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The Zen of Support:

The Path to Strategic Enlightenment

All support organizations operate along a continuum of maturity.  Newer organizations, and those that have not yet matured, tend to be chaotic and reactive.  By contrast, the most mature organizations are calm, focused, and disciplined.  Those in the latter category operate very strategically, and exhibit a number of Zen-like qualities that enable them to achieve extraordinary success.

In this article, MetricNet, a leading source of online benchmarks and a pioneer in service desk and desktop support benchmarking, describes the Zen-like nature of the industry’s most successful support organizations, and presents a unifying framework for how to achieve excellence in user support.

The Zen Support Organization

As a veteran of more than 1,000 IT support benchmarks, I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to user support.  The top performers in the industry exhibit a remarkable consistency in their cultures and operating practices.  These similarities are the character traits that distinguish the Zen support organizations.  The most prominent of these traits are the following:

  • They are Proactive
  • They are Metrics Focused
  • They Manage their Image

The term proactive is so over-used that it has become an industry cliché.  But there is real truth behind the cliché.  Let me give you just two examples.  The first is root-cause-analysis (RCA).  By systematically analyzing tickets on a monthly basis, organizations practicing RCA have been able to reduce ticket volumes by as much as 15%.  That’s an enormous savings opportunity that remains untapped in most organizations.  The second example involves first contact resolution (FCR).  It is a well established fact that FCR is a key driver of customer satisfaction.  With this in mind, the most proactive organizations systematically analyze their escalated ticket profiles – tickets that are by definition not resolved on first contact – and develop very specific training modules designed to capture and resolve more tickets on first contact.  Those engaged in this practice enjoy FCR rates that are nearly 10 percentage points higher than the industry average, and achieve customer satisfaction levels that are likewise among the highest in the industry.

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Jeffrey Rumburg

Jeff Rumburg is a co-founder and Managing Partner of MetricNet, where he is responsible for global strategy, product development, and financial operations for the company. As a leading expert in benchmarking and re-engineering, Mr. Rumburg authored a best selling book on benchmarking, and has been retained as a benchmarking expert by such well known companies as American Express, Hewlett-Packard, General Motors, IBM, and Sony. Mr. Rumburg was honored in 2014 by receiving the Ron Muns Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the IT Service and Support industry. Prior to co-founding MetricNet, Mr. Rumburg was president and founder of The Verity Group, an international management consulting firm specializing in IT benchmarking. While at Verity, Mr. Rumburg launched a number of syndicated benchmarking services that provided low cost benchmarks to more than 1,000 corporations worldwide. Mr. Rumburg has also held a number of executive positions at META Group, and Gartner. As a vice president at Gartner, Mr. Rumburg led a project team that reengineered Gartner’s global benchmarking product suite. And as vice president at META Group, Mr. Rumburg’s career was focused on business and product development for IT benchmarking. Mr. Rumburg’s education includes an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School, an M.S. magna cum laude in Operations Research from Stanford University, and a B.S. magna cum laude in Mechanical Engineering. He is author of A Hands-On Guide to Competitive Benchmarking: The Path to Continuous Quality and Productivity Improvement, and has taught graduate-level engineering and business courses.

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