How to make sure VIPs do not wait when calling the Service Desk

By ITIL® from Experience ©

When the president of the organization, an executive or any other person considered a Very Important Person (VIP) calls the service desk and waits in the queue, the CIO may hear about it.

Some organizations react by providing a VIP telephone number to avoid them from waiting in the queue for the next available agent. Essentially, giving VIPs a different support process and moving away that what ITIL® refers as a Single Point of Contact1 (see Do we need an SLA for VIPs).

The challenge with this approach is that VIPs eventually tell their assistant and others to call this number for faster service. As the word gets around, more and more people start to call this "special" number and wait time happen2.

A technology option to address the problem is to configure3 the Service Desk’s telephony system (e.g. ACD4, IVR5) to prioritize calls received from VIPs based on Caller ID6 so that they are placed at the front of the queue.

The advantage of this approach is that it is transparent to the VIP user (see What is another term for User). Even though they follow the standard support process by calling the service desk's number, they get priority treatment. Moreover, it enables critical telephone numbers to be placed in priority for the service desk. In a hospital for example, phone calls from the nurse station in the emergency room can have priority. Calls made from the president's boardroom telephone could also be answered first even though a simple employee made the call about problems with the audio-visual equipment for a presentation. Additionally, some phone systems have skill-based routing so that the service desk Agent who answers the phone is knowledgeable about that individuals’ technology setup.

Another advantage of prioritizing calls from specific telephone numbers is that it enables IT to better control demand to properly plan the capacity of the service desk.

The challenge with prioritizing calls based on Caller ID is that these numbers need to be maintained in the telephone system. A manual or an automated process could be implemented. Manually, people can be called to action to update the system when a new staff assignment/promotion is announced or monthly to ensure that all VIPs are in the system. An automated process of course is preferable. However, a few interfaces may be required. For example, with the VoIP/analog phones and the Mobile Device Manager (MDM) unless the data is centrally available in Active Directory or an Identity Management system. Of course, organizations with Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) or with unmanaged devices is another consideration.

It is important to realize that non-VIP users may notice the impact of this configuration. Specifically, if the non-VIP user is in the queue and told that the wait time is 2 minutes - and next that the wait time is 5 minutes because a VIP called. This can leave users with a poor client experience7.

Many may find loading and maintaining VIP phone numbers in the telephone system to be over complex compared to simply giving them a separate telephone number. However, a separate telephone number advertises the privilege of VIPs and the inability of the Service Desk to serve. And, mentioned previously, with wait time as once the number is well known. Lastly, giving VIP's their "own" telephone numbers is like a gold credit card. Once everyone has one, a platinum card is needed.
In closing, giving priority to VIPs is serving them to a different SLA which leads us to the question: Do we need a VIP SLA?

Published on: 2018-11-13

“As I often tell people, Steve Jobs used to call the regular Apple support line when he had a question or problem.” Roy Atkinson, HDI

More Quotes


More on Service Desk

From Around the Web:

ITIL Process > Service Desk
ITIL Process > Service Level Management (SLM)

1. Single point of contact: (ITIL® Service Operation) Providing a single consistent way to communicate with an organization or business unit. For example, a single point of contact for an IT service provider is usually called a service desk. Source: https://www.axelos.com/Corporate/media/Files/Glossaries/ITIL_2011_Glossary_GB-v1-0.pdf
2. Even if the telephony system's call-flow places VIP telephone number in the main Service Desk’s queue in priority volume increase to the VIP phone number will result in wait time.
3. Not all telephony systems have this functionality. In some cases a script needs to be developed.
7. This occurrence should be rare since VIP calls should be few.


Copyright 2018 - ITIL® from Experience - D.Matte