UniDesk house rules

UniDesk is the system we use to log and progress incidents, more commonly known here as calls. This can be used by University and non-University members alike to submit their problems and then follow their progress.

As each team member was using UniDesk slightly differently, it became clear that we needed some rules and guidelines on how we should use it consistently.

I thought it may be of use to other teams using a call management system to see what we’re doing.

Three levels of support

The way we are set up, there are essentially three levels of support:

    • First line: IT service desk (a physical help desk in the library).
    • Second line: Digital communications support team (Peter and Duncan).
    • Third line: Rest of the digital communications team.

Guidelines

Below are some of the rules and guidelines that aren’t too specific to our team:

When a call is assigned to us

When the IT service desk (first line) assigns a call to us, it arrives with the status of ‘New’. In UniDesk terms this means unread and completely unactioned.

Once a member of the team has read and understood what the call is about they mark it as ‘Open’. This shows the service desk we are aware of the issue and are taking steps to resolve it.

If the issue has to wait until Friday, when the rest of our team works on support calls, then the support team will email the user to let them know about the short delay.

Calls with no response from user

If we have not heard back from a user after two weeks, we change the call status to ‘Closed – User confirmed’ and add the following to the action field: “Not received a reply from user in two weeks or more.”

Calls past their target date

If calls pass their target date, second line support will extend the call by two weeks, then let the operator know about specific call at the next daily catch-up meeting.

De-escalating calls

Whenever a call is incorrectly assigned to us we de-escalate it back to the IT service desk. This not only helps educate first line about what to assign us and what not to, but it of course guarantees that the call gets passed to the right group.

Team member on holiday or off sick

Before a team member goes on holiday, they should reassign the call to another team member; at the very least they should assign the call to the “Digital Communications” operator so that it can be picked up by second line.

If the call relies solely on the absent team member, if they have not already done so, the second line support team should send a short email to the user alerting them of the absence and an indication of when they are expected to return.

Standard replies

In order to keep our responses and general output consistent across the team, we use a set of standard replies.

These are pre-written email templates so all we have to do is replace certain placeholders with the details relating to that specific call. This way the user should be getting roughly the same response and level of support regardless of who is dealing with the call.

We also use standard replies in our Outlook emails when re-directing users to contact us through the IT service desk, instead of our personal email address. Preventing important requests from becoming lost in a personal email account.

Conclusion

Our guidelines, of course, contain a lot more information, such as the specifics of the standard reply texts and what detailing what each button in UniDesk does, but sharing that here would be wasteful. I hope you find the above useful.

Hopefully, once our team becomes fully accustomed with the rules, our UniDesk output will be almost identical in format and professionalism.

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