3 min read

Do I need a Service Desk Automation?

Do I need a Service Desk Automation?

<phone rings>

"Hello, Tranquil IT service desk here, Doris speaking. What's the nature of your question?"

"Yeah, we pay you guys @!#% per month and our whole network's down. We sent an incident request over two hours ago, and we've haven't heard ANYTHING! What are you smoking over there?!" A wisp of smoke rises from Doris' headset.

Doris looks across the room. Jimmy's chair is empty, and candy bar wrappers are conspicuously absent from his desk. A familiar sinking feeling sets in. He's gone on another bender last night and will stumble in this afternoon if we're lucky. Doris thinks to herself.

Brightly, she says, "I'm so very sorry, sir. We'll dispatch a team right away. " Now wincing, "Could I collect a few more details about the issue right now?"

Jimmy is an intern that TranquilIT hired for the summer. His one job is to monitor an email inbox and then create tickets in TranquilIT's service desk, where they are then triaged by a small army of polite, knowledgeable technologists.

Unfortunately, Jimmy is the weakest link in this process.

Three Questions

Most business scenarios aren't quite a cut and dry as the preceding scene. In fact, most modern service desk software actually does have some capability to take incoming email and turn it into a ticket automatically. However, this should at least get you thinking about your own service desk process.

First consider a few basic questions:

  1. Do you currently suffer from a lot of ticket duplication?
  2. Is back-and-forth communication being lost during ticket triage?
  3. Do you have one or two large customers responsible for most of your ticket volume?

If the answer to any two of these, is "yes", you can potentially benefit from an integration.

Solving Duplication

Ticket duplication is a notorious and common problem with all service desks. One common cause is when you've got your service desk monitoring an email inbox but it can't tell whether emails belong to the same ticket. Usually emails addressed to the inbox having the same subject gets grouped together and mapped to a single ticket to the ticket. Unfortunately, all it takes is one rogue comment in the chain to throw the service desk off the scent; and voila, you've got a duplicate ticket, usually with a subject line of "RE: RE: RE..." Of course, are other reasons too, but this is the most common one.

Integration using APIs can often help this by giving a more sophisticated ability to scan an email (including its body) and providing a better initial "matching search" to determine whether you've already got an open ticket.

Combating Lost Information

Have you've ever played ping-pong in your basement, missed a shot, and then had to spend ten minutes looking for the lost ball? Sometimes something a lot like this happens during the ticket triage process.

When tickets are opened in any service desk app, they do not remain static. Personnel are constantly adding comments, screenshots and logging time on them. When this information fails to make it to the person who's actually working the ticket, the assigned user could be missing crucial data to resolve the issue.

This is particularly true with relying on email to update tickets. Even with more advanced parsing, small typos in either the subject line or the email body can often lead to it being missed or mischaracterized by email service desk engines. Furthermore, email itself can be a terribly insecure form of storing service desk information (including sensitive addresses and credentials) because the data is stored at rest for long periods of time. Think about who might intercept or have access to stored email; and a disaster could just be a CC away!

A better way is to implement an API-based service desk integration that pushes comments directly into the ticket, bypassing an email parser. API based service desk integration is faster, more efficient. If done correctly, the contents of the ticket information are never stored at rest by the integration middleware; making the data much more secure in-transit. APIs are not subject to overzealous email quarantine rules, and thus allow data to reach its intended target more reliably. No more hunting for the ping-pong ball.

When volume matters.

Finally, some MSPs may have one large partner who is responsible for a large volume of your service desk requests. If this sounds like you, consider these questions for your partner:

  1. Do they have a single service desk application? If so, what is it?
  2. Do they have a standard process they follow when assigning service desk requests?
  3. How are they currently getting updates about the status of the request?

Service Desk integrations with large (stable) partners can be very beneficial. They show that you, as their MSP, care about efficiency and their service desk process in particular. They can help resolve issues faster by reducing the time between comments and other requests for information during the triage process. They can also provide an opportunity to improve ticket resolution SLAs that BOTH partners have established, leading to happier customers and a better partner relationship.