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SupportWorld, Jan/Feb 2013

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support escalations are far more expensive than first contact resolution. Assuming that the normal flow of a desktop support incident starts with a call to the help desk and then an escalation to the desktop support team, and extrapolating based on the phone support and walk-in data in the 2011 report, we can assume that each desktop support call costs $37 per ticket. Walk-ins combine the initial call and the subsequent escalation into a single event. Think about the potential cost reductions. After an escalation, we spend a significant amount of time scheduling appointments and tracking down individuals for additional information. We also spend a lot of time traveling between offices. Even if all we save is a five-minute walk for each ticket, over time the time we save really adds up. Any way you look at it, walk-in support is helping us lower a key desktop support metric: time to resolve. The Benefits Before we moved into the centralized open space, walk-in traffic was a distraction, as someone had to disconnect from the phones and deal with each person who came in. This gave customers the impression that we were giving the walk-ins some sort of preference or priority when, in fact, we always dealt with people in the order in which they arrived, whether by phone or in person. Now that we have a sustained walk-in customer base, we have a position dedicated to handling that traffic, which has made it clear that walk-in support isn't all that different from any other support channel. We treat it exactly the same as our other channels; we perform predictive analysis and we use formulas such as Erlang C to calculate how many people we need to have on staff. To us, walk-in traffic is no different from answering the phones, returning emails, or dealing with chat support. It's simply another tool in our belt. Not only has walk-in support improved the way we deliver services, it's enhanced our image on campus by demonstrating our engagement with the mission and strategic direction of the university. As faculty and administrators of the university pass by, they see our department actively engaged in the learning process. It shows that we are not just a reactionary cost center; we're actively helping students achieve their goals at the university. We've also seen improvements in customer satisfaction. For some, it's easier to walk into the help desk than it is to call us, and if we can solve an issue on first contact without having to escalate it, people are immediately satisfied. People like options, and adding walk-in service to our suite gives the impression that that we offer more services. Turns out, our faculty, students, and staff really appreciate that. .................................. HDI's research has indicated that walk-in support is common in smaller organizations (65%), but less so in midsized and large organizations (50 percent and 46 percent, respectively). Whether this is due to the challenges of supporting multiple locations or simply to economies of scale, thanks to BYOD, shared workspaces, and walk-in support, desktop support as we've known it is changing. In our experience, walk-in support is financially advantageous, it supports our mission, and it improves our customer service. It also aligns us with Boise State University's strategic direction and helps the university provide students with a high-quality educational experience. Your situation may be different, but we think you can be confident saying, "Mr. Service Desk Manager, tear down this wall!" About the Author Mark Fitzgerald has a passion for teaching, and working at universities for nearly fifteen years has opened up many opportunities to teach in both formal and informal settings. In addition to managing Boise State University's Help Desk of Distinction, Mark teaches part-time in the College of Business and Economics. He has presented several times at HDI conferences, local chapter meetings, and HDI Higher Education Forum meetings. Mark is also a member of the steering committee for the HDI Higher Education Forum and a member of the HDI Desktop Support Advisory Board. 30 | Suppor tWorld January / February 2013

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