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Whenever myself or my colleagues contact the IT help desk, there are a series of systemic problems, namely:

  • Not acknowledging receipt of the request
  • Taking no corrective action and unilaterally closing cases with no explanation to the user

This is what I've tried before:

  • Speaking to the IT help desk in person. This is now impossible, as they are located in a different office which is infeasible to travel to
  • Speaking to the IT help desk over the phone. Unfortunately there is a triage intermediary in a foreign country, which creates language barriers, so this is hit-or-miss
  • Escalating the issue to my manager. This doesn't work as the help desk provides the same level of poor service across the business
  • Escalating the issue to their manager. This doesn't work as the culture of the help desk function seems to be a protectionist one

My question is how can an end user encourage the IT help desk to acknowledge and work raised tickets?

Additional info:

  • I'm an associate level employee. The help desk are in a totally different organisational structure to the users
  • This is a massive organisation with tens of thousands of employees
  • The company is UK based
  • 59
    Don't agree with your logic on "Escalating the issue to my manager. This doesn't work as the help desk provides the same level of poor service across the business." If it is global problem then it is a management problem. I get you are frustrated but as an associate level employee you just need to push it up the chain. – paparazzo Jul 5 '16 at 15:46
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    @Paparazzi it has to be pushed up to a director level or higher and a case of broad impact needs to be made. He can't do it alone. – Richard U Jul 5 '16 at 16:02
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    If issues like this can't be resolved at the director or executive level, that indicates a complete breakdown of organizational responsibility. You really don't want to work at a place like that - I know from experience and have quit a job for this very reason. – Omegacron Jul 5 '16 at 18:32
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    It would be ironic if your question here got no responses – Brad Thomas Jul 5 '16 at 19:26
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    Obligatory XKCD - xkcd.com/806 – Dezza Jul 6 '16 at 11:28
107

As always, document everything. If you can get other employees to collaborate, do so. Ask your manager if he can do the same with other managers and have them escalate.

What you need to do is make a case to the higher ups that this is costing them money. THAT always gets their attention. "X hours lost due to inaction of help desk" in front of someone who writes the checks is going to get results.

  • 25
    Or... from an IT perspective, the OP is constantly filing frivolous tickets that are not problems for the IT department to fix ("this website is slow for me!"... "my printer didn't print the right size"... "can you unjam my printer?"... "my personal cell phone won't connect to the WIFI!"). It seems unlikely an IT department at an Org that large in size, is callously blowing off real tickets. – SnakeDoc Jul 5 '16 at 17:13
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    @SnakeDoc Sorry, I'm in IT myself and have experienced the same kind of thing. Nothing more aggravating than have to walk the helpless desk through their own job. I'd consider it a possibility if there were comments in the tickets, but closing tickets without comment is unprofessional and IMO, proof the it's not a PEBKAC. – Richard U Jul 5 '16 at 17:21
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    @SnakeDoc: Putting myself into the shoes of the IT helpdesk, I can understand that there are spam tickets. In my case, I'm following the process and providing plenty of details (I work in database administration, so I'm fairly tech savvy) – WorkerWithoutACause Jul 5 '16 at 18:01
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    @SnakeDoc I experienced something similar with a German corporation. A HUGE German corporation that's been around since the 1800s. They were no better. I had to walk their helpdesk through every last step of what to do. Since I've done support myself, I'd never be calling in with a trivial problem, as a result, they were out of their depth every time I spoke to them. It happens. Hard as it is to believe, it happens. – Richard U Jul 5 '16 at 18:25
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    As someone who works on a help desk, I make sure to thoroughly document and send updates on the cases where no actual problem exists. It's too common that people reporting non problems are trying to blame IT for something they forgot about or screwed up. If I type three paragraphs about how I looked into every aspect of the mail system and found no problems despite the fact that the user reported one email "missing", which was in their deleted items all along, then I know the user's supervisor won't be trying to blame us when a customer drops us because the user deleted their email. – Todd Wilcox Jul 6 '16 at 3:12
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I have observed this HelpDesk behaviour from a system that was automatically closing tickets as soon as they were filed. (The hardest thing to detect is a fault in the "report a problem" form.) By "system", I mean online issue tracking software and multiple HelpDesk operators with one HelpDesk operator who pushed the "close" button on each issue after opening it and without doing any work. This was not resolved until I started the following:

  • Track every issue for which you create a ticket.
  • Every time any online ticket you create is closed without resolution, make two phone calls to the HelpDesk: The first call is to reopen the issue as it has not been resolved. The second call is to report a bug in the HelpDesk system since the issue was clearly closed erroneously and with neither comment nor resolution. (This is, in fact, two errors worth reporting.)
  • Every time a phone ticket you created is closed without resolution, make two online tickets with the HelpDesk: The first is to reopen the issue as it has not been resolved. The second is to report a bug in the phone HelpDesk system since the issue was clearly closed erroneously and with neither comment nor resolution. (This is, in fact, two errors worth reporting.)
  • Recurse.

This created a few hundred tickets in a two day period, during which I was showstopped by the issue I was raising so could not accomplish anything else. (Managing this with a database can be handy.) This had a number of interesting effects:

  • Ticket handling gained a new "is your problem actually resolved" step (with an auto-accept deadline of a few days).
  • HelpDesk personnel were retrained to not close tickets until they were actually resolved.
  • The HelpDesk person who had been closing tickets in order to get their closure rate up without actually doing any work became exceptionally visible.
  • Closure rate was de-emphasized as a metric. (Which I'm fine with: It's a largely useless metric since the inputs are not controllable by the workers and since it falsely assumes that the distribution of "task sizes" follows a unimodal distribution.)

Your mileage may vary.

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    Seems a lot of work, but if it worked might be worth the effort. I'd tend to a more direct resolution, but +1 for coming up with something in a difficult situation. – Kilisi Jul 5 '16 at 23:23
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    Somehow reminds me of the Shawshank redemption. The main character sends a letter everyday to get a subvention for the prison's library, until he does get one and says "So I started sending 2 letters everyday". – Pierre Arlaud Jul 6 '16 at 9:11
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    I'd be careful here. The OP's management seemed to be very forgiving to their IT department. Because of that, the management may see the behavior you describe as disrupting the IT department work. Not advocating this opinion, but be very wary of your management. – svavil Jul 6 '16 at 13:08
  • I like how you think! You remind me of someone... hum who could that be... oh yeah! ME! Cheers!! – closetnoc Jul 7 '16 at 3:35
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    This is hilarious, but I'm skeptical that it would end well in a majority of cases. – jpmc26 Jul 8 '16 at 6:13
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Record all contact with the help desk - on a shared spreadsheet, or even on a timesheet (which makes it very visible). Keep all ticket numbers - if you don't get one, contact the help desk again for the ticket number.

On the spreadsheet, record the progress of the ticket - e.g Solved, Closed by Support, No Response - and also record the users response - e.g Solved, Closed but not solved, etc.

After a week or so, you'll be able to show to your managers the real impact of a support function that doesn't provide support.

  • This is a good way to go. IT should be transparently documenting because documentation wins when disagreement occurs over something important. If users document IT issues, they will have the information they need when something goes very wrong. – Todd Wilcox Jul 6 '16 at 3:13
11

The answer is still to escalate the problem to your manager.

They need to address this issue by speaking to their manager. It should be possible to build a case that x didn't get done or was done badly, or that y went over-budget due to repeated failures of the IT function.

5

There are clearly no Service Level Agreements (SLAs), or, if they do exist, no one cares that they are not being met. Sounds like the culture of poor performance has already set in, is being tacitly accepted and will be hard to change. The fastest solution that will give you good service from your helpdesk is to replace them.

Quantify the problem as money: Keep a record of time lost in your team (or wider if you can) so you can show the hard money cost of the current helpdesk's bad performance.

Investigate outsourcing the IT Helpdesk function to an external party, whose contract can have SLAs that they will have to meet. Get quotes.

Calculate the total cost of using an outsourced helpdesk, including the savings made by firing all the helpdesk personnel (estimate their wage and at least double it to give actual cost to the company of an employee).

Assuming the actual cost of outsourcing is a saving, propose it to management showing all your assumptions and calculations. It will show you have great initiative and are pro-active.

If it is not a saving, then still show your working to management, but just to show you investigate alternatives and they didn't stack up. But it will still show that the helpdesk needs an SLA and they need to meet it and what the cost of not meeting it is.

  • acronymfinder.com/SLA.html – TRiG Jul 6 '16 at 11:42
  • What is "SLA", specifically? – donjuedo Jul 6 '16 at 13:21
  • @donjuedo "SLA" stands for Service Level Agreement, which is basically the minimum acceptable performance for something. In the case of a helpdesk, it might be something like "All tickets resolved within 3 days, 80% within 1 day, 50% within 3 hours. All replies to emails within 1 hour" – Bohemian Jul 6 '16 at 15:00
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    I would say that yes, of course, there are SLAs, and this helpdesk is slavishly doing exactly what it needs to to keep to them. Helpdesk people are handling more than x tickets an hour? Check. Tickets are closed in less than y hours? Check. Of course, the SLAs should probably be better written, but they usually aren't. – Law29 Jul 6 '16 at 22:30
4

Ideal answer is to get your help desk onto a proper ticket-tracking system, with visibility to their customers and metrics tracking latency, throughput, and quality/satisfaction.

But that is something their management needs to implement, so it's something for your manager to pass up the good chain.

Meanwhile, as others have said, implement an ad-hoc tracking solution for your contact with them, recording all contacts and what info was passed back and forth. Making requests in e-mail is one way to easily capture this, though some support folks take questions that arrive by phone as higher priority.

0

If it was me, I'd become the local replacement of the help desk to your business unit. If you can acquire the skill you have the ability to have exposure to your local management and become a really valuable employee.

Those kind of things tend to lead to really good things, like promotions and higher pay.

Given your stated level of associate that is the best way to effect positive change in your business unit.

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    A good suggestion, and I hate to throw up more obstacles, but my employer has locked down the computers, e.g. I can't install or modify anything because I don't have admin priviledges. – WorkerWithoutACause Jul 5 '16 at 17:59
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    Of course they did. There is not much you can do at that point. Is moving on to a different company possible? – Pete B. Jul 5 '16 at 21:13
  • Who dreams of becoming help desk? ughh For many of us it is a downgrade, not an upgrade. I need my Helpdesk to fix the daily grind for me to focus in greater problems. – Rui F Ribeiro Jul 8 '16 at 7:22

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