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Shorten Resolution Time With Diagnostic Troubleshooting

reinvent your support department by implementing a systematic approach to diagnostic troubleshooting

Diagnostic Troubleshooting
Introducing a systematic approach to solving technical problems will

increase engineer effectiveness. Effectiveness means stable

resolutions, delivered as fast as possible, and on first efforts.

There are many benefits to be gained from implementing a diagnostic troubleshooting process for engineers. The three most important are:

Reduced Time-to-Resolution Increased Employee Satisfaction Increased Customer Satisfaction

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Diagnostic Troubleshooting

Conceptualize, Analyze, and Evaluate Information

Most people do not use clear thinking on a regular basis. Rather, their everyday thinking processes are filled with bias, emotion, strange associations, and illogical conclusions. Effective technical support engineers require clear and logical thinking skills.

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Diagnostic Troubleshooting

Overview The Process

Troubleshooting involves six basic steps:

1. Verify 2. Define 3. Isolate 4. Identify 5. Justify 6. Resolve

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Diagnostic Troubleshooting

Step 1: VERIfy ThE PROblEm

Verifying the problem sets up the diagnostic troubleshooting process. If the problem isnt real, why go forward? If the problem is real, verification establishes a foundation of knowledge that forms the basis of future phases and decisions. Without verifi-

cation, a troubleshooter has no way of testing the solution.

Test to verify that the problem exists and identify symptoms.

Why verify the problem as a first step? While the engineer may believe in the customer and trust the technical ability of the person originating the issue ticket, gathering

first-hand information will ensure that the engineer knows all the facts.

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Diagnostic Troubleshooting

Verifying the problem allows engineers to:

Control the reconstruction of the problem. Gather information about the conditions surrounding the problem. Define the problem. Build confidence they are working on the right problem.

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Diagnostic Troubleshooting

Step 2: DEfInE ThE PROblEm

Without a defined problem, there is no clear problem to solve. This phase clarifies the problem and provides the focus for your efforts.
It may seem self evident that engineers have to understand what they are trying to resolve before they resolve it, but thats exactly where many troubleshooting failures start. In the previous phase it was verified that a problem exists. The goal of this phase is to define the problem. A

clear problem definition brings focus to the steps that need to be done next.
Conventional wisdom tends to dictate that faster is always better. Its been shown,

however, that effective troubleshooters tend to spend more time

defining the problem than less effective troubleshooters. By

taking time to define the problem in a way that makes it solvable, its possible to be more effective and efficient later in the process.

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Diagnostic Troubleshooting

During this step, engineers gather facts about the problem universethe systems, subsystems, and history of the problem. Then they create a problem statement. To get to know the problem well, its important to determine:

How it behaves. The environment it lives in. What other people have to say about it. Whether it has a history.
This effort to clarify the known facts about the problem places boundaries and will help guide engineers as they pursue a solution.

Clarify known facts and define the problem.

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Diagnostic Troubleshooting

Step 3: ISOlATE ThE PROblEm

Isolation identifies the general source of the problem. It also allows for a more accurate definition of what the problem does and does not do. Isolating

the problem sets up a limited set of possible causes to investigate.

Isolate what works.

There are two approaches to problem isolation: Optimistic and Pessimistic. Optimists look for what works and eliminate possible causes of the problem. Pessimists dont eliminate any possibility as a cause but focus on what isnt working. Optimists tend to follow the science of troubleshootinga logical and systematic approach. Pessimists tend towards the art of troubleshooting which requires experience and deep knowledge of the system. Both approaches are effective but optimists tend to be more consistent. Isolating a problem means identifying its location in a particular physical or logical area. This limits the possible logical causes for the problem to those within that area. By implication, it also excludes other systems and subsystems as possible causes.
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Step 4: IDEnTIfy ThE PROblEm

Identifying the cause of the problem is the heart of the diagnostic process. Engineers have clarified the problem and isolated it to a workable, logical area. Now its time to close in on the suspects.

Identify probable causes and develop a plan.

Identifying the cause of the problem both completes the investigation aspect of troubleshooting and begins the solution phase. The accuracy of an engineers efforts here will determine the effectiveness of the solution. This is generally considered the most difficult part of diagnostic troubleshooting.

At this point in the diagnostic troubleshooting process, the problem has been isolated to a well defined subsystem or logical area. It is time to develop a plan to test the potential causes within that area. A testing plan organizes the engineers approach to identifying the cause of the failure.

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Diagnostic Troubleshooting

The organizational steps are pretty straightforward. Here are the two basic steps:

Step 1: Identify the possible causes Step 2: Prioritize probable causes

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Diagnostic Troubleshooting


Step 5: juSTIfy ThE PROblEm

In the excitement of finding a solution to a problem, its easy to overlook the fact that there may be negative consequences associated with a particular solution or that it may not be appropriate for the situation. Even the best service engineers are occasionally guilty of jumping into a solution too quickly. During the Justify Solution step, engineers must find an appropriate solution and develop a resolution plan that is controllable and respectful of the clients needs.

The justification phase of the diagnostic troubleshooting process gives engineers a chance to reflect on the consequences and appropriateness of their actions. The solution they
implement may have consequences that impact them, your company, and the customer.

The goal of this step is to evaluate and justify the best solutions to the problem. Each solution, by definition, must prevent the recurrence of the problem. A solution is

valid if it prevents the problem from happening again.

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Diagnostic Troubleshooting


In evaluating possible solutions, engineers should consider a number of resources:

Online search (internal and external) Their own knowledge and experience Other service engineers knowledge Their own creativity and innovation
Justification involves selecting a solution that is appropriate for the circumstances surrounding the problem. This step allows others to know why a solution is being suggested and will help the engineer get buy-in from the customer.

Evaluate and justify the best solutions.

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Diagnostic Troubleshooting


Step 6: RESOlVE ThE PROblEm

The final phase assures the problem is resolved and the customer is made aware of it. Finally, documentation captures the problem, cause, and solution in a way that will help others in the future.

Achieve desired goal.

At this point, the engineer either developed a step-by-step plan in the previous phase or is working a plan outlined in company documentation. In either case, it is important to follow the steps and tests as required. This allows the engineer to control the implementation and stop it if he or she isnt getting the expected results. Once resolution has been confirmed, engineers should test to verify that there are no negative consequences. Finally, they should clean up after themselves and leave the physical and electronic workplace in better condition than they found it.

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Diagnostic Troubleshooting


And, of course, before closing the job, they must provide clear documenta-

tion that will be useful for other service engineers.

Once the problem has been resolved, returning the system to the client provides a sense of closure. Here are four things that will leave the customer feeling satisfied with the service provided:

Step 1: Let the customer know the system is available. Step 2: Summarize what was done. Step 3: State what the customer can expect. Step 4: Confirm satisfaction.

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Diagnostic Troubleshooting


Others Have Done It. You Can Too!

Now that you know the benefits of implementing a systematic approach to diagnostic troubleshooting, lets take a closer look at four companies who have successfully reduced time-to-resolution by applying these 6 troubleshooting steps.

featured companies
Motorola RL Solutions Altitude Software CORPTAX Some of these companies have large support departments; others small. Whatever your size, know that

by applying these 6 troubleshooting steps you can reduce your departments time to resolution and increase customer satisfaction.

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Diagnostic Troubleshooting


Mark Malloy at Motorolas Home & Network Mobility Division set out to improve problem resolution rates and increase customer communication rates. More than 150 engineers were trained in a little more than 10 weeks. To be sure new skills were used on the job, the initiative also included training managers and supervisors to reinforce skills using positive coaching techniques. video


Time to resolution decreased 56%

Customer satisfaction increased 10%

Mark Malloy Director of Services Marketing Motorola, Home & Network Mobility
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awards Certified Support Staff Excellence Center, Level I and Level II

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The Client Services Department at RL Solutions was a dedicated team that clients had grown to depend on. Customer satisfaction had always lingered in the 80% range. However, as the Department began supporting a new product line and new service delivery model, Sheryl Moran, VP of Client Services, knew it was important to take this team to the next level. video


Escalations decreased 27%

Customer satisfaction increased 8%

Sheryl Moran Vice President, Client Services RL Solutions

2012, Impact Learning Systems

awards Certified Support Staff Excellence Center, Level 1

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Altitude Software had a team of technically skilled engineers. Executive Vice President, Jos Fonseca, wanted to be sure they had the communication skills needed to increase customer satisfaction. He also wanted to develop a common set of troubleshooting practices to ensure consistency of processes throughout the support organization. video


Reopened tickets decreased from 17.8% to 6%

Customer satisfaction increased 2.4%

Jos Fonseca Executive Vice President, Customer Assistance Altitude Software

awards Certified Support Staff Excellence Center, Level 1 and Level II

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After being spun off from one of the Big 4 CPA firms, CORPTAX, turnover ensued. Customers were dissatisfied with both the product and the level of service provided. Jeremy Stephens, Customer Support Manager, was determined to improve the skills, attitude, and troubleshooting abilities of the remaining technical support staff and the satisfaction of the customer base. video


First call resolution rose from 29% to 52%

Customer satisfaction increased from 80% to 95%

awards Certified Support Staff Excellence Center, Level I and Level II

Jeremy Stephens Customer Support Manager CORPTAX

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Diagnostic Troubleshooting


Take Your Team to the Next Level

Shorten your time-to-resolution
Problem-solving and critical-thinking skills are essential to the diagnostic troubleshooting process. The Impact Learning Systems Diagnostic Troubleshooting training program teaches technicians and engineers how to apply a clear, logical, and systematic approach to problem solving using a professional troubleshooting process with an emphasis on critical thinking.

Be recognized
Get industry recognition with TSIAs SSE Level II award. Diagnostic Troubleshooting is the prerequisite for receiving the Level II distinction and is an ideal way to show your competitors that you mean business and your customers that resolving their technical issues in a timely mannerthe first timeis your number one priority.

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Diagnostic Troubleshooting


About the Support Staff Excellence Award

Support Staff Excellence (SSE) is a powerful staff development program that enables you to deliver a superior customer support experience by developing your most critical service delivery resources: your people. The SSE program is based on a series of training courses for technical support and field service staff, and their supervisors and managers. The courses created by Impact Learning Systems, are designed to drive service delivery efficiency improvements, reduce service staff attrition, and improve customer satisfaction scores.

join the Spring 2012 winners

Join us at the TSIA show in Santa Clara, May 7-9, 2012 as we present Support Staff Excellence Awards to the next group of distinguished support centers.

This guide is sponsored by:

learn more
Call: 858-674-5491 Visit: http://www.tsia.com/awards_and_certifications/support_staff_ excellence.html
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