A peek behind the scenes of the PCMS Service Desk
In order to understand just what it is that makes the PCMS Service Desk a cut above the rest, we thought we’d find out more about the people, processes and technology behind it.
And who better to ask than Jo Thompson, Head of Support? Jo was a finalist for the Inspirational Leader award at the Service Desk Institute’s IT Service & Support Awards 2016, so it’s fair to say she knows her stuff!
Jo Thompson – Head of Support
Q. How long have you been working at PCMS?
A. I started working for PCMS in November 2007 as a Service Desk Manager. I came with 15 years’ experience in IT Service Desk/IT Service Delivery and was tasked to stabilise the existing team and services, as well as grow the offering and associated team.
Q. What do you love most about your job?
A. This is a difficult one as there’s actually quite a lot. Many people say that managing a service desk is a poisoned chalice, in that people only ever complain about them. But actually customers call us when they have an issue and there’s nothing more satisfying than fixing an issue for someone. So I guess it’s that feeling of helping people that’s kept me in this career for so long (26 years now!).
The other great thing about a Service Desk role is that every day is different. I love the dynamism and flexibility required to make that work.
Q. Can you describe your typical day at work?
A. As mentioned above, there isn’t really a typical day. One thing that I do every day on arrival is to review the high priority or high impact issues we received the previous day. This is to understand the impact on the customer as well as gain an appreciation for the best approach to resolve it. At 09.30 I share these with the other Operational Heads of Department to ensure a consistent approach to priority. We also discuss any open high priority issues from previous days.
Q. How many staff work on the Service Desk? Are they split vertically or horizontally?
A. I currently have 65 staff, including myself, working 24x7x365 days a year. In the main the Desk is a shared service, which allows me to offer a more cost-efficient solution to our customers. The teams are split horizontally across roles rather than customers.
Q. What key attributes do you look for in a member of the Service Desk?
A. It’s about finding a good mix. A technical ability is needed to fix the customer’s issues, but this has to be done in a professional manner and with excellent customer care. People fitting this profile aren’t always as easy to find as you might think. And if we recruit for 3rd line (those who look after the PCMS Vision Commerce Suite), then that balance becomes even harder.
Q. You have high staff retention. Why is that, do you think?
A. Yes, it’s very high for a Service Desk and something we’re extremely proud of. PCMS likes to develop its staff and retain this talent within the business. Practically every other department within the company contains people who previously worked for the Service Desk. This is actually a great asset when selling PCMS to talent in the community and one of the reasons why our graduate and apprenticeship schemes are so popular.
Q. How many clients does the Service Desk manage?
A. We have around 45 organisations as customers, but in terms of Points of Sale (PoS) and actual users then this is in the 100s of thousands.
Q. Is your client base international?
A. Yes, we support international customers across multiple countries in five out of the seven continents (excluding South America and Antarctica). The geographic split is roughly 80% UK, 15% USA and 5% ROW.
Q. Do you also have high customer retention?
A. Yes, we do. In fact, one of our customers – BRT Bearings – will have been with us for 25 years in 2017. In my nine years with PCMS, we’ve only lost three contracts: two where they decided to take their support in-house and sadly one who went under financially.
Q. What would you say are the top 3 USPs of the PCMS Service Desk?
A. PCMS is a retail centre of excellence. We fully understand the retail market and the pinch points for the end-to-end supply chain involved in retail. This means we can appreciate and react to the impact of issues in the correct way without needing to have it explained by each user.
The staff at PCMS are passionate about what they do. It’s as much about the customer service as it is about the technical ability.
We don’t just support our own products and services; we’re also the Service Desk for some of our competitor’s products too. This reverts back to PCMS being a real retail centre of excellence and understanding what’s important to retailers as well as their suppliers.
Q. What processes and technology do you use within the Service Desk?
A. We currently use an in-house developed Incident Management tool, which contains a vast number of knowledge items that are available to the analysts as required. This is supported by Wiki, which is managed by the team.
Technology used to support our customers also varies simply due to the number of different customers we support. This means that the PCMS Service Desk team are fluent in many different systems and technologies, giving us an edge over our competitors.
Q. What specific needs do Service Desk customers in the retail sector have compared to non-retail businesses?
A. The Internet age and eCommerce generally now mean that retailers are selling 24x7x365. They therefore need a support team working extended hours, who can provide a service alongside their requirements.
They also want flexibility and an understanding of the peaks and troughs around their specific business.
Resolution times are massively important. The retail business is fast paced and pretty cut-throat, so retailers need to ensure they’re maximising their trading ability at all times. As consumers we’re very fickle: if we have to queue in one shop, we’re likely to move along the high street to get what we need.