot do this alone. They are depending on all other parts of the IT organization, other processes, as most of you already know, the real power of ITSM and processes is when you get the integration between them to really work. These hints and ideas I am about to give you however only focus on the IM process and the service desk. So, there is a lot more that can be done, these are only the low hanging fruits.

Lets talk more about:

  • Incident models
  • PDCA your categorization
  • PDCA your priorization
  • Monitor your external esclation
  • Do a quick knowledge boost in your 1st line
  • Perform knowledge sharing
  • Start all shifts with a gathering

Incident models are your typical preferred way of dealing with incident in specific areas, for specific services or that in any other way are a bit specific and adding these specfic items of information to the process will speed up the incident resolution. I always say, the first time its an incident, the 2nd time you do it the same way you create an incident model. We should always strive to share what we know, helping all people working in IM to know what you just learned is what makes a diference between an average and top-class support.

Categorization of incidents helps us to assign them to the right resolver group, to perform funcional escalation. It also helps us to raise more knowledge about specific categories, measure and in general do things smarter. You need to PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) your categorization to make it smarter, more efficient and, most importantly, take away garbage. Every time an incident bounces back due to bad categorization or, even worse, ends  up with a general category since there are not obvious way of categorizing an incident, our performance goes down and frustrate people. Make this task part of someones role description, an incident coordinator or likewise.

This same PDCA goes for the priorization matrix. However there is one important difference. The prio matrix ALWAYS, without any exception, needs to be aligned with business/user repressentatives since its our common way of setting the temperature for incidents, it cannot, never ever, be an internal thing. So, as with the categorization, always check the incidents that are changed. One of most anoying things I know about prioritization is when the user sets one priotization only to be changed to a lower priority when opened by an operator. This is not not the users fault, nor the operators but ours since our use of priorities lacks in quality. Always keep an eye on the prioritization matrix, how its used and tune when needed, don’t forget to align with the business when doing this!

Boost your 1st line but do not be stupid when doing this. I see too often how IT organizations focus blindly on boosting FCR (First Call Resolution) which effectively will get the whole user community mad and will make the IT organization bleed, do not do this. Sure, you absolutely want to get your FCR above 35-40% to keep the support organization efficient, but without affecting quality. Make sure that your 1st line has the tools and rights needed to get ALL relevant info from the user. Equip them with tools, scripts and access to resolve simple, quick things. This is all about common sense. Having someone answering your phone, collecting 30-50% of the information needed and then passing the incident on to someone trained for the system, like application management, your DevOps megablaster team or likewise, is not at all very clever. Believe me, this is unfortunately not at all unusual and so easily fixed, on of the most obvious no-brainer low-hanging fruits there is. Do not pay guys like me only to do this, you can do it on your own! But if you want my help I have FCR 6% à 53% in 3 months together with a 40% increase in customer satisfaction as PR… hehe… sorry for the bragging, just wanted to show what you can do if you do it right. Just think about it, half of all your incidents solved directly, wouldn’t that be nice?

Knowledge sharing is the real enabler of efficient support. This can take many forms and shapes, from a classical use of Knowledge management, Internal Wikis, FAQs, support scripts, interactive portal guiding operators to ask based on a tree structure and much more. You should do whatever works for you, just make sure to make it quick and reliable to be really useful. You also have to motivate people to share, reward sharing, make people understand that sharing is good and not a threat.

10 minute session at the start of each shift, talking a few minutes about any major event that happened, going over some feeback/informal self-assessment of events is great! Combined with a few minutes about planned events, potential things to solve are even better. Just think about the classical TV-series Hill Street Blues, an 80:ies series about a police station where they always start with the gathering, or some other police series where they usually do something similar. Everyone sits together and uses a few minutes to breifly talk about what was and then what will be, just to get people up to date, resolve potential minor issues and just get prepared together. I have even seen service desk teams doing the sports version of pep talk and a form of “heeeeeey Service desk!!” and then go back to work. Its all about creating a team spirit and really show that we are all in this together.

These are a few things you can do easily, without major efforts, without using a lot of resources and even so with great results if you do it properly. Besides turbo boosting your support performance you will also gain other benefits such as a better working climate, happier staff and other positive effects. Its really not even a no-brainer, it is really a sin not doing this I tell you, so just do it! 😉

But first, lets relax during the weekend and start our new improvements with freshly charged batteries on Monday, have a great weekend everyone!!

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