Don’t just fix it for your customers, explain how you did it

Autopilot is easy – it’s the comfort zone of responding to a service request, fixing it and then moving to the next (probably similar) request. Invest some time in educating your users and cut the number of calls.

Stop drifting along and think carefully when the next service request arrives. What will you be explaining to the customer? Will you show them how to resolve the issue they have reported?

Assuming that it is reasonable to do so, you could be saving yourself considerable effort and at the same time empowering someone to work more independently having learned a new skill.

Here are my recommendations for reducing repeat service desk calls:

  • Explain how the problem arose – what caused it and is it something the user can both comprehend and fix?
  • Explain what you are going to be doing in order to fix the problem, assuming of course, that the user is able to understand the explanation.
  • Where appropriate, demonstrate to the user how they can prevent the problem from occurring (and that’s very different form just fixing it)
  • Finally, if it could happen again, even with preventative steps, show the user how they can fix it without needing to call for assistance. They will thank you for it!

Raise your next service desk ticket the right way

In a working age dominated by streams of endless email, often carelessly composed, it’s easy to send rapid fire requests for assistance to your nearest service team. Give them a helping hand and raise that service ticket the right way – your service team will thank you for it, and you will probably get a faster resolution!

When you don’t have to speak with anyone to request help, you are missing the important guidance questions that naturally form part of any conversation where a subject is being explained to another individual. Raising service requests using email is very easy, but should result in no less contribution from you than would be made in a one to one conversation.

Remember some basic email principles

The subject line needs to describe the problem. There’s no point opening a service request with a subject line like ‘help please!’. You are emailing a service desk – they know you need help! Make the subject line a concise description of your problem. Subject lines like ‘report fails to complete with error number 1001’, or ‘computer fails to start and reports disk missing’ are so much more useful and informative than ‘help please!’.

Keep your message body equally concise. You don’t need to write  a book about the problem, but instead offer a clear summary of the request that can be quickly read and digested by a reader.

Describe your request with care and thought

Consider each of the following as essential components of a service desk request. Omit any one, and you can be sure the service desk will want to ask them before the can provide a resolution.

  • Who are you – what is your role and the context of your activity
  • Where can you be found / contacted
  • What you were trying to achieve – put the task into context and what steps (if any) you have taken in order to resolve by yourself
  • When the problem occurred – sometimes the time of the problem is relevant, particularly if it happens to be affecting others too
  • Why is it important that your problem is fixed – are there specific deadlines that apply to your work? Will the broader business function be impacted by the problem you describe?

Inform the service team of changes to the situation

It’s really helpful for you to explain changes in the situation to the service team – when you do, your request might be re-prioritised as a result. This makes the work of any service team member much easier to prioritise. Remember that service team staff will be supporting many other users in addition to you. Problem fixed itself? Update the ticket and close it, with a suitable explanation. Problem changed or grown in significance? Update the ticket with a suitable explanation, including any changes to the possible impact of the issue.

When people think you are the Service Desk

When people think you are the service desk, everything can come your way. Got a virus? They come to you first. Broken computer? They come to you. Got a bill? Yep – they come to you for that too. But what can you do in these instances?

Do it.

Resistance is futile – after this individual, another will soon be on their way to you. Might as well get on and process whatever request is being made, however irrelevant to what you are really there for. Be prepared to pay the price by not getting the other (probably more important ) stuff done, and undermining the effectiveness of the service desk in the process.

Defer it.

They won’t be as pleased as they will if you do it for them now, but at least it doesn’t end up in your task list. You could be really nice and forward it on to the right people, but this doesn’t solve the problem – better to reject it nicely and advise the originator where it really should be sent for action. Deferring it on their behalf just indicates you are happy to assist. Are you?

Ignore it.

You won’t win many friends, but ignoring it can be the next best thing. The sooner everyone gets the idea that you aren’t going to respond to them, the sooner they will do the right thing and follow the correct procedure. If it’s really urgent, and it really matters that it gets done, they will try someone else (not necessarily the right person though).

BTW: you might not want to take any of these suggestions too seriously