Customer Support Policy

Version: 1.00Issue Date: 1/1/2015

This Customer Support Policy defines requirements for the customer problem resolution function.

1.0 Overview

This Customer Support Policy will help ensure that the help desk meets the business needs, performance is tracked, and support is given in a timely manner.

2.0 Purpose

This Customer Support Policy specifies requirements and specific procedures to support the customer problem resolution function.

3.0 Scope

This Customer Support Policy applies to all users and all information technology staff. This policy is effective as of the issue date and does not expire unless superceded by another policy.

4.0 Help Desk

  • Business requirements for the help desk must be established. IT management must consult with business management to define the business requirements.
  • A help desk must be created for user support in technical issues.
    • Hours of operation must be defined.
    • The method(s) to be used to contact the help desk such as telephone number(s) and email addresse(s) must be defined and communicated.
    • Expected response time for the help desk must be defined. The response time may be the time it takes for the help desk to initially contact the customer.
    • Expected times for resolution of requests should be defined based on types of requests with consideration that resolution will vary based on help desk load and the degree of difficulty in problem resolution.
    • Staffing needs and qualifications for help desk positions must be established. Required skills must include communication skills, technical skills, and ability to get along with customers.
    • The staff to operate the help desk must be identified and the department managing the help desk function must be established. Where different roles exist for handling different help desk issues, the roles must be clearly defined and assigned. A manager must manage and oversee help desk operations.
    • Required tools for help desk operation and ticket tracking must be defined and selected based on business requirements. Software should be able to track tickets, document how long resolution took, and document who worked on tickets.
    • Help desk processes must be compatible with other processes including change management.
    • Service level agreements should be established for help desk performance.
    • Metrics should be established to determine whether the help desk is meeting its objectives and whether changes to staffing are required. Metrics should include customer satisfaction and confidence in the service. The ability of the customer to determine the status of their request should be a consideration.
    • Help desk performance should be reported at least twice per year to upper IT management.
  • Computer users must be made aware of the help desk, how to contact the help desk, and the kind of help that is available.
  • The help desk system should log all activity including escalation, re-assignments of tickets, problem solutions, entries into tickets, including dates and times and the staff who made entries or changes.
  • The help desk system (problem management system) should allow for status of tickets such as new, assigned, in progress, escalated, resolved, and closed. The system must keep the name of the problem owner, and type of problem. The system should allow the time spent on the problem to be logged.

5.0 Help Desk Operation and Training

  • A process must be created to ensure that help desk personnel are trained in the use of help desk tools, tracking tickets, answering calls, and responding to customers.
  • Help desk staff must understand what information to request from customers when they contact the help desk. The information should be entered into a database associated with the help desk support software. Information should include:
    • Customer name.
    • Customer location.
    • Type of problem.
    • Based on information from the customer, determine impact and urgency of the problem.
    • Problem description including any error messages seen and the actual text if possible.
    • Resolution steps attempted.
  • Help desk staff must understand what information to provide customers including:
    • Identification of the help desk and their name when they answer.
    • A help desk ticket number should be provided to the customer with instructions about how to track their request.
  • Help desk tickets must be assigned in a timely manner.
  • A process must be created to be sure the customer is kept informed about the status of their inquiry and how long it is expected to be until the inquiry is resolved.
  • Problems should be categorized by problem type and for each re-occurring problem type, a predetermined solution process should be followed where it is expedient. Examples are password resets, virus incidents, program installation, etc.
  • Problem types should be categorized to help identify the problem cause and to help determine the proper person to assign to the task.
  • The type of problem and priority of the problem should be used to determine who the task should be assigned to. A guideline or process should be created to help determine which tasks should be assigned to which staff members. The ticket priority should be based on business need and considerations for the number of affected users, severity of the effect on each user, and criticality of the business function being affected.
  • A guide to help staff determine problem urgency should be provided. This would include considerations such as if a customer computer is down and they can't work then the priority should be relatively high compared to someone who has partial service and can still do some work. The guide and associated training should help staff determine problem types and when problems should be escalated.
  • Management must review all tickets that have not been updated for three business days. Status of unresolved tickets must be monitored.
  • Each ticket must be updated to show the problem symptoms and what was done in any attempts to resolve the problem. The ticket must be updated to show the working solution to the problem before the ticket is closed. Any changes or temporary fixes must be documented.
  • When problem request solutions require a change to a system or application, the change request process must be followed. The problem ticket should reference the change request number and the change request should reference the problem ticket.
  • The configuration management database should be available to help determine problem resolution.
  • A method to report critical and security incidents must be provided. Help desk staff must understand this method through training.
  • Where possible systems should have fault detection systems implemented so staff can be automatically informed should a problem be detected.
  • Help desk staff, server administrators, and network staff must have proper diagnostic tools to help them quickly diagnose problem causes and find solutions.

6.0 Problem Escalation

  • Tickets based on type and priority should have set times when they should be escalated when not resolved.
  • Escalation procedures must be created and be based on the business need.
  • Roles, responsibilities, and authority for escalation of problems must be clearly assigned.
  • Escallation procedures must be communicated to all affected parties including users and help desk staff.
  • Escalation must be both functional and hierarchial so that additional functional resources may be applied to the problem as necessary in a timely fashion. Functional resources may include technical specialists such as server administrators, network specialists, or even third party specialists or suppliers.
  • When a ticket becomes unlikely to be resolved in a time period previously agreed to, the help desk management must be made aware of it which should allow them to allocate resources as necessary.
  • High impact incidents must be defined. Management must be informed when a high impact incident occurs so involved parties can communicate and create the best action plan.
  • The escalation process should be reviewed annually to determine where it can be improved.

7.0 Customer Followup

  • The customer must be notified when the problem is considered to be resolved.
  • After the customer problem is resolved, a followup should be performed to determine the customer perceived status of the problem and to determine how satisfied they were with the service.
  • Any tickets where the customer was not satisfied must be reviewed by management so they can implement procedures to improve service.
  • If the customer is not satisfied, the help desk ticket should be able to be re-opened. Management should be made aware of this and take any necessary action.

8.0 Help Desk Evaluation and Information

  • The ticket resolution times and help desk performance metrics should be compared to industry standards where possible.
  • A list of frequently asked questions with solutions or common problems with solutions should be made available to both customers and staff. The documentation should be published, it should be easy to find, and everyone should be informed where it is and its purpose. This information should be appended as necessary as more problems are identified.
  • Help desk problems should be reviewed monthly to determine performance and to determine whether the common problem documentation should be expanded.
  • Management must review tickets monthly to determine whether there is some indication of network, system, or application problems that should be resolved to prevent problems.
  • Training needs of customers should be identified through trends in tickets.
  • The help desk system must be annually reviewed by management to determine whether business requirements are being met and search for any ways to increase its effectiveness.
  • Management should be able to track the volume of tickets, how many are unresolved, and how long they have been open. Management should re-allocate resources based on need.
  • Management should know how many calls are received in a specific period of time, the priority of the calls, and problem types of the calls, and how long it took for calls to be resolved.

9.0 Help Desk Tracking and Tools

  • The help desk system should be able to record escalation information if or when a problem is forwarded to another section or department or when the priority is changed.
  • The help desk system must be able to record date and time of ticket creation, date and time of ticket assignment, and date and time of escalation.
  • The help desk system must be able to record and report status, problem type, problem urgency and other customer information.
  • The help desk system must allow tasks to be assigned and record who the tasks are assigned to including the history of assignments. It should record who makes changes to tickets and the time of the change.

10.0 Enforcement

Since following the Customer Support Policy is important for the welfare of the organization, employees that purposely violate this policy may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including denial of access, legal penalties, and/or dismissal. Any employee aware of any violation of this policy is required to report it to their supervisor or other authorized representative.

11.0 Other Policies

  • Change Management
  • Incident Report Policy and Procedures

12.0 Additional Requirements

  • Process to ensure that help desk personnel are trained in the use of help desk tools, tracking tickets, answering calls, and responding to customers.
  • Processes should be created to expedite and ensure resolution of all problems that can be effectively categorized such as virus response, password reset, etc.
  • A guideline or process should be created to help determine which tasks should be assigned to which staff members.
  • A process and/or guideline to help help desk staff assign categories and priorities to tickets.
  • A process to allow for re-opening tickets when the customer is not satisfied.
  • A process to determine when tickets are not going to be resolved in agreed upon timeframes or in a timely manner allowing management to be informed.
  • An incident report procedure should be created for critical and security events.
  • Escalation procedures for escalating the priority of tickets be created and be based on the business need.

Approval

Approved by:__________________________ Signature:_____________________ Date:_______________