IT Policies

There is a right way to resolve help desk call tickets

Jeff Dray writes that people who resolve and close help desk tickets have a duty to close them in such a way that the information they offer is useful and allows fault and trend analysis.

I feel that people who resolve and close help desk tickets have a duty to close them in such a way that the information they give is useful and allows fault-and-trend analysis. If a fault occurs, it is an opportunity for us to learn about the systems in our care.

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Whenever you receive a help desk ticket you have to remember that it is about more than the loss of service to the end user. It isn’t just that their equipment isn’t working, but also the fact that the lack of working systems is preventing that person from doing what they need to do. Our first priority is to get the client working again; we worry about the paperwork afterward.

When the department head looks back over the month’s activities, they aren’t doing it for entertainment or to make themselves look busy. They are looking for patterns, such as reports on a particular piece of equipment or a particular comms link. They are looking for indications that there might be a requirement for upgrades or additional user training.

The only way that we can learn from our faults is to record them. The only time when it is permissible to close a ticket with a single word in the freeform text field is when a single simple action is performed, such as resetting a password. Entering “Reset” or “Done” is suitable in such instances.

When the problem is any greater than this, it is vital that all corrective actions are recorded, so that the next person to encounter the problem or try to research it has a little more information to work with.

We aren’t looking for War and Peace, but if there is a solution to the problem and it hasn’t been recorded before, it is essential that you record the steps taken. If the solution is too long-winded to record in a help desk ticket, then record it in the knowledge base and reference the KB article in the help desk ticket.

Some help desks don’t record password resets, but I think that is a bad idea. Some people have problems with passwords and may have a need for some remedial training. Being able to review a person’s call history and discover the reasons for the problems can provide very useful information.

An example of this was a lady named Danielle. It seemed that she was having real problems with her network login. No matter how many times we reset it for her, she came back to us on an almost daily basis with login problems. Being short on time, we would reset it and move on, but her plight was noticed during the end-of-month review.

A closer look at her account details revealed that her login had been set up with one-day password duration, a silly mistake from our team and not, as we thought, evidence of her air-headed behavior. The reason why we didn’t notice this immediately was that we didn’t take the time to ask the right questions. We just assumed that she was getting it wrong. Had we listened to her we would have learned that she wasn’t getting an incorrect password message but a password-expired message.

25 comments
kevin575breen
kevin575breen

I have seen staff payed overtime to create then close trouble tickets just to get the SLAs up to the required percentage (eg 95% of faults cleared within 4 hrs)...shocking. At that particular NOC it was preferable to close a fault prematurely and let the customer raise another one...it all improves the stats at the end of the month...if anyone knows of a network provider who behaves with integrity please let me know - I would love to work there !

ghomert
ghomert

LOL since there is no job security anymore and globalization is destroying the fabric of our societies, I hardly think that this really matters :)

kimbertoups
kimbertoups

I am currently working as a help-desk/field service tech. And to my suprise I am finding out, that there is alot of lazy tech's out there. It kinda angers and sadens me because for the most part we do get paid good and there is really no need to be lazy. If you do not want to work and do it right the first time then let someone who wants to work , work. So for the lazy people out there (you know who you are) stop taking up space and let someone who is willing to take the time to do the job right (on the 1st call) in there to treat customers like we all want to be treated.

francisco.antonio66
francisco.antonio66

Nope, of course that you need to have a check list, but you know are few help desk agents that really put good records on tickets. But, I am network supporter I get mad when all kinds of problems they simply direct them to Network Support team.

bpoetz
bpoetz

Per this article I agree 100% some of my field tech open and close tickets that are missing so much data. What cause the error? What are the symptoms?? What is the business impact? What stets did you take to resolve it? What the amounts of time spend to resolve the ticket? Did you require any additional resources? If you give a step by step account, then other tech can use the data to quickly resolve the problem in a timely fashion.

KaryDavis
KaryDavis

I've worked Help Desk at companies who had established ticketing procedures and those that had none at all. Even when there wasn't a ticket system, I always found some way to document my user interactions, either by utilizing a simple Access Helpdesk database (available online for free)or just keeping notes in notebooks kept next to the mouse. This documentation process was partially a defensive one for me as my memory has never been the best and I picked up the habit back in my younger days as a paralegal when I had to account for all my time. Where I currently work, we have a simplistic ticketing application that is a pre-cursor to a more robust program anticipated sometime in the future. Our users normally request help in email, and they have been shown how to insert screenprints of error message into the emails. Once an issue is resolved, we (us techs) respond to the email help address and the user (then everyone in HD gets a copy) giving a brief description of what was done. These emails are then copied into the help desk ticket, providing documentation of the complete resolution process (which sometimes requires back and forth communication with the user or other techs). Of course as with all systems, there are exceptions and modifications, but overall I find our current setup to be easy on the documentation and quick on the resolutions. The only downside is we don't really have a knowledgebase, which will be addressed in our new system down the line.

mjd420nova
mjd420nova

We use a field service technician with technical experience to pour over each days calls and resolutions to enter then into a data base. This allows someone who may not be experienced with that particular equipment or client to review a history of faults, resolutions and parts used to prepare for a call. They know what parts to take with them and even anticipate causes. This goes a long way in being able to resolve problems in one call, which makes the client very happy and the billing simple. The client may not be able to adequately describe the fault so this gives the tech a bit of a lead in and using a cross reference for that equipment type as to what parts he needs for efficient troubleshooting and eventual resolution. Having personell with technical backgrounds doing the database entries goes a long way in keeping the information accurate and meaningful.

reisen55
reisen55

In Bangalore, they read from a script, and if the script does not resolve the problem ................... Add an infinite number of dots until user hangs up and curses the decision to oursource.

wfps1946
wfps1946

I wish there were a way to get the technicians to put anything, even one word, into the resolution field on the ticket when they close it out. Unfortunately there is no way I know of to easily force that field to be filled in before the ticket can be saved in a closed/resolved status. It seems to me that the technicians would want to complete that field, for future reference, in case the same proplem comes up again. I do have to say, it isn't all technicians, I do have a few that are very diligent and methodical in making sure that field is completed. I do have a root cause field that can be forced to be filled in from a pre-defined list of resolutions. The only problem with the root cause list that I can see, the entries are pre-defined and does not allow the technician to expand on what the problem actually was so the answer is going to be somewhat generic.

nberigan
nberigan

Yeah, but the tracking system has to be designed to collect resolutions as a knowledge base and the work (read: person hours) has to be done to collect, analyze and transmit the accumulated knowledge bits AND management (yup, there's part for them also) has to step back from panic mode when driving techs forward to the next call to give them the breathing space to write that useful resolution. Otherwise, talking about this is just that, talking about it.

poplaskd
poplaskd

I have worked in three different companies in the past nine years all with help desk ticket systems and have found that the only real reason for having it is to justify ones position which really is pathetic.

gcquinton
gcquinton

Missing data, poor spelling, bad grammar, lack of punctuation...need I continue? These are problems that make searching ticket resolutions nearly impossible. Besides management only cares about the number of tickets closed and how long it takes to close a ticket. They rarely care for the degree of difficulty, or even the resolution.

Dyalect
Dyalect

Done. Complete. Did work. (recipe for success) Who ends up following the data in a knowledge base? And if the person looking at the data in the resolution, will it make sense to them? I like novels and all, but if no one is going to read it, or follow it, or heaven forbid UPDATE IT whats the point really???

plaidaddictt
plaidaddictt

We have several individuals who close out tickets regularly without putting anything in the solution field. No end to aggravating, but not much I can do if mgr does not seem to be bothered by it.

mediamaniac
mediamaniac

is that it might work fine on a small scale help desk where there are a minimum of technicians recording and analyzing issues and who also might use similar keywords. But, the greater the number of technicians, the greater the number of possible keywords. Additionally, this type of set-up doesn't account for misspellings and incorrect diagnosis which will effectively undercut its goal.

rmurphy762
rmurphy762

Jeff, what is state is partial right the rest of the truth is that management looks at a techs metrics. In my experience is that a company would rather have the metrics than the information If I deal with an American tech on an issue and I feel that they are not doing enough to help me all I have to say is that "I know your work is based on metrics and I will stay on this line until it is resolved" The tech then will then start trouble shooting properly, if not I ask for a supervisor which to any manger is worse than the tech not meeting their metrics because now they have to work or get hung on and since many techs are worried about metrics Many time I get hung up on. The next statement makes me really feel bad I much rather get a foreign tech from the Philippines or Manila they are always willing to work for a resolution. So before management cast the blame on the tech for writing little or no information in the ticket lighten up on the metrics. I seen many coworkers get applauded for the number of calls and call times by management yet many of these techs have a high call return rate and yes thy have hung up on the customer I have a problem with this my calls may take 2 to 4 minutes longer but the information is in the ticket is correct and the call is resolved and the caller doesn't have to call back again. Which method does management feel is the best ( I have seen this in MANY call centers). Short call times, inaccurate information to the client, no information in the tickets and it's even better if the client calls back because it show the call center is taking more calls than they are really taking I long for the old days now a day's many companies become morally bankrupt before they go finically bankrupt I am not asking anyone to agree or disagree just my own opinion and observation

Roy Diaz
Roy Diaz

I worked as HD analyst as well as HD team lead and I'm completely sure that no matter the user, company structure or HD's tools you might be using, it all depends on the person who answers the phone, the email o web generated ticket. As an analyst you're supposed to first of all understand user's frustration due to inhability to perform daily duties, then listen carefully to everything they might have to say trying to locate the key information and with this then you'll go ahead and fix the issue, the problem comes when an analyst is not willing and capable to help out (which is the most common problem) Then if you are sure you have fully fixed the root cause (or if its a repetitive issue provide appropiate follow-up until you're sure its resolved) you can proceed to close the ticket and if it's an unknown issue simply let your coworkers know of it if they come to find the same problem. From my point of view if your HD team does the job properly then there should be nothing to worry about in the future. And the resolution given to any ticket will be only for statistic matters. But then again, is your HD team willing and capable?

Broosbee
Broosbee

Management is a big part of the problem. I worked at a help desk for a large organization. One of the biggest things we were rated on was the call volume handled. Our ratings depended on handling calls fast, not necessarily on how well we handled them. Taking extra time to document the call was way down the priority list. Sure, we documented as we went along, but a lot of times it was not nearly as comprehensive as it could have been with a little more time.

beenthere-donethat
beenthere-donethat

The key point in resolving the ticket comes down to listening to the end user and asking the right questions to be sure you understand the user's problem. Most of us don't take the time to listen - we jump to conclusions and make assumptions in order to "quickly" fix the problem.

wfps1946
wfps1946

you are right. Companies managers want to know why they spend such big dollars on IT support when they only see one or two techs out there running around answering questions for the users and fix the occasional problem, by phone if necessary because you are so far away from the user that it isn't practical to go to them. Those same managers don't understand the cost of the servers and the application licenses for all their users. They get the feeling it is all going to those two techs that they see running around all the time. A lot of times to the same users that keep forgetting their passwords every other day. On the other hand you have the organization that has a help/service desk that is level 1, taking all the calls, asking the proper questions provided to them to ask, and creating the tickets to forward on to the techs to act upon and repair the problem and explain what was wrong and why. It's these techs that create a good knowledge base for each other to share and use in order to make a faster fix later for someone else that has the same problem. With the Service Desk taking the calls it relieves the techs from having to do that so that they can have more time to actually do repairs, which is what they are being paid the big bucks to do. Having a level one tech on the Service Desk is more financially practical than having a level three tech writing tickets or being stopped in the hallway and getting "oh by the way, while you are here, I have this. . . ." and on it goes. Job justification? Maybe so, but who's job? If you are getting the dollars but aren't doing the work, then yes, I can see it as job justification. If you are getting the dollars and doing your work and the other guy's too, you are already justified. The only ones that need to worry are the ones not doing the job. Enough said.

Jeff Dray
Jeff Dray

If I don't know the answer I research it, and the first place I look is the knowledge base. the next place is ask my colleagues, a bit like who want to be a millionaire, ask the audience, phone a friend etc.

wfps1946
wfps1946

11 different district managers which covers the whole state and all the technicians in the state. It's bad enough to get one to get behind his/her techs to make them fill in the information, try getting 11 of them to get behind their techs to do it. Yeah!. . . . Right!

wfps1946
wfps1946

because with the root cause being a pick list there is nothing typed by the technician so every entry for a specific problem will be identical no matter who the technician is. If it were a free form field then yes, there is no accounting for misspellings and so forth. I have already had to do searches for specific types of problems and have had to think like a technician or end user and try to figure out all the possible ways that the resolution could have been misspelled or abbreviated and even with that, there are tickets that will be missed. Hopefully the count of the missed tickets will be insignificant compared to all the tickets found.

Quasar Kid
Quasar Kid

I will take an American tech any day of the week and twice on Sunday! I have yet to speak with a Tech from the Philipines that I could understand. You cannot provide me service if you cannot speak my language. These techs are providing service for English speaking US customers located in the US.

bpoetz
bpoetz

In my option that is what weeds out thr good tech from the bad. And in this market you have to pick the good.

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