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Getting to know Mark Liles, IT Helpdesk Manager

 

In August this year, we welcomed Mark Liles to the Vista team as our new IT Helpdesk Manager. Mark joined us with more than a decade’s worth of experience working with technology helpdesks and leading technical teams. This month, we spoke to Mark about what brought him to Vista, some of his key responsibilities in ensuring service desk excellence, and what he gets up to outside of 9-5…


Hi Mark! How long have you been working in the helpdesk industry?

Hi! I have worked on IT helpdesks for 10 years, having worked for global IT services company CGI Group, and more recently, with EPOS solutions provider, PointOne EPOS. I’ve worked in the EPOS helpdesk industry specifically for 6 years.

 

What excited you about Vista and made you want to join the team?

I really enjoy the fast-paced environment of the different industries Vista work in. Being a part of and managing a busy helpdesk for the industry means we face different challenges every day which keeps the job role fresh and exciting.

 

What have you enjoyed about working at Vista so far?

The staff and office environment are really friendly and all staff approachable from the start. It’s also great to see the directors have a real interest in all levels of the business and how they really do stay engaged with the operational team members.

 

From your experience, what would you say are some of the key components to achieving service desk best practice and how is this achieved at Vista?

I am ITIL certified and strongly believe this is the best practice approach for my team. We have adopted this method and tailored it to our business. We also follow ISO 20000 standards and regularly go through audits to ensure these standards are maintained.

I also believe a key component in helping us to achieve these targets is our approach to delivering excellent customer service by maintaining communication with our customers throughout the ticket lifecycle. Some other key components are team structure and strategy, measurement and reporting, perception/performance, procedures, training and internal systems/technology.

New customers joining our service desk go through our transition process to ensure we capture all the required information before going live which helps set the expectation of our high service levels by having clear communications from early on. We have an extensive training program for new starters/new customers and regular ongoing training plans to continue my team’s development. We also automate processes to ease the pain of repetitive manual work and benefit from using new technology software to continually enhance our team capabilities and, ultimately, the service we provide to our customers.

 

With many customers across multiple business sectors using the helpdesk, how do you ensure they all receive a great customer experience?

We currently cover many different contracts for our helpdesk customers. We are also growing, (we have doubled in size over the last 12 months!) and have exciting plans for the future. We have a wealth of IT support experience in multiple business sectors from public sector to retail franchise support.

We have great knowledge on the team where they either have previous experience on the helpdesk, or they have actually worked in the field as engineers which is quite unique in our industry. As we employ ex engineers, they have empathy for the end-user when systems are not working as they should. They understand the pressures that stores, hospitals and distribution centres face when IT disruptions happen. Their knowledge and experience combined with our systems and processes are what enables us to resolve these issues in industry-leading time frames.

Many members on my team have also got previous experience working in retail or hospitality jobs in the front line. This was something I was looking for so they would be used to the fast-paced environment that many of our customers have in the stores. This helped my team understand the urgency of incidents and so would seek to resolve these very quickly, regularly beating the contractual service targets.

 

Vista is now a corporate member of the Service Desk Institute! What does this mean for your team?

We’re proud to be a part of the SDI! This means we get access to valuable webinars and additional 3rd party service desk training for myself and my team to enhance our skills. We can also contribute to this community and add to the wealth of knowledge that our team has gained over the years of experience on service desks.

 

What would you say are some of the most unique characteristics of Vista’s helpdesk?

We pride ourselves on having a positive, compassionate, and friendly team that is readily available for long service hours to meet the demands of our customers. We have a large team now, but there is still a strong family feel on the team where they regularly cover shifts for each other and there is a great team culture.

 

Self-assist is becoming increasingly popular in service desk practice. What can you tell us about Vista’s Level Zero function and how we are enabling customers to adopt self-assist solutions?

Level Zero is a great feature all of our customers love to use. It empowers them to resolve their issues quickly and keep a track of the ticket progress. Within Level Zero you can view all open and closed tickets, review the progress of the tickets and add comments. This is the part our customers find the most useful but there is much more available to our customers. From knowledge base articles, to help sites which enable our customers to troubleshoot recurring issues themselves, to advanced reporting, there are many different features that can be tailored to each business.

 

The pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges to the working world. How did Vista’s helpdesk adapt to these circumstances and how have you personally found managing a remote team?

Like many companies, you can have business continuity plans which you hope you will never have to implement. During the first national lockdown, we moved the entire team from on-premise to working from home, and thanks to our IT systems and IT teams, we were able to manage this transition overnight and without a degradation of service. We also invest heavily in data analytics, so our dashboards kept me and the team up to date with business information. We actually transitioned our largest helpdesk customer at the very start of the pandemic and the service has exceeded SLA since day one which is again testament to the team!

I have focused on team knowledge-based training throughout 2020 and this has really paid dividends with new starters being effective in their roles within a few weeks. it was amazing to see how the team came together during this difficult time and we overcame all challenges as a unit.

The team have built up great relationships with customers throughout the pandemic, assisting them with the IT challenges they face within their own businesses. It’s also worth noting that all of this was achieved even with a 57% increase in incident volume, as Vista supported essential retailers and pharmacies throughout this period.

 

And now just a few more questions about you… What’s something most people don’t know about you?

This is a difficult one! I’m an open person. I rarely read books in my spare time but I’m borderline obsessed with educational audibles.

 

Where’s your favourite place to travel?

Tenby with my family, Vegas with friends!

 

If you could choose anyone in the world to be your mentor, past or present, who would it be?

Warren Buffet, he taught Bill Gates how to deal with tough situations and how to think long-term.