Do they use a commercial helpdesk package (which one?), or did they write their own (in what), or do they just use a regular email program (which one)? Pros/cons/lessons learned (would they do the same again). How much overhead in working with outside contractors?
A: ESO uses a combination of both (Remedy + email). Its hard to say what pros/cons as they just started Remedy. More later. These answers concern only the email helpdesk (email@example.com + Remedy USD):
How do users interface with helpdesk? Simple email, or Do they have a web interface, or both? Anything else? have the solicited user input on How they like the system?
A: At present users contact user support astronomers via email, also accessible through the user portal http://support.eso.org/. Have not solicited users, but have input from Users Committee.
Do they have a triage process, and if so How Do they manage it? Does the triage person spend a lot of time on each ticket, or quickly assign it to someone else?
A: Triage is managed by two people (full time). They spend a few minutes (on average) to reassign the ticket to the corresponding astronomer. If the people in charge can answer the questions they do it directly.
The user gets an automatic answer with a ticket number assigned. The ticket is 'open'. Two people read the emails and dispatch them to the corresponding astronomer and s/he will reply within 48 hours. Astronomer's task is also to talk to the developers in case there is a SW related problem or to the instrument scientist if there is a technical one.
For every instrument there are two/three astronomers in charge so that the duty is always covered. The user can follow the status of the ticket from the user portal. Every astronomer submitting a proposal gets access to the user portal (with a registration). Once the user gets the answer the ticket is closed.
How do they decide who to assign the ticket to? By specialty, or round-robin, or ??
A: By experience. Each VLT instrument has two-three user support astronomers.
Do they have diagnostics that the manager/triage person can use to help assign tickets? e.g., no. of tickets per support person, average time to respond, etc.
A: No diagnostics. The people in charge judge if they can answer the questions, if they need more information. They address the users to the FAQ web-page, in case. The FAQ web-page is periodically updated according to the statistics of the asked questions.
How do support personnel communicate with users? Personel email accounts? Webpage? Combination? Do all correspondances go through helpdesk? Are they all logged? If so, how and why? Can they provide concrete examples of when having the entire email chain has been useful?
A: All the emails exchanges happen inside Remedy and the system keeps tracking of every ticket.
How often do users get email notifications? Is it too much/too little?
A: Users get an automatic reply with a ticket number assigned. Within 48 hours the ticket is usually resolved.
How many tickets do they get in a day, and how many people are needed?
A: During peak phase (before proposal dealine and before submission of the Osberving Blocks for the accepted proposals) at max 20-30 emails/day. Otherwise, 1-2 per day.
Do they also have any face to face support? How much?