We have all supported our NHS Heroes right through the pandemic and don’t think anyone can complain about the selfless staff at all levels that have helped us all in this time.

I have recently noticed many people taking to social media, complaining that they currently cannot get to see a doctor face-to-face. Why is this?

Let us put ourselves in our GP’s shoes. The NHS calculate that each individual GP has approximately 1,800 patients on their books. Multiply this by approximately 15 minutes per consultation. You can see that these professionals are incredibly busy. Especially when you realise that the average number of end user to service desk analysts in the health industry is approximately 185 to one.

When I ring my Doctor’s Surgery my call is taken by the reception staff. Several questions then follow. Now these questions can differ from call to call (please be aware that I only call if really ill as my wife says, “I’m a stubborn man”).

What the Surgery staff are trying to ascertain is priority.

“Why am I ringing up”

“If I need help what help is that”

“Who is best suited to see me”

“Am I able to make it to the Surgery if needed”

These questions, as well as staff numbers, are the reason why someone with a serious disease is seen before that ‘strange rash on your elbow’ is looked at.

This triage process is very similar to the one practiced by your service desk. Admittedly, the questions are different, but what we need to work out is the urgency and the impact of the issue.

We all think we are the most important person. That’s why all of our issues are urgent. But how many of your service desks allow for an end user to select their own priority of the ticket. If you once did use this, then I guess that it quickly changed as your KPIs took a nosedive.

In fact, I once did some consultancy work at a company that allowed their users to specify their priority. Because the service desk realised that there was an upward bias, once logged workflow automatically dropped the priority by 1 (true story). It’s important to set real expectations when dealing with end users, whether you’re a patient or an end user of a service desk.

At the surgery, you will be presented a date to attend. Or, possibly an online video session. In worst case scenarios an ambulance could be called for. Each of these outcomes has been calculated as the correct response and timescale.

When dealing with end users of a service desk, we again set their expectation. Do you have a response SLA? What about a fix or resolution SLA? Is it different for wants (Requests) rather than fixes (Incidents)? Do you offer different service level contracts? Perhaps its 24 x7 or simply 9-5.

Again, this can also be said for your health. Recently, private medical insurance, online pharmacies and per call consultations have all become available at an additional cost. Think of these as a premium service contract with, of course, a premium cost.

But what about those SLA Calculations? You may want to leave the SLA to the discretion of the 1st Line Analyst. But it makes more sense to give partial control back to your end users. Not as a simple Priority, but instead as a set of questions allowing them to answer honestly and have their expectations set.

Similar to the experience at the Doctors Surgery, have a set of questions that helps the end user answer quickly, but precisely.

Over the years I have seen many service desks, as I am sure many of you have too. And you may have seen questions such as:

Who does this affect? Just you? Your team? Or, maybe the entire company?

Is it stopping you from working? Is it just a hinderance, is it a want?

Think about your audience, do these questions work for your end users, should they be phrased in a different way.

For example, you may have an issue where only you cannot send email from your Outlook. This is only affecting you, however it is perhaps stopping you from working. When your end users now answer those questions, their responses will be used to calculate and present them with a response and possibly a resolution time.

Even though you have thought of every outcome, you may also want overrides.

If your printer is not working, you may be able to print on another printer within the network. That is a hinderance, but not stopping you from working. If a printer stops in the payroll department at month end, then although in theory, they are the same, people need their pay checks and therefore this should have a higher priority.

Just as with a Doctors Surgery, a sharp stabbing pain in your big toe, should not have as high a priority as a sharp stabbing pain in your chest.

Will your end users be happy with the times given to them? Most will, some may not. Be honest with your users, these calculations are based on the information that they submitted. Why can we not just jump on their incident straight away and fix it? Because we are working on resolving an issue that has a much higher priority. If their entire system was down, wouldn’t they want you to focus on them at this time? I think most people will understand this when explained.

And remember,

You might not be able to get a consultation with your doctor straight away…But that means there are people much worse off than you.

Are you interested in setting your users realistic expectations using Service Level Agreements or perhaps wanting a better user experience overall for your users?

Check out https://www.ivanti.co.uk/products/ivanti-neurons-itsm for more details on how you can leverage Ivanti Neurons to provide a modern and comprehensive ITSM solution.