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CHICAGO – Something that sounds as simple as keeping track of trouble calls can get quite complicated when it involves a few hundred employees, a couple dozen help desk staffers and an array of different computer systems and applications. That’s why Alliant Credit Union turned to HelpSTAR help desk software, designed to help keep order in the workplace with tools such as intelligent queuing, a database of preferred solutions and other self help to reduce call volume to the help desk, alarms, follow-up reminders and automatic priority escalations. “It’s given us a very good information avenue,” says Vladimir Kolessov, a senior program analyst at $4.5 billion Alliant, where the software was installed late last summer. The HelpSTAR software replaced another system that had fallen short of the credit union’s needs, particularly in the area of queuing and dispatch management, Kolessov says. “Now we are better able to track problems, log them and report on them, and better able to track communications with the person who initiated the request,” he says. Kolessov cites as an example a problem some staffers were having getting access to a check ordering system from a core banking application. “The help desk software gave us a lot of different ways of looking at the problem, at all the possible ways the problem might be occurring without a lot of different people having to look through e-mail chains about all the possible things this problem might involve,” he says. Alliant now is evaluating a new upgrade of HelpSTAR, which includes a new rules designer that can be used to trigger specific actions such as electronic assignment or escalation of service requests, as well as a customizable dashboard for monitoring help desk performance, support for multiple help desk e-mail addresses, and Active Directory integration to allow for easier authentication by end users. “The rules engine is the most powerful new feature in a lot of ways, because it just allows us to do so much,” says Gemma Young, product manager with Help Desk Technology Corp. in Toronto, Ontario. “For instance, it can be set to escalate a request if it’s been in a queue for more than three hours or automatically refer certain requests to the printer group if it involves a printer . it’s really unlimited,” Young says. Its flexibility also is crucial. “Every client is different and every help desk is different,” Young says. “The rules functionalities are an enhancement of the ability for each organization to meld this system to their specific needs.” Young, whose company has thousands of customers worldwide, says the credit unions are “one of our larger verticals in the United States. We’re in a lot of them,” including Alliant and American Airlines Credit Union. The Canadian company first started offering HelpSTAR in 1988 and offered its first Windows version in 1994. Prices begin at $2,495 for a “starter pack” that covers two support reps with license for additional reps beginning at $500 each. “It’s very difficult to put an ROI on this,” Young says. “For one thing, it depends on what they were using before. “At American Airlines, I know they’ve seen a reduction in response and resolution times, and even noticed a reduction in calls because they’re able to get to the root of problems more quickly, sometimes discovering problems they didn’t even realize they had. That’s the power of better communications like this.” -

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