Archive for May, 2012

The Future of Support: Holy Hologram???

Every now and then we come across a story at that really makes us appreciate the level of today’s available technology. When it comes to customer service and support automation, the future is literally here with the introduction of ‘Star Trek’ like hologram technology. This will truly bring the help desk and customer service to the next level. Good or bad thing? Let us know your thoughts. Enjoy the story, as featured in The Week:

Coming soon: Airport customer service reps… who are holograms? – The Week – Mozilla Firefox

She can smile, point you to your gate, and even identify the nearest restroom. Just don’t ask this disturbingly perky virtual worker to carry your luggage

The video: First Coachella brought Tupac back from the dead, and now, airports are also employing holograms of humans to dazzle (and assist) frazzled travelers. This summer, fliers dragging luggage through JFK and LaGuardia airports in New York City and Newark airport in New Jersey will be treated to “computerized, hologram-like avatars” working alongside busy human employees. (Watch a demo below.) The peppy, freakishly selfless, two-dimensional projection “smiles, answers questions, and can guide you to the nearest restroom or to your connecting flight,” says The Associated Press. Each unit costs $250,000, but instead of making an outright purchase, The Port Authority of New York will spend $180,000 to rent five digi-helpers for a six-month period during the daunting summer travel season, when some tens of millions of people will pass through its three airports.

The reaction: This hologram is “more than just your average customer service representative,” says Matthew Rosenbaum at ABC. “She’s always ready with a smile, never needs a bathroom break or a shift change” and could easily give you “a lifetime of devoted service.” I guess, says Fox Van Allen at Tecca. But why would The Port Authority pay $180,000 to rent “fake humans when they could have paid half that to hire real people”? Well, perhaps this “cheery, two-dimensional lady” really will “make the agony of modern air travel a little easier,” says Eric Mack at CNET — “if she doesn’t totally creep you out, that is.” Take a look: Click here for video


Socializing the Help Desk – The Party Continues

May 25, 2012 1 comment

It’s impossible for an IT professional to go anywhere without hearing about the social media paradigm transforming the help desk function. Help desk software providers are rushing to augment their platforms with tools and technologies integrating social features and functions. The more advanced solutions not only embed Facebook/Twitter integration, but actually make these social platforms the center point of the solution (or in some cases at least provide the option for this). One could argue that social integration, like Facebook and Twitter, are probably more ideal for external customer (CRM) support.

After all, consumers are all about these platforms, so it makes tremendous sense to embed customer support where the customer likes to frequent. For internal help desk support, how much does social integration really help? Well, there are corporate social platforms now (like Yammer) where embedded help desk support would make life much easier for employees, especially if the network is successfully deployed and used to centralize other key processes and communications.  One of the more common employee gripes is the confusion and difficulty in reaching the help desk and getting timely support. Putting support where the user lives — in the middle of their social experience – could go a long way to improve the end user experience.

The below reprinted article discusses the social media paradigm further, and how it benefits both end users and the help desk itself. Enjoy.

Guest blog: Social media and the service desk – a powerful combination

Chris Rixon, principal solutions manager, BMC Software, writes for CBR on how the service desk can use social media to improve IT support

Social media is the pervasive technology of the 21st century and increasingly people are turning to it as the default source of information.

Whether they are trying to figure out how to solve a technical problem with a PC or looking for opinions on the best bars, the question will often be put forward through a social media channel.

This growing preference to seek information and guidance through social collaboration has clear implications for the IT service desk. With this perspective in mind, let’s consider how the IT service desk, together with social media, can optimise the customer experience of IT and support.

Focus on the IT service desk has grown as organisations look to align the IT user experience with the consumer interfaces with which they are most familiar. To do this they are providing interfaces that are accessible, intuitive and similar to other interactions end users have come to expect in their daily lives.

When IT service management tools are combined with social media they can help to improve the IT support experience by facilitating a rapid, efficient and customer-centric service.

The alliance of social media and the service desk
Social media tools used within an organisation allow a greater number of support specialists to be alerted to a problem, to contribute to the solution and to be educated about the solution for future use.

For example, with BMC’s Remedyforce, agents working on a help desk ticket can turn to Chatter, a collaboration tool created by to see if others are currently working on similar issues.

Chatter is an integrated social media platform for proactive team collaboration and is embedded within the help desk tool. The agent can look for posts by other agents who are dealing with similar problems. The agent can then recognise related incidents and assign similar occurrences to a single agent or group of agents who are already working on the problem, and therefore improve efficiency.

Related incidents can be tied together and the agent can do a root cause analysis of these related incidents. Moreover, the agent can create broadcasts within the social media tool that communicate messages to both IT staff and employees companywide regarding service outages or other IT events.

As with other social media applications, you can “follow” certain topics — other people, incidents, changes and even critical business services and assets. This allows you to be instantly alerted to any change in status for each topic followed.

Gauging the effectiveness of social media for the help desk
New service delivery models for IT service management, such as software as a service (SaaS) as well as emerging communications channels for support that include social media, will require changes in the way you traditionally measure the effectiveness of your services. That’s why you should re-examine your service metrics as you begin to rely more heavily on SaaS, social media and a more services-oriented approach to IT delivery.

If social media is to be used as a corporate support tool it may be useful to monitor how employees are using it to solve problems and how social media impacts staff and end-user satisfaction.

Some of the metrics to consider include the average speed to resolve problems, the reduction in e-mail volume related to problem solving and the increase in collaboration among agents and teams. In some cases, organisations might wish to measure the use and effectiveness of social media in addition to measuring its overall effect on IT service management performance.

Indications from early adopters of social collaboration technology in the context of the IT service desk are revealing some real and tangible benefits to this approach. When used as part of a larger help desk solution, social media can increase first-call resolution, reduce the mean time to resolution, significantly lower unplanned downtime and increase call deflection.

Looking ahead
If the saying is true that “two heads are better than one,” imagine harnessing the collective brain power of your entire IT help desk staff. Therein lies the power of social media. As part of your help desk solution, social media has the potential to greatly lower costs and increase productivity and efficiency — and most importantly, improve end-user satisfaction.

>> View original story here

Now It’s Desktops To The Cloud! Impact on the Help Desk

May 24, 2012 2 comments

It’s getting very cloudy out there. And it’s not just the East coast weather these days. For the world of IT and the help desk, it’s still all about “the cloud”. And now there are new platforms and technologies that go beyond simply storing and sharing your documents and data in the cloud realm. Now you can manage your entire desktop in the cloud, which ultimately will help to usher in the new age of “dumb terminals” — drone clients that do little except provide end users a view to the cloud realm.

So what does this mean for the help desk in terms of providing end user support? How will cloud-based desktops change the requirements and stress on help desk staff and resource? One could argue that, with hosted desktop solutions, the help desk should see some (much needed) relief. On the other hand, users will still have many of the common issues they have today — lost passwords, vpn issues, and general tech issues with devices, etc. And the whole BYOD thing…well…this is a whole other story. Kind of. Now instead of  “Bring Your Own Device” it will be “Bring Your Own Desktop”.

See the article below from NetworkWorld, where they review 5 desktop cloud solutions. Enjoy.

Excerpt from NetworkWorld’s write-up:

Consider desktops in the cloud for BYOD

Five DaaS vendors deliver Windows desktops to any end user device

Desktop-as-a-Service is an interesting way for IT execs to provide cloud-based Windows desktop sessions, as well as shared resources such as storage. DaaS can help companies roll out new desktops and support Bring Your Own Device policies.

5 desktops in the cloud

DaaS or Hosted Virtual Desktop (HVD) providers offer a pristine, policy-controlled session (either persistent or ad hoc) that can be accessed by a wide variety of devices. If you have an iPad3 and a Bluetooth keyboard, you’re in. Mac? You’re in. An old and wheezing Windows XP patched-to-death machine? You’re in. The machine used to access a DaaS session is largely irrelevant to the session’s use, which can be for standard “office” functions, or as part of an application-specific setup.

The products we tested ranged from simple to comprehensive. All of the DaaS service providers in our test — Desktone, dinCloud, ICC Global Hosting, Applications2u, and Nivio — used a Citrix infrastructure to provide desktop sessions. But each of them arrived at their product offering from a different perspective, and sometimes, with a different attitude.

>> Click here for full article


Categories: Random Postings

Handling Irate Customers in a Help Desk World

The following article appeared on the Connections Magazine web site. We thought this article did a good job of defining the ‘do’s’ and ‘dont’s’ of effective customer service. The below can be applied to either external customer service or internal help desk management.

You can view the original article  at

Learn How to Handle Irate Customers

By John Tschohl

May 2012

No matter how good you are at what you do, what business you are in, or where it is located, you will at some point find yourself facing an irate customer, but perhaps no more so than in a call center. Maybe the product was flawed, a delivery was late, or a charge was inaccurate. How you deal with that customer not only will determine how he or she feels about your organization – or your client’s organization – but how you feel about yourself.

When you are able to turn an irate customer into a satisfied customer, you will gain confidence in your ability to diffuse a volatile situation and evoke a positive outcome. You’ll also gain the respect of your coworkers and attract the attention of your supervisors. Who knows? You might even be promoted.

When most people encounter an irate customer, their first instinct is to turn and run. Dealing with a customer who has a problem and is upset about it can be more than a little daunting. With the proper perspective, however, you will see that the customer’s complaint is actually an opportunity for you and your organization to put your best foot forward.

Customers who have complaints are a blessing in disguise. They let you know where you and your organization have flaws – and provide you with the opportunity to correct them. When you do, you will realize increased customer loyalty, revenues, and profits. It’s a win/win situation.

You should be more concerned with the customers who don’t complain than with those who do. In a recent study of retail banks in the United Kingdom conducted by J.D. Power and Associates, results showed that 25 percent of customers who have experienced a problem in the past twelve months say they definitely or probably will switch institutions in the next year. And 55 percent of customers who have had a problem or complaint were disappointed with the resolution process.

That study also found that, while incentives are important in attracting new customers, customer service is essential to retaining them. Almost 40 percent of customers left their banks because of a poor service experience, and an additional 43 percent cited poor service as a top reason for intending to leave their banks.

Customer service is key to the success of any business. And dealing with irate customers and solving their problems is a critical element of that service. When dealing with an irate customer, take these steps:

  • Listen carefully and with interest to what the customer is telling you.
  • Apologize without laying blame, regardless of who is at fault.
  • Put yourself in the customer’s place, and respond in a way that shows you care about his or her concerns. Use phrases such as “I understand that must be upsetting,” or “I don’t blame you for being upset; I would feel the same way.”
  • Ask pertinent questions in a caring, concerned manner and actively listen to the answers.
  • Suggest one or more alternatives that would address the customer’s concerns.
  • Solve the problem quickly and efficiently, or find someone who can.

Using these steps will quickly calm most unhappy or angry customers and allow you to address and solve their problems. Patience and tact are critical. Even if a customer is making outrageous statements and, in essence, throwing a fit, it’s important that you remain calm. Do not take those statements personally. Apologize, take the blame, and empathize with the customer, and then solve the problem.

Just as important as what you should do, there are some things you should not do:

  • Don’t directly challenge someone who has a complaint and is angry. Even if that customer is wrong, don’t attempt to prove it. Your goal is to solve the problem, not to enter into a debate on the merits of the complaint.
  • Don’t let the conversation wander or get off the topic. Solve the crisis at hand without looking for – and finding – additional problems.
  • Don’t participate in faultfinding. Shifting blame doesn’t help anyone.
  • Don’t let your personal feelings get in the way. Stay cool, and use courtesy and tact to diffuse the situation.

When you successfully handle irate customers and their complaints, you will be rewarded with a satisfied customer – a customer who will be loyal to you and your organization. That loyalty will have a positive impact on your organization’s bottom line – and make you look like a hero.

John Tschohl, the internationally recognized service strategist, is founder and president of the Service Quality Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Described by USA Today, Time, and Entrepreneur as a “customer service guru,” he has written several books on customer service and has developed more than twenty-six customer-service training programs that have been distributed throughout the world.

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