A day in the life of a helpdesk call, a knowledge base article and KCS


Helpdesk: "Hello helpdesk.  How can I help?"

User: "My device is saying 'Error 388590 - [Unable to execute command]'"

Helpdesk: "Ah, I see - let me check our database..."

     [Searches for the error code in the database]

Helpdesk: "OK, it seems we've never seen this particular error code before" (Helpdesk bingo!)

     [Helpdesk technician Initiates creating a new Knowledge Base article]

"Please tell me more about what you were doing just before this happened."

     [Classifies the new article as a Known Error]

User:  "Well, I was using WidgetX on Windows 7 and pressed the "Report" button on the toolbar.  The screen started to appear and then everything froze, and then the error appeared on the screen.  Now the machine is locked up and and I can't do anything."

     [Helpdesk technician starts typing the users' experience and words directly into the new Known Error knowledge base to define the context]

Helpdesk: "OK, thanks.  Is anyone else getting this error, or just yourself?"

User: (yelling across room), "CAN ANYONE ELSE RUN REPORTS IN WIDGETX!?"

(muffled cursing and affirmation)

"OK, yeah, it seems it's happening to Bob, Kate and Bill also."

Helpdesk:  OK, I've added them to the case also.  I'll log an incident request for you.  You'll receive confirmation soon.  We'll look into this and do some research and get back to you. (more Helpdesk Bingo)

User: Thanks helpdesk!

Helpdesk:  Continues working on article and defines it with relevant meta data.

  • Status as "New - Unresolved"
  • Adds "Windows 7" to the "Applies to / Operating System" section
  • Tags the knowledge base article with "Reporting"
  • Adds additional synonyms of the original key words to facilitate searching.  Adds "crash, hang, freeze, locked"
  • Saves the new knowledge base article.
  • The knowledge base article is then linked to the new incident.

All members of the "Reporting" team and "Application support" team receive automatic notification that a new knowledge base article has been created that has been tagged with "Reporting".  The team are now aware there is a new potential issue regarding the reporting system.


Later that morning...


Helpdesk: "Hello helpdesk.  How can I help?"

User: (exasperated) "I can't run reports anymore.  My machine freezes when I try!'"

Helpdesk: "OK, let me check our knowledge base."

     [searches the knowledge base, looking for "report freezes"]. 

    Full text searching kicks in and returns the article created earlier that day.

Technician reads article

"OK, I can see that we're currently having technical issues with the reporting system.  Can you please explain the steps leading up to your machine freezing?"

User: "I opened the reports, selected the 'Daily report' and clicked run.  That's when it froze.  All other reports work fine"

Helpdesk: "Ah, so it's only the 'Daily report' that fails?

User: "Correct"

Helpdesk: "OK, that's a new piece of information for us.  We currently don't have any fix or work-arounds for this, but this new information should be able to help us track this down."  I'll add you to the existing case we have for this and notify you when we have further information about this.

User: "Thanks"  (hangs up)

Helpdesk: Updates the Knowledge Base article to include this new information.  All members of the "Reporting" and "Application support" team are notified that a knowledge base article in their jurisdiction has been updated. 

A developer notices that the new information refers to the "Daily report".  That was the report that his team were working on yesterday!  Looks like they broke it!

Report Developer:  Investigates the 'Daily report' and determines that the recent modifications causes the freeze and crash.  A work-around to prevent the crash is to re-select the date and time when the report filter appears.

Updates the knowledge base article

  • Changes the Status to "Fix"
  • Documents the "Work-around" in the work-around section
  • Documents the cause of the issue
  • Enters a review date that should correspond to a time after the next release of the report has been made available
  • Saves the knowledge base article.
  • Updates the incident in the ticketing system to indicate that a fix is on the way.


Still later that day...


Helpdesk: "Hello helpdesk.  How can I help?"

User: "My computer crashes when I try to run the daily report!'"

Helpdesk: "OK. "

     [searches for "crash daily report"]  >> The knowledge base article is returned

Helpdesk: "OK, it seems that this is a known issue with running the daily report.  We are currently fixing this, but a good work-around exists that will allow you to run the report."

  • Explains work-around to user
  • Updates the knowledge article to confirm the work-around works OK
  • Rates the article positively
  • Sends a link to the knowledge base article to the user for future reference and for knowledge sharing
  • Add the user to the existing incident record in the ticketing system


Knowledge Centered Support Summary

  • At the time of reporting the initial incident to the helpdesk, the agent was searching the knowledge base for history, clues and information about what the user was saying.  The agent was searching using terms the user was saying.
  • No relevant knowledge base articles were found, so a new article was created.
  • The helpdesk agent recorded details about the incident in the users own words, capturing as much detail and context as possible.
  • The article was classified with appropriate meta-data, and a notification was broadcast about its existence to the relevant personnel
  • The article was continually refined, updated and searched
  • The article was linked to relevant incidents within the ticketing system
  • The status of the article changed as its lifecycle developed