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Following a merger, a leading U.S. energy provider partnered with TEKsystems to consolidate its service desks and build an off-site, on-shore, co‑managed support model to increase customer satisfaction and first call resolution.
Our client is a leading U.S. energy provider with one of the cleanest and lowest-cost power generation fleets and largest retail customer bases in the country. The client’s family of companies participates in every stage of the energy business, from generation to power sales to transmission to delivery. In 2012 the client merged with another energy provider with whom TEKsystems has partnered since 2007.
For years, the information technology industry has seen companies turning to outsourced off‑shore service desk models that utilize lower‑cost resources. However, some companies that have made the move have also seen a decrease in customer satisfaction. This has created a boomerang effect referred to as “insourcing,” a trend where companies bring their service desks back on shore.
There are many advantages to insourcing. Most significantly, companies have greater control over quality. While complete outsourcing to an off-shore model means handing over control to the service desk provider, on-shore models enable a more collaborative environment where the company and its provider work together. In a co-managed, on-shore service desk, the company can drive the strategic vision while the provider can manage hiring, onboarding, training and day-to-day oversight.
Compared to an outsourced, off-shore solution, this model also provides more scalability and agility to grow and change in order to accommodate evolving business needs. In a competitive landscape, this flexibility can expand the role of the service desk from a support function to a business driver.
inContact Automated Call Distributor (ACD), HP Service Manager (SM)
In 2012 the client, a major U.S. energy supplier, merged with another energy company. Along with consolidation of its many systems (e.g., human resources and finance systems), the companies were going to merge their service desk functions. The client was off-shoring its service desk for cost savings. However, they were dissatisfied with that setup due to low customer satisfaction and loss of some technical capabilities (e.g., remote desktop takeover) and were seeking an alternative service desk solution.
They wanted to move to a single service desk model that supported both companies. This would include consolidating key tools and processes. In this service desk, they wanted adaptability, flexibility and the ability to adjust based on fluctuating business needs. They were also looking for a higher rate of first call resolution. The client’s previous service desk partner had led a “catch and dispatch” model, where one agent answered the call and then forwarded it to another agent to resolve. First contact resolution is a big driver for customer satisfaction, which is what the client wanted. Thus, the client decided to “insource” its service desk and move it back on shore where they could provide greater oversight and direction.
The service desk merger would happen simultaneously with the consolidation of their various other systems. Continuing to run duplicate systems would be expensive, so to reduce costs they wanted to consolidate quickly. Also, during any period of great change an increase in service requests was to be anticipated, so a service desk partner would need to support the desk consolidation while also supporting the client’s end users through the various other changes. The client needed a trusted service desk partner who could hit the ground running to support these needs, consolidate the support desks and improve the overall quality of its service.
Prior to the merger, TEKsystems had co‑managed a service desk for the company that the client merged with. Since 2007, the subsidiary’s service desk operated first on site at their offices in Baltimore but then ultimately made the move off site to TEKsystems’ Baltimore Solution Center. When the companies merged, TEKsystems developed a proposal on how we could work with the client’s team to consolidate the service desks and how we would manage and improve the quality of its service desk moving forward.
We would grow our current 18-person team supporting the client’s subsidiary in Baltimore to 45 agents. We would also add 12 resources at our Dallas Solution Center. Both centers would be equipped with a state-of-the-art cloud-based telephony system that would allow us to access the client’s system remotely. Also, the dual locations would help provide regional support (i.e., tools and personnel) as well as protect the company against regional disasters, ensuring superior business continuity. Even though two locations would be supporting the client, the end user would not know the difference; all calls would be assigned to the next available agent.
Our agents would be a mix of Level I and Level II technical support resources, each having at least two to three years of service desk experience. We would leverage the experienced service desk agents who were supporting the client’s subsidiary to build the knowledge base, scripts and training curriculum.
The companies were using different trouble ticketing tools. The client requested a phased approach to move from the client’s previous system to HP Service Manager, which the client’s subsidiary was currently using. Over an eight-month period we would coordinate with the client’s outgoing supplier, the back-end teams (i.e., applications and infrastructure) and the client’s consulting partner for this transition. We would move work over to TEKsystems based first on enterprise applications and then based on business unit. Using inContact Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) we would route calls based on the area codes to ensure only the groups who were using HP Service Manager were routed to TEKsystems, with the rest going to the outgoing supplier. To do so required that the current supplier send emails on enterprise applications. ACD would support email routing through the phone system for better tracking, measurement and agent utilization; automatic callbacks to customers on dropped calls; and a voicemail option offered throughout the call.
During the first three months post-cutover, we would focus on stabilizing the environment and continuously improving first call resolution (i.e., resolving the issue on the first call without having to dispatch it to a higher level, internal resource at the client or to an external hardware/software provider). Using the TEKsystems Command Center Model structure, we would proactively identify, monitor, respond, track, resolve and/or escalate events impacting end users. Regardless of the severity level, this model would promote consistent two-way communication between the client and TEKsystems.
Based on our proposal, the client saw that our co-managed model at the Baltimore Solution Center offered better quality, flexibility and cost‑efficiency than their current outsourced solution. Plus our long-standing partnership with the client’s subsidiary had established a successful track record and their leadership expressed satisfaction with our past performance. Bearing all of this in mind, the client decided to continue the partnership with TEKsystems.
Since we had an existing service desk model and resources in place at the client’s subsidiary, we were able to ramp up and onboard additional support agents quickly, growing from an 18- to a 45-person team two months ahead of schedule. We transitioned 40 infrastructure and operations applications and over 200 enterprise applications to our service desk to minimize hand off from the previous supplier and reduce the time that backend groups had to work in two systems. Due to our velocity, the client agreed to end the phased transition and expedite the cutover. Once the flash cut was completed, the area code routing was removed and all calls from there forward went to TEKsystems. The client retained the same service desk number to reduce end-user impact.
Throughout the project, we accommodated each group’s needs and expectations. For example, one team had several unique applications to their function, and thus, was mostly relying on an on-site resource for user support. However, TEKsystems was now providing more support over the phone without having to dispatch to an on-site resource. To mitigate this change, we identified a dedicated liaison on our team who understood their systems and could provide them specialized support.
Due to the merger, a lot of consolidation work was happening (e.g., Windows 7, Microsoft Exchange, MaaS360, Microsoft Lync). We were able to ramp up our team to support these activities, adding 14 resources to accommodate the anticipated increase in service calls. Because of our scalability, we were able to help push two years’ worth of consolidation work through in a 12- to 15-month period.
TEKsystems’ goals were set around customer satisfaction. Within the first months we had already achieved over 61 percent first call resolution for exceeding the performance of the previous vendor. We also leveraged our customer satisfaction tool at no cost to provide a means to measure and address customer concerns and resolve issues as they surfaced. Within the first three months, the customer satisfaction for calls handled by TEKsystems was 94.8 percent, far exceeding the service level objectives’ rating of 80 percent for that same period. The ACD also allowed us to measure and detect call patterns and adjust the schedule to address high volume periods. Lastly, we wanted to drive individual agent improvement through agent scorecards that identified key metrics for each agent and the team to measure them against the target. Agents reviewed these scorecards monthly with their supervisors.
Using our Quality-Cost-Risk (QCR) process, we continued to focus on initiatives that would drive continual growth and improvement for the client. These initiatives included dashboards where leadership can access real-time information on their desktop and adding chat capabilities as an alternative way for users to interact with agents. The QCR process enabled us to address their initiatives and make sure the service desk’s drivers align with them through quality business reviews with the client.
TEKsystems offered the technology, skills and scalability to support the client, meet their needs and help them grow. Our agility and focus on their end goals empowered us so when there was a change in the business, we were able to sit down and work it out together. This was evident for the one team that has a downtime every year and wanted to transition early. Utilizing ACD we were able to identify that group’s nine sites by area code and route all of those calls to TEKsystems.
We were awarded this opportunity not in a small part due to our long-standing, trusted relationship with the subsidiary’s leadership. We built upon this relationship by establishing good camaraderie with the client’s back-end teams and the client’s consulting partner. To build a team environment, we developed posters at our centers that brought awareness and engagement with the agents for key goals. The client liked the posters so much that they shared them on their intranet.
We instituted agent scorecards, which agents and their supervisors used as a way to review their progress in key metrics against the target. If there were common issues across the team, the scorecards could help identify skills gaps and drive training efforts and updates to the knowledge base. It also ensured we continually developed our agents—giving them the training and skills they need to do their job, as well as identifying growth opportunities for them.