Student Guide ICTSAS527 Manage client problems RTO No: 91223 CONTENTS Overview 4 Topic 1: Supporting clients with solving problems 5 Topic 2: Evaluating support 21 Overview Application of the unit This unit describes the skills and knowledge required to liaise and support clients to manage and resolve problems in an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) environment. It applies to individuals who apply high level technical and specialised knowledge in assisting clients to support, manage and resolve problems. No licensing, legislative or certification requirements apply to this unit at the time of publication. Learning goals Learning goals include: determine and review client support and resolution requirementsdevelop and implement client support and resolution requirementsevaluate client support and resolution requirements. Topic 1: Supporting clients with solving problems Introduction Communicating and supporting clients to manage and solve their ICT problems requires a vast range of knowledge and skills in order to be able to determine and solve a variety of issues that can arise. The ICT industry covers many sectors and fields, when we talk about problems, they can range from small software problems to a major disaster recovery issues. Some examples can be: security problems relating to viruses and malwarehelpdesk support for software issuesfailure with componentsoperating system faultsupdating or replacing hardware or softwareproblems relating to cloud services, websites, applicationslack of expertise or knowledge relating to ICT infrastructuresupporting the Internet of Things (IoT). Therefore, before you are able to work effectively to manage client problems you need to understand what their organisational environment is like, the stakeholders involved, what the organisation does and how it is structured. Image by John Schnobrich on Unsplash There are four common types of business structures, when an organisation decides on a structure it will be dependent upon their business needs as well as tax, legislation, liability, control and ongoing costs. Whatever the model, it will suit the business and be an approach that will affect the way in which it is run. Therefore, you need to look further into an organisation to help you understand it. Some of these are: backgroundvaluesculturepoliticsorganisational structure. An organisation’s domain can be complex and specifically characterised by the nature of the business model and structure, as well as the culture of the company.Consideration of the business domain is important to gain a high-level understanding of how a business works. It can include: The structure of an organisation formally defines how it is arranged, the levels of authority and communication, roles and responsibilities and how information flows between the various levels.Organisational structures can be hierarchical or non-hierarchical and organised in a number of ways. The way an organisation is structured reflects how it operates and what the business needs are, for example some may have a leader at the top with specific lines of authority, others may have a flatter structure where there is only one level of management. The following are some examples of organisational structures: FunctionalProduct basedGeographicalMatrixCircularFlatNetwork. By understanding an organisation’s environment, business domain and structure you will be better placed to provide an effective service that matches your client’s needs.For example, working with an organisation that is based over a large geographical area with a large number of employees in the medical industry will be very different from a university environment based on one campus, facilitating both students and teachers.The ICT problems faced in these contexts would require a different approach based on the way in which the organisation has been structured, the way in which users are interacting with the environment and the service being delivered.The way in which ICT problems are solved for clients, will be largely dependent on the way in which an organisation has been structured and the policies and procedures in place to deal with the problems.The structure provides a line of authority so that problems can be escalated according to the different levels, roles and responsibilities and accountabilities specified. For example:The structure will define each person’s role, their duties and responsibilities as well as the line of authority and the way in which client problems are escalated through the different levels of the organisation.The policies and procedures will provide guidance and structure, for example how to prioritise problems, how to troubleshoot problems, documentation to use, software and how to communicate resolving issues.Activity: Research and discussWork in pairs for this activity.Using the internet, research the following organisations and determine which business structure it models and provide a brief overview of its business domain.Apple Inc, IBM, Melbourne IT support centre, Podium IT support MelbourneBrisbane Real estate agents, Brisbane, Northrop Engineering ServicesThe trainer/assessor will facilitate a class discussion where you can share your group’s findings.StakeholdersThe stakeholders that you are dealing with could be your supervisor, the client, staff or colleagues, contractors. Their roles will vary depending upon the degree of involvement in the organisation. For example, a contractor would probably have less involvement then say a client.The stakeholders are the key players and there are several reasons for identifying them:To understand the lines of authority and communicationTo understand who is responsible for making decisions, who are the right people toCommunicate with and who is responsible for making approvals.To support consultation and communicationSome examples of stakeholder involvement:Client’s roleFollow procedures for seeking supportStaff or colleague’s roleProvide correct priority support for the clientContractor’s roleDeliver services on timeSupervisor’s roleProvide support for escalationTo understand the stakeholders role and their degree of involvement will help you in performing your role when trying to solve problems.Service level agreements (SLAs)When providing services for clients, most organisations will have some type of contract or service level agreement (SLA). This document provides guidance for when you are supporting a client and defines the level of a service that exists between a service provider and their customer.The agreement is generally in expressed in a simple language so that it can be clearly understood by the customer. The document may also include more technical terms for defining the service. The Service Level Agreement is often part of a wider service contract and can be part of the legally binding contract , however, it could also be an informal contract between parties.Contracts can address several performance criteria that must be met in order for the contract to meet requirements and obligations.For example:By looking at a client’s service level agreement you can find out what service is available to them as well as the action you must take and any escalation procedures.Escalating issuesNot all problems can be solved initially and may require escalation. Escalating a problem means that it is being referred to someone at the next or higher level.Escalation may be at the request of a client, from a third party or because the person dealing with the problem is unable to solve it at their level of responsibility. It may also be a general escalation from initial assessment that the service required is beyond the scope of the first level of support.Organisational policies and procedures usually define the levels of escalation or provide a framework for guiding an employee when an incident requires the next level support.Activity: ReadRead the following article. When employees should escalate issues:https://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2018/06/18/employees-escalate-issues-part-1/Take any notes to summarise what you have read and keep for future reference.Activity: WatchSoftware can be used to support managing escalation. The following video provides an overview of the softwarehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifDISBff0m0 (04:24)Ways to turn your unhappy customers into a valuable resourcehttps://neilpatel.com/blog/unhappy-customers-into-resource/ (article and video).How Tesla deals with escalation issueshttps://electrek.co/2017/08/17/tesla-owners-escalate-issues-executives-communications/The trainer/assessor will facilitate a class discussion about the outcomes from the video.Activity: ReadThe following is an example of an IT help desk Service Level Agreement:https://www.giva.com.au/wp/sample-it-help-desk-service-level-agreement-sla.cfmNote down the outline and structure of the agreement and keep for future reference.Activity: Research and discussDivide into pairs for this activity.Download the following Service Level Agreement from UWW, and review its contents:https://www.uww.edu/Documents/icit/documentation/Workstation%20Computer%20Support%20SLA.pdfDownload the following Service Level Agreement from Tech Help Direct, and review its contents:https://www.techhelpdirect.com.au/Service-Level-Agreement.pdfUsing the internet, find a Service Level Agreement that relates to the industry you are working. Review the SLA, noting down the structure, headings and content.What are the goods and services provided by the company?How is the company structured?What are their service standards and what is the purpose of their customer service policy?For each of the agreements, include any additional services that you would consider to be beneficial to the client. List any industry standards that relate to the agreements.The trainer/assessor will facilitate a class discussion about the outcomes from the research.Industry standard hardware and software productsIn order to be able to diagnose, troubleshoot, identify and resolve a client’s ICT problem you would need to have the relevant knowledge and technical expertise required for the role. Having an understanding of the features and capabilities of industry standard hardware and software products will help you to help your clients.Activity: Research and discussUsing your own knowledge and by undertaking research, complete the following table, identifying at least four features and capabilities for each product:FeaturesCapabilitiesMicrosoft Windows 10Adobe Creative CloudA wireless routerEthernet cableWhat is the purpose and function of the World Wide Web Consortium and how could it help you in solving ICT problems for a client?The trainer/assessor will facilitate a class discussion about the outcomes from the research.Diagnosing problemsThe main role of ICT support is to be able to diagnose potential troubleshooting and identify resolution requirements.You may have done lots of troubleshooting in your lifetime already, whether its issues with your own computer, as part of your job role or undertaking daily activities.There are a number of troubleshooting tools and techniques that can be used to diagnose and correct problems. You could use:Knowledge and information that you already haveInformation from previous known issuesA format and procedure provided by your organisation that is used to solve problemsAn automated troubleshooting program such as software diagnostic tools, event viewer or monitor.The objective of troubleshooting is to:For known problems you may have a list of troubleshooting steps to follow, for example, troubleshooting questions for a computer that won’t turn on:Have you undertaken a hard restart of the computer?Are all the cables plugged in?Is the monitor light green?Troubleshooting uses the process of elimination with some problems having common causes and known issues.Part of solving problems also requires determining the cause, and this requires asking a lot of questions to determine the problem or what it may be.But we all don’t know all the answers of the top of our head! Some we might, for example known causes that happen on a regular occurrence, or those that a symptomatic of a particular piece of hardware or software. Mostly, however, you will be using documentation to help solve the problem and will be undertaking to resolve them within the boundaries of the support requirements.DocumentationUsing documentation is a big part of undertaking to resolve client ICT problems. Aside from the service level agreement or contract, you may also need to look at:User documentationProduct guidesTroubleshooting guidance for hardware/software issuesOperating environment documentationClient and supplier contact informationHistorical information (either from a database, information system or data analysis records)Warrantees and guarantees.There may also be documentation that you will need to complete, for your records, the client’s records and for future issues that may occur.The information is usually to record every aspect of the problem being reported. Who reported it, why it happened, what the prognosis was, if it could be solved, if not why not, if it was escalated, what parts or software was needing to be replaced, who needs to be informed, who has approved the next level of support, who is dealing with the process, how long the job took, where it all linked into the level of support for that client.For example, a client may require a replacement hard drive. You would need to formally record the problem and how the outcome was determined, so that there is documentation to support the new purchase, as well as the supporting guarantee or warrantee documentation and the resolution process that took place. This will also justify the reasons for the purchase of the hard drive and provide evidence of the process.By reviewing the SLA you can determine the correct action that should be taken, under the terms of the agreement, as well as the formal escalation procedures.Confirming support requirementsWhen you confirm the client support and resolution requirements, this verifies what you are providing to your client and who will be dealing with their problem.Therefore, you will need to know the client’s point of contact so that any communication is done via the most appropriate personnel.This can ensure that the service provided is being done so through the right lines of authority and you are communicating with the people who can make decisions and ensure the process is carried out through the correct channels.Activity: ProjectDivide into small groups. This is your ICT support team.You are to work collaboratively on this activity, dividing the work equally. Ensure that you plan and organise your work whist building on effective working relationships with your team.Your team works in ICT support for ConnECT, providing support to schools in the local area.Use the following example as the Service Level Agreement made between you and your client: https://www.connetix.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Connetix-SLA-2017-2018-flick-book.pdfAs part of your role, you need to understand:The support requirements and proceduresThe client contactsYou are required to document support provided by:Completing an IT requestConfirming support requests via emailThe client has telephoned you with the following problem:The internet service is down in the library. There are a number of important lessons being conducted over the next few days where the resources are required for internet access. It is an urgent request.Outline the following:How you must deal with the request in accordance with the support and resolution requirements.Who the client contact is.The action and escalation procedures you must follow.Discuss what could be the possible causes of the problem, identify at least three troubleshooting processes that could be used to initially resolve the problem over the phone.Draft an email to the client contact, verifying the support and resolution requirements using the information that you have reviewed from the service level agreement.Ensure that you use clear and appropriate language and a format that is suitable for presenting technical information.Submit to the trainer/assessor for feedback.Processes for client support and resolution requirementsIt is important to have a strong working relationship with a client, establishing a good working business relationship can support in identifying client needs and open communication channels for liaising with the client during any difficulties.You need to be able to communicate this to the client so that they understand what is happening, who is handling their issue, how long it will take and how it is being resolved. This helps to keep the client happy and maintains an effective working relationship.It is safe to say that almost all client problems will be different and require a different process to resolve the problem. Developing a process needed to provide support and resolution requirements can help you resole a client’s problem effectively.This process can depend on the size of the client’s organisation, whether its inhouse or external, the industry, hardware and software infrastructure and environment, the level of support within the realm of the SLA, the available technical expertise or the type of problem that has been reported. However, the structure of most ICT support functions are similar, using a process to address and resolve problems. This may include:An IT support process can provide structure and guidance for identifying and resolving client ICT problems within the operating environment. For example a procedure for dealing with a Level 1 Support issue for a client:Solving client ICT problems will require an understanding of the different stages of problem solving, an understanding of the organisation’s operating environment, policies and procedures and structure, as well as background information on clients and the level of support provided to them.Look at the following case study:A client has telephoned for some ICT support regarding an issue with a backup that could not be undertaken. The first step is to understand and determine the customer’s problem within the boundaries of organisational procedures and service level agreement.What is the problem?What is the impact?Asking questions and effective communication skills can support the ICT support person to gain a lot of information that could be used to help solve the problem and limit any impacts.Recording informationDocumenting the client responses provides a record of the telephone call and information that can be used in the support process such as a call log or ticket.Determine course of actionBy examining the logged requests, you should be able to determine the client requirements.Confirm any additional informationYou may need to seek further information from the client contact, or the client may provide this.Looking up previous known problems.Once you have all the information the most standard procedure is to see if there are any similar problems that have been recorded previously and identify how it was resolved. These are usually recorded in a database and may be a problem identified by the same client.Ascertain any constraintsYou may need to determine and record any constraints that will effect the resolution of the problem. For example, within the constraints of the service level agreement or deadlines that need to be met.Can this be resolved?Can you use trouble shooting to diagnose the problem; what are the resolution requirements; what action is required?Activity: Watch and readRead the following information that explains how a company provides IT support levels. Watch the embedded video at the end of the article:https://www.bmc.com/blogs/support-levels-level-1-level-2-level-3/Write down your key takeaways.The trainer/assessor will facilitate a class discussion about the outcomes from the video.Documenting supportAs mentioned earlier, documentation is an important aspect of keeping track of ICT support that has been requested, carried out and hopefully resolved.This can be done through a database, organisational templates, support software, using emails or specific documentation that is required as part of the support process.The support activities being carried out will need documenting. It can help to ensure that a problem is being tracked, has been conducted using the right process and meets any organisational requirements for recording information.The support activities carried out will contain information such as the date of support request, who conducted the process, the client contact, any information about the problem that needs recording. This could be in the form of ‘tickets’ or help request forms; technical information recorded; or purchase orders for new equipment. It could also include the escalation procedures carried out, documentation of site visits or as simple as a record of a telephone conversation.You will find that every organisation will have its own procedures and different processes for documenting ICT support activities as well as having to meet any client requirements.Furthermore, it provides a record of the resolution outcomes which provides a record for the client and can be used as reference for any future issues that may arise.For example, the following call log shows some client issues and outcomes – this provides a record that can be recorded in a database and used for known issues and how they were resolved.JobDatePriorityUserLocationProblemAssignedResolution26015-5HighBruce LarsMelbourne CBDPC is displaying an incorrect date, user has set date correctly, but when system restarts, the incorrect date is still displayed.KarenFixed online; date reset but not saved.26116-5MediumHedge & LynchFitzroyWindows not loading after new software update.RajEscalated to technician ticket 124526225-5MediumPark St SolicitorsFitzroyCannot find Word on her computer.KathrynFixed over telephone; shortcut on task bar was deleted.Documenting the resolution can also provide confirmation that a job has been completed or what the next step is required, in order to solve the problem.CommunicationTo be able to effectively determine, develop and implement client support and resolution requirements, you need excellent communication skills. In an ICT support environment this includes taking down information, processing information, reading and understanding information, preparing and completing documentation, interpret data, as well as being able to listen, question and build effective working relationships.You can be addressing a number of clients with complex problems, using different software and hardware with different levels of priority and urgency.This can include how you plan, prioritise, sequence tasks, negotiate with others, use a variety of communication methods and platforms as well as interacting with colleagues, suppliers, client contacts and supervisors.Communication includes visual, verbal, written and non-verbal and the ability to give and receive information accurately, clearly and as intended. It is an important role for supporting a client and their ICT problems.Skills include:Being an active listener, clarifying questions, and paraphrasing to confirm understandingUsing body language, eye contact and gestures and paying attention to other people’s non verbal signalsHaving clarity, being clear, empathetic and showing respectUsing the right medium for communicationUsing effective questioning techniques to find out information and to show understandingMaintaining communication with the relevant people during an ICT support activity can help build effective working relationships by ensuring that the client is aware of what is happening at all times. You must also be aware of what is happening with a client’s problem (especially if this has been escalated or not resolved immediately).Image by Lilibeth Bustos Linares on UnsplashActivity: ReadDifference between verbal and nonverbal communication:https://difference.guru/difference-between-verbal-and-nonverbal-communication/.Managing nonverbal communication in the workplace:https://roubler.com/au/nonverbal-communication-workplace/.Take any notes to summarise what you have read and keep for future reference.Activity: WatchEffective listening skillsVideo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwWj_SfDpzg (05:26)Video: https://www.bbc.co.uk/teach/skillswise/listening-for-specifics/zrfqrj6 (01:13)The trainer/assessor will facilitate a class discussion about the outcomes from the video.Activity: PracticalComplete the following in pairs:Student A gives the following information to Student B:A short description of a common computer problemStudent B is required to listen carefully so they can recall the information later and tell the class.Student B then gives the following information to Student A:A longer description of how to change a setting on a computer (choose any such as personalising a screen background, adding an application to the task bar or changing internet settings).Student A is required to listen carefully so they can recall the information later and tell the class.When all students have exchanged information in pairs, they share their partner’s information to the whole group.Ensure to use effective communication techniques such as active listening, effective questioning, positive body language and record information accurately and provide information concisely using appropriate language.The trainer/assessor will facilitate the activity and provide feedback.Topic 2: Evaluating supportService feedbackAfter providing a support and resolution service for a client, it is important to obtain and respond to any feedback. This helps to ensure that the service provided has been effective and the client is happy. The feedback from ICT support staff, supervisors, contractors and suppliers can identify what worked and what didn’t.In particular, it can provide an evaluation of the level of service and how well the client has been supported, in particular meeting any contractual obligations.You may have come across a type of feedback mechanism before – such as after attending a course or being asked if you enjoyed a meal. Some companies will issue a short online survey immediately after a service to gain an idea of how well the client has been satisfied with the response provided and also how well the support staff responded.For more complex problems, this could be a longer process but generally have the same outcome – obtaining feedback and responding to it. Feedback can come from a number of methods, platforms and mediums such as:a customer survey or questionnairea rating on an appcompleting a sign off reporttelephone callssocial media reviews.Feedback is an essential tool, used for maintaining and improving client satisfaction, work performance, reputation and can be valuable for future support.When a problem has been solved for a client, they should be contacted to confirm that they are happy with the solution or if not, how to meet any further expectations.A Service Level Agreement (SLA) includes technical service terms along with the availability of the service, the performance of the service, how it will operate, and priorities, responsibilities of involved parties, guarantees and warranties and specify a level of service to be expected. These can be the factors that an organisation can use to obtain feedback.For example, a feedback question could be: Was the problem solved within the timeframe specified in the contract of 2-3 days? The response can then be used to improve on the performance and service provided or be used as a benchmark for future support activities.Most importantly, gathering feedback from the right people will help to determine any improvements required to the services being provided.SurveysA popular method for collecting and analysing feedback is through surveys. The method, platform and medium used should be appropriate to your audience so that you are collecting quality data in a timely manner. The surveys need to be well designed and use effective questioning techniques to find out the information that you are seeking. For example, if you want to know if the support provided was effective, then this needs to be addressed in the survey. Look at the activities for further information on how to create effective surveys.Activity: ResearchGo to www.surveymonkey.com and check out how the surveys can be developed.Read about survey design:Survey Design 101Read the following article on creating surveys:https://blog.hubspot.com/service/create-a-surveyThe trainer/assessor will facilitate a class discussion about the outcomes from the research.Client feedbackOf course, the most important feedback will be from the client. Did we meet client expectations? If not, why not?Asking for feedback from a client can be informal questioning from a telephone conversation or a formal survey or questionnaire.The questions must be relevant and appropriate to the service that has been provided and using the most effective format and medium.It can address the level of satisfaction of the service level agreement, if any modifications are required to their contract, whether or not it met with expectations, what they would like to be improved, what worked well and what didn’t.Activity: WatchRead the following article and watch the embedded video:What is customer feedback and why it is important?https://www.wonderflow.co/blog/what-is-customer-feedback-and-why-it-is-so-important-to-your-businessActivity: ReadWhy customer feedback is important to your business:https://blog.startquestion.com/7-reasons-why-customer-feedback-is-important-to-your-business-28e99c00eba7Effective ways to get customer feedback:https://www.timecamp.com/blog/2018/02/8-effective-ways-to-get-customer-feedback/Take any notes to summarise what you have read and keep for future reference.ImprovementsFeedback is a great tool that many organisations use to address any problems or issues in the service delivered. You can use the feedback received to improve on the service delivered or to acknowledge successes.Evaluation and feedback tools can be used to find out how the performance of a contract is being conducted and if it meets the performance standards.One way to determine improvements is to look at any performance outcomes either stated in the service delivery contract or through customer service standards. This can help you to:determine if the performance outcomes align with the organisational requirements and standardsdocument any unsatisfactory performances and determine why this has occurredmake any recommendationsinclude any necessary contractual variationsseek and respond to feedback on any changes.The improvements may be with the performance of staff, gaps in service or underperformance of service delivery.Any improvements put forward would need feedback and approval from the relevant personnel, using organisational polciies and procedures to implement any changes or modifications to the service being proivded.Quality assuranceQuality assurance practices can support an organisation to ensure that a business achieves quality performance expectations. By using benchmarks, standards, guidelines, policies and procedures, roles and responsibilities an organisation can analyse how well they are managing client problems from start to finish.The feedback received from stakeholders can support an organisation to maintain its quality standards. By reviewing how a support issue has been handled from start to finish you can identify where there is need for improvement. Quality assurance can be implemented by following ISO and AS standards and organisational standards.Activity: ReadWhat is quality assurance?https://www.thebalancesmb.com/definition-of-quality-assurance-2533665Australian quality assurance standards:https://quality-assurance.com.au/what-are-quality-assurance-qa-system-standards/Take any notes to summarise what you have read and keep for future reference.Activity: ProjectDivide into your ICT support team. Refer back to your client. The job went well but you want to find out what the client thought of the service.Using a method and medium or platform of your choice, develop a survey or feedback mechanism that can be used to collect client feedback for this job. Ensure that it has a combination of questioning techniques and collects enough information to support future ICT support services for this client.Draft an email to the client asking for their feedback. In the email discuss quality assurance practices and how the feedback can be used to support this. (You will need to conduct some research on quality assurance practices for ICT service support in particular).Some feedback that you received was that a member of staff was quite arrogant throughout the support process. Discuss how you could act on this feedback.Ensure that you use clear and appropriate language and a format that is suitable for presenting technical information. Submit the email, survey, quality assurance information and client feedback response to the trainer/assessor for feedback.
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