D'Arcy Gue

Service Desks Satisfy Users Only with High Service Standards

February 24, 2016

IT Service Desk 4 Minute Read

Helping healthcare IT users is not a favor — it is a necessity, and has become a science. Hospital service desks must apply professional methodologies and high standards to govern their operations effectively and satisfy their users. Technology usage within hospitals is ubiquitous…and the technologies are not simple. Users need more help than ever before. And great standards organizations like HDI (formerly known as the Help Desk Institute) have made extraordinary contributions to this cause.

One critical standard is implementing and following through on strong ticket management policies to manage specific end-user problems and issues. But some hospital service desks just don’t do the homework, enforcement and follow-up necessary. And users get the short stick in the long run. This can and should change.

Inadequate ticket tracking is a reality in many healthcare organizations. In our world of complex EHRs and other systems, and the availability of internationally accepted service desk standards, this lack of diligence is counter productive — and genuinely unacceptable.  If standards aren’t in place and enforced, your tickets are another example of cats that are unsuccessfully herded. And, meeting major goals of service desks — speedy problem resolution, tracking trends, and maintaining an up to date knowledge base — becomes very difficult.

No Ticket, No Service

It remains common and unfortunate that users’ technology-based questions or complaints are communicated informally to IT staff. They may get resolved without ever being recorded in service desk software. Or, they never get resolved, no one officially knows about them, and IT reps continue to re-invent the wheel when other users report the same problems.  “Favorite IT staff” are called instead of the service desk staff, concerns are voiced in the cafeteria, etc. These scenarios may seem convenient to both users and some IT staff (if the latter have a quick, correct answer), but the opportunity to collect,analyze and repurpose issues-related data into new and better solutions is lost.  This is expensive, inefficient, and very non-user friendly in the end.

Your service structure can be “no ticket — no service,” and still be user friendly. First, the IT shop should have a strict policy of no exceptions except medical emergencies. To make this work, service desk leadership should first investigate and implement easy but powerful ticket creation solutions. Thcoding productivityey exist. Make it as simple and fast as possible for users to create tickets. Allowing ticket creation through email, voicemail, and/or a web portal are good alternatives to a standard ticketing system and take the hassle out of logging tickets. The tickets provides service agents with the tools they need to perform their jobs and improve the overall performance of the service desk over the long haul, not just today. For all this to work, of course, the staff must be adequate in numbers and availability, well trained and managed, and on their toes in order to resolve issues within minutes.

Establish Ticket Criteria

Ticket criteria consists of the metadata attached to each ticket. This data — such as Type, Category, Sub-Category, Etc — is essential in getting the ticket to the right service desk agent and is extremely useful for reporting purposes. To make the data usable, the criteria must be super simple.

Find a ticket creation solution that requires a minimal (but meaningful) number of choices. Some ticketing tools force the user to make eight choices when creating a ticket with three choices would be just as effective. No. Get the easier one. More complicated doesn’t mean superior.

Important criteria to include are:

  • Referenced Application: No matter what the ticket type, there should be a referenced application. This is probably the most significant field to enable analysis: which applications are causing the most problems?
  • Area: The area or department within the hospital should be recorded. This facilitates fine tuning by area, including number of tickets, survey results, etc.
  • Submission Method (Email, Phone, Web, Etc): This enables agents to understand if users are using the most efficient means possible to submit tickets, and to clarify what these methods are.

Learn the Difference Between Incidents and Problems

Most organizations do not know or track the differences between “incidents” and “problems.” To clarify: Incidents are individual issues. Problems are the underlying causes of the incidents.

For example, the hospital’s mail server goes down and three users call, reporting that they cannot access their email. In this scenario, an incident ticket should be created for each of the users and a problem ticket created for the server issue. Separating incidents and problems greatly increases the organization’s ability to track and trend root data more effectively.

Establishing clear policies that enforce standard processes sets your team up for success. This post summarizes one of many powerful standards that will empower your team to provide excellent service and create strong user satisfaction, not only with your service desk but with the organization’s overall IT operation.

For information on how to activate a data-driven service desk, download the Data-Driven Service Desk Guide >>

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