C17.11. Technical and other support. Support for registrars and for Internet users and registrants. Describe technical help systems, personnel accessibility, web-based, telephone and other support, support services to be offered, time availability of support, and language-availability of support.
Support for registrars and others will be provided through a number of channels.
The www.orgwebsite will be a primary point of contact for those with questions about the domain or technical support requirements, but we recognise that it must be complemented by a full-scale professional technical support operation which can deal effectively and rapidly with a wide range of potential problems facing domain users.
The primary goal of the support service is to ensure the smooth and trouble-free operation of the Registry Function by resolving technical and other issues rapidly and efficiently. The plans to differentiate the .org Registry will place particular pressures on the support function since the noncommercial Internet using organisations who will be attracted to the domain may have support requirements which differ from those encountered by other Registries.
The support service described below is based on extensive experience by both partners to this proposal and fully meets the need to provide high quality support for the domain.
The support offering
The .org technical service operation will be based around a 24/7 multi-language help desk and an associated Web site. Registrars and others requiring support will be able to contact the help desk by telephone, Web, email or fax.
The telephone support service will be provided via a well-advertised international number. There will be a separate number for each core language, which will allow the call to be answered in their native language. Non-English language calls will be connected through the Comunicado telephone translation and interpretation service (www.comunicado.com, see section C13 for full details), with whom Poptel has an ongoing contract for help desk service.
Comunicado operatives will answer in the native language of the caller, based on the specific help desk number which has been called. They will initiate a 3-way call to the help desk. All telephone calls will be answered, “Good Morning/Good Afternoon, .org help desk, you are speaking to <NAME>, how can I help you?”
Customers will also be able to submit support requests via the Registry Website or via electronic mail. Automatic response mechanisms will be in place to acknowledge receipt of these requests and to action them within the help desk operation. Finally, fax submissions will also be accepted.
Scope of Support
The following are considered to be within the scope of the .org help desk.
Ø Technical support to registrars
Ø Billing/account support to registrars
Ø Resolution of disputes concerning domain registration [but see section XX on dispute resolution]
Ø New registrar support/validation
Ø Training to registrars
Ø Account Management
While direct support to registrants is considered to be outside the scope of the .org help desk it is recognised that there must be a support service of last resort for registrants whose registrar has gone out of business or is otherwise unable to assist. The help desk will provide this service.
Analysis of the current registrar spread shows that sixty percent of these are based in English speaking countries, mainly the US, Canada, UK and Australia. The remaining registrars are located throughout the rest of the world, with multiple registrars based in Germany (8%), Korea (6%), France (5%), China (4%) and Japan (3%). The remaining fourteen percent of registrars are based throughout Europe, Russia and the Middle East. It is envisaged that each of these countries will have a native language support requirement.
We anticipate that the support requirement will be loaded by the number of registrars in each geographical region and anticipate that individual registrars will have additional specific requirements, for example, for specific languages or for newer registrars. Without statistical information from the current registry operator on the number of support queries and problem types handled an assumption has been made that each registrar will make contact with the helpdesk for support once each working day.
The Help Desk
The help desk for the .org registry will be established by combining the Poptel and AusRegistry help desk operations. As a result of the different time zones this will permit “follow the sun” 24x7 customer support. It also provides greater redundancies and enhanced reliability, lower overall pricing and a greater diversity of skills within the whole operation.
Poptel currently provide a 24x7 Customer Support Team to Poptel’s customers, resellers, and partners. The core five-person team provide a range of services, including customer provisioning, customer services, technical support, and account management to organisations (Oxfam, Christian Aid, Amnesty International), VISP Customers (NASUWT, Unison, Greennet) and other clients on a wide range of products, including Internet Access & Web Hosting, Server Hosting, Web Design and Web Modules. Service levels and response times are differentiated by customer or product type.
AusRegistry currently provides a help desk between 9am and 7pm 7 days a week and is currently based around their Registrar and general public websites, including support for the basic services including toolkits, accounting, maintenance, performance standards, registrar error and deletions outside the normal EPP protocol. The customer service team has direct experience in dealing with the registry requirement of the .org community through their servicing of the .org.au community. Many of them have been critical in the development of the development of the Registry and as such have an in depth knowledge of the systems. This coupled with people skills that have been refined over time provide them with an ideal profile for this work.
The teams currently provide support separately for both the .coop and .au domains, demonstrating the ability of both groups to provide high level customer assistance in a strong customer centric manner.
Technical and customer support for .org will be delivered in house by extending the current technical support team in both Poptel and AusRegistry, providing a help desk based in Manchester, England and Melbourne, Australia which is capable of meeting all customer needs.
The service will be available at all times – 24 hours per day, 7 days a week. The two sites will have separate geographical focus, with the Manchester Help desk providing support to Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEA) andNorth and South American regions (NSA) while the Melbourne Help desk supports the Asian, and Pacific and Oceanic (AP) region.
Support will be delivered by the EMEA & NA Help desk in two shifts between 7:00 - 23:00 GMT. The AP Help desk will operate and 22:00 – 8:00 GMT. The shifts are structured to enable continuity in staffing throughout the working day for the key regions – the first shift for Europe/Americas Eastern, second for the Americas, a third for Asian, Pacific and Oceanic. Overlap in the shifts will ensure a smooth handover between the EMEA & NSA and AP operations.
The EMEA help desk will be located at Manchester Science Park, where the existing help desk operation is located. Space is currently available in Rutherford House to meet the requirements.
The AP help desk will be located at the AusRegistry business office in Melbourne. There is currently enough room to facilitate this expansion. AusRegistry also currently has a subsidiary company with a Sydney office allowing for greater expansion and redundancy.
Section C17.15 details contingency for any incidents or outages which would render a location unusable.
Full English telephone and email support will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In addition, the help desk will offer telephone language support and native language email support for the following core languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese - Mandarin & Cantonese and Korean. For non-core languages customers will be able to use a call me button on the website to request a telephone call in their language, or call in English and ask for an interpreter.
Non-English language support will be provided at the help desk for languages where there are more than several registrars speaking that language. These languages will be confirmed once an analysis on the current usage of the VeriSign Help desk by Country/Language can be made. However, we envisage that French, German, and Korean speakers will be employed on the help desk.
Comunicado will provide back up and overspill support for these languages as well as all other language. Comunicado has a 12-year track record of pioneering technically innovative language solutions, such as the development of telephone interpreting in the UK.
Email language translation will be provided eTranslate (etranslate.com.au), a leading eBusiness globalisation organisation who deliver a wide range of services for eBusiness. A Web based email bureau service will intercept incoming emails, assign a translator working online to translate the email and forward it on to the .org helpdesk. The email will have the original text on the top follow by the translation down below. Outbound emails will be sent through the same service; once the translation is complete it will be forwarded directly to the recipient. All emails are archived for auditing purposes.
The following table summarizes the language support offering.
eTranslate and Comunicado can provide translation and interpreting services for 120 languages, which will be available to registrars upon request.
Help desk Structure
The following staff roles will be in position at the help desk sites:
1st Line Support Analyst
Handling repeat questions from customers and providing solutions, or up to 15 minutes initial problem determination to gather all basic information for the problem to be escalated to 2nd line support or account managers. Assisting with data verification in move from thin to fat registry. Approximately half of the 1st Line Support Team should have knowledge of a core foreign language. 1st Line Analysts will have a broad skill set so that they can handle all enquiries and will also specialise in a particular procedural area, for example dispute resolution.
2nd Line Support Analyst
Handling complex technical problems or escalated from 1st line support. Up to 45 minutes to resolve the problem before passing to Team Leaders for resolution. Maintenance of technical questions in Knowledgebase 2nd Line Analysts will have a broad technical base and will also specialise in a particular technical area.
Managing the day-to-day operation of a particular shift, including rosters, staffing levels, monitoring service level performance, ongoing skills assessment and training needs analysis. The Team Leaders will have an in-depth understanding of the processes and problem types handled to provide guidance to the Support Analysts where necessary. Assist with the management of data from thin to fat registry.
Help desk Manager
Responsible for the overall operation, including overall customer satisfaction and complaint handling, supplier and 3rd party relationship, budgetary control, recruitment.
Poptel also employs Account Managers who have a proactive role to work with registrars to understand the issues they face and offer a named contact to assist with the resolution of these problems. Account Managers will be the non-technical point of escalation for 1st Line Support and will focus on sales, billing, relationship and process issues. Account Managers will be aligned by region and will have fluency in one or more languages of that region.
Help Desk Staffing Levels
Without statistical information from the current registry operator on the number of support queries and the problem types handled it is difficult to plan the number of staff required. However, on the assumption that each registrar will make contact with the help desk for support once each working day, and that 75% of problems will be resolved by the 1st Line Team and 25% of problems will require escalation to the 2nd Line Team, the number of staff required is shown in the organisation chart.
Based on the number of registrars per country, it is assumed that the highest staffing levels will be required during the second shift 15:00 – 00:00 to cover North America’s core-working hours. These numbers will be confirmed when further information is available.
Help desk Technology
Help desk Customer Database
Poptel currently uses an in-house database (Medusa) and ticketing system (PTS), which is also used for problem management and reporting for the. coop registry. This system was designed in-house and meets the requirements to store basic customer data and track problems.
AusRegistry use an in-house registry in which it stores contact with customers to ensure that full records are kept. This includes: tracking of support, feedback, general commentary and other customer contacts. AusRegistry records all customer contact for follow up and legal reasons.
With the growth of the Poptel’s and AusRegistry’s core businesses both organisations have identified requirements to replace their current Customer Management Systems with systems that can provide additional functionality.
Poptel is currently evaluating PRISM/Resolve software as part of its PCBSS (Poptel Customer-centric Business Support Solution) project to identify and implement a single business system to meet these business needs and Unity Registry plans to adopt this software as the basis of its help desk.
This software has been identified with the needs of a TLD registry in mind, as the .coop registry support will be integrated into this system. PRISM is highly scalable, extensible and automated in real time, making it ideal to use for a dual location helpdesk in the UK and Australia. The functionality of PRISM will facilitate the transition of .org from a thin to a fat registry; it will enable parent-child relationships to be identified in the customer database between registrars and registrants and the required information about the registrants can be easily migrated into the database. The PRISM software will contain billing and account data by registrar.
Resolve is integrated into PRISM and offers the functionality of a helpdesk system and knowledge database. Tickets can be logged manually by a helpdesk analyst as the result of a fax or telephone call, or automatically by the customer via the Web Interface or email. Registrars will be able to monitor the progress of their tickets online via their account. Should a registrar make a telephone call to request an update, the helpdesk analyst will be able to quickly search by ticket number, domain name registrar name, or any other database field. Resolve contains intelligent ticket assignment which will enable tickets to be automatically assigned to specialists according to the problem type. This will ensure a quick and responsive service to the customers requiring support. The PRISM/Resolve interfaces are easy to use, which will ensure that analyst training time is shortened and errors are reduced to a minimum.
The Resolve Knowledge Base will be utilised to provide an on-line database available to registrars and an internal database for helpdesk analysts. Resolve will enable helpdesk analysts to send links of Knowledge Items to customers quickly and easily thereby improving the accuracy of ticket responses.
The Knowledge Database will be developed in English, German, French, Chinese and Korean over a period of time from the current Knowledge repositories of Poptel’s .coop registry support and AusRegistry’s registry support. Should the current registry provider be willing to make their Knowledge Database available to assist with a smooth transition of the service, this will also be incorporated into our Knowledge Database.
Any ticket that is resolved will have the information added to the Knowledge Database before the ticket is closed.
The help desk will operate to agreed service levels to ensure that a high quality of service is delivered to registrars. While the following service levels are proposed, they are subject to revision after the receipt of accurate information from the incumbent registrar regarding the current call & problem volumes and problem types.
All tickets logged will be assigned a priority depending upon the urgency of the problem and responded to as follows.
Based on Poptel’s current service performance it is believed that the proposed service levels for Unity Registry are realistic and achievable, offering a high level of service to the .org registry customers. Poptel’s Customer Support Team currently work to a standard SLA of responding to support requests within 24 hours. In Q1 2002, 97% of requests received a response within 24 hours, 65% were resolved at the first point of contact and 82% were resolved within 24 hours. 93% of telephone calls were answered within 20 seconds. Contract customers receive a higher level of SLA for fault reporting with the following performance achieved in Q1 2002: 98% calls received response to the initial problem within 30 minutes of it being logged during core working hours, 100% of calls received response within 2 hours outside core hours.
The PRISM/Resolve software will enable daily reporting to ensure that service levels are being achieved and will enable remedial action to be taken should any failures be highlighted.
Any complaints will be escalated from the Customer Support Analyst to the Team Leader for resolution. If the Team Leader is not able to resolve the situation to the customers satisfaction the escalation will be passed to Help desk Manager.
The .org support team will be staffed by existing Poptel and AusRegistry support staff and by new recruits. Additional staff will be recruited from within the UK, mainly the North Westand Australia (Melbourne and Sydney). Candidates with previous ISP/Registrar/Registry experience or understanding would be sought. Recent recruitment has shown that there are sufficient candidates in the market to fulfil this requirement.
Arran Bartish is the current Customer Support Team Leader and Technical Contact for AusRegistry. Arran has been with the firm since it won the tender for the ccTLD domain registry. He has been intimately involved in the development of the overall registry and thus has a thorough knowledge of all elements of its operation. He is an Honours Graduate in Computer Science and has published works on Artificial Intelligence. He previously worked in other Help Desk roles where he developed strong communication and people skills.
James Barker is currently the Technical Support Coordinator for AusRegistry and was originally employed to build the registry at its inception. Having been involved in the original design of the Registry, he has detailed knowledge of the functionality of the system. He has an honours degree in Communications Engineering. He gained strong communication and team building skills while working for Accenture for over 2 years.
Unlike many call centers/help desk teams Poptel and AusRegistry can boast very low attrition rates. On Poptel’s side this may be directly related to the cooperative nature of the business, which fosters highly dedicated and committed staff. Three members of the Poptel team have over two years experience in providing support to Poptel’s customers, two of these operate in a 2nd line technical support role having recently achieved promotion. A further three staff are trained in Customer Support and are utilised at busy times when required. AusRegistry similarly has had a low attrition rate, providing customers with constant, relationship structured customer services.
Training for all staff will be both theoretical and practical. Classroom based training will be run to cover Registrars: Understanding their Business and their Requirements, Customer Services Skills, DNS/Domains, as well as Internal Tools. Both organisations have a strong ethos of learning and development, which will be fostered in the help desk. The Team Leaders will complete quarterly skills reviews with each analyst and set and manage ongoing Training & Development plans. Each analyst will be encouraged to develop an area of specialist knowledge and will act as a mentor/buddy to other staff in this area. This will ensure an internal network of knowledge support for analysts. The result of this will be a cohesive help desk team able to respond quickly and effectively to customers, producing a high first time resolution rate.