This is article 2 in a series of 8. Go to number 1 in the series here.
A high volume of calls is the number one headache for the service desk. Sometimes it seems like everybody is just too busy logging calls to have any time to deal with the issues and requests. The phones just keep on ringing and it’s often for the same reason. Incident queues grow and it seems like there’s never any time to fix the underlying issues that are causing end users to pick up the phone.
When call volumes are high, it’s difficult to find resources for improvement projects – and without improvements, it’s difficult to reduce call volumes. This is the catch-22 of the service desk. To make progress, improvement initiatives need to be focused. They need to hit the mark first time to create traction. The result is that call volumes are reduced and bandwidth is released for further initiatives. One successful improvement project enables the next—releasing more resources and budget until you have broken out of the firefighting loop.
The key to finding improvement initiatives that will succeed in reducing call volumes is in understanding the nature and volume of demand being put on your service desk: why does the phone keep ringing? When you understand demand, you can identify the strategies, structures, skills and tools you need to satisfy that demand. From here, there are two main strategies for reducing call volumes:
- Eliminate the causes of demand – For example, automated detect-and-correct fixes, which spot and resolve issues before they impact IT customers.
- Divert demand – Incidents and requests are routed around the service desk itself, through self-logging and a service catalogue, connected with end-to-end service automation to deliver services and support with zero human intervention. A popular new mechanism for handling issues and requests is a service desk chatbot.
Analysis of inbound demand will help you to pick out which strategy will work best for each type: eliminate or divert.
The “shape” of inbound demand varies from organization to organization, but can be categorized in three broad buckets:
- Failure demand – Something has gone wrong with a device, service or application.
- Information demand – The end user needs some information or data.
- Value demand – The end user needs something new from IT to help them do their job more effectively.
So how do you analyse demand? Reporting on incidents counts by group type (failure demand, information demand, value demand) will give you an indication of the shape of demand and show you where most of your time is spent. For most service desks, failure demand outweighs information demand and value demand; the bulk of time is spent fixing issues. More mature service desks may expect to see more demand stacked towards the value end of the spectrum. When you know the shape of demand, you can start to think about how you can better manage that demand – mapping specific demands to solutions.
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