Skip to content

Making the Service Desk More Efficient: A Case Study: Part II

In Part I of this case study, we had seen that a multinational company (ABC), developer of a telecommunication billing application, started with a three-member Service Desk in a country in South Asia. They had adopted ITSM guidelines two months ago. The Service Desk provided support to users of a very complex application which allowed subscribers to be assigned service packages, bills to be generated and revenue collection to be made.
Service Desk Performance Metrics
The following were the three metrics which received attention during the first management review:
-Calls being closed directly by the Service Desk at the first call- actual figure 9 %, target 20% minimum.
-Escalation of issues by the customer- actual figure 5%. The target was less than 1 %.
-Customer Satisfaction Survey: Actual average score 3.9 out of 5. The target was 5 out of 5.

In Part 1, we looked at the improvements to the first metric.

In Part 2, we shall look at escalation of issues by the customer.

Escalation of Issues by the Customer

The target here was set at less than 1% because the customer should have been so satisfied with the service that there would be hardly any need to escalate an issue. Obviously, cases which were escalated internally by ABC’s Service Desk to their own higher management for their attention, action or information were a part of the normal escalation process and not a part of this metric.
The IT Service Manager decided to analyze the escalations. He wanted to categorize the type of escalations and look at the reasons for random escalations in order to formulate an improvement plan.

The types of escalation were seen to be:

1. Escalation to the appropriate level as agreed in the SLA contract
Here the escalations made by the customer were to the appropriate level based on the urgency and type of problem being faced. These escalations were apparently justified as the SLA’s were not met in terms of time or quality. It was found that most of these escalations were due to timelines not being met. The reason for this turned out to be a lack of experienced staff in the Problem Management team.

2. Random escalations to higher management
Interestingly, a major quantity of escalations was random and not linked to any service level deviations. Many customers were apparently escalating issues to management in ABC out of habit, just to ensure that the issues would receive attention.

Course of Action
After much brainstorming the following course of action was implemented:
1. The Problem Management team was strengthened with a few more technical experts. Training was provided to the existing team to increase their knowledge level. The problem management process was made more efficient by training the team on analytical methods to analyze and solve problems in a more efficient way.
2. The SLA contracts which were due for renewal were discussed with customers and modified as it was seen that the timelines for non-critical issues could be relaxed slightly without any impact on the customer’s business.
3. Customers were invited to a workshop where the service process and the escalation process were explained more clearly. Many customers then realized that informal escalations without any real cause and to persons not identified in the escalation route were actually recorded in the system and only hampered the service process. They were told of the importance of following the escalation process to make it easier for the Service Desk to provide better services.
After three months of implementing the above action points, it was found that 2 % of all calls were still being escalated by the customer. The target had not been achieved, and further improvement was needed! It was recognized that improvement in adhering to timelines meant having a more knowledgeable team in place. Raising the level of technical expertise would be a gradual and continual process and this target would take a little longer to achieve.
In Part 3 of this post, we will look at the third metric and see what action was taken to improve the performance against the target.