This is a desk. And we’re here to help. But we aren’t a Help Desk!

REA’s Enterprise Technology Services team sent a delegation on a trip to the US recently to engage with other internal IT Support teams. We swapped notes and benchmarked ourselves against some of the best in the business (think Box.com, Zendesk, Okta, et al). We learned plenty about ourselves and certainly one thing which we are not is a help desk. I published the following blog internally at REA to contextualise and articulate to the business who we are, what we do and where we are going—and we why aren’t a help desk!  Enjoy the read.

We are Support Services and we are part of the Enterprise Technology Services team. You can find us in our Melbourne office everyday at the Innovation Hub; in the Sydney office; and you’ll be spoiled by our presence in Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane each and every couple months at the least.

While we certainly man a desk or two around Australia and we are here to help, we aren’t a help desk! And I’m here to tell you why.

Above: This is a desk. And we are here to help. But we aren’t a help desk!

Proactive Not Reactive Support – It’s all in the (Good)Data!

While help desks clock in to work each day, sit down, open up a mammoth queue of tickets, bang their heads against a wall, deal with helpless customers, answer calls, bang their heads against a wall, read a script on how to fix something, ask if you’ve turned it off and on again and then punch out for the day, not before banging their head against a wall one last time – we just don’t work that way. You deserve better. And so does our team.

Each time you engage with us (email, face to face, walk up, phone, Gemba) we log a corresponding request or incident in Zendesk (our customer service software and support ticket system) and we then tag it. In fact, we tag the shit out of it. We’ve set up Zendesk to take note of which team you are in, which LoB your team is in, who you report to, where you are located, what technology your request relates to … and so on. So while this would be considered reactive support, in fact we are building a very large database of information about you and your behaviours from a corporate technology point of view and this data is just gold as we know here at REA. We can use this data to build out very insightful reports in Zendesk using GoodData and then tailor and customise solutions to satisfy your needs without you explicitly telling us what those needs are.

Did know that historically the number one ticket logged by IT Service is relating to a password reset? Probably not a surprise, however we used Zendesk to identify how many people this was affecting, how frequently and where they were based. It turned out it affected everyone, all the time, everywhere. The data don’t lie! So we brought in Okta which allows you to easily reset your password yourself even if forgotten or expired. Rather than resetting 120 passwords a month, we were resetting 30 a month post the Okta implementation. Yet, it is still the number one ticket logged. So, in conjunction with the security and risk team, we’ve been able to extend this out to 90 days. In theory that should mean 10 password resets a week. #winning!

Another notorious recurring ticket is access to distribution lists. We fed this information to our engineers who built out the Distribution List app in Okta which allows you to administer these yourself without relying on us to do so. #winning!

These are only but couple very simple examples of what the data can do for us. What it means is less tickets logged by you, less reliance on us and more time to get on with some meaningful work.

Did you know Resi Sales and Finance & Business Systems are the two highest volume ticket loggers in the business? Why is that? Well, now that we have plenty of rich information at our fingertips we are in a position to deep dive into the data and find out exactly what it is that’s bothering these teams. We look for common trends amongst the tickets logged, cluster them together and then feed this information to our Technology Consultants who can then Gemba (observe work behaviours) those teams and pro-actively offer solutions to reduce the amount of tickets logged. Perhaps Resi Sales continually log tickets about devices they use in front of customers or have issues connecting to share drives via the VPN. Well, the Tech Consultant can go to market to find a new device that is better suited to presenting to customers or offer Box for network drive/VPN issues. Again, account managers don’t need to explicitly tell us this, the data already has. So what we’re aiming for is a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” scenario.

Knowledge Base Repository and Eliminating Failure Demand

Industry research tells us that an effective (engaging and relevant) knowledge base repository reduces tickets logged by customers by around 30%. That currently equates to about 300 tickets a month for our team alone. And with a growing, global business we anticipate ticket volumes to keep trending northward. Our Zendesk Gooddata informs us that about 40% of tickets logged by you are one touch tickets. This means you log a ticket, we reply once and the ticket gets closed.This is great news, because it means we are eliminating waste (failure demand) by not going back and forth via email 10 times before we close off the ticket. More often than not in this scenario we are using automated macros to either give you an answer on the spot or we are using one to point you to a knowledge base article (KBA) which we have on Community (our intranet). Having said all that, there are still 60% of times when there is back and forth via email before a ticket is closed off, so with that comes huge opportunity which we are continually investigating.

Above: A small snapshot of this months top one touch tickets logged by you. Hmm… what to do with this information?

We are very much at the pioneering stage of building out an incredibly rich and engaging knowledge base for our customers to use and eventually it will likely be moved to Zendesk’s Help Centre (HC) which is built specifically to bring information to customers in an easy to find way; which we hope to make your first point of call when needing support. We do this by tagging the shit out of a ticket some more and marking each ticket that we close with a response to this question “Can the requester solve this ticket themselves with a KBA?” If yes, we go ahead and create a KBA or update an existing one.

As quick as we are to respond to and solve your inquiries, we trust that you will appreciate being able to self serve and bypass us where possible to get the answers you so desperately need. Watch this space as we evolve from pioneers to experts over the next 12-18 months. There will be a time where you no longer be able email or call us, simply search for what you need and solve your problem on the spot. Failing that you will be able to fill out a form (which many of you now do anyway) and give us all the information we need in that form to solve the request with just one touch. All that’s left then is for us to place a good looking mannequin on the desk to greet you each day as you pass through the Innovation Hub. We’ll be elsewhere doing some cool shit. Well maybe not quite but you get the drift.

Thank You REA – 95% satisfaction rating!

Feedback is the breakfast of champions as someone once said. Don’t ask me who, but that resonates with me. We run Net Promoter Score (NPS) on our our tickets and ask for feedback from you when a ticket is closed. We hover at a NPS score of roughly 92-98% most times – better than any other similar service in Australia. Usually we have about 5 passives and very rarely some detractors. Thanks very much for this, we really appreciate it.

 

 

In Conclusion

Thanks for getting to this point, I can’t help myself once I get started. There’s truly so much more to tell, but we’ll save that for next time. We are on a journey to provide better support our staff and develop ourselves as individuals and as a team. Please remember – we aren’t a help desk. We are Support Services.