Request or Incident? A Quick Way to Tell…

Written by Mg, PMP, ITIL Expert
A user contacts you and admits the company’s key financial application with an online user interface is not displaying a ‘Thank you!’ pop-up message at the end of an interaction with a customer. Without further questioning it’s easy to assume the user is reporting a service disruption. One of the key moments I remember in my training as a Senior Service Desk Analyst at IBM for the American Express Service Desk is Process Owner, Karen G., drilling into my head and the 99 other Service Desk Analysts… “If it’s something they have and it’s broken, it’s an incident. If it’s something they don’t have and they want, it’s a request.” She said this with increasing intensity, several times in a row to drive the message home… and until it became our mantra. She was emphatically showing the dividing line to a brand new North America Service Desk set to go live in a few short weeks, supporting 33,000 end users — many of us with no former ITIL training. That simple differentiation holds true with most things you’ll encounter from users at the Service Desk.

3C920278In the case of the financial application, querying the user to understand if they are making a request or reporting an incident could be as easy as asking, “When was the last time it worked correctly?”  And, the user would tell you something like, “Well, the application has never done this before. But it is something I want it to do. I think the “Thank you!” pop-up would be a great improvement in customer satisfaction.” And, now you’re on your way with the Request Fulfillment Process.


What Can ITSM Learn From Service Desk Analysts?

Written by Mg, PMP, ITIL Expert | First published June 13, 2012

What Can ITSM Learn From Service Desk Analysts?

What Can ITSM Learn From Service Desk Analysts?

What Can ITSM Learn From Service Desk Analysts?

What Can ITSM Learn From Service Desk Analysts?

For many service desk analysts, solving technical problems for people as a living ranks as one of the ‘fun’ aspects of their job. It’s the love of technology which is always changing and challenging that drives their interest in pursuing this role. And from a business perspective, when you have the right resources and tools to bring efficiency and high productivity to the job, most analysts are right on board and see this as a welcome positive.

However when companies implement ITSM (IT Service Management) as a ‘numbers game,’ and attempt to control every aspect of an analyst’s job down to setting an amount of ‘average call handling time’ to resolve every phone call with an end user, then the job can become a very negative experience for most analysts. By nature, analysts are efficient problem solvers, reveling in the opportunity to share knowledge and help others.

However, chief among the reasons analysts leave positions time and time again is because of the daily, hourly, minute by minute constraints placed on them by an over-controlling, micro-managing metrics-driven management team. The desire to deliver incredible numbers is what drives the madness — hitting perhaps unrealistic SLA’s (Service Level Agreements) in order to compete in the marketplace, as is the case for outsourced service desks. Wanting to control the number of seconds a phone rings before being answered is one thing. Setting a time limit for every call for every known and unknown issue falls short on delivering quality service. What kind of quality is delivered if the Service Desk tagline is, “We deliver right up until that last second of an average call handling time of 8 minutes. Then, well, you’re on your own…” Wouldn’t the quality and value of the service improve if calls were handled in a ‘non-pressure cooker’ manner, allowing the necessary time to establish rapport, understand the issue, and troubleshoot accordingly — providing more detailed instructions for those end users requiring more direction, and giving more quick, speedy directions for those who are more tech savvy. Ideally, basing service delivery on an individual call basis — allowing analysts a more professional, less stressful role in ITSM.

The communication an analyst has with a customer, whether an internal employee or an external customer is unique to that conversation. There is a give and take in every troubleshooting conversation, with a final result dependent upon how well this communication takes place. Given that constraint, as well as a loudly ticking clock and overbearing management team prone to walking around behind analysts, examining computer screens, and scrutinizing every movement of the mouse and every word said, represents a highly negative job situation that zaps any enjoyment an analyst may have had for their job role.

The solution to this dilemma? Include analysts in SLA discussions… help analysts understand their role within the ITIL framework and within your organization. Allow analysts to contribute ideas to improve any negative metrics. Be confident in the professionalism of the individuals you have selected for your Service Desk. Analysts are not the enemy nor do they possess superhuman capabilities when working with uncompromising or difficult end users — remember the human factor involved in the job. Understand the limits and constraints that make up the daily routine of your Service Desk analysts. And, always, provide positive support and feedback when analysts do things right. Give them the tools and positive support to do their job confidently… and soon, you may find you have an award-winning, highly effective Service Desk, staffed with capable professionals who actually enjoy their role in ITSM.

Continual Professional Improvement | ITIL Certified…. now what?

You’ve studied hard and passed your ITIL v3 Foundation certification exam, now what?  Many employers recognize the value of this certification and know it represents your commitment to continual professional improvement… pun intended!  While others may not even say, ”Nice job!’  It’s hard to deal with a negative or neutral reaction from your current employer, and the great thing about the ITIL v3 Foundation certification is it carries clout throughout the industry.  If your current employer, especially one that has embraced ITIL is not excited about this accomplishment, there are many other employers that are.  For a listing of companies searching for ITIL service desk and other ITSM candidates, click the Jobs link above.  Tailor the results to your location by selecting your City/ST.