OIT Supporting VA Customer Service Improvements through Help Desk Success
When VA employees contact their information technology (IT) customer service help desk, they expect their call to be answered quickly and their IT issues resolved swiftly. This is exactly the customer service experience VA’s Office of Information and Technology (OIT) envisions. But many people are probably unaware of the intricate array of people, processes, and modernization necessary to realize this vision. It begins with leadership who bring a vision for and commitment to customer service—VA’s prime directive. It also requires a strong, purpose-driven team of knowledgeable help desk staff who can respond to a host of issues involving hardware, software, applications, system access, security. Additionally, the team must be equipped with the right tools to process tens of thousands of calls, while treating each customer like they are the only caller.
These are the exact elements that have made the IT Operations and Services Enterprise Service Desk (ESD) team, led by Enterprise Command Operations Acting Executive Director Lynette Sherrill, so successful this year.
Continuing to drive new capabilities while also streamlining core processes, ESD exceeded their service speed and quality goals for October. For speed of service, the goal for average caller wait time to speak to an ESD agent was 45 seconds, but ESD answered calls in an average of only 35 seconds. For quality of service, the team targeted a goal of resolving 95% of issues the first time customers contacted ESD—the team smashed that target and resolved almost 99% of issues at first contact. Further, with the aim of resolving 80% of issues without having to transfer the call to other technical staff, the ESD team exceeded that goal by resolving just under 85% of issues without transferring the call.
OIT understands that the speed and quality of ESD’s service has a real impact on the ability of our business partners to provide the care our Veterans deserve. So we innovated IT service request management in early 2018, which not only bolstered help desk capabilities, but also improved analytical capabilities, helping us quickly respond to—and even anticipate—IT issues. This modernization even included a dashboard showing “just-in-time services,” key services that help us drive rapid solutions to immediate customer needs, but which had proven difficult to track in the past.
Responding to a tremendous range of IT problems and questions VA-wide represents a complex undertaking, given the sheer volume of calls and number of customers. ESD typically fields over 40,000 calls every week, serving as the help desk for nearly 400,000 staff and contractors employed at VA facilities across the country, all of whom rely on ESD’s customer service to solve the IT challenges that impede VA’s ability to serve our Veterans.
Speaking about her team’s latest accomplishments, Ms. Sherrill said, “We have a fabulous team that works hard to deliver exceptional customer service, no matter the challenge. Our team knows that we’re not only helping customers solve specific IT problems, but we’re also helping VA elevate the customer service experience for our Veterans and their families.”