Everyone who contacts the IT service desk wants their problem resolved immediately — and escalated right away if the first point of contact (FPOC) on the help desk is unable to resolve it. But of course, the IT service desk has to prioritize tickets for efficient and effective IT services provision.
Where’s a good place to start developing escalation rules?
Escalation rules and procedures differ from one organization to another. A small company may do just fine evaluating tickets on a case-by-case basis when a pressing problem occurs. A larger company, however, may need a series of rules for when and how service requests are escalated so that everything stays organized. The type of escalation rules your organization has will depend on how many layers of tech support and management your organization has, and the level of demand placed on the IT service desk. So where’s a good place to start?
Without solid escalation rules, chaos can reign when things go wrong.
The Service Level Agreement Is a Good Starting Place
Does your IT service desk have a service level agreement (SLA)? An SLA is basically a definition of services that includes delivery time of the services. Whether your SLA is only shared internally among the IT service desk workers or whether it’s communicated with end users, it should have definable metrics, such as “Every open ticket must be updated every 48 hours until it is resolved.”
Some SLAs specify that, for example, if a ticket has been idle for a set amount of time, it is escalated up to the next level of tech help or management. Your IT service desk software should have tracking and reporting capabilities that make it easy to spot tickets that have been languishing. When you create an SLA and stick to it, you have a good foundation for developing the right escalation rules for your organization.
The Two Main Types of Escalation
Escalation may be based on function or on hierarchy. Functional escalation moves a ticket up to a higher level specialist in order to resolve the problem, while hierarchical escalation consults a manager or person with more authority to determine if, for example, more resources should be assigned to take care of an incident. Strictly functional escalation works well when the escalation process is defined and clear and when people don’t abuse the escalation process. Hierarchical escalation may be required if escalation rules are hazy or if end users (or FPOCs) overuse escalation to pass a problem around like a hot potato.
Supervisors and First Points of Contact Are in It Together
That way, escalation of the service desk’s reputation will outpace ticket escalation.
In some organization, the number of FPOCs can be adjusted according to demand. That way, if higher-level IT help desk associates are not working on time-critical or top-level issues and the help desk is coping with long queues, the higher-level associates can be brought in to help answer calls. Conversely, when there are no wait times and FPOCs are idle, they can be allowed to spend more time on a problem before escalating, which lets them develop their skills so they become more effective on the front lines. Such a setup builds trust between the FPOCs and higher-level associates, and when the organization has great IT service desk tools like a knowledge base, it helps FPOCs resolve more tickets without escalation.
The KISS Principle Applies
Keeping it simple is smart, whatever your escalation needs. Some organizations simply tell the FPOC to escalate tickets if they don’t know what to do, and then if admins don’t know what to do they consider tapping outside resources. However complex your organization is, try to keep escalation rules and procedures as simple as will get the job done. Make sure the entire team understands how to evaluate situations and what to do if escalation is warranted. Generally, escalation ascends through four basic levels:
- Service desk
How you navigate between these levels should be based on the specifics of the size of your organization, what type of company it is, and how deadline-oriented your operations are.
Samanage makes IT service management software that takes care of all your IT help desk and IT asset management needs. Samanage is cloud hosted and flexible enough to help your organization implement the perfect escalation plan for your particular requirements. With great features — like easy knowledge base construction, ticket tracking, and reporting — everyone from the FPOCs to the CIO can be clear on when and how to escalate tickets so the IT service desk runs efficiently at all times.