Advisable Support Solutions
Meeting the needs of enterprise service management is a tough job. At Getronics's Houston enterprise service center, analysts handle over 200,000 contacts per month. The center provides enterprise-managed service solutions from networks down to the desktops, including planning, deployment and maintenance services for service solutions, to its 33 local clients. The Dutch company, which acquired Wang Global last summer, has 6,300 clients worldwide, and netted 3.66 billion Euros (about the same amount in dollars) in revenue in 1999. Getronics was interested in staying on top of its game.
Steve Wylie, help desk group manager in Houston, says that Getronics wanted to better support their customers and found a Servicesoft tool, Web Advisor, to help them do that, three years ago. "Initially we desired to improve our services. We wanted to provide a higher quality and more valuable service to our customers. We wanted to provide our analysts on the phones with the tools and the systems to very quickly and consistently resolve end-users' problems. We were looking for a tool that we could customize to each of our client's environments that was easily accessible and very user friendly for our analysts. We wanted them to be able to quickly access on the phone with the end-user the information that they need to provide that to the customer to quickly resolve their problem over the phone. Servicesoft's Web Advisor provided the kind of features we needed."
Servicesoft's Web Advisor is a Web-based knowledge base tool that service agents may access in real time to resolve customer problems. Web Advisor provides troubleshooting trees for agents to follow, as well as keyword searches to locate consistent, customized problem fixes, while they are on the phone with clients. Jeff Whitney, vice president of marketing at Servicesoft explains the genesis of its combination of customer support and intelligence that Web Advisor offers: "Servicesoft got started in 1987 doing expert-system technology. Servicesoft created about 13 years of intellectual knowledge around how to use knowledge and the whole expert-system area. The Web brought about the marriage of this knowledge-based capability with the ability to utilize the Web as a way to provide customer service around making the customer effective in self service as well as empowering the customer service agents to deal with customers, whether it be through e-mail response or text chat, live collaboration or having the knowledge base when they take a phone call. In 1996, Servicesoft totally reengineered the product to make it support the Web environment. We've been really focusing on making customer service support more effective."
Wylie found that Web Advisor was a very accessible system that they could customize to their customers' environments. "This is very, very important because we are servicing literally 33 different customers here, and across the corporation literally hundreds of customers. It had to be easily customized to each customer. It also had to be scalable to be able to handle the thousands and thousands of technical cases we build into it and constantly increase. And it had to be very cost-effective, too."
The solution was employed in the enterprise system service center in Houston. Getting the analysts to resolve problems consistently was important to Wylie. The Servicesoft product managed that by keeping a standard issue resolution pattern for each customer's typical service issues in its knowledge base. When a call came in and the caller described the issue he's having, the Getronics analyst could immediately go on and either do keyword searches or actually go through troubleshooting wizards that will direct her to a specific resolution. The system itself would ask the analyst questions like "are they getting the service?" and "what is the response to this action?" and take her through the troubleshooting sequence to get to the end resolution.
Experienced analysts could use the search capability to just search for the end resolution. Wylie explains, "For example, a very high percentage of our call volume is password resets in our customer's environments. Our analysts don't need to go through a trouble-shooting tree to determine that the problem is a password failure. The analyst knows as soon as the user starts describing it that he needs to reset his password. So the analyst can go do an immediate search for the resolution of how to reset the password. He doesn't need to go through all the trouble-shooting steps up front, he can just get to the procedure that says here is how you change the password in this user's environment. So they always use that resolution to provide the answer to the user."
Wylie explains how the knowledge base is created: "We maintain a core knowledge base, which provides typical knowledge and resolutions on the standard commercial system service products. We maintain that by developing or purchasing knowledge packs on these different products. Then we import those into our knowledge base and put them into our standard format and structure so they're accessible to all the different analysts in the center. Then we build very custom knowledge bases for each different customer that we support using information that they have already documented. We will do what we call data harvesting, knowledge harvesting and gather that information and then format it into our standard resolution cases into our knowledge base. Building a consistent and robust knowledge base requires a large up-front effort as well as constant maintenance to keep it updated and coordinate the customer's supported environment."
Today, Web Advisor is being accessed at Getronics by over 500 analysts, with over 5,000 hits per day. Wylie believes it is working well for his clients: "Web Advisor has improved our resolution rates. We can get more knowledge available to the analysts in real time at their fingertips. It definitely improves the end user's satisfaction because they're getting a resolution in real time over the phone and going back to work, without us having to dispatch or escalate the call to somebody else to resolve it."
Another benefit to the product was a reduction in up-front training time. "We're using the system, and not only is it documenting the typical knowledge and the content and the processes that the people need to deliver the service--we're also going to use it as a training tool because all the data you need to train on is in it. It significantly reduced our training time. We trimmed the training time from four weeks to two weeks for help desk analysts," says Wylie.
Measuring consistency of service, an important Getronics goal, is hard to do. But, Wylie says, "We can see since we have now documented specific resolutions to specific types of problems, we know that the service is getting delivered much more consistently than just based on the knowledge within each analyst's head, within their knowledge base. We know that whenever this kind of a problem occurs, the analyst fixes it in this specific way. There are numerous ways you can fix just about any computer problem. But with a specific resolution documented, we know the analysts are driven to that method each time."
"We just started a Web-based self-service rollout with some of our clients, "Wylie says. "To stay competitive in this industry we have to have a Web-based self-service capability for end-users. With Servicesoft, we have been able to put that into place very quickly. We're moving to implementing LiveContact and E-mailContact in the second half of this year. That will take Internet chat and e-mail capability and route that through a service delivery module that is integrated with our system service and our current self-service software.
"What we are trying to get to, and will get to very quickly, is a multimedia service capability. So whether the end-user wants to call on the phone, send an e-mail, chat over the Internet or hit a Web page, he will get the same access and the same service to get the end result and get back to work. We'd like to drive the simpler questions to the Web for self-service, leaving the more complex issues for the analysts to handle over the phones. Our target is to get to that by the end of the year. We want to integrate our service offerings so that no matter how someone contacts us, they can get the same level of service."