Background of the Study
Companies find the need to remain competitive in the fast-paced world a critical element in the business environment (Martinez & Hobbi, 2008). Here, the best solution is for the company to re-engineer its business operations to bring down the cost of operations to the minimum to improve its operational efficiency. To achieve that, companies have made decisions to restructure the service help desk by automating their help desk services. One approach is to integrate the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) it the help desk services, which is tailored to provide businesses with the technical and operational capacity to achieve the mentioned objectives (Selden, 1998). It is assumed such as system could provide customers, business owners, and users with a single point of contact with the system (Collier & Agyei-Ampomah, 2008). The Information Technology Infrastructure Library provides services at three levels, which include the contact center, help desk, and call center. ITIL is designed to serve several purposes, which are directed at servicing customer needs to address the problems associated with customer requests, needs and inquiries, which arise when delivering services to the customers (Collier & Agyei-Ampomah, 2008). It is assumed that the ITIL service desk system plays a significant role because experts have demonstrated that ITIL can provide additional services, which are broader than call centers, contact centers, and help desk services (Collier& Agyei-Ampomah, 2008).
This paper is based on research that was conducted to discover the important and critical elements of designing ITIL service desk-based applications to offer help desk services, which could positively improve the performance of a business. Of particular importance and focus is the way services are offered from the virtual desk when carrying out different business operations (Friedman, Wand & Haynes, 2001). It is critical to educate business owners to shift their business functions from the normal to the virtual service desk. It is through the use of this approach that businesses will be taught the importance of using the virtual service desk to improve customer satisfaction and to answer the question of how ITIL-based service desks applications improves user satisfaction, and how online user interactions (with service desk agents) improve customer trust (Selden, 1998). To address the question, the study will go deeper into the area of study to provide us with insight into how the virtual service desk can be used to reduce the cost of conducting business and other related transactions in the provision of services to the customers (Hofstedt, 2011). The benefits associated with the use of ITIL centralized service desks will be highlighted to reinforce the need for the software. The platform being used here is the virtual service desk based on the ITIL service management application (Shyamasundar & Ramesh, 2010). However, before devoting time and space to explore the area of study, this paper first provides an in-depth discussion of the concepts associated with customer service provision, customer value, and the life cycle of a customer (Hofstedt, 2011). Here, information will be critical and at the center of developing the web-based Information Technology Infrastructure Library ITIL) service desk software.
The company of interest where the Information Technology Infrastructure Library will be applied is Qatar Petroleum (QP), which is a state-owned petroleum company in Qatar. The company’s operations include exploration, production, refining, transportation, and storage of oil and gas in Qatar. The company has a management hierarchy headed by the QP’s Chairman & Managing Director Mohammed Saleh Al Sada, who is also the head of the Ministry of Energy and Industry. The study shows that there is a direct link between the operations of the company and the state planning agencies, regulatory authorities, and policy-making bodies. Statistical evidence shows that 60% of Qatar’s GDP comes from oil and natural gas, which makes a significant contribution to the revenue of Qatar. There is evidence to show that QP is the third-largest oil company in the world and Qatar has the largest reserves of oils and gas in the world.
To achieve the mission and vision statements of the company, it is part of QP’s strategic plan and the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) department to work towards aligning the service provision to the mission and vision statements of the company. QP has strategized to achieve the objectives by capitalizing on its human resource management capabilities, skilled manpower, and other technical resources within reach of the company (Straub, 2013). It is important to note that the use of ICT as a tool for strategic advantage provides the key stakeholders with the ability to share and coordinate information in the exploration and production of oil and gas in Qatar. Some of the stakeholder’s initiatives include implementing the Intelligent Oilfield (IOF) program among others (Knapp, 2013). The main objective of the ICT department is to reduce the operational costs and extend the lifetime of the oil fields by decades and to enhance the production level by up to 10%. The objective will provide the company with the ability to attain a revenue target of US$ 40 billion per annum.
The development and economic progress of Qatar have shown that the ICT department is a critical component in providing leadership in the provision of services and real-time information, which is required to make real-time decisions, which are critical for the running of the company (Collier & Agyei-Ampomah, 2008). Throughout the development of the State of Qatar, the ICT department has been and continues to be recognized as a critical department in the provision of ICT services, which has grown to be one of the leading service desk providers in Qatar.
Statement of the Problem
The current operations at the Qatar oil company have suffered significant drawbacks because of the lack of an integrated Information Technology Infrastructure Library to support the operations of the company. The current situation calls for the need to develop an Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) for the provision of real-time help desk services, which enables the Qatar oil company to offer improved service delivery in pricing, organizing, and automating the services to reduce the risk of increasing the cost of operations and to improve the flow of work.
Purpose of Project
The main purpose of this project is to integrate the service delivery system, which could enable the end-user and the customer to experience optimal system performance by reducing the number of emails received to the IT help desk. The system enables end-users to log in and send their comments and problems online by using the FAQ database to look for solutions to their problems on their own. This is made possible by designing a computerized Online Help Desk ICT service, which is user-friendly and interactive.
Aims and Objectives
The aims and objectives of this project are listed below:
- To develop Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) service desk software-based solution, which provides a central point of contact for users and service providers for reporting incidents and for making service requests.
- To replace the current manual system with the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) application for quick and accurate processing of data and information for the services offered by the Qatar Petroleum Oil Company because the company currently uses a manual system.
- To provide an interactive application with login features, which enables users to communicate instantly and promote the use of ICT services to enhance the provision of online help desk services.
- To maintain an efficient database of solutions to the problems. That could be available in real-time and as a source of information to provide solutions based on the history of clients and their complaints and the performance reports generated from the system.
Scope of Project
The scope of the project is to develop an online virtual help desk service to help the users/customers of the system to create a repository of problems, which customers experience and solutions for the employees working at the oil and gas company and to provide them with the required support in real-time.
Limitation of Study
The scope of this work is limited to the development of an application that provides Online Help Desk solutions to customers and end-users of the application.
It is important to mention here that time was a major constraint for the fact-finding mission. It is also wise to mention here that some of the application features needed could not be implemented because of the limitations of the developer’s programming language skills.
Definition of Terms
Business: is a legally recognized organization designed to provide goods, services, or both to the consumer or tertiary business in exchange for money.
Computer: A computer is a programmable machine that receives input, stores and manipulates data, and provides output in a useful format.
Customer: A customer (also known as a client, buyer, or purchaser) is usually used to refer to a current or potential buyer or user of the products of an individual or organization, called the supplier, seller, or vendor.
Database: A database is a system intended to organize, store, and retrieve large amounts of data easily. It consists of an organized collection of data for one or more users in digital form.
Report: Reports are often used to display the result of an experiment, investigation, or inquiry.
System: whole compounded of several parts or members, system”, literary “composition”. Is a set of interacting or interdependent system components forming an integrated whole.
Information: is processed data.
Storage: is a device for recording (storing) information (data)
Staff: a set of people, such as the employees or volunteers, within an organization
ITIL: The Information Technology Infrastructure Library
Audience profile and sample size
A key audience that the project will serve includes IT service desk agents and managers who are identified as the primary audience. The corporation’s representatives and staff are the secondary audiences that the project seeks to serve. In particular, the developer-focused on IT service desk agents and management as the primary audience since they have immense interest in performing organized service in the company.
On the other hand, the new service desk system will help staffs who are technologically savvy to be updated and solve their issues easily and quickly. It will also enable them to share information with service desk agents and technicians with much ease. The developer’s mission is to deliver an application system that will enable the audience to get a thrilling and exciting taste of new updates (Choubey, 2012, p, 1). The application is also to enable them to search-relevant problems that are similar to the current issue.
The developer’s mission is also to enable the primary audience to obtain pertinent information and reports about current logs, which they might need via the website. The aim is to ensure that they utilize the website in acquiring basic information that they need rather than using the old manual system of keeping annual generated reports.
Web application for staff
The developer will implement a web application for the end-user to submit their hardware or software incident reports and requests will be directed to the service desk agents.
What are Customer Service and Lifetime Customer Value?
It has been established that businesses can only operate and make profits if customers buy the services and products being offered by companies. However, in a practical business environment, many organizations either face competition from their rivals or have legacy systems, which do not provide them with the competitive advantage required for the successful operation of their businesses (Straub, 2013). One of the most critical elements in a business is to attract customers and maintain the business to satisfy the customers with the services being offered (Pratt, 2004). Customer satisfaction is the keyword. In that context, the oil and gas exploring, mining, and exporting company, Qatar Petroleum (QP) could provide ICT services to the satisfaction of its customers and beneficiaries of the company’s operations. It has been shown that a timely provision of services and resolution of conflicts and problems experienced by customers can substantially improve the relationship between the company, the employees, the management, and end-users of the system. Implementing the system could provide a platform for solving customer complaints on time, which could have a direct impact on the performance of the business. It is important for every business to attach value to the customer and ensure that the services being provided conform to the customers’ needs and requirements (Wexelblat, 2001). ITIL provides an interactive environment for customers to communicate with the relevant departments in real-time and receive solutions to their problems in real-time.
According to Turban (2002), customers are always at the center of a successful business if they are handled well. Turban (2002) argues that successful organizations always endeavor to identify the right activities, which support the provision of satisfactory customer services and align them to the organizational needs and objectives. Here, the customer gets satisfied and by paying for the services and products on offer and the organization is able to earn from the customer and improve in financial performance and service delivery (Wilson & Clark, 2008). It is critical to note that business transactions, which occur on a daily basis, can either be virtual or real. A virtual transaction is an abstraction of the real transaction and offering virtual services on a virtual environment is simply abstracting the real environment into the virtual environment. Martinez and Hobbi (2008) have shown the importance of customer service often varies with the nature of customers, businesses, and industries. Martinez and Hobbi (2008) also believe that the success of customer services varies with the flexibility of customers to adjust to the context of their companies. Some researchers understand this fact from the sales process-engineering context (Selden, 1998). Through this lens, it is important to understand that customer services affect income and revenue. From the same analysis, some researchers, including Martinez and Hobbi (2008) suggest that customer service should form part of a business’s systematic improvement process. They believe so because the quality of customer service could change the public perception of a business (Martinez & Hobbi, 2008).
Martinez and Hobbi (2008) argue that customer service is crucial to a business’s success, and that has compelled business organizations to look for ways to satisfy their customers. Some of the approaches used include capturing customer feedback when a service has been provided to evaluate the quality of service and customer satisfaction (Solomon, 2010). The need for immediate feedback formed the basis for developing a mechanism to provide real-time feedback about customer opinions and perceptions about a service. The same case applies to the provision of services by Qatar Petroleum.
To capture customer feedback and provide a real-time evaluation of their perceptions, different companies have integrated ICT systems into their operations and functions in the provision of services to enable customers to interact with the systems and send messages through centralized systems to capture data regarding customer experience and perceptions about the services they have been given (Solomon, 2010). A report by Solomon (2010) shows the trend is common among companies that have successfully registered significant customer growth and higher revenue. It has been established that companies, which implement the strategy have avoided sending away customers and increased the frequency with which customers come back for the same services from the same company. Repeat customers are a good indication of their satisfaction with the services they are offered, which meets their needs and wants. In addition to that, it has been established that the strength of any business is to satisfy customers to keep them coming back for the same services. Research shows that customer experience is a critical component in providing companies with the necessary information to improve the quality of the services being offered (Investopedia, 2013). However, organizations find it a great challenge to identify the best strategies to improve customer experience and the right performance indicators to use to evaluate the level of satisfaction for the services provided to the customers. Identifying the correct indicators provides the system developers with the correct information against, which the performance of the system can be measured in terms of customer satisfaction and the quality of service delivery. In addition to that, the operational efficiency of the ICT system can be configured to address the specific needs of the customers who belong to Qatar Petroleum and the operational efficiency of the company. It is critical to investigate the concept of lifetime customer value to be able to determine the extent to which customer experience, satisfaction, and other factors are related to the performance and profitability of a company.
Lifetime Customer Value
Customer service value is a concept that companies have integrated into their business strategies because it has been demonstrated to cause a profound impact on the success of a business. In addition to that, the concept shows that when an organization has established a good relationship with its customers, it translates to the success of the business. Different models have been used to explain the lifetime customer value based on the level of sophistication of the customer and the accuracy with which the customer perceives things. Berger & Nasr (1998) define a customer’s lifetime value as the “monetary value of a customer’s relationship with a business, based on the projected future revenue that the customer would bring to the business” (p.34). The concept of lifetime customer value has been demonstrated to have a significant impact on the performance of businesses, both at the global and local levels. Berger & Nasr (1998) argue that the concept underpins the strategic process of shifting from focusing on short-term profits to long-term profits, which is based on the relationship companies establish with their customers (customer-business relationships).
Several examples have proved to be successful when using the concept of customer value. Many companies have made significant financial investments to create an environment, which provides an excellent environment for good customer relationships and to ensure that the customer keeps coming back. Such resources also go towards maintaining the customer by providing a number of enabling environments and information feedback mechanisms for the customer to communicate back on their experiences, which enables the target company to keep aligning their objective to the day-to-day running of the business. One of the benefits associated with the use of the concept is customer segmentation in business marketing concept. The source of this philosophy is based on the knowledge contributions of various scholars such as Don Peppers and Martha Rogers (cited in Berger & Nasr, 1998), who argue that customers are “unevenly” important to businesses. The scholars argue that “some customers are more equal than others” (Berger & Nasr, 1998, p. 4). Customer equality is based on the perceptions different customers have towards a product or service, which is based on the response they provide using the interactive system approach. According to Selden (1998), when companies endeavor to implement the philosophy, it is possible for them to focus on customers who bring greater value to the business and concentrate less on customers who add little value to the business. Here, the concept of lifetime customer value becomes critical in establishing the relationship between the customer and the company. Selden (1998) provides a number of examples to illustrate the concept by focusing on the banking and insurance industries. Selden (1998) argues that the baking and insurance industries have concentrated their efforts on establishing good relationships with their customers, with a specialized focus on customers who contribute much value to the operational and financial performance of the companies. According to Selden (1998), many other companies have survived on the same model, which has been the basis of the operational and financial efficiency of the companies. Examples include telecommunication companies and service-oriented businesses that depend on customer referrals for their business success.
According to Selden (1998), the concept of customer lifetime value provides an intuitive marketing appeal because it enables the organization to translate the value of each customer into an equivalent monetary value. It also provides a measure of the cost of resources required to retain the customers who make the biggest contributions to the business. In addition to that, it makes the company able to determine the amount of money to invest in a business to ensure that the company makes maximum benefits from the customers. The strategy is to acquire new and valuable customers and maintain the existing customers. A typical illustration shows that if a customer’s lifetime value is $100 and the cost of acquiring the new customer is $ 80, the customer can add value to the organization and is worth pursuing.
To reinforce the need for organizations to pursue and integrate the strategy into their operations, it is important to discuss the benefits associated with the concept for businesses to manage customer relationships as company assets. An asset is something of value, which if lost could be a loss to an organization. Integrating the concept could provide organizations with the ability to manage their resources and focus them to monitor the impact of organizational management strategies and business marketing investments (Berger & Nasr, 1998). It has been shown that this strategy could be valuable because it easily fits into the marketing mix of different companies and if the marketing strategies are modeled using the multi-year model of customer lifetime value, it could be possible to ascertain the value of every business customer (Berger & Nasr, 1998). In addition to that, the model helps business organizations to efficiently and effectively assign and manage organizational resources. However, a number of organizations have failed to achieve the efficient and effective allocation of resources because of the failure to implement the business management concept appropriately.
How ITIL-Based Service Desk Improves User Satisfaction
One of the strategic approaches of using technology to improve the performance of business organizations in terms of profits and quality service provision is the use of technology. One such technology is ITIL.ITIL is a desk-based service-based technology, which enables organizations to offer help desk services to customers and end-users of the systems. The services desk is simply defined as a single point of contact that an organization establishes with the customers and the end-user based on underlying technology infrastructure. The service desk provides a number of services to the customers and the company benefits by establishing real-time interactions with the customer. Here, the daily transactions between the customer and the company are recorded and it makes the customers easily access any needed assistance in real-time including daily customer issues and end-user calls (Gallacher & Morris, 2012). Research has shown that providing services on the company’s IT infrastructure and specifically by focusing on the use of ITIL-help desk services provide a number of advantages, which include the ability of the customer to access the provision of centralized services (Gallacher & Morris, 2012). When seen in the light of the management models where the management of companies could not be accessed by the customer, the new model brings the customers and the top management close together. In addition to that, it is easy for the company employees to easily gain access to customers, which provides them with accurate information on the needs and wants of customers and the best strategy to address their needs and wants. Through the use of the ITIL help desk service system, customers are able to access their solutions in real-time, reducing the turnaround time for the company operations.
In the modern business environment, researchers argue that a single point of contact is highly desirable for the provision of good customer services (Gallacher & Morris, 2012). It is critical to note that the same problem could compel the technical staff t handle issues not related to their areas of specialization. However, it is the right time for organizations to integrate the concept of the ITIL service desk to make the provision of service to the customers an excellent source of satisfaction.
The Benefits of a centralized Service Desk in the Company
Remarkable differences exist between the centralized service provision and other types of service desks because provide customers with a single source of information that is based on a central geographical location. On the other hand, the virtual service desk (discussed below) provides a single point of location. However, like the virtual service desk, the centralized service desk also offers many benefits to an organization. One such benefit is a reduction of operational costs. Longo & Robinson (1994) add that a centralized service desk improves the quality of user support services for a company. User support services improve through increased access to a central resource for technical services (provided by a company). This way, a company can efficiently address customer needs. A centralized service desk also improves user support services by registering customer concerns in a centralized location and providing a comprehensive follow-through for customer concerns (Longo & Robinson, 1994). The existence of a complete history of customer concerns also exists in such systems. This way, companies could provide customers with personalized services. Moreover, companies could provide personalized services by referring to customer complaints through a problem-management database that characterizes most centralized database services.
Another benefit associated with the centralized service desk is resource optimization. Companies enjoy this advantage because centralized service desks offer improved technical support operations by eliminating redundancy and duplication of company activities (Collier & Agyei-Ampomah, 2008). This strategy helps companies to achieve their organizational objectives because it refocuses company resources to achieve organizational goals. Practically, this strategy shows that the centralized service desk helps organizations to direct technical resource time to achieve organizational goals. According to Longo and Robinson (1994), the companies endeavor to optimize the use of resources, which are associated with the technical capacity of the service desk by providing effective and efficient resolution of services and customer concerns, which helps them to identify system problems such as flows in hardware or software design, which can adversely affect user satisfaction.
It has been demonstrated that using the help desk as a strategy to address the needs and problems customers experience with the company services comes with immense financial benefits. The cost benefits include a smaller number of support staff employed by the company and an increase in the efficiency of the services offered by the company. In addition to that, companies, which have introduced centralized, help desk services provide better quality services, increasing the number of repeat customers and the performance of the company. A number of companies exist which provide lessons from which other companies can draw lessons to learn. One of the most recent examples is the Monroe Community College, in New York, which experienced an increase in cost savings after the company integrated the centralized service desk into its operations. In the beginning, the college employed a large number of people (11,960) to address its problem-management department (Longo & Robinson, 1994). The approach of employing bloated staff had an annual cost on the company of over $299,000 to maintain the department. It was the introduction of the centralized service desk that enabled the college to reduce the number of employees working in the department to 9,880 people (Longo & Robinson, 1994). The department’s operational costs were significantly reduced to $182,000. Gradually, the college was able to save over $117,000 (Longo & Robinson, 1994). In addition to that, cost-saving and 4,545 staff hours were redirected to other operational activities. Other expectations from the use of a centralized system can best be illustrated by the words of a staff member who affirmed that “we expect that the amount of savings realized by the department would increase proportionally as time goes on, and as help desk, operators are able to resolve more problems without the assistance of technical resources” (Longo & Robinson, 1994, p. 16).
One benefit associated with the centralized service desk process is its ease of adoption across different companies. In fact, Collier and Agyei-Ampomah (2008) argue the process applies to different companies with different budgets and size constraints. Many observers attribute the wide adoption of the process to companies that have budgetary constraints. Although experts recommend the introduction of a centralized help desk that mirrors an organizational size, many experts also agree that the introduction of the help desk has significant cost implications (Monroe Community College used about $41,000 in start-up costs) (Longo & Robinson, 1994). However, after weighing such costs, viz a viz the tangible and intangible benefits of the centralized help desk, many observers agree that it is worth the expense (Collier& Agyei-Ampomah, 2008). The centralized help desk, therefore, offers immense benefits to different companies. However, Longo & Robinson (1994) warn that the introduction of the system does not herald the end of problem management. Instead, companies should continue to market the help desk to guarantee its continued success.
A Virtual Service Desk and how it reduces Company Cost
A virtual service desk is largely similar to other types of service desks. This is because, like other types of service desks, the virtual service desk provides users with one point of contact to communicate with a business. This means that all users use one contact address to communicate with a company. In detail, a virtual service desk often works by accepting customer calls in a physical structure that could do so. For example, when a customer calls an airline company to reserve a ticket, the company may route his call to India, without his knowledge. Since virtual service desks offer a seamless transition among support desks, they pose immense benefits to companies. Companies that adopt this method mainly benefit from a reduction in operating costs. However, efficient resource use tops the list of benefits that lead to the reduction of company costs.
Choubey (2012) argues that virtual service desks reduce company costs because they help them to manage and allocate global help desk resources (better). The efficient use of personnel is the most notable resource use that characterizes this advantage. Particularly, virtual service desks provide companies with an opportunity to use fewer personnel in handling many calls. This way, companies may reduce the costs associated with lengthy service calls. Those advantages translate to the effective use of IT resource management, especially for companies, which have to dispatch technicians to locations where customers are experiencing problems. Time and travel expenses also decrease this way. Overall, companies enjoy increased productivity. Within the same framework, Knapp (2013) believes this advantage eliminates the possibility that some companies would experience in-person customer service calls. The possibility that these companies would experience ineffective phone-only tech support sessions also disappear. This advantage mainly exists from the fact that the virtual service desk offers companies a lot of flexibility in resource allocation. For example, Choubey (2012) argues that the virtual service desk helps organizations to use technical support knowledge base in different ways (this advantage often requires the adoption of appropriate software).
Most analysts who have investigated the benefits of the virtual service desk paint a more practical picture of its use in the organization.
Companies may also assign expert technicians to address customer concerns, depending on their skill levels (through virtual service desks). This way, companies could also easily streamline customer service operations by eliminating the need to navigate through a complex network of operators (Knapp, 2013). This advantage is not only limited to customers because evidence shows that operating staff also benefit from the adoption of virtual service desk technologies, through increased control (Knapp, 2013). Indeed, unlike other types of service desks, the virtual service desk helps to reduce worker frustrations, as they talk to non-tech-savvy customers (Knapp, 2013). This advantage potentially benefits a company because motivated employees help to respond to customer concerns, better, thereby improving the quality of the relationship (trust) between companies and their customers.
Online User Interaction with Service Desk Agents, and the Promotion of Trust
Many businesses fail to understand the dynamics of online user interactions and their effects on customer trust because of their failure to identify the differences between this type of interaction and offline interactions. In physical stores, where customers and businesses interact face to face, customer fulfillment may be instantaneous when businesses please their customers. The physical existence of businesses also creates a strong sense of trust for organizations because customers may easily go back to the business and complain about a product, or service. This analysis shows that non-virtual business interactions follow a standard and predictable process, which easily builds customer trust. The same is false for online user interactions because of the lack of physical points of contact between customers and businesses. Such transactions also often demand payment from customers before the delivery of goods and services. Moreover, customers rarely have the satisfaction of believing that the business would meet their needs or address their concerns.
Relative to this claim Straub (2013) differentiates customers into two groups – new and existing customers. He says both groups of customers have different trust issues. To elaborate his claim, Straub (2013) says that new customers are often skeptical about the ability of companies to address their concerns through the virtual service desk platform. “Old” customers also exhibit the same lack of trust by being suspicious about the efficacy of virtual service desk services. Besides these concerns, the technology platform used to create a virtual service desk is often unclear and sometimes uncomfortable for most customers (Barnes & Hunt, 2013). Comprehensively, these problems create a trust divide between businesses and customers. Businesses, therefore, need to bridge this gap by building more trust with their customers. One way that most businesses can do so is by adopting some virtual re-embedding strategies.
A virtual re-embedding strategy may involve different measures including embedding pictures, movies, and videos to an online interactive platform to improve the quality of interaction between customers and service desk agents. Within the framework of building employee trust, Barnes& Hunt (2013) point out that adding a picture to an online interactive platform is the easiest way to build customer trust. Research has shown that most customers respond better to face-to-face interactions because it aligns with the concept of personal trust. For example, the level of buyer trust for online articles shows that most customers better resonate with authors who have their pictures on their articles. Research also shows that most players develop a deeper sense of collaboration when they exchange photos in social strategy games. Lastly, Straub (2013) gives an example of the success of print advertisements because they have pictures. He says, “Print advertisements depict human faces rather than pictures of the touted product to provide social cues to the desirability of ownership, suggesting that a simple picture is sufficient to socialize the relationship” (p. 3).
After weighing the findings of this paper, the ITIL service desk emerges as an important business function. Its design depends on the size and nature of the business. It is significant from the study, which shows that having a centralized service desk is beneficial to different businesses because it helps to consolidate the market by enabling users to nurture good customer relationships. Most types of ITIL service desks offer this advantage, but the virtual service desk is unique because it offers more cost benefits to businesses, compared to other types of service desks. Businesses should therefore shift from the normal service desk to the virtual service desk because they would enjoy increased flexibility of business practices and improved efficiency. This advantage exists from the ability of businesses to practice efficient resource allocation. When designed correctly, the ITIL service desk should therefore improve business-customer relationships and subsequently improve business efficiency.
Survey results to investigate the most recommended Help Desk Software Systems provided results based on the ten most recommended help desk applications in the market. The results were based on the number of reviews, the recommendations, and average rating to determine the most appropriate software to use for the ITIL help desk services. According to the results, there were 39 reviews and 329 price recommendations. The results showed that Zendesk had 7 (17.9%) reviews from the customers, and 59 (17.9%) positive pricing recommendations in the last 30 days. The w rating in terms of the prices was partly because of the lower prices offered by similar products and popularity in the market. The recommendations were based on calculations of the number of reviews and feedback information for different applications, which offer the same help desk services. Customer reviews and recommendations were also ranked according to the type of application, and the average rating of the functionality and other features for the software was analyzed. The applications were listed in alphabetical orders, to make it easy for customers to search for the software of interest and rate the application according to the provided rating criteria. An overall analysis of the rating criteria showed the number of reviews, recommendations, and the average rating was relatively higher for the help desk software, which received 25 (64%) pricing reviews and 113 (34%) recommendations for the last 30 days. Netsuite received 2 (5%) reviews and 103 (31%) recommendations. On the other hand, Front Range received 0 (0%) reviews and 7 (2.12%) pricing recommendations. The software with the highest reviews was Help Desk, which had 25 reviews, which was 64% of the total number of reviews and 34.3% recommendation, which was equivalent to 113 recommendations of the 329 recommendations received.
Here, 7 people were interviewed on the various aspects of the use of help desk services and the results are as described below. Further analysis of the respondents of the users of the system showed that 42.6% of the users were familiar with the ICT service requests processes and the average rating for the element was 2.29 on a scale of 1 to 3. According to the rating scale, 1 was the number allocated the lowest rating, 2 was the middle value, and 3 was the highest value. A rating of 2.29 was the average rating for end-users, who regularly use ICT service desk services. The rating was 42.86% for people who regularly use ICT services and it showed the highest value among the three values. The results showed that most people use ICT services regularly. An analysis of the percentage of people familiar with the use of help desk services showed that very small parentages were conversant with the use of the services. Here, 42.6% were unaware of the use of the help desk services, which had an average rating of 1.86, which was very low compared with other elements which had been rated in relation to the provision of help desk services. On the other hand, when queried on the level of satisfaction of ICT service delivery in meeting the requirements of customers and the end-users, the response was an overwhelming response which showed that the end-users were satisfied that the use of ICT, et their requirements.
Another study was conducted to determine if a call by a customer or an end-user triggered a call to the ICT call desk support personnel to address the customer’s problem, once the call was made and if the problem was resolved as requested. Seven people were placed in the interview and the responses were based on the analytical results were as follows. On a rating scale, which varied between 1 and 3, the lowest being 1, the middle value being 2 and the highest value being 3, it was shown that the 7 users of the system provided an average rating, which varied between 2.29 on the upper end of the scale and 2.00 on the lower end of the scale. The issues were related to the knowledge on the use of ICT, use of service desk systems, and if ICT meets the user requirements.
The next survey was meant to provide the help desk support staff with information about the use of the help desk service to improve service delivery. The survey used a scale of 1 to 3, and the responses were 2.00, 2.39, and 1.57 respectively on the knowledge about ICT services, user requirements satisfactions, and if ICT helped the employee do better at the workplace. Another survey, which was based on the use of optional questions and, which involved 7 participants generated the following results. 100% of the respondents agreed that the use of ICT helped them perform their duties well, and the use of the help desk services helped them meet their requirements. In addition to that, employees and end-users of the systems provided 100% feedback, and agreed that the centralized system provided them with the ability to perform their activities well and that they were aware of the functions, which include e-mindset activities, Lotus notes fulfillment, e-mail calendaring system, and new intranet portals
Methodology and Analysis of the Existing Systems
When a researcher systematically follows certain procedures to search for knowledge, gather information, and seek the truth to objectively solve a social or scientific problem, the procedure is known as research. Research is a ubiquitous science, which investigators use to understand why particular situations or problems occur or persist and how to solve the problems. The entire procedure of assessing situations, seeking new facts, verifying facts, seeking to understand the cause and effect of something, and developing new tools to overcome problems, which are experienced in various fields, is referred to as research methodology. Essentially, “the procedures by which researchers go about their work of describing, explaining and predicting phenomena are called research methodology”. A research methodology provides the basis for knowledge enrichment in social and scientific life because, in the course of an inquiry, the investigator brings to light fundamental truths, which were not known before. A research design to be adopted is described, the area of the study given, the target population states precisely, the sample size and sampling procedure explained, the research instruments described, validity and reliability of instruments and data analysis and presentation.
Methodology Adopted in the Research
An analytical study of the appropriate research method to use to enable a complete investigation of the facts associated with the development and use of applications to offer help desk services resulted in the use of the waterfall model. The rationale for adopting the model was based on the evidence of the historical success of using the waterfall model to effectively develop applicable solutions for different social and scientific problems.
Methodology Adopted in the Research
An analytical study of the research methodology, which was adopted, shows that this study adopted the waterfall model to underpin the development of the project because of the benefits associated with the waterfall model.
The waterfall model
The waterfall model is based on the sequential organization of the different phases of the system development lifecycle. Based on the model, the system developer completes the tasks associated with one phase before moving on to the next phase. The model requires that the system developer follows the conceptual, initiation, design, construction, testing, and maintenance phases of the system development lifecycle. The waterfall model originated from the construction industry where the systems consisted of a highly structured physical environment and the processes were very expensive to implement to achieve the desired milestones. The successful use of the waterfall model led software developers to adopt the waster fall model as one of the effective system development models.
Benefits of the waterfall model
No system design errors proceed from the design stage to the next phase of the system development phases without being captured and removed earlier in the initiation stage. It is possible to make the best deliverables during the system development phases including the technical documentation. It is easy to follow through the system development phases because the design is highly structured. It is easy to estimate the cost of a project earlier to determine the economic feasibility of the system.
Disadvantages of the waterfall model
The model does not provide the flexibility required allowing the users to make new requirements, which cannot be changed after one phase is completed, and the development process takes longer to complete.
Waterfall development in action
During the development process, functional requirements were specified, based on abstract specifications by the client. Here, the business processes, contributions from a large number of business experts, and a meeting was convened to conduct a walkthrough of the functional requirements, before signing off. A prototype was developed and presented to the users of the system under development to collect their feedback, which could underpin the ability of the development team to identify any bugs and remove them earlier.
Analysis of the Existing helpdesk applications
What is Help Desk Software?
Previous studies have failed to distinguish between teams that serve internal and external customers of an organization. The software in question is an application, which consists of a database for storing information on the interactions of different types, which can be retrieved using electronic trouble tickets automatically. The feature makes the services offered using the software efficient and effective. The software allows a technician or any customer service representative to review customer inquiries and act on them as needed. The electronic tickets contain customer profile information and the whole interaction history, which enables the service provider to understand their problems and provide the right decisions immediately.
Help Desk Software Landscape
Internal: This is used to serve employee queries such as benefits salaries, working environment, and different tools and features such as the ITSM and IT Asset Management have been integrated to offer different help desk services from the software as shown below.
The diagram shows an example of the feedback mechanism for a ticketing dashboard Freshdesk. Below is another screenshot of a ticked which has been standardized with workflow rules and shows the functions of an agent in the system.
The system in use is a manual system, which is prone to a lot of weaknesses, which include low response rates, errors, does not record all emails, conversations, and is time-consuming. That justifies the need for an automated system as discussed below.
Justification for the New System
The system provides better problem tracking capabilities because all the information can be retrieved by an agent from a single repository.
The system has automated capabilities, which have enabled the system to offer services at reduced costs. There is an increase in internal and external customer satisfaction because most inquiries receive real-time attention and solutions.
There is improved knowledge sharing and an agent can retrieve information and generate solutions automatically from the knowledge base of the system
Services offered do not depend on the location of the customer.
The system provides learning opportunities for employees to better solve customer problems. It is web-based, more accurate, and is regularly updated. The system provides an efficient incident reporting mechanism for all users. It has a platform for answering frequently asked questions.
Design of the New System
The SLA issue was accounted for when designing the system to offer real-time services to the customers.
Output Specification and Design
The major issue of consideration was to make a design that could enable the development of a system, which could provide help desk service solutions to the problems internal and external users experience with the current system.
Input Specification and Design
A keyboard and the mouse were used to supply input data into the system, which consisted of the name, phone number, problem type, service required and problem description
- System Requirement
- Software Requirement
The following software was used to implement the design.
- Window 8
- Visual Basic 6.0
- Microsoft Access
- Internet Explorer
The following hardware is required for the efficient work of the system:
- A minimum of 100 gigabytes of hard disk
- 2GBB of RAM
- 2.0MHZ of speed processor
- Pentium IV Processor
- CD ROM drive
The following diagram represents the structure and flow of data within the system entities, which was made on paper. The interactions diagram shows the sequential flow of data and how the user interacts with the system, which is shown in a structured manner.
Class diagram description
The main classes of the system are:
- Role in the System
The role in the system includes User, Technician, or Service Desk Agent.
The role consists of Realisations corresponding to roles.
The differences between realizations are in the methods (different roles – different possibilities) used.
A user can add the problem to the system and monitor its solutions.
A technician can enter solutions for the problems he/she was assigned to solve.
A Service Desk Agent can assign a problem to a technician to solve.
Interface Web page
The feature can read the data entered by a user and save the data into the system. It has 3 different realizations, which are appropriate for each type of user who logs into the system. The realizations differ by the data that can be entered into the system or displayed on the web page.
It is the centralized system component that works with the database. It can save the changes and get the data from the database according to particular queries.
It consists of information about the user who created it and description of the problem. It has a status (just created, assigned to the technician or solved already) and the technician assigned to it (if assigned already).
The operations are as follows: get the problem – get its characteristics, assign the technician and change state.
When the Service Desk Agent wants to assign the problem to a technician, he/she needs to log into the system using the login password. When user is in the system, he/she can see the web page corresponding to his/her role in the system.
The page of the Service Desk Agent should show the list of problems and the list of technicians available. So, the web page requests this information from the Service Desk system and the System gets it. Then the web page displays explored information.
When the Service Desk Agent obtains information about the customer’s problems, the technician is made available to solve the problem.
The web page changes state of the problem (to “assigned”) and shows the technician who is assigned to the problem.
Then the correspondent changes are saved to the Service Desk system.
When the work is finished, the Service Desk Agent will close the web page.
The user creates the problem, which waits to be assigned to the technician by the Service Desk agent. Once the problem has been assigned, the technician field is filled and the problem state changes to the assigned state. The problem waits to be solved by the technician, which is then saved into the system when it has been solved. The activity diagram, which shows the logical flow and solution of the problem, is shown below.
To ensure that a standard object-oriented program was used in the entire project, HTML, CSS and Microsoft Access were used. Those programs are used to ensure the resulting application was effective.
The accuracy of the program was tested with some varying data. This gives the assurance that the new system could achieve its purpose and objectives.
After a test run with different types of data (which occurs after running the program), an output was shown on the computer monitor. The output can also be printed on paper. This shows that the design of the new system was perfect and effective.
The software was designed to be user-friendly. It can be operated by anyone irrespective of their education level provided that the instructions are followed. The software runs on the window operating system platform and can use internet explorer.
The study shows that the need for companies to remain competitive in the market has compelled them to re-engineer their businesses in terms of the use of software applications to conduct transactions in real-time. The case of Qatar Petroleum (QP), which is a state-owned company, shows the need to use ITIL-based service desks to provide services for end-users and customers in real time. Results of the study show that using the web-based software application provides the companies with an added advantage over the use of manual systems which are slow and prone to a lot of errors. To achieve the objective of reengineering its service provision capacities, a web-based ITIL-based service desk was developed to address various service desk issues related to end-user and customer needs and queries. The objective was achieved based on a study of the history of Qatar Petroleum, the disadvantages of the manual system the company uses, to come up with a problem statement, which provided the direction of the project. The profile of the audience and the samples size were investigated and the need to develop a web-based application for customers and end-users was justified. The literature review generated areas and ideas to focus on when developing the ITIL-Based Service Desk for end-users and customers, which provided centralized services to the customers, based on a careful study of different service desk provision approaches such as the use of virtual service desk help support services. An analysis of survey data reinforced the rationale for the use of ITIL-Based Service Desk web-based software. The system hardware and software requirements were established and recommendations show the need of integrating system security aspects to ensure integrity availability and confidentially, non-repudiation, and use of public key infrastructure were reinforced, which formed part of the future plans.
Conclusion, Recommendations and Future Plans
The findings from the literature review and survey analysis show that a significant number of software applications exist, which can be used by Qatar Petroleum to offer automated help desk solutions to problems experienced by customers, who relied on the slow manual system. ITIL help desk software is the most highly rated application in terms of cost, customer usability, reliability, availability, convenience, and reviews. The study found that the use of the manual system was costly because of the frequent occurrence of errors and the slow response rates to inquiries. The manual system does not store emails and other inquiries automatically, making it more problematic to users. The use of IITIL helps desk solutions provide an automatic data storage mechanism for tracking customer inquiries, responses, and other information into a knowledge base, which can be used to generate automatic responses without the intervention of the help desk customer care technician. The software is suitable for novice and specialized users of information systems and offers a wide range of accurate and reliable solutions on a web-based platform.
An analysis of the software shows it has integrated web-based features, which enable the end-users and the customers from the internal and external environment to interact with the system, without regard on where the customer or service provider is situated. The interactions are location-independent. In addition to that, the system provides a knowledge base for storing end-user and customer information, which can be used to predict the best methods to handle customer-related queries and related issues. The survey results show that the software comes in handy because it enables service providers to provide the right solutions to customer problems and meet user requirements. The overall assessment of the help desk software solution is that it meets user requirements and improves service delivery at the help service desk point. It is recommended from the study that further analysis of existing technologies to make the system secure, available, ad confidential to preserve the triad of security be implemented to accommodate wider secure transactions and ensure competitors cannot access the system without the required access credentials should be done. Based on the recommendations, the future plan is to integrate the critical aspects of information security such as encryption and public key infrastructure to enable the service providers to conduct secure transactions online.
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