How to reduce Service Desk calls?

An open discussion on issues related directly or primarily to the service or help desk.
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Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2019 6:57 am

Sun Feb 17, 2019 5:32 am

Hi everyone,

The IT company that I work for supports a Customer who has ~6000 users.
We deliver all sort of IT services to them and also we provide a Service Desk function (24/7)
They also have their own Internal Help Desk supporting their own internal services (Business hours).

Outside of BH we take over (with limited responsibility) and log the high priority issues for Internal Help Desk so they can look into it first thing in the morning.

When the user calls IT support number during the office hours, he is offered two opinions:
"Please press '1' for a XXX Service Desk, please press '2' for an Internal Help Desk"

Outside BH it goes straight to us without giving the user an option.

Each user has access to the instructions that describe the scope of '1' and '2'.
But still, we are getting thousands of calls (monthly) to our Service Desk that should be addressed to the internal Help Desk in the first place.

Currently, the telephone line that we use doesn't allow us to transfer the call between the '1' and '2'.
This means, that each time that we receive the invalid call, all we can do is to ask the user to hang up the phone, redial the same number and press '2' this time.

The Client (the Customer management) complains about that approach.
They would prefer if we could transfer the users directly without asking them to redial the same number again.

In order to reduce incorrect calls to SD we already have a Problem Management investigating the issue.
Initial corrective actions are to is to review the user documentation and to improve it.
Also, every once in a while we want to address the users with a 'refresher' training pack so they can better understand how to use IT Support number.

We have a small debate about the telephone line.
Technically, this is possible to gain the ability to transfer the calls between the two options directly (this would require a change, but it is doable).

The SD management claims it should stay as is. They see it as a way to educate the users. If the user is asked to hang up and redial, he will learn the lesson and select the right option next time.

On the other hand, there are individuals in my company, that claims that this is an unacceptable solution and the SD should not use is as a way to couch the users.

What would be the 'ITIL' way to address this problem and who is right and who is wrong?

I would be grateful for any help.


Posts: 12
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2019 12:56 pm

Tue Feb 19, 2019 8:18 am

Geoff - Appreciate your question. The "ITIL way" is to provide value to your customer by facilitating the outcomes that they want, without the customer having to own specific costs and risks. Short and sweet - do what needs to be done to provide the value that your customer wants in the most effective and efficient way possible. Having said that, whatever you do must also provide value to your company as the service provider - if your company is not realizing value as well, then your company will not be able to deliver value.

I am a big believer in the statement - "The customer is not always right. But the customer is the customer. When you don't treat your customer as a customer, you soon will no longer have that customer."

Expecting the user to learn by going through a hang-up and redial experience will only serve to alienate your client's users and degrade the reputation of your company. Having and promoting such an expectation is plain and simple poor customer service.

If it is technically possible to simply transfer calls back to your client's internal service desk, then you should do so (then document the fact that you had to do the transfer in your service desk system - you'll need this information at some future point!). Plus, your client is asking you to do so. Why is there resistance to do as your customer is asking?

I would also suggest that your problem management activities need to dig in a bit deeper. If the users are continuing to call your service desk inappropriately after being provided instructions regarding the difference between '1' and '2' tells me that the documentation is either ineffective and/or not being read in the first place. IMO, adding more documentation won't solve it - seems to me that this is a symptom and not a cause.

There appears to be more to the issue here..... but that's just my gut feeling. I'll watch this thread should you like to discuss further.
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Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2019 6:57 am

Thu Feb 21, 2019 4:08 am

A very helpful post, thank you very much! I will keep you informed about the situation that we are facing :)
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Corde Wagner
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Sat Mar 02, 2019 9:38 pm

Hi Geoff,

If they have not already, I also recommend that your Helpdesk management perform a series of surveys to gather how the customer feels about support. As part of the survey, include at least one question to confirm (the assumption?) that every person knows where (and how) to find the instructions. It my experience that what we in IT think is easy to use and find, is not perceived by the internal customer to not be friendly. I'd be interested to know how many of the 6000 employees don't even know if (these instructions) exist.

Also if not already in place, consider a self service knowledge base that can easily be found from a friendly 'home page' in the company intranet. Many companies find that people are good with looking up KM articles and if done well, this may be at least a partial solution for reducing calls?

Good luck!

Corde Wagner
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Wed Mar 06, 2019 5:00 am


from a user point of view, having to deal with two different numbers to call depending on the issue it just the WORST support organization: that means that, as a user, I need to understand enough of the technology and the support organization to make a first diagnosis... One of the oldest ITIL concepts is the Single Point of Contact = Help Desk, "Single" is not here to look pretty , it's got a real meaning !

I would never buy a car if the provider told me:" if it is a pure mechanical problem you'll have to go to garage 1 but if is it rather an electronic one you'll have to go to garage 2; as they are specialized". I don't know anything about mechanics but, even if I did, I would never accept this type of service: if my car doesn't function properly, I just want to go to one single place where they will handle all types of situation, it may be garage 1 or garage 2, I don't care. If I had to organize the garage support organization, I would organize for each garage to be able to run a first level diagnosis and decide whether it is handling the case or should bring the car to the other garage.

Back to your case, I think users should not be offered with a choice: they should always call a single and unique number. In my view it should be the internal support (*). The SPOC should then run frist level diagnosis and determine whether they can solve it or assign it to the external support (it would be much wiser to do it via ITSM tools , shared or interconnected). Outside Business hours , the internal number is routed to the external support.
This is transparent for the user.

(*) major reason is that the cost of service from the external support organization will probably be based or impacted by the number of calls to handle => it not wise to pay the external support to get calls that need to be handled by the internal support.

Let me know it that helps...
JP Gilles
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