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Delivering Superior IT Support Services for a Video Game Maker

Information Technology | Network Infrastructure Services – Support Services



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TEKsystems took over and upgraded IT support services for a major video game hardware and software maker. Using a robust continual improvement process, we drove enhancements and brought accountability into the client’s help desk operations.

The client, a division of a major consumer electronics brand, produces, distributes and markets video game consoles and software in North America and manages the parent company’s U.S. licensing program. The client has partnered with TEKsystems since 2012.

As online connectivity has changed business culture in the last few years, expectations for IT support have also shifted. In a 24/7 work environment, employees depend heavily on technology to enable their productivity, and they have become accustomed to instant access to help and information. In addition, the growing variety and complexity of technologies workers rely on—including software and devices—has increased the need for IT support.

Many organizations view supporting workers’ technology needs as the most critical element of enabling their productivity. As a result, competitive organizations are raising the bar on what the IT help desk must deliver. Sophisticated support services teams can support users when and where they prefer by enabling multiple forms of communication, from phone calls to instant messages, and providing extended hours of support.

At the same time, companies are taking a more disciplined approach to controlling their IT cost centers. Many organizations find it makes economic sense to outsource their IT support services to firms that can deliver competent service while controlling costs. Outsourcing work provides a simple way to scale quickly with company growth, reap the economies of scale and operational efficiency of experienced providers, and take advantage of the lower labor costs that off-premise locations can offer. But providing quality IT support services to users must be the No. 1 goal; without high-quality support, employee productivity suffers, creating a back-door expense for companies. Organizations whose primary concern is the quality of the service provided should seek third-party providers that provide accountable, transparent results.

InContact Automated Call Distribution, Salesforce Service Cloud

The client, a major video game and hardware and software maker, has a reputation for producing products of flawless design and quality. But their internal IT service desk was a different story. Characterized by inconsistent service, rising costs and inadequate support coverage, the client’s support services department lacked a coherent vision for service delivery and had no roadmap for improvement.

The client maintained the support services staff and infrastructure entirely in house at their headquarters, limiting their ability to scale the department. The service desk operated five days a week for 12 hours a day, leaving workers without support overnight and on weekends and holidays. It was also slow. Users had to call Tier 1 technicians, who logged the incidents and then dispatched them to Tier 2 (higher-skilled) technicians, meaning users would not receive support within their first contact.

In addition, the dated ticket logging system had limited ability to track different kinds of tickets, or to distinguish between incidents and requests. Without the ability to document issues and resolution effectively, the client was unable to measure the effectiveness of the department or identify recurring issues. Critically, the ticketing system also lacked the ability to enable prioritization of incidents. Their call routing system also performed poorly and was increasingly expensive to maintain.

Further complicating the situation, the client lacked a cohesive knowledge management system; documentation about processes and technology was fragmented or nonexistent. High turnover within the department exacerbated the problems and contributed to rising costs. The client’s recruiting expenses were high, and the lack of appropriate documentation of processes and information lengthened the time needed to train new hires, increasing costs further. Plus, an inconsistent training process led to technicians’ uneven ability to deliver knowledgeable service.

These problems caused frustration and delays for end users. Users endured long wait times and inconsistent service, and the department’s limited hours meant service was often unavailable. Facing mounting costs and user dissatisfaction, the client knew they needed a change. Recognizing that IT support services was not their core strength, the client sought to outsource this function to a trusted partner who could drive improvement while controlling costs.

Lacking expertise in how to fix the service desk problems, and also without the bandwidth or desire to oversee it closely, the client’s IT leaders looked for a provider with experience in outsourced support services. The client desired a partner that could deliver a predictable outcome for a fixed price and drive continual improvement. Seeing that TEKsystems had a history of delivering high-quality support services and feeling that we were a good cultural fit based on other work we had performed for them, the client bypassed a competitive bidding process and moved quickly to kick off the engagement.

TEKsystems envisioned a service desk that would provide top-notch, easily accessible service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. To achieve this, we suggested moving to an on-site/off-site model, in which cloud-based call routing software would enable efficient distribution of work among agents. To reduce costs related to space and labor, we proposed moving most of the service desk to our Baltimore Solution Center, where we would use our own infrastructure and staff to field calls.

We would begin by gathering and documenting information about the client’s technology assets in a knowledge management system. In addition, we would provide thought leadership in how best to set up their incident ticketing system to enable more specific reporting and issue identification. Detailed reporting would allow us to provide transparency into our operations, and make us accountable for specific outcomes. Measuring results is also a critical aspect of the continuous improvement process; we use the data to identify issues and trends that affect service delivery and then build upon that to alter root causes.

The delegation of calls between Tier 1 agents and Tier 2 desktop support technicians would also diverge from the client’s model. The Tier 1 agents, located off site in Baltimore, would attempt to resolve problems during the initial contact when possible. Higher-level Tier 2 tickets would be handled by the on-premise desktop support team. Calls involving Tier 2 incidents (higher level or requiring physical support) would be automatically routed to Tier 2 technicians, creating a more efficient interaction for both the support team and end user. Finally, the new system would prioritize tickets, ensuring urgent ones would be handled first.

To staff the on-site team in San Mateo and the off-site team in Baltimore, our knowledgeable IT recruiters would hire local people with verified skill in IT support services. We would provide additional training and facilitate knowledge transfer between all agents so they would be equipped to support the client’s technology ecosystem, which included some unusual elements such as the integration of Lotus Notes with their business applications.

The outsourced service desk greatly improved and expanded service while controlling and reducing costs. TEKsystems quickly exceeded every agreed-upon metric, and also took on additional work that saved the client money.

At the client’s request, we advised them in selecting new call distribution software. We recommended and helped them implement InContact, a cloud-based system that integrates service desk requests from calls, emails, chats and more, enabling users to seek help in the best way for their needs, and matching them with the agent best equipped to handle their requests.

To allow visibility into the service desk success and IT issues, we doubled the number of incident categories. We also introduced a distinction between an incident and a request. For instance, there is an important difference between fixing an urgent problem and handling a request to order new equipment. Distinguishing between the two allowed the client to better understand how long it takes to resolve problems as well as track recurring issues. This transparency plays a critical part in the continual improvement process, helping drive decision making around how best to serve users. It also increases the client’s ability to spot recurring problems and take then action to prevent them.

In the first month, while we were still in the initial kickoff stage, we had already exceeded most of the client’s long-term performance expectations, and end users expressed satisfaction in the help provided.

In the first six months of the engagement, we delivered these results:

   Key Performance
   Indicator

   Goal

  Results (average)

  • Average speed of answer
  • less than 60 seconds
  • 15.5 seconds
  • Call abandon rate
  • less than 5%
  • 1%
  • Average talk time
  • 7-8 minutes
  • 6 minutes, 56 seconds
  • Email response time
  • less than 15 minutes
  • 1 minute
  • Tickets created per month
  • less than 1,900
  • 1,743
  • Customer satisfaction
  • greater than 90%
  • data not yet available
  • Tier 1 resolution rate
  • greater than 60%
  • 67%*

*This number will increase once the delineation between an incident/problem and a request

(which cannot typically be handled within a phone call) takes effect in the client’s system.


TEKsystems also found creative ways to “shift left,” meaning the service desk took over basic work from higher-skilled resources and external vendors, saving the client money. For example, our team took on supporting the client’s mobile users, which previously had been performed by a full-time employee. We also acted as a first point of contact in handling hardware issues that had previously gone directly to a vendor, helping increase user satisfaction while reducing service charges from the vendor.

The client is pleased with the success of the engagement and has already added an IT service catalog component to the project.

  • Accountability. TEKsystems strongly believes in outcome-based delivery. We build service-level accountability into our engagements and track progress closely, allowing our clients to understand how our performance compares to their own or that of other providers—and how it enhances their bottom line. The metrics we report also provide the client with tools that aid in budgeting and strategy.
  • Partnership. Simply outsourcing an IT service function to a competent provider is not enough to guarantee success. The provider should work closely with the client to understand their business and cultural needs, and use that information to deliver a service that makes the most sense for the client’s unique situation. TEKsystems worked hand in hand with the client to develop an incident tracking system that was meaningful to them and allows senior leaders to make more informed decisions. We also collaborated with their systems administrators and other internal resources to learn their technologies in order to provide higher-level support.
  • Continual improvement process. While we use industry best practices and field-tested models in every engagement, each client is different. Our emphasis in tracking results and finding ways to improve upon them and add value for the client is a cornerstone of our service delivery. In this case, we found ways to transfer tasks from the client’s internal resources and external vendors to our team without changing the cost or scope of the engagement. We are currently examining ways to improve upon service delivery, including studying which contact method works best for various types of problems.