[CSG Spring 2007] Modern Help Desk, Part 2


Discussion of a SWOT analysis of help desk tools.

Our help desk tools are not well enough integrated, and terminology used in ITIL tends to be off-putting to many.

Knowledgebases are being used by many – mostly internally constructed and written. There’s at least one school that is using library school interns to work on the taxonomy of the knowledgebase.

There’s discussion of the relative merits of knowledge bases and wikis for support. The folks at Wisconsin note that their use of kb.wisc.edu, which is wiki-like for support of new technologies (Vista, Office 2007, IE7) has resulted in contributions of very high quality. Partner sites are motivated to be involved because they can take advantage of other people’s knowledge.

Chat – interactions tend to be longer, and staffing for it can be difficult. Industry says that agents can handle 3-4 chat sessions at a time if they’re dedicated to chat.

Discussion of customer satisfaction surveys – Greg objects to the use of the word “customer” in this context because the customer is the person who hands us resources to provide services, and when we survey people who use the services we aren’t talking to those people. It’s pointed out that ITIL defines “customer” as someone that funds the service. Bill Clebsch notes that at Stanford 2/3 – 3/4 of their business is fee-for-service, so the users are the customers.

Panel – demonstration of Duke using chat support by Debbie DiYula. Live chat link is on every web page within the OIT site. Getting lots of hits on chat – almost half have been telecom related (which is handled by a separate help desk). They now have configured chat to allow people to select which help desk they want to chat with. They have to manually input data from chat into the ticketing system.

There’s discussion about 24×7 support. Princeton is currently open 24×5 and moving to 24×7, but they don’t have a production or NOC team available. Bill Clebsch says that in Stanford’s survey of services and where people want them to invest, increased help desk hours come very far down the list. Carrie wonders if rural campuses have more desire for extended hours. Greg says that the only 24 hour operations on campus are the police and the hospital, so who are the people who need 24 hour support? 24×7 schools responding were Indiana, Minnesota, and Virginia Tech. Brad notes that they’ve been aggregating tasks to the places where the staff are already working the off shifts, like operations and the 24 hour student labs. One instutution says that their new network monitoring tools allowed them to move away from 24 hour support in the call center, as they didn’t have to rely as much on users being the “canary in the coal mine” for noticing problems.

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