Best Practices for Working with Help Desk Software

helpdeskIn a perfect world, you would deploy help desk software in your organization and magically, your IT department would become structured, attentive, efficient, and customer-focused. The number of tickets would reduce by 30%, the time to close them would be cut in half, your salary would quadruple, and you would manage it all remotely from a cabana in Cancun while drinking a Dos Equis ("I don't always close tickets, but when I do, I properly document the knowledge base").

And then, there is reality.

Your software package is a tool (albeit, an important one) to optimize your help desk, but you must use best practices to get optimal results from it. Below, five concepts that will help you get the most out of your help desk software.

1. Empower People

As the leader, one of your key responsibilities is to empower. A help desk solution, on its own, will not do this for you; and, your help desk solution will be much more effective if you empower its users and its staff.

Empower help desk users to help themselves:

Enabling help desk system users to solve simple issues on their own will free up staff to handle more complex, technical scenarios.

  • Create a comprehensive knowledge base to enable users to help themselves
  • Keep FAQs direct and simple
  • Make your online resources easy to access and understand - aim for quality, not quantity

Empower the help desk team

Regardless of the software package you choose, your help desk staff can still make or break your operation.

  • Hire well: take time to ascertain their technical competency as well as their customer service skills (confidence, patience, logic), which are not less critical.
  • Train continuously: train your staff on effective listening, problem solving, and update their technical skillset regularly.
  • Motivate creatively: offer rewards (cash bonuses, gifts, recognition) for achievements, invest in teambuilding, and stimulate morale on a regular basis.

2. Automate

One of the major benefits of help desk software packages is their ability to automate tasks. Use this ability to automate as much as possible. For example, enable automatic creation of tickets when people email their requests, including screenshot images. Also, preconfigure some resolution reply texts so that staff can expedite their processes. Take advantage of whatever can be automated to optimize effectiveness and efficiency.

3. Prioritize

Use priority codes for help desk tickets. ITIL suggests that priority codes be Minor, Significant, Major, and Urgent. Based on their priority, tickets can be routed to the correct team member. Regular reports can be used to analyze KPIs based on priority.

4. Survey

Get feedback from customers regularly. Customer satisfaction surveys can be used to gauge the team's knowledge and approachability. By automating the feedback process and analyzing the resulting reports regularly, you gain valuable information with which to empower the team.

5. Learn from Metrics

Your help desk software will provide quantifiable results - it will measure anything you want. But what you do with those metrics is up to you. The best practice, of course, is to use them to gauge your progress and continually learn from them.

Are there multiple tickets about the same issue? Perhaps it needs to be better documented in the knowledge base so users can fix it themselves. Or perhaps it is alerting you to a bigger issue that needs to be handled before it causes more problems.

Do any employees stand out with above-average (or below-average) tickets closed or time to close them? Perhaps there is an opportunity to recognize them (or offer them further training).

Help desk software is not a magic cure. It is a tool that's in your managerial hands and it is up to you how you use it. These best practices will enable you to get the most out of your system to create a department that is structured, attentive, and helpful. You may not be managing it from beneath the palm trees, but once they reach their KPIs, you can buy your team a round of beers . . . or a piñata.

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