As a proven leader of end-user support services to the federal government, MIL continuously improves its performance through one simple technique: listening. Whether it is through daily stand-up meetings or detailed notes documented in service requests and incidents, our analysts provide key insights into the day-to-day needs of those who rely on the agency’s services.
When working with legacy systems, it is critical they are functioning at optimal peak performance. Ultimately, the customer feedback gathered by our analysts enables MIL to refine these systems and internal work processes. To put this information to work, MIL follows the stages of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) lifecycle: service strategy, service design, service transition, service operation, and continual service improvement. Our approach is unique however, in that MIL performs on the micro scale, rather than the macro.
The following case study outlines how we improved operations for an application specific service desk that supports a customer base of 1.5 million users, simply by listening to the analyst’s biggest gripes and their customers most common complaints.
MIL’s strategy for improving operations was simple: focus on the items that lead to the most calls and emails from the user community. Within a week, MIL had a clear understanding of what was driving contact volume due to our extensive knowledge of the organization, as well as the analysis of historical data. From here, we began to develop ways to address issues. Our team chose to focus on two main aspects for improving operations:
(1) How our internal service desk processes and procedures could be streamlined.
(2) How we could influence the application developers to fix larger issues.
Our strategy for internal processes was aimed at the reduction of time it took for end users to gain access to our services. Application improvement focused on the account management functions pertaining to our biggest issues: over 50 percent of our customer calls dealt with username and password, or account creation issues. With a clear strategy in place, MIL began re-designing and tailoring our services to address specific problems to better serve the client.
When it came time to design our new services, we prioritized the feedback from our service desk analysts’ daily experiences. A high volume of requests circulating amongst departments, outdated processes that slowed down service delivery, as well as flaws in the account creation and password reset functions of the site all surfaced as key issues. By understanding daily frustrations and working through the ITIL Process, MIL was able to design services that could be performed from start to finish on a single phone call or email. We anticipated that this would reduce the number of times an end user needed to contact us for support.
To further assist our customer, our team added a new category to the “Contact Us” web page, which re-routes requests for IT services more accurately and efficiently. Finally, we proposed that the developers make a small, but critical change to the forgot password function of the site by removing the case sensitivity from the name fields on that form.
With the re-design of select services complete, MIL was ready to transition those services and start using them during day-to-day operations.
During the transition phase, MIL worked closely with our government counterparts during implementation to better facilitate the changes and measure outcomes. During this time, our team provided the following services:
First, we retrained our staff to address all aspects of a callers’ needs on the first call/contact and to appropriately utilize the available tools to gain a deeper understanding of the issues the customer was facing. This critical change led to increased customer satisfaction and fewer repeat callers.
Next, we implemented the changes to the website’s contact form. This had an immediate impact on the speed and efficiency with which we provided our services. Interdepartmental call transfers dropped significantly, preventing work duplication and providing a clear path to analysts trained to deal with specific issues. This had a huge impact with issue resolution time, which ultimately boosted customer satisfaction rates.
Finally, we worked with the developers to implement the changes to the “forgot password” page. A match-case requirement caused a multitude of issues, resulting in unnecessary new account re-creation, re-setting passwords, and angry calls to the service desk. By eliminating the match-case requirement for passwords, call/email volume regarding password reset problems dropped significantly.
Because of MIL’s proactive actions, overall call volume decreased, customer satisfaction went up, and our analysts now had time to take a breath before moving on to the next call or email.
Continual Service Improvement
As anyone in customer service and support knows, it doesn’t really matter how well you did today, only that you do an even better job tomorrow. Even though our team garnered fantastic results from making some simple changes that stemmed from listening to our experienced employees, we knew it was just one battle won. These results showed us that we have remain vigilant and use the ITIL process on the next set of issues our customers are facing.
Referencing reports and ticket notes to look for trends and patterns, while engaging with our service desk analysts to get a deeper understanding of what is driving the volume at the service desk will all lead to enhanced processes. In customer service, there is always something to improve upon, whether it is a process, a procedure, a policy, or even the code your application runs on. Taking the time to talk to and understand our service analysts’ experiences has proven invaluable and will continue to be our first-stop for process improvement.
About the Author
Zachary Wilkins, MIL Project Manager
Zac works as a project manager, specializing in managing Service Desk and Customer Support Center contracts for MIL. He has managed multiple service desk teams of varying size and complexity in his 10 plus years of dedicated service to MIL. Zac holds numerous professional certifications for both technical and management functions, including PMP, ITIL Foundations, HDI, ServiceNow, and is also a Certified Scrum Master.