Call Management – Call Tracking

The more calls you have, the greater the need to keep track of them. Call tracking is one the most tedious aspects of the help desk and one that is most likely to be ignored or not done properly. This is unavoidable, since call tracking often provides some of the greatest benefits to the user. One thing I would like to point out here is that call tracking is the primary function of all help desk software. Many are so efficient at recording the necessary information that there is essentially no time loss.

In an environment where support is being paid for by the customer, call tracking is arequirement to ensure the customer or user is getting the support that they paid for. However, in both paid and unpaid environments, one of the key benefits that call tracking provides is the ability to identify trends.

Trends can be identified at several levels. From a management perspective, keeping track ofcalls can be used to identify specific periods in which increased number of calls are reported to help desk. Knowing which periods result in increasing calls can enable the help desk manager to provide extra staff during the busy periods to reduce call times.

Call tracking can also be used to identify trends in the type of calls that are generated. Forexample, repeated calls on what the help desk may perceive as very basic issues may be theresult of insufficient training on that product. Taking this one step further, repeated calls in one area may indicate an underlying problem that is not directly related to the call.

In one company where I worked, we had repeated calls from some of our branch offices indicating that the network performance to the headquarters was painfully slow. The response time in our primary business application (which ran across the network) was also significantly degraded. In most cases, by the time the office called and we began our investigations, the problem had disappeared. Tracking when the problems occurred led us to the times when our monthly newsletter was transferred to the branch office for translation. This was a huge file generated by our desktop publishing application, and transferring it basically meant nothing else could or cross the line.

The cause of this problem was not insufficient bandwidth on our network but rather the press office generating the report, which was unaware of the impact transferring that follow would have on the network as a whole. This indicated the need for training on some of the basic issues involving the network.

Among the trends that call tracking can help you identify is problems with hardwareand software. For example, one company noticed recurring problems with a specific video card at higher resolutions. Calling the vendor, we discovered that this was a known problem and that an updated version of the driver was available. We were then able to distribute this driver throughout the company to prevent calls before they happened.

Other examples include repeated crashes of the specific machine (more so than is normal forWindows). Since the machine was under warranty, we could get it repaired and prevent anyfuture crashes due to hardware problems.

Another thing that call tracking is useful for is in identifying problems you may have with specific vendors. This could indicate specific products from that vendor that are less than adequate for your needs as well as indicating products that are defective. In addition, tracking calls to vendors can also indicate problems with the vendors’ support structure. For example, in one company, tracking such calls helped us to demonstrate that support from this vendor was completely inadequate.

Finally, call tracking is extremely useful when it comes time to ask for more funds to improve your help desk. Tracking calls can help demonstrate the benefits of the help desk in general as well as help you demonstrate which areas need improvement.

Commercial help desk products help you track in a number of different aspects of your helpdesk. These range from simply keeping track of both calls and their solutions to very complexproducts that can keep track of everything including hardware maintenance, software licenses, training, and even the vacation of your help desk staff. What is possible with help desk products and is necessary is something we will cover in the section on help desk software.