The Pursuit of Award-Winning Service Improvement: A Case Study from First American


by Team HDI
October 19, 2017

First American won the HDI 2017 Service Improvement Award.

First American provides comprehensive title insurance protection and professional settlement services to facilitate and streamline real estate transactions. The First American IT Service Desk is a worldwide 24x7 service desk supporting more than 20,000 internal and external employees. First AmericanThe IT Service Desk is made up of 34 engineers and technicians in India, the United States, and the Dominican Republic. The IT Service Desk not only supports customers by phone but also supports live chat, self-ticketing, emails, and walk-ups. Total contact volume for 2016 was 250,000 tickets, where 60% were service requests and 40% were incidents.

What was the situation before the launch of the service improvement initiative?

First American's employees worldwide depended on two separate IT service desks to support their end-to-end computing needs. Due to the small size of each team, neither service desk was able to meet their service level agreements (SLAs) on a monthly basis. Customer complaints were at an all-time high due to high hold times, and large-scale outages had created an inbound volume of contacts that neither team could handle on its own. With First American expanding year over year, as well as industry and legally mandated systems upgrades looming, a change in the service desk approach was critical.

What was the improvement strategy?

The Title Application Service Desk (TASD) was comprised of seven analysts, five located in Orange County, CA, and two in alternate remote locations in the US. The TASD supported the core enterprise-wide title and escrow production system as well as proprietary systems necessary for First American Corp's lines of business. The second desk, First American Service Desk (FASD), was dedicated to supporting the rest of the enterprise infrastructure (COTS, VPN, workstations, telephony, etc.) and was made up of seven analysts scattered across the US and augmented by two offshore teams operating independently in India and the Dominican Republic.

The goal was to combine the TASD and FASD into one highly functional, efficient, and customer-centric IT service desk. An additional goal was to develop and implement a robust training program to duplicate the successes of onboarding, training, and coaching in a well-documented and sustainable program.

How was the success of this initiative defined? How has that success affected business objectives?

Successfully cross-training the team was one of the key success factors. If this stage of the merge could not be completed, or if it failed, then the quality of service provided to customers would fall. While having the groups merged in the ITSM tool would streamline the process for the analysts and customers, support could move forward without it. Cross-training was absolutely integral to the success of this project.

Cross-training was integral to the success of this project.
Tweet: Cross-training was integral to the success of this project. @ThinkHDI #ITSM

By cross-training each team member, more analysts were able to be in multiple queues, offsetting queue spikes during outages and application changes. Success was also measured by comparing baseline metrics against current metrics. This was done on a monthly basis to track incremental changes.

First American strives to be the number-one company in the title insurance industry. To support this goal, it is important help our customers get back to work in a timely matter. The sooner customers are able to resume their daily duties, the sooner they can support the First American’s mission. The IT service desk supports this by taking its customers’ time seriously. Answering their calls quickly and helping them efficiently is important. Merging the TASD and FASD into one IT service desk has allowed analysts to support their customers in a way that was not possible before.


HDI is the first professional association created for the service and support industry. Since its founding in 1989, HDI has remained the source for professional development by offering resources to promote organization-wide success through exceptional customer service. We do this by facilitating collaboration and networking, hosting acclaimed conferences and events, producing renowned publications and research, and certifying and training thousands of professionals each year. At 150,000 people strong, HDI is a community built by industry peers and leaders that gives its members the resources, knowledge, and drive to be great at what they do.


Tag(s): supportworld, service management, service desk, customer experience

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