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COVID-19 has kept IT leaders busy. We’re not shocked, either. About 70% of tech leaders reported spikes in their IT ticket and call volume during remote working in the pandemic, according to the Nexthink Experience 2020 report. Of those IT ticket call volume reports, 77% cited VPN issues, 65% poor video calls and 51% WiFi connection as the top complaints from workers.

“This echoes a lot of what we’ve seen in customer environments,” said Tim Flower, global director of business transformation at Nexthink, which provides digital workplace software. “At the start of the shift to remote working one customer experienced a spike in VPN traffic nearly five times their average network usage.”

Expansion of Do-It-Yourself Support

We caught up with some other IT leaders to see what has kept them busy in the support-ticket department. All of them discussed expanding self-service efforts among employee bases.

Chandra Venkataramani, chief information officer at customer experience software and services company TTEC, said before COVID, his company offered TTEC employees live personalized technical support. At headquarters, it offered live desk side support. They had a blended system in place that allowed them to quickly respond to inquiries in person at HQ, and via phone for remote teams and contact center associates, according to Venkataramani.

“When the pandemic hit and over 43,000 employees moved home, I’m sure you can imagine, things got pretty complex,” Venkataramani said. “Before COVID, all of our equipment operated out of a controlled IT environment. We knew the infrastructure, and it was pretty simple to troubleshoot issues. Now, imagine 43,000 employees all in their own homes with their own technical setups. We needed a way to help our employees feel confident about helping themselves.”

TTEC enhanced its help desk with new tools to streamline tech support. It developed a proprietary platform to solve complex issues and expanded its do-it-yourself, step-by-step guides to help with simple solutions. “And it is working,” Venkataramani said. “Even our team at HQ is getting used to it. The IT team has decreased the amount of time it takes to fix issues. And the number of calls has reduced from an average of two calls per employee each month to 0.45 calls.”

Related Article: Is It Time to Revisit Your Digital Workplace Strategy?

Self-Service, Process Standardization and Automation Top the List

In 2020, the IT team at Bynder received about 3,000 support tickets, according to John Mazotis, CIO for Bynder, which provides digital asset management software. When analyzing the data, they can be summarized into a few categories: authentication issues, hardware issues, authorization issues and HR-initiated requests.

In terms of addressing these issues, you can start with scaling and training the team to be able to answer and handle every single one of these tickets. Further, the IT team put a lot of effort in three areas: self-service capabilities, process standardization and automation.

  • For self-service, the team created a portal which allows employees to receive IT support without having to contact IT. Through the self-service portal, they are able to reset their password, reset their multifactor authentication (MFA) and install or update commonly used apps like Chrome, Word, Excel, Zoom and many more, according to Mazotis.
  • On the automation side, the team, together with the HR and finance teams, automated the provision and deprovision of new users through integrations between Bynder’s human resource management system (HRIS), its identity provider and its ERP. “Right now, every new employee being added to our HRIS is automatically created in our IT systems, with all the information coming from the HRIS, thus eliminating manual and repetitive tasks and significantly reducing error,” Mazotis said.
  • In the process standardization area, the team structured itself internally by documenting, analyzing and improving "what" the team does and "how" the team does it. “That helped them become more effective, efficient and significantly improved the IT support on our branch offices, especially those without a local IT presence,” Mazotis said. "The improvements on the above areas, throughout 2020, resulted in a staggering 17% reduction of IT support tickets in the second half of the year."

Related Article: Do Digital Workplaces Drive Innovation or Efficiency?

Dramatic Changes in Top Call Drivers

There has been a number of dramatic changes in top call drivers over the past 12 months, according to Pat Calhoun, CEO and founder of Espressive, which provides a virtual support agent. His teams saw across its customer base from March through May of 2020 that the No. 1 ticket drivers were associated with VPN or MFA setup or software issues, mostly because people were sent home to work and many had never done that before.

In the May-July timeframe, teams saw a huge influx in tickets related to virtual desktops, presumably as a result of organizations changing their tech stack to enable their remote workers.  “Things stabilized quite a bit as we entered Q3 2020,” Calhoun said.

“We are now seeing the top ticket drivers going back to 'password reset' and 'account provisioning.' Of course, many organizations have deployed some form of a self-service password reset capability. However, the issue is that the IT function is a separate tool and employees simply cannot keep track of where to go for what. So it is no surprise that even today password resets continue to be top call drivers for nearly every organization,” he said.