So Lafever's team developed an easier way for employees to check the status of their tickets. In early February, the team launched a new portal that gives real-time information about every ticket issued by the help desk. Whenever the help desk fields a request, it automatically sends the user an email with a link to the visual ticket, which lists the status, who's handling it and any notes.
Lafever, who in March was readying a marketing campaign aimed at getting workers to use the new portal, says it's too early to track statistically how well the new portal is working to deflect calls to the help desk, but that responses from users have been positive.
Enterprise app woes
Margie Meyers, the support services manager at Hubbell Inc., an electrical and electronics manufacturer in Shelton, Conn., says she used to see a flood of calls whenever IT rolled out new applications.
She anticipated a high call volume -- well over 300 -- as the company got ready a few years ago to implement a proprietary appropriations-request application for 500 of its workers. Based on past experience, she figured it would be the calls that typically came in following a rollout: I don't know what I'm doing. I can't attach documents. I can't log in.
Meyers knew there had to be a better way. So she spearheaded a move toward more aggressive user education before the fact, spending 10 hours of her own time to map out a training session and then recommending -- though stopping short of requiring -- attendance at the hour-long event.
"I knew if we got them properly trained there would be fewer calls going to my team," she says, noting that the training material can be also used to onboard new workers and refresh the skills of existing workers, other ways to reduce help desk call volume.
Her investment was well worth her time: Instead of getting 300-plus calls in the weeks following the rollout, her help desk got around 25.
Michael Little, IT support center supervisor at Columbus State Community College in Ohio, says he faced a similar situation. He found that new hires as well as workers switching jobs or adding responsibilities were frequently calling with requests to access or learn new applications.
"It seemed we were repeating ourselves a lot," he says. To stop that situation, he worked with an IT team to build a website where workers could sign up for access and training on their own. As a result, those calls dropped from 50 a week to nearly none. "And if the calls do come in, the time it takes to respond to the calls is a lot less because we can direct them to the website," Little says.
The help desk at Columbus State Community College supports 34,000 students, staff and faculty members, so when something goes wrong, the help desk hears about it -- multiple times over.
Little says users would bombard the help desk with calls when unexpected, unplanned outages occurred. The same response happened whenever IT took a system down for planned work as well.