Employee helpdesk and enterprise ticketization: instructions for use

In a previous post I discussed the importance of a “one-stop shop” for the employee within the more general framework of an employee experience logic, employee service and operations excellence in service and support of the latter.

An approach that makes sense since :

  • The employee expects an experience similar to that of a customer (consumerization of uses and practices)
  • In the customer’s world, either information is made available (FAQ and knowledge base) or the customer opens a ticket.
  • The customer expects not only to get an answer but also to get it within a reasonable time.
  • To ensure that the system works, the company must implement a system capable of monitoring the follow-up of requests.

It is therefore not surprising that this type of reflection, which comes from the customer’s world, is now being applied to the employee’s world and constitutes a brick of what is called “People Operations”.

As promised, we are going to see today the things to keep in mind when setting up a “ticketization” process in the enterprise.

Ticketizing ? Yes but on which scope ?

First thing to do: determine the scope of your project. Or, put another way, which employee requests you want to track in an industrialized system in order to ensure quality and processing times in line with your requirements.

Let’s remember that there are two possible situations for employees: either their request relates to their personal situation and we are in the field of excellence of the employee experience in the “HR” sense of the term (People Operations), or their request relates to a problem they encounter in an operational context and here we are more in the field of operational excellence in the traditional sense of the term (People Centric Operations).

Fortunately, in companies that are properly “digitized” and where dematerialization is well advanced, many issues are handled by business applications. In other companies, it is unfortunately impressive to see how many situations are handled in a purely informal way without any follow-up and therefore without any macro-level realization that the company is largely dysfunctional when it comes to addressing an employee’s request or question.

In general, we will find all the HR requests that are not addressed by the HRIS (there are companies where, for example, the declaration of an onboarding or a training request follows an untracked process with emails that can get lost and no safeguards in case of problems in the processing), IT requests, what concerns the general services…

In a logic of continuous improvement, a company can include things like alerts on dysfunctions (an employee notices that an operating procedure can be improved and possibly makes a proposal) or good practices (he/she has seen a good practice that he/she thinks should go high enough to be considered and generalized).

It is on the operational dimension that we must be vigilant and avoid overdoing it. It is obvious that in the context of daily work, an employee will not use a form to ensure that the request he makes to his manager, the question he asks, is handled appropriately. Although sometimes it would not be superfluous. On the other hand, we will be vigilant about knowledge management, in other words the case where a person needs to identify an expertise in the company in order to have an answer to a question that arises in the context of his work. This is a frequent case in companies where engineering is a major part of the business or in consulting companies. If some companies have played the card of formalizing knowledge, others have deemed it more relevant to have it embodied by individuals and in this case it is necessary to identify the person (whom the requester does not necessarily know) and ensure a rapid response.

For a long time, it was believed that an enterprise social network was sufficient to identify expertise, but in reality, this is far from being the case. And identifying does not mean getting an answer. Others have played the search engine card to create a dynamic directory of expertise, but these remain marginal initiatives.

For all intents and purposes, I would like to remind you that in some consulting firms, you can ask for an “expert” at any level of the hierarchy and that he is obliged to answer within a short time.

Let’s also note that in the famous “Employees First, Customers Second“, Vineet Nayar mentioned a “smart service desk” that works exactly according to this principle and where every ticket that has not been handled or has not received a satisfactory answer from the person to whom it was assigned is escalated to his superior.

A useful tip for easily identifying many topics to cover: look for the following:

1°) All generic email addresses for internal use.

There are too many cases where, in case of need, employees are asked to write to an address such as [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]…. Who processes? How do we know where the request is? When should we start to worry if there is no answer? No one knows, it’s a real black box. The worst thing is that the system can totally malfunction without the company realizing it!

2°) All online forms that only capture requests

Some have replaced generic emails with forms and that’s a step forward. At least every entry is logged somewhere, we know it happened. But how can we be sure that it is properly processed afterwards? We’re still far from it

3°) All paper forms

Some or most of them will benefit from being replaced by a business software (HR, Finance, Purchasing….) and the others will fit into our approach.

4°) All the subjects about which the employees never know who to ask or how to ask.

The only way to identify them is by experience…by hearing people ask if anyone knows how…

Determine SLA and requirement level

Every request implies an answer. So be it. But not everything is so critical and priority it is therefore essential to determine for each type of request three things:

  • The maximum period of time for taking the request into account. Consideration does not mean resolution, as some things may take time, but at least make sure that the request is not misplaced and that if it is urgent it can be found quickly.
  • The period of time after which, if there is no response or if the subject does not progress, an alert must be issued or the subject must be “escalated” to a higher level.

This notion of SLA (Service Level Agreement) is crucial when talking about customers and strangely absent when talking about employees.

Formalize the processes

Centralizing requests is one thing, then two things matter:

  • Route them to the right person depending on the subject.
  • Provide a framework for processing the request when necessary.

The question is “what happens after the request is submitted”. Today, whether a company uses generic emails or forms, I always hear the same answers: “people process the request”. Translation: “it goes into a black box and we don’t really know what happens to it, we just hope it works”.

What you need to know:

  • Who handles? It can be a designated person, a department, in which case one person will be assigned the ticket, or we can have more advanced assignment rules.
  • Who deals with it if the person who is supposed to do it does not do it (absence, overwork)?
  • Is there a framework? Sometimes the only task is to “respond.” Sometimes (I remember a case of declaration of a recruitment to launch an onboarding procedure), a request can generate x tickets internally which are as many tasks assigned to different people and which follow an established workflow

Which tools should be used for the internal helpdesk?

Of course at some point there comes the question of what tools to use to make it all work.

A year ago I would have referred you to customer service oriented solutions, which your company may already be using for its own customers, such as JIRA Service Desk or Medallia, which I had already mentioned in connection with employee service.

But other players who position themselves on the Employee Experience Platform are also showing their face, such as Service Now with Universal Request, whose value proposition Josh Bersin summarizes quite well:

This feature lets an employee open any case or enter a question and the system will identify, categorize, and route the request to IT, HR, Legal, Facilities, or somewhere else. The problem it solves is one we all have – where do I go to reset my password? Do I ask IT or HR for a new badge? Should I contact legal or HR about the way my manager is treating me? And on and on.

But first of all, identify your needs before you start choosing tools. I can’t repeat enough that it is the tools that must cover the needs and not the needs that must be twisted to fit into tools that are not designed for them.

And last but not least, don’t forget that in some cases, requests handled by humans are better not to enter into a logic of ticketization but of self service.

For example, when it comes to travel, instead of replacing the email [email protected] with a ticket ensuring that an assistant has done the work, why not set up a Travel Desk and let the employee make his own reservations? The same goes for certain HR issues. Self service has a huge potential as long as it is not abused.

In terms of frequently asked questions, a well-designed internal knowledge base also helps to reduce the volume of requests on individuals so that they can focus on topics where they add more value.

Employee helpdesk indicators

There is no good system that is not monitored with performance indicators. They have two purposes: the first is to measure whether the service promised to the employee is actually delivered, and the second is to measure the internal efficiency of the organization and its support functions.

The first of the obvious is to say that it’s all about tracking compliance with the SLA. But then what? Everyone will see what they can do depending on the goals they set for themselves, but I suggest that you have indicators that identify three things:

  • Bottlenecks: if there is a systematic bottleneck in one place, there are either not enough resources or not enough skills.
  • Managers who never react: time or prioritization problem. Or, worse, misunderstanding of their role.
  • Frequently reported problems: help identify more structural areas for improvement.

The idea here is not to “hit” those who do not do the work, but the follow-up of the life cycle of the tickets in a logic of employed helpdesk makes it possible to materialize organizational problems of which one often perceives the symptoms without knowing too much the evil which causes them. Provided that we want to understand what is not working, of course.

However, be careful not to multiply the indicators: in KPI the K stands for Key…

The employed helpdesk does not dispense with common sense

The idea is not to dehumanize relationships but to simplify things for employees on the one hand and, on the company side, to make sure that what needs to be done is done. Companies that have looked into the subject have sometimes made discoveries that have opened their eyes to many things.

Finally, I would like to add that this type of approach is not reserved for large companies, quite the contrary. Having seen it in action in medium-sized companies, it is all the more relevant because it is often the same people who manage many subjects, or who are not dedicated to one subject. It is in these contexts that it is easy to forget a request, to lose track of it and that it is all the more useful to be able to monitor the system.

Image : Ticketization from Rawpixel.com via Shutterstock

Bertrand DUPERRINhttps://www.duperrin.com/english
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
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