The Power of Reporting

The one thing that the IT Department, Customer Service and Service Desk departments all have in common is that they have plenty of data.

Data about technology being used within the business, software, hardware, which version, who uses what, and how it all fits together, which customers have what products, what service levels they have in place, and which third parties provide what to whom. When something goes wrong and customers have problems, whether they be internal or external customers it is the Service Desk that has to put it all right. In most cases the Service Desk has the information, but it is pulling all the various strands of information together to make intelligence that you can act on, that is the key to continuous service improvement, and keeping your customers happy.

Knowing what information you have, and how to manipulate it to find out what you wish to know is becoming an increasingly important art that more mature Service Desks are beginning to appreciate. The latest Service Desk Institute Performance Reporting certification demonstrates how the industry pioneers are leading the way in this discipline. One crucial aspect is to spot trends, so that you can proactively tackle performance issues before they become big problems. Trending information is typically overlaid onto a standard report, displayed graphically to show information trended over a rolling 12 month period.

With the rise of social media, monitoring customer comment, and requests for help via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and any of the other social platforms is vital, particularly for consumer brands. Clever use of reporting can help to monitor social platforms ensuring that brand value is protected and customers are dealt with quickly and efficiently.

One of the more popular reports used by Service Desks dealing with all manner of customers, is a breakdown of how their customers are contacting them. Whether calls and requests for help are being received by phone, email, self-service portal or social media will dictate where best to deploy resources. Equally if the number of telephone calls to the Service Desk is rising, it could be time to run a campaign reminding customers just how easy the Self Service portal is to use, and what great service you get. It’s been well proven that a telephone call costs more to handle than a Self Service call, therefore a campaign could very soon pay for itself, quite apart from the fact that you will be helping customers, and providing a better service.

Other reports that are popular with the more forward thinking Service Desks, are reports that show the number of incidents or requests for help after a major change, for example a new email server. The report simply layers the number and time of the incidents over the times when major work was carried out to the system. If there is a spike in the number of calls, this could indicate a requirement to improve change management processes, or at the very least to increase impact assessment. By lowering the impact of changes, you keep your customers happier and have less firefighting to do. This enables the department to concentrate on more proactive and strategic work.

Some organisations put their customer Service Desk right at the very heart of their business. Sunrise customer, Callstream, part of the Bluebell Telecom Group, is a case in point. A specialist B2B partner, Callstream provides and supports innovative telecoms solutions to organisations where effective communications is fundamental to business delivery. Consequently, any issue with service impacts its customers’ business, therefore Callstream takes customer support extremely seriously.

As well as using dashboards with Red Amber Green (RAG) indicators to provide status updates at a glance, the company has a series of reports covering call or case resolution performance which it runs every day, and every week. The reports vary in granularity from fine detail for managers and technical departments, through to high level summary reports for directors.

Having introduced the basics of reporting to ensure that SLAs are met and customers happy, Callstream has now gone much further, by extending its use of Sostenuto – our flagship Service Desk software – for its Customer Service Desk, to provide a pipeline for new business. Any request for help or for a new product or service, is logged within Sostenuto. The call/case is then tracked through to resolution, so if it is a fault, it is fixed, however, if the customer wants a new service, this is monitored from initial quotation, through to contract negotiations and to signing the deal. As the case progresses, so the percentage likelihood of new business is increased. This enables the company to see what potential new business is coming, and the likely timescales.

As well as providing visibility to the business of its financial position, the system also provides a planning tool for resourcing future business commitments. Different departments can see what projects are coming up and so can ensure that they have the appropriate resources available.

Since introducing this powerful new way of working, sales at Callstream have increased. So much so, that the company is now looking to further extend the use of Sostenuto by building a Projects module. This will enable the business to prioritise resources for large projects based on time limits and delivery dates. Their aim, to have a scientific approach to project management, driven by clever reporting and the use of the Customer Service Desk so that they have a full view where each project slots into the business as a whole, enabling them to meet and exceed customer expectations and so continue to grow their business.

Another customer, Newham Partnership Working (NPW), which is a mutual organisation created to run and commission services to its school members in the London Borough of Newham, use reporting to highlight services delivered, and to justify costs.

For NPW using the power of reporting within its Service Desk software has not only delivered efficiency benefits for the ICT team, but it can quantify exactly what services, including training courses, have been delivered and associated costs to schools. Service Level Agreements have enabled the ICT desk to provide details of service delivered to individual schools over a set period, covering requests handled, fixes and technician time. Reports are generated at the end of the term for schools showing and what has been achieved. NPW can justify costs by showing exactly what the schools are getting for their money. The team at NPW is also able to look at the reports and advise headteachers on equipment refreshes. For example, a high number of calls logged about interactive whiteboards may indicate that the equipment needs upgrading. Checking the call volumes and jobs that technicians couldn’t complete the team are able to identify what the problem and solution might be – do they need to replace kit, or are there a lot of incidents being reported by one member of staff which might mean there is a training requirement that they need to address.

Service Desk solutions hold a mine of valuable information, which can be harnessed for a myriad of business uses. Whether you use it to help run your Service Desk more efficiently, monitor SLA response times, to reduce costs, justify costs to customers, plan future services, or provide feedback to management, one thing is for certain, the more you use the information, the more you drill down to the detail, the more you think about it, the more business benefit you will achieve.

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