Today’s technology support landscape is rapidly changing. Whether you’re supporting internal employees or external customers, your end-users are more mobile, using a wider range of devices, and have higher expectations than ever before. Unfortunately, many service desks are challenged to evolve their organizational structures and processes to keep pace. They continue to rely on traditional IT support tiers and “hot potato” escalation models that result in lengthy resolution times, stunted knowledge sharing, high employee turnover, and poor customer experiences. It’s time for support organizations to break down the walls between tiers and embrace a more collaborative approach to support by pulling in the right people with the right skills to swarm around issues as soon as they occur.
What is the IT Support Swarming Model?
The IT support swarming model, or intelligent swarming, provides an alternative framework to the traditional tiered support approach. Instead of a support ticket being passed along the hierarchy of tiered support agents until it reaches an expert who is qualified to resolve the issue, the support agent who takes the ticket immediately invokes a team to “swarm” the issue. Intelligent swarming takes this a step further. Instead of pulling a broad team into the response effort, intelligent swarming targets the correct experts for the specific query. These experts “swarm” with the case owner until they arrive at a coordinated resolution.
What is the difference between Tiered Support & Swarming Support?
The main differences between the tiered support and intelligent swarming support models is that swarming favors real-time work over queued work, collaboration over silos, and case ownership over one-way escalations. In tiered support, a tech issue is introduced at an early level and is escalated to higher levels of support as required. Swarming, on the other hand, allows one service desk technician to work on a problem from start to finish. Rather than escalating the issue to a higher tier of support, the technician will seek the proper resources needed to resolve the issue.
What are the Benefits of IT support swarming?
By allowing frontline reps to invite a more skilled representative or external expert into a remote support session, swarming helps to:
- Reduce escalation rates and mean time to resolve (MTTR), and improve first call/contact resolution rate (FCCR) – Instead of a support ticket making its way through a series of tiers, it is brought directly to the correct group of experts who can collaborate on the issue and effect a more efficient resolution in fewer calls. This eliminates unnecessary delays, increases end-user satisfaction, and decreases the cost-per-ticket.
- Decrease lost business hours for the end-user and improve overall experience – More efficient help desk resolution can mean less down-time and therefore fewer lost business hours for the end-user. This combined with increased transparency and the reduced points of contact will greatly improve end-user satisfaction.
- Decrease Cost-per-ticket – More efficient ticket resolution will decrease the overall cost-per-ticket.
- Reduce ticket backlog – The swarming model decreases the chances that a ticket will remain unresolved because the initial support agent remains the case owner for the life of the ticket and is able to recruit resources and expertise to drive the ticket to resolution. This, plus the added operational and training efficiency of the collaborative approach, will help to reduce overall ticket backlog.
- Increase communication between support representatives – this leads to better knowledge sharing and higher employee satisfaction, but it also enables a collaborative approach, which leverages the diverse skill sets in your team to form a more efficient process overall.
- Improve transparency – In a three-tiered system, the service desk employee who passes on a ticket to the second tier never learns what the resolution of a ticket is. With swarming, the case owner knows when the support ticket is resolved and the end-user can be provided with a much clearer resolution timeframe.
- Empower employees – In a tiered support model, the first-line agent passes along support tickets that they don’t have the resources to resolve. With a swarming model, that agent is given access to the resources to find the support solution, and gains on-the-job training from experts, which helps them develop more skills, provides them with opportunities to explore the areas that interest them, and brings more expertise to your support team. First-tier reps are also able to watch and learn from subject matter experts (SMEs) during remote support sessions, improving on-the-job training and employee retention.
- Increase employee retention – Allowing your employees to work in a collaborative team environment that provides continuous support, enrichment, and opportunities for growth can keep your employees motivated, fulfilled, and happy.
These benefits all directly apply to the top key performance indicators (KPIs) that are used to measure and understand the effectiveness of your helpdesk and measure your support team’s performance.
Best Practices for Implementing Support Swarming
- Put the customer experience first – Instead of being handed off to multiple different support agents in a number of different support calls where the end-user will have to repeat their issue over and over, swarming allows the end-user to be guided by the frontline rep or case owner through the issue resolution process. This rep can act as a concierge to make sure the experts being brought in know all the necessary details without the end-user having to repeat the same information, or lose sight of who is managing their case.
- Allow SMEs the ability to jump in and out of support calls as needed - Higher level experts should be able to jump in and out of support calls as needed so they can offer their expertise and help to resolve problems as needed and as soon as they occur, but when they are no longer needed, they can leave the call to the frontend rep or case owner. This means expertise is available at the ready, cases get solved faster, lower-level reps are receiving on-the-job training, and the subject matter expert is able to focus their time where and when they are needed.
- Enable external support and vendor help without compromising security - Support reps should be able to bring in external vendors and experts as needed to assist with end-user issues in real-time, and this process should not compromise the organization’s security posture.
- Empower your admins – Provide your admins with the power to enhance the security of your support solution by enabling them to manage and control levels of access, monitor support activities, and automatically capture data for security reviews and compliance audits.
- Capture and share swarm resolutions – Swarming provides some of the best opportunities for on-the-job training and for issue resolution. Make sure you are capturing the results of your swarm sessions and sharing important resolutions to the support team’s knowledge base.
How BeyondTrust Remote Support Enables Support Swarming
BeyondTrust Remote Support enables support teams to swarm around issues by allowing multiple people to collaborate on the same issue within a single remote support session.
Support reps who need help simply broadcast an invitation to a specific rep, to SMEs with certain skillsets, or to the first available rep on a specific team using the Intelligent Collaboration feature. The frontline rep doesn’t need to know which other reps are available or who has what skills. They simply create an invitation, and it gets routed to all available reps who have the skills associated with that issue.
After receiving the invitation, the expert can click to immediately join the remote support session and begin assisting with the issue. The expert can either help for a portion of the session and exit, allowing your higher cost reps to tackle more issues, or they can take the session over, freeing the first rep to pick up the next request. Intelligent Collaboration is especially useful for organizations with disparate groups that have to work together to support end-users.
The reps can collaborate to resolve the issue and invite additional reps in if needed. If the frontline rep’s assistance is no longer required, session sharing creates a warm handoff, so the end-user doesn’t have to repeat information or re-explain the issue.
Frontline reps are provided multiple options for inviting other support reps or outside vendors into a session. They can:
- select a specific rep by name,
- request any available rep from a certain team,
- or broadcast an invitation for any available rep that has the skills required to resolve the issue.
Once the experts have joined a remote support session, they can:
- jointly view the end-user’s screen,
- share control of the mouse and keyboard,
- and chat with each other and the end-user.
External rep invitations
To handle the variety and complexity of today’s technology, tech support organizations often need to reach out to outside experts. BeyondTrust’s External Rep Invite feature allows third-party experts and vendors to join a session as a guest so they can see and control the end-user’s screen. Rep Invite lets you bring in any expert securely, even if you don’t have an LDAP profile created for him or her. Administrators can bolster security even further by:
- Limiting which internal reps can use Rep Invite
- Creating multiple security profiles to define how invited reps can interact with end-users.
- Creating a comprehensive audit trail, including videos of support sessions
Laura Bohnert, Sr. Marketing Content & PR Manager
As a Sr. Marketing Content & PR Manager at BeyondTrust, Laura Bohnert applies a multifaceted, tech-centered marketing skillset to help drive SEO, blog, PR, and product marketing in support of BeyondTrust’s demand generation and sales enablement initiatives. She has a diverse background in product marketing, brand marketing, content writing, social media, event coordination, and public relations. Outside of the tech world, she has a passion for literature, with a BA, MA, and PhD Candidacy in English Literature, and she can either be found beekeeping, restoring her historic haunted house, or continuing her dissertation on the psychological interpretations of ghosts in gothic and horror fiction.