Service Desk Rockstars – Retail Assist wins SDI Best Managed Service Desk Award

Nottingham based company Retail Assist, has won the globally recognised ‘Best Managed Service Desk’ Award at the Service Desk Institute’s (SDI) Annual IT Service and Support Awards. If you’ve not heard of Retail Assist before, they provide managed services for the retail sector and some of the brands they support are Pizza Hut, Vue Cinemas, Cath Kidston, Karen Millen, White Stuff and Oasis.

The Service Desk Institute Awards

Winner-Best-Managed-Service-Desk

The SDI annual Awards identify the excellence of outstanding service desk teams and individuals, and celebrates their success.

After reaching the Final 3 last year, Retail Assist was keen to re-enter with a host of fresh innovations to its service desk provision. ‘Best Managed Service Desk’ was a tough category – in the Final 3 were SCC based in Romania, and  Maersk Group headquartered in Denmark. However, Retail Assist impressed the judges with the level of investment demonstrated in their Help Desk, and focus on the customer; providing a proactive, quality service to enable them to reach their goals.

Dan Smith, CEO of Retail Assist, commented on the achievement:

“We are extremely proud to have won the award, and to claim the title as the World’s ‘Best Managed Service Desk’.  We have progressed significantly over the last 17 years to support many of the leading retail and hospitality brands, but this really gives the team the recognition they deserve for all their hard work and dedication to providing the best possible service to over 8000 global locations around the clock.”

The Retail Assist Help Desk team enjoyed an impressive gala dinner event, receiving the award along with winners in each of the awards categories, at a prestigious awards ceremony at the Birmingham Hilton Metropole last night. The £1000 prize for winning the award will be donated to Emmanuel House, Retail Assist’s chosen charity for the financial year.

Worthy Winners

The SDI IT Service Awards 2016
The SDI IT Service Awards 2016

 


 

I caught up with Dan this week to find out more about Retail Assist and how much the win meant to his team.  The Retail Assist Service Desk provides IT support services to 8,000 locations across the globe 24 x 7 x 365 in 8 different languages – that’s a lot of tech support! The Service Desk is made up of 50 – 55 analysts with over 3,000 procedures to ensure that all the essentials are covered and that the team always have something to refer to.

From speaking to Dan it was clear that a fantastic customer experience was the objective of every single person in the team. As Dan explained it; the Service Desk had two main objectives:

  1. Fix the issue quickly and effectively (no nightmare automated menu systems for RA customers; it takes just 40 seconds from calling their number to connect with a Service Desk analyst)
  2. Look after the customer so that even if the Incident can’t be resolved at first line; the customer has a workaround, information or an escalation to second line support and is in a much happier position.

So often in the Service Desk world we get so hung up on measurements, metrics and statistics that we forget about what’s important – the customer – so it’s brilliant to see Retail Assist putting the customer at the heart of everything they do. The attention to detail is fantastic, RA will work with their customers to provide proactive support as well as world class Incident Management.

One of the examples Dan shared with me was that when the latest Star Wars film came out (seriously – how awesome was The Force Awakens? All three of my children sat through it, completely entranced from beginning to end – even my 3 year old which is nothing short of a miracle I can tell you) not only did the RA desk ensure that extra team members were on shift, they also made provided extra wrap around support for early in the morning and late at night, as well as working with Vue to ensure all tills were tested and fully operational prior to the premier date.

Another example Dan talked about was for a retail customer in central London. A fire at a local BT exchange effectively took out their card systems during the weekend. The RA analysts were able to remotely dial in and set a £50 floor limit to enable the customer to be able to take debit and credit card payments of up to £50 so they could continue to trade. As someone who worked in retail all the way through college (Hi Tesco & Easons!) being unable to take card payments at the weekend is the stuff of nightmares so all power to the Retail Assist guys for being able to come up with a workaround.

One of the things that really impressed me about the Retail Assist Service Desk was its commitment to it’s people. There are two permanent trainers on the team, there is an Application Academy for further reading and all team leaders go on the ITIL foundation training. The Service Desk supports career progression, some examples of next roles include second line support, project management and analyst programmers. The procedures and work instructions are there to support rather than limit the analysts who are encouraged to use their judgement and skill to look after each caller.

A big well done to the Retail Assist team for their win and fair play for donating their winnings to charity – you rock!

To find out more about Retail Assist you can check out their website here. For more about the Service Desk Institute you can get to their website by clicking this link.

Has the Retail Assist win inspired you to enter your Service Desk into next year’s SDI awards? Let us know in the comments!

 

Support Provision & the Changing Landscape of the Service Desk

Graph With Stacks Of CoinsService desk teams provide support and service to company employees, helping them to make the most of the IT assets that the company provides. At least, that was always the role that IT Service Management teams saw themselves providing. The overall goal may not have altered, but how this is fulfilled has been changing.

The traditional methods that service desk teams use to demonstrate their value don’t effectively capture all that the ITSM function can deliver. At the same time, new initiatives like Bring Your Own Device, cloud applications and self-service portals are entering business IT. This means that key performance indicators (KPIs) have to be changed. However, are we changing our approaches to keep up, or are we being forced into this? As the service desk landscape changes, how can we take back control and demonstrate more value?

 

Where are we today?

Many service desk teams will still use first-time fix as their number one demonstration of value. However, while this metric is still valid, it’s very quantitative, and only one step above looking at the overall volume of calls being handled. Service desks today have to deal with a larger number of channels than before, so how calls are categorised is a good place to start thinking differently.

The key questions to ask here are: “How do my customers want to interact with me? Are they happy with more traditional email and phone requests, or would they like more options such as chat?” For many teams, answering these questions can be difficult, as options are grafted on over time rather than being thought through strategically.

For a service desk manager looking at all the different traffic coming in, it can be difficult to assign weighting on the requests that come in. Should social media or chat interaction be counted in the same way as a phone request? A lot of this will depend on the process that customers go through as their incidents are handled. This will also affect how success is measured in the future as well.

 

Where do we go from here?

There are two avenues open to the service desk manager here – one is prescriptive, and one is to allow more freedom in how incidents are handled. The first approach would be based on mapping out all the most common problems that are encountered by users, and then looking at the workflow for those incidents across different communication methods.

This can work well when you have a large number of service desk operatives and need to get consistency on customer support experience. Putting this together would provide both guidance on how to handle requests that come through, and also ensure quality of service.

However, there is one issue with this approach, it takes away a lot of the flexibility that service desk professionals can have in solving problems and ensuring that the customer is happy at the end of the call or interaction. Now, for regulated industries where security and compliance are important, this is something that will just have to be accepted but for other businesses, allowing more leeway on how calls and requests are handled can be both better for the customer and for the service desk personnel. Allowing service desk staff to help customers in the way that best suits them – and the customers that make the request – can help to provide better service, both in terms of quality and service levels.

 

Looking at a bigger picture

Thinking about specific targets for the service desk team also involves looking at how ITSM is incorporated into the overall business or organisational goals. Is the service team delivery part of external-facing, “paying customer” work, or more around internal customer or employee satisfaction and keeping users productive? Building up metrics around customer retention and satisfaction leads to a very different set of KPIs compared to this internal service delivery, where efficiency is paramount.

Setting out new KPIs involves looking at what the customer expectations are around service, as well as what the company or organisation wants to deliver. This is a very different approach to the quantitative approach that many service desks are used to. Instead, it has to be more qualitative. Often, there will be larger company goals that will help frame KPIs in the right way.

As an example, your company may provide a product with premium branding. Service delivery around this should therefore match that perception. Creating a measurement KPI around delivering “five star service,” with personnel encouraged to go the extra mile, would be more effective than simply looking at how many calls or requests were handled. Conversely, companies that pride themselves in efficiency would want the same approach to be reflected in their service strategy.

For public sector organisations, efficiency and call handling will still be important metrics to track as well. However, the growth of online and digital service delivery means that requests that might previously have been calls can be answered either through information on websites or email/chat requests. This will leave more personal interaction time for staff, providing a better quality of care for those that really need it.

Alongside these changes in KPIs, the way that service desk teams manage themselves may have to change as well. For too long, the tiered service desk approach has been less about dealing with front line problems and more about managing how skilled professionals can provide support where it is needed. The change from solely supporting phone and email over to using multiple channels should be seen as an opportunity to increase skills for everyone.

 

Managing service interactions more efficiently

It’s also worth considering how sessions are handled. For requests that have a technical or specialist knowledge requirement, playing telephone tag and having the customer explain their issues multiple times can be a painful process. Instead, it should be possible to use those with specialist knowledge in a more efficient way through collaborative sessions.

This approach involves letting third parties join calls securely – particularly if there is a remote access session involved. Rather than depending on the third party and customer to get connected, the service desk can manage this themselves, cutting down on time taken and providing a better experience for the customer. Bringing together assets in this way does mean that the front-line staff have to be aware of what challenges they may face that are intricate or require outside help, but that does not mean that they have to hand a call straight over to someone else.

The growth of online support and services is only going to go up, as more people prefer to work directly through chat or social channels rather than more traditional phone systems. The make-up of the workforce is changing as well. In the higher education sector, research by the Service Desk Institute found that 76 per cent of students preferred using the web form for raising a request rather than picking up the phone or emailing directly, while 37 per cent were happy to use social media channels to contact the service desk.

As these students move from university and enter the workforce, their expectations of support will be very different to what has gone before. Maintaining a consistency of approach when trying to keep all these options open is a real challenge, but it can be delivered by thinking through the problems that are due to come up.

Rethinking your KPIs so they are more aligned with the needs of the business is a good first step. From this, you can then look at how to work more closely with line of business teams, too. Ultimately, the service desk can start to think about changing the perception it has within the organisation, from one of only being there when things go wrong to providing more guidance about how to make things go right in the first place.

There seem to be as many choices on how to manage interaction with customers as there are service desks, particularly as customers want to interact in new ways. However many channels you have to support, the important distinction is around customer service, not just IT support. ITSM teams have to look beyond their role as IT professionals and think about displaying their acumen around other areas, too.

Setting out KPIs is one way to achieve this aim. By linking the aim of the business to the quality of service that is delivered, ITSM teams can look to demonstrate more of the value that they create for the business every day.

 

Image Credit

Industry News Roundup inc The New Sheriff of the Web

News and Info Week 4No time to read all the interesting news and info floating around social media and appearing in your inbox? Read our round up of what we’ve found interesting this week.

  • Print Everything.Matt Beran (officially the most fidgety man in ITSM), Matt Hooper and Mark Kawasaki talk productivity tools, podcasts and print services. Watch here
  • First NHS IT Service Desk In England To Secure 3-star Accreditation – Informatics Merseyside has become the first NHS service desk in England to be accredited with 3-star certification from the Service Desk Institute (SDI) Read more here
  • Is The BIS Growth Accelerator Scheme Worthwhile For Technology Startups? Caroline Baldwin reports on why few technology companies are taking advantage of the additional financial and growth support available. Read more here
  • Do You Have A Service Management “House Plan”? Matt Hooper explains why one process at a time isn’t going to cut it. Read more here
  • Problem Management – The Value In Not KnowingRyan Ogilvie celebrates the opportunity of unrealized value. Read more here
  • FBI Warns: Criminals Could Walk Free If Tech Companies Encrypt User Data – As tech companies try to outdo one another in the battle to address user privacy concerns, the FBI is warning that new encryption methods might hinder investigations. Read more here
  • Should I Upgrade to Mac OS X Yosemite? – Golden delicious or bad apple? Read more here
  • How Microsoft Appointed Itself Sheriff Of The Internet – Cyber criminals, digital crime fighters and collateral damage. Read more here

Got some interesting news to share – say hello via @gobbymidget 

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Next Generation Service Desk: Are you prepared?

Nev Wilshire keynoting at SDI
Nev Wilshire keynoting at SDI

Last week The ITSM Review was the Social Partner at the annual Service Desk Institute (SDI) conference. The tagline was “be inspired, take action, and be better” and I certainly get the impression that delegates left the conference with a big to-do list for improvement.

Despite the strong emphasis on the “future of technology” in the agenda, for me the primary message and theme running throughout the conference was the need for IT to stay relevant to the business. To put it bluntly, if IT doesn’t understand and share common goals with the business, then IT has no future.

From the sessions, to discussions in the bar, even to chatter in the lift (that was me earwigging on two delegates’ conversation), “the business” was a huge talking point. And correctly so in my opinion. And for once it was nice to step away from the process-driven IT service management (ITSM) conversations to look at the bigger picture.

With this in mind, rather than give you a running commentary of the event, I’ve chosen to focus on the advice given in two presentations which relate to this topic.

Kill Your IT Service Desk – Chris Matchett, Gartner

The primary difference between this presentation and most of the others is that Chris didn’t just tell us what the problems are and why we need to fix them, he actually gave us insight into HOW to fix them.

Chris discussed how most service desks are currently not meeting business expectations. This shouldn’t be news to most of you, as I think we all know that IT is struggling to cope with changes in customer behaviours and technologies, with an inability to meet consumer-driven employee expectations of service and support.  He further discussed how we’ve moved from “how do we stop Shadow IT”, to “how do we control Shadow IT” to “how do we harness Shadow IT?” Chris then outlined an improvement model to enable us to harness it and to get the service desk working in conjunction with the rest of the business.

Chris gave some excellent advice on how we need to move to a four-tiered support approach and how to develop an improvement roadmap for this.

In addition, Chris also highlighted how service desk analysts need to make the transition to become “business engagement analysts”.  A business engagement analyst has knowledge of business processes and is a leader with the ability to build partnerships and influence others.  He or she invests in softer skills, invests in design fundamentals, shadows the business, and engages the community.

Some extra pieces of advice from Chris:

  • Remember you need to control and embrace change or risk getting left behind it
  • Just because you’re performing well against industry standards this does not automatically equate to value to the business. Talk to your customers
  • Remember that one metric never tells the whole story. Place less emphasis on First Call Resolution (FCR) rates for example as the minute you fix the easy stuff like automating password reset your FCR will go down as the average incident gets more difficult. The automation is a good thing, but your FCR metric will make it look the opposite
  • Overwhelmed by password requests? Look to implement self service and give control back to your users
  • Remember that any new initiative needs management buy-in. Any change needs to be led from the top down.

Oh and then there was my favourite quote from Chris: “Is a password reset a request or an incident? Who cares, it’s just a pain in the arse”.

Service Catalog – Extending the Role Of The Service Desk – Olaf Van Der Vossen, CERN

Those of you who read The ITSM Review on a regular basis will know that Martin Thompson has written about CERN’s approach to service management before. So why am I repeating what he’s likely already said? That’s easy, because for me it was one of the stand-out presentations of the conference. Everybody is forever talking about how the IT will be dropped from ITSM and how IT needs to be better aligned with the business, only rather than just talking about it, CERN has actually done it.

CERN has implemented ITSM best practices across both IT and the rest of the business. This means that the service desk doesn’t just operate within IT but also manages requests and incidents from HR, finance, etc. They believe that you should make life simple for your customers by using ONE point of contact, ONE behavior, ONE tool, and ONE service description.

In this session, Olaf specifically looked at how a comprehensive Business Service Catalog is essential for success when extending service management beyond IT. You need to:

  • Know what you are supposed to be doing
  • Understand how these services are provided (and by whom)
  • Drive automation and smooth assignment and escalation

Olaf also spoke about how extending beyond IT can make things more complex. To address this you should:

  • Invest in training for your service desk staff
  • Provide extra coaching for non-IT support staff
  • Use a Service Portal to hide the complexity of your Business Service Catalog

I also want to mention a great question from a member of the audience:

“In such a large organization, how do you provide your service desk staff with the knowledge to answer every single request and incident that comes in?”

The answer was simple: You train dedicated teams of second and third line support in specific business areas. This then means that first line support teams can delegate the more difficult queries as required. You also need service desk analysts who can communicate well, as extra effort is needed here when dealing with enquiries on subjects you don’t understand (potentially from customers in other global offices with whom you’ve never had any interaction before).

Olaf also jokingly advised that teams should prepare for really random questions like  “I’m coming to Geneva tomorrow, what’s the weather going to be like?”

In addition to the content of the presentation, I also want to mention Olaf himself, primarily because he made me smile (much like Olaf in Frozen really!). He was very personable, made the audience laugh, and was very easy to relate to. I would have quite happily stayed for a further 45 minutes to listen to him present more on what CERN has achieved.

In Summary

The atmosphere was great, and the awards dinner was definitely one of the best I’ve attended recently (likely down to the brilliant finalist videos – here is my favourite). Congratulations again to all of this year’s winners.

Some of the keynotes I felt lacked the “wow” factor, but I really am the hardest person to please when it comes to keynotes (my favourite is still John O’Leary) as I literally want my socks to be blown off every time I see one (which probably is wrong on my part, nobody else’s).

That said I did very much enjoy listening to Neville Wilshire, even though he made me sing and dance to The Killers at 9.30am. His advice regarding looking after your employees and providing excellent customer service was spot on, plus he made me giggle when he told us we all needed BIG BALLS (yes I am a giggling 7 year old inside).

Mr Happy Man Alexander Kjerulf was not totally my cup of tea (sorry but he said it himself – it’s because I’m British!), but I thank him for providing us with entertainment long after he’d left (I don’t think I’ve ever high fived so many people or heard as many “you’re awesome” statements in my life before).

Overall it was a good conference, with what I think has great potential to be even better next year. For me the main thing that I felt was missing from some of the sessions was the “how”, but honestly this isn’t specific to SDI as I generally feel this way about all ITSM conferences. Sometimes I worry that I’m becoming cynical because I attend so many of these events, but upon chatting to delegates I definitely got the impression that focusing on the HOW would make the event even more beneficial to them.

Would I recommend that you attend this conference? Yes most definitely, but don’t just take it from this cynical, giggling 7-year old. Just look at what the delegates had to say:

Reasons to be cheerful: ITSM in the ascendancy at #SITS13

I have just returned from the Service Desk and IT Support show held at Earls Court in London over the last couple of days. It has been great to catch up with industry friends: old, new and digital.

A snapshot of ITSM Industry sentiment from the last two days would be: Buoyant

  • If 2012 was about thinking/planning, 2013 is about doing
  • Many more organizations are looking to proceed with projects and have a green light on implementation
  • Visitors come armed with very specific requirements and needs rather than ‘we might be in the market for a new helpdesk’
  • Frameworks are a given, it’s much more than Service Desks – visitors have much broader, longer term ITSM objectives

But don’t take my word for it – Some pillars of the ITSM industry have kindly shared their views:

Peter Durrant, LANDesk
Peter Durrant, LANDesk

Peter Durrant, Enterprise Sales Director for LANDesk Software, who recently hit 150% of their European Sales target, reports new clients are increasingly approaching LANDesk with end-to-end ITSM requirements rather than replacing ticketing systems. In difficult times, customers see LANDesk as a low risk and reliable option with a strong reputation.

Colin Rudd, itSMF
Colin Rudd, itSMF

Colin Rudd, Chairman itSMF UK reports good interest in membership at the show. Echoing Peter’s comments above Colin stated the industry is maturing beyond ITIL and Service Desks into much broader ITSM requirements. Exciting times for the industry and to be part of the itSMF community.

Tony Probert, Cherwell
Tony Probert, Cherwell

Tony Probert, Managing Director UK and EMEA at Cherwell Software stated that SITS is a barometer on where the industry is going and his judgement from the last few days was a lot more positive. Projects are becoming unstuck, purse strings are being released and the industry is looking very positive. Clients are becoming very specific about their requirements and have moved beyond Incident, Problem and Change to Portals, Systems Integration and Advanced Reporting. Cherwell have put effort into building their partner community and have recently signed up new business partners in Spain, Russia, Hungary and Norway.

Emma Spear, SDI
Emma Spear, SDI

Emma Spear, Head of Marketing and Events at The Service Desk Institute broke with the norm with a relaxed and sociable ‘tea party’ presence at SITS. Emma reported the SDI Service Desk Certification was very popular and the team were preparing for the SDI Conference on June 18th – 19th in Edgbaston.

Tom West-Robinson, Marval
Tom West-Robinson, Marval

Tom West-Robinson, Account Manager at Marval Group also noted that show visitors have a much clearer understanding of what they want and that projects are beginning to make progress. Tom stated that many organizations face high value maintenance renewals on their existing helpdesk software and are actively investigating better value alternatives.

Andrew Smith, BMC
Andrew Smith, BMC

Finally, Andrew Smith, Solutions Marketing Manager at BMC Software, expressed his surprise at the vibrancy of the show. He stated that although 2012 was good in terms of visitor numbers, this year has been particularly good for the level of engagement. Lots of companies were talking about projects in 2012; in 2013 they are starting to implement them. Andrew noted it was great to see new exhibitors and alternative technologies appearing as well as the industry regulars.

SITS visits Berlin in late September before returning to Earls Court in April 2014.

CGI/Logica gains 5-star Service Desk Institute accreditation

Tessa Troubridge, Managing Director, SDI
Tessa Troubridge, Managing Director, SDI

Logica is positively beaming with a friendly welcoming smile this month after receiving news that it has been awarded 5-star certification by the Service Desk Institute (SDI) for its UK service desk.

Now part of CGI Group Inc. as a trading entity, this is apparently the first time that any organisation has achieved the 5-star standard.

The CGI/LogicaUK service desk team, based in South Wales, supports more than 180 clients across the public and private sector. To award the 5-star certification SDI carried out a four day audit incorporating feedback from clients and staff, and worked alongside members to understand the how the team provide services to a broad range of organisations.

NOTE: In terms of form and function, the 5-star service desk certification (introduced by SDI in 2012) is said to be a definition of the “ultimate levels” of quality and delivery for world-class service desks.

It found true integration of the service desk with the wider service management functions demonstrated combined strength and committment to delivery excellence.

Tim Gregory, UK President, CGI, said: ”The SDI Service Desk Certification is testament to the hard work of the team and their commitment to providing outstanding levels of service. We invest a lot of time in our members with in-depth training upfront so they have the skills to best help meet client’s diverse needs. We also encourage the team to spend time with our clients to greater understand their overall objectives and how their business works. Investing this time from the outset, allows us to offer our clients an unrivalled level of service and, as is proven by our accreditation.”

Tessa Troubridge, Managing Director, SDI, said, “Achieving 4 star on two consecutive occasions for the SDI Service Desk Certification programme is a tremendous accolade in its own right and to be recognised as a 5* world class service desk is a truly outstanding achievement. I am delighted and proud that we have been able to certify CGI/Logica as the first 5* world class service desk.”

Troubridge also said that the service desk here is extremely impressive with a remarkable people culture. Every team member displays a tangible passion, enthusiasm and drive to deliver not only excellent customer service but to provide added value as part of every single customer engagement.

Talking of Logica’s WOW factor, Troubridge says that the culture here is evidenced throughout the fabric of the organisation, the processes in place and the unique approach to team work to enhance the customer experience.

“It is in the DNA of each of the team members, their team leaders and across all levels of management and is driven both top down and bottom up.  This exceptional people culture is one of the real WOW factors of the service desk of which they should be extremely proud and which all other service desks should aspire to achieve.”.

Review: SDI Software Solutions Day

Image from @SDIrob

I attended the SDI Software Solutions Day at the British Library last week.

In a nutshell, it was vendor beauty parade for interested buyers.

Six ITSM vendors presented an overview of their company to a room full of SDI members. SDI members had the opportunity to engage with the vendors directly and network with their peers.

I think this is a great format. It was crystal clear that if you were attending the event you wanted to hear from the vendors and what they had to say. Vendors support many events but it is rare for the spotlight to be purely focussed on what they bring to the table.

The compere and guide for the day was Ken Goff, who was very keen to stress the importance of building a list of requirements before even thinking about looking for new technology and provided some brilliant insights into the vendor selection process (more to follow over the coming weeks).

“Every product is perfect at what it is designed to do, and rubbish at what is not designed to do” Ken Goff

When the audience were asked what they wanted most from vendors – two answers stood out for me;

  • Be honest about your shortcomings and scope.
  • Deliver on your promises

The first point is particularly interesting. As a former software sales rep I am all too familiar with the pressure to say ‘Yes’ to every question asked. It takes courage and wisdom for a vendor to say ‘You know what, that’s not really our area of expertise’.

Talking of sales reps… it seemed a little unfair for ICCM to send two sales reps along to network with the audience. Strictly speaking I guess anyone who is an SDI member can attend, but it seems a little unsporting when the other vendors had taken the time to build booths and prepare presentations.

My only criticism of an otherwise very useful and informative day is that it would have been nice to hear more from a customer perspective, some vendors mentioned what their customers were doing but there was scope for a lot more. i.e. “Here is someone that was in the position as you are now, this is what they did, these are the hurdles they faced and this is how we helped them”.

Vendors Participating: