Performance Services: A combined distributed and centralized service desk can lead to better customer service

Businesses choose to outsource IT services for many reasons that range from quality to cost to focus.   The Performance Services (“managed services”) team at West Monroe Partners helps clients by outsourcing applications and infrastructure management.   A key component of our offering is our Service Desk which is our face to our client’s employees and in some cases, our client’s customers.

Many of our competitors strive to do as much work as possible remotely through a call center or the managed provider’s facility. At West Monroe Partners, our Performance Services team’s best practice is to have an on-site Senior Service Desk Analyst or Engineer when a single client location has more than about 40-50 IT users,.  They can walk the halls, provide more personal support, really learn the needs of the customer and help set expectations going forward.

In my case, our client chose to have a dedicated resource that works in their office.  I help supplement their IT staff while providing a higher level of service.

Boots on the Ground

The interaction between the dedicated resource and the client is different than a traditional call center. That person is in front of the client for a majority of the interactions and directly accessible during the work day. Customer service must become a way of life. This requires daily commitment to attitude, enthusiasm, competence, punctuality and the willingness to take the extra steps to become as much a part of the client’s environment as possible.

While technical proficiency is important, this engagement must begin with a clear vision covering the work that will be provided. Exceeding the client’s expectations ought to be the goal and that cannot be done unless the client’s needs are determined, defined and documented. Ambiguity can lead to potential issues with staffing and disappointment from the client’s perspective regarding the service that is expected.

Building a Relationship

Once the role is adequately defined and the knowledge base exists to complete the expected services, the next step is to build rapport with the day to day users whose software and devices are being supported. Nurturing those relationships is critical to building trust. This extra effort and care may not be essential to meet contractual obligations, but by exceeding expectations, a dedicated resource can open a path toward expanded business opportunities.

Additionally, building trust with the office staff that is being supported is crucial to building a relationship with the client’s IT staff that is being supplemented. It is important to take actionable steps to demonstrate that supporting the office staff’s technology need is the top priority. This emphasizes that the dedicated resource is there to allow the IT staff flexibility to better define their roles. Once this precedent is established, cooperation becomes more fluid and this allows for issues to be solved faster and more efficiently.

Actions Speak Louder than Words

While it is important for expectations to be defined and rapport has been built, it is the actions of the on-site staff that determine the ultimate perception of the service.  A few areas I have focused my time include:

  • Walking the halls of the client multiple times a day to check-in and see how things are going.
  • If an incident or request will take more than a few minutes over the phone, I ask the user if they would like me to come to their desk.  Working side-by-side often turns into a training session in addition to resolving the issue.
  • Participating in the change management process so I can be at the office early the day after major changes and I can ensure I increase my hall walking to make sure everything is going well.
  • Helping to manage the ticket queue so I know that status of every ticket all the time in case a subsequent call or question comes up.
  • When physically working on a laptop, cleaning the keyboard and screen prior to returning it to the user.
  • If invited, participating in the client’s social outings to help build relationships and rapport
  • Report back to the client and the rest of the Performance Services team any trends I notice or concerns I’ve heard so we can manage the problem or expectations better.

The Outcome

While a centralized Service Desk provides efficiency and can be more easily staffed 24×7, when combined with an on-site resource, the client satisfaction can increase significantly.  As an onsite resource, I perform a combination of technical work and account management.  I’m the face of the client to my organization and the face of Performance Services (WMP’s managed services) to our client.   Executing both roles is essential to providing the world class service that our clients expect.

Phone: 312-602-4000
222 W. Adams
Chicago, IL 60606
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