Augmenting MSP Helpdesk Support: 5 Workflows

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Setting the stage for a helpdesk support

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are the backbone for many businesses, ensuring that IT systems run smoothly and efficiently. They offer a cost-effective alternative to building an in-house tech team, often allowing companies to leverage cutting edge expertise without the significant expense and responsibility associated with expanding headcount. 

The core of an MSP’s business lies in maintaining reliable tech infrastructures and resolving customer issues promptly as they arise. Needless to say, a critical component of an MSP’s success is its support line, which allows clients to call in and report issues. This can be either the primary method for receiving incident reports or an additional channel alongside email, ticketing solutions, helpdesk support buttons, etc.

In this blog, we’ll focus on helpdesk support lines, and discuss various workflows MSPs institute to handle customer issues, along with their pros and cons.

1. Fully manned helpdesk support answering calls

In this workflow, a helpdesk support agent answers all incoming calls, gathers necessary information regarding the issue from the customer, and creates a ticket. Emergency calls are transferred to a technician immediately, while non-urgent issues follow a standard ticketing and booking procedure. 

Additionally, some companies may also implement a workflow where all customer calls are logged into tickets and categorized by priority levels. High-priority tickets can then be routed using an alerting tool on the weekends and after hours, and assigned to an on-call staff.

One of the primary reasons why some MSPs favor this workflow is because it involves direct and immediate human interaction with clients. Personalized customer service not only allows for quick assessment and triaging of issues, but is also instrumental in alleviating customer anxiety. As we all know too well, hearing a real person on the other end, ready to assist, can be incredibly reassuring and helps in swiftly addressing and resolving concerns. 

However, the downside of this workflow is that maintaining high staffing levels for efficiency can be challenging. Besides, clients may also have too much control over prioritization when they call in, putting service delivery in a disarray. Also, balancing phone and email tickets can be difficult, and handling minor issues via phone may lead to wasted resources.

Clearly, while this approach ensures high-quality support, it requires a larger, skilled team, which can increase operational costs significantly.

2. Leave a message, then triage for callback

In this workflow, clients leave a voicemail message detailing their issue, which is then triaged by the support team for a call back. Upon receiving a voicemail, the support team reviews the details provided by the client to assess the urgency and nature of the issue. 

You might wonder, what benefits does one gain by adding an extra step of triaging? The initial triaging process is necessary as it allows teams to separate critical incidents from non-critical incidents, ensuring that critical problems are addressed promptly while less urgent matters are handled in due course. This method reduces immediate pressure on support staff who are no longer expected to come up with a solution on the spot and allows for efficient prioritization of issues.

However, lack of immediate human interaction might be frustrating for clients, and there’s a risk of delays if messages are not monitored frequently. Furthermore, there’s also a risk of missing out on important details without real-time interaction.

In terms of cost-effectiveness, this workflow is more economical than a fully manned helpdesk. It requires fewer staff members to handle immediate calls and allows for better allocation of resources by addressing the most critical issues first. This workflow can also lead to significant savings on labor costs and result in increased efficiency.

3. Dial only in emergencies, everything else via ticket or email

This approach restricts phone calls to emergency situations only, with all other issues submitted via ticket or email. It ensures that phone lines are available for critical issues and reduces unnecessary interruptions for support staff. 

Implementing this workflow undoubtedly requires clear communication with clients about what constitutes an emergency to prevent misuse of the emergency line.

To fully maximize the advantages of this workflow, MSPs must proactively set clear expectations with their clients. They can introduce a policy where calls made to their phone number for non-urgent matters incur a premium fee. This not only discourages misuse but also helps cover the costs associated with providing immediate, high-priority support.

One of the drawbacks of this method is that clients may perceive it as having less accessibility to their MSP vendor in times of dire need, leading to potential frustration. However, reducing the volume of phone calls lowers staffing costs and ensures that critical issues receive immediate attention while everything else is addressed in a FIFO (first in, first out) order, improving overall efficiency and cost management.

4. IVR -> Chosen Ring Group -> Timeout to Voicemail

In this workflow, an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system directs calls to specific ring groups. If no one is available, the call times out to voicemail. This method reduces interruptions and mitigates spam calls, allowing for efficient call routing.

Some MSPs may also adjust this workflow to progress incoming calls through a more structured escalation process, wherein the call moves through a predetermined sequence of steps instead of ringing all designated lines simultaneously.

Broadly speaking, there’s a chance clients may dislike the additional step of having to leave a voicemail in the event that no one on the call group responds, perceiving it as less personal. Besides, this workflow requires investment in IVR technology, although efficiency gains are significant. 

However, the initial investment in IVR technology can be offset by long-term productivity gains and reduced need for larger support teams. This workflow can also be attributed to streamlined operations, reduced distractions from spam callers, and improved overall cost-efficiency.

5. Automated urgency-based IVR alerts

In this workflow, clients are prompted to leave a voicemail detailing their issue when they call the support line. This voicemail is then automatically transcribed and saved within a ticketing system. The ticket captures all the pertinent information provided in the voicemail.

The integration between the IVR system and ticketing system streamlines the ticket creation and assignment process, ensuring that all client-reported issues are documented promptly and accurately. By automating this initial step, the support team can focus their attention on triaging and resolving issues rather than spending time manually inputting information into the ticketing system.  

Furthermore, the ticketing system is configured to parse incoming tickets for keywords that may indicate high-priority issues. These keywords could include terms such as “urgent,” “critical,” or specific technical terms related to system failures or downtime, or even client/company names. When such keywords are detected, the system triggers OnPage alerts, notifying designated technicians or teams of the urgent issue requiring immediate attention. This workflow is particularly valuable, especially when it comes to after-hours incidents where MSPs are accountable for meeting Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

This approach necessitates MSPs to invest in IVR, ticketing and alerting systems. While the initial setup and maintenance phases my demand significant resources, once everything is configured on the backend, it transforms into a well-oiled machine. Despite higher initial costs, this approach can be very cost-effective in the long run. Prioritizing urgent issues and reducing downtime can save clients money and improve satisfaction. Besides, automation reduces the need for a large support team, leading to significant labor cost savings.

Conclusion 

In conclusion, the discussed workflows offer MSPs varied approaches to streamline their helpdesk support systems, balancing personalized service with operational efficiency. Integrating OnPage into these workflows enables MSPs to achieve critical alerting, ensuring immediate attention to urgent issues. By routing critical messages as loud, audible alerts that rise above the clutter and automatically follow an escalation policy and on-call rotations, OnPage ensures that on-call technicians promptly address critical incidents, enhancing overall service quality and client satisfaction.

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