One of the common misconceptions in IT is that the help desk is a necessary evil. It has been called many bad things, including a black hole. These negative thoughts and stereotypes do a disservice to a service that is the core of strong IT function. A strong, well-run Service Desk can be the core of all IT to ensure customers are happy through quality customer service, strong technical skills, and solid relationships with every other IT team.
The Service Desk is meant to be the single point of contact between a company and its users or customers. This could be for customer service or customer ordering functions, but most commonly is for technical support or needs. Like most business processes, it can be approached with the mantra of People, Process, and Technology. People are the core of almost anything. Having the right people ensures that you end up with good processes and technology. The Service Desk is definitely not an exception.
Another common misconception is all to frequently technical skills should be the first thing a hiring manager looks for when hiring new agents or evaluating their current team. The catch is that a very talented agent may not have the ability to talk to customers in an empathetic way. If an agent lacks people skills, then not much else matters. Hence, people skills or customer service skills should be the very first thing a hiring manager looks for. The agents are the first line of defense and the key interaction with your customers.
Second to people skills should be their aptitude to learn. If they can be taught, then technical skills can be secondary and brought along as needed. As long as the manager is willing and able to teach their people – or facilitate the training – skills can be grown and exposed.
After establishing a solid team, processes become important to ensure you have the right things happening at the right time, and in the right way. Some processes are obvious, like answering the phone, logging tickets, etc. – other processes often get overlooked or teams fail to make time for them. Problem management is one example. While problem management can be time-consuming and difficult, the rewards are well worth the effort.
Another process that should not be forgotten is proper escalations. It’s easy to throw an issue over the fence to another team, but the Service Desk should still own all communication with the customer (see paragraph 3!). The Service Desk team should be [mostly] hired and trained for their people skills. The other teams should be hired and trained for their own jobs (ie engineering, etc) – not talking to customers. A well-thought-out process for escalations (including documentation, method, follow-ups, etc) can mean all the difference between a black hole and smooth-running organization that your customers love.
Many people choose technology on promises that it will solve process problems – but the truth of it is that it won’t. It can certainly help point you in the right direction – but technology should purely be chosen based on a proper evaluation of its functionality, limitations, security, pricing, etc). The expectation for all technology in a Service Desk is that it should improve communication, visibility, efficiency, and quality of service.
Ticketing is a core functionality that every Service Desk must do well and having the right tool is key. A spreadsheet, for example, has serious limitations – but is very inexpensive. Smaller companies can do well with a tool like Zendesk or Jira Service Desk. Mid-size or larger companies need something significantly more robust such as ServiceNow or BMC Remedy. Good questions to ask about ticketing systems are: Does it allow for in-depth reporting (i.e. leading to Problem Management)? Does it have an end-user portal to facilitate user self-help and ticket tracking? And does it allow for a wide range of integrations with other tools as you mature your processes and technology?
Another core functionality is communication. This could be in the form of phone calls, emails, chat, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Having these integrated with your ticketing system will save many hours for every agent. This means more availability to help more customers – a win for EVERY Service Desk. Other functionality to improve service includes Artificial Intelligence (AI) or bots, internal instant messaging (ie Slack, MS Teams, etc), remote desktop sharing, or monitoring tools. Each of these can improve communication and service – however, they are all most efficient when integrated with the ticketing system.
Astreya has built a Remote Shared Helpdesk that can be combined with any other number of services to provide high-quality, rapid response for end-user issues or requests. Click below to schedule a consultation with our Workplace Services expert to help select the option best suited for your business needs.