A help desk is the first point of communication for customers and employees. Customers need answers and a help desk is what they search for.
When employees need some assistance to troubleshoot a printer, upgrade the security on their laptop, or give them access to a new system, it’s help desk to the rescue. Similarly, when customers can’t get into their systems, need help with setup, or encounter a bug, it’s help desk that typically helps them get around.
A helpdesk focuses on providing support. Helpdesks don’t necessarily have to be IT-focused and it can be used to support exceptions to normal operations that take place all over the company. They can either be directly interacting with requests in-person or remote/virtual locations through technologies such as phone, email, chat, and other mediums that facilitate a virtual engagement.
Call centers cover a broad scope of issues, including technical and non-technical topics. They don’t interact with queries in-person and always involve some sort of intermediary technology to facilitate the conversation.
IT Service Desks focus only on supporting IT Services but handle both the reactive “help” services as well as supporting routine tasks like arrangement of resources, etc.
IT Service Desks may be at physical locations that users can visit in-person or they could be remote operations like a call center.
A help desk performs several functions:
An IT help desk supports internal staff, for solving problems that can range from a simple password reset to a network block.
A customer service help desk focuses on the external customer, tending to queries about and helping troubleshoot issues with products and services they’ve purchased.
Teams outside IT (HR, finance, and legal) sometimes create and run a business help desk. HR can assist employees with doing things like modifying payroll elections or get employment verification letters.
Legal can respond to contract review requests while finance can handle accounts payable and receivable or expense related questions.
A help desk manager looks after the day-to-day operations of the help desk. This includes hiring and training agents, structuring support processes and also tracking agent productivity and customer satisfaction.
A help desk manager will be responsible for managing the overall budget and report the performance of the executive team.
A help desk agent responds directly to help desk queries. This includes hardware issues to password reset requests and inquiries that come in by phone, email, or through the help desk portals.
Help desk agents are also responsible for updating the company’s database and looking for ways to train others and spread their technical expertise. Depending on the size of the company, there may be several structures of agents based on support experience.
The help desk team lead supports the help desk manager by training new agents and ensuring everyone delivers great customer service and meets their Service Level Agreement (SLA) goals. A team lead also evaluates performance and provides feedback to managers for improving the support processes.
How do most companies run their help desks?
The most common answer would be, through Help Desk Softwares.
When businesses start out, they often rely on the traditional email facilities for support. But as companies grow, moving beyond email as the primary support channel is essential. Support needs to scale with a business. If agents are facing difficulties to keep up with requests and their inboxes are stacked with unanswered emails — it’s definitely time for a help desk software.
Help desk software allows companies to accept, track, and reply to support requests in the old traditional way. Many help desk facilities are forming databases, self-service portals, SLO management, and other reporting facilities.
Choosing the right help desk software for your company depends on your company’s specific needs and goals.
If every request becomes a thread of emails, it will get too complicated to prioritize and respond to each and every one.
The software moves the conversation away from inboxes to better organize your help desk queues.
For many companies, help desk software offers a simple way to arrange their FAQs or databases, which allows customers to resolve some of the common queries by themselves.
Forget calendar reminders, sticky notes, and emails.
Help desk software lets you define not only ticket order, but priority levels, resolution time, and specific requirements.
Help desk software can help track various metrics like ticket volumes, customer satisfaction, resolution time, and even individual personnel performances.
Sending support emails to a designated address such as “email@example.com”. Those emails will then be automatically converted into tickets so agents can benefit from a structured ticketing system.
A database is a store of common answers and useful articles such as how-tos or best practices. It provides a self-service experience that can improve customer satisfaction and reduce common support requests.
The self-service portal is an intuitive place to submit questions in the form of help desk tickets and get immediate answers via the database.
Forums are a place for customers to ask questions and have them answered by the respective community.
Help desk software reporting features allow companies to evaluate and track key metrics like customer satisfaction, agent productivities, etc.
Detailed analytics helps continuous improvement of service quality and efficiency.
Help desk software can automate many common tasks to free up agent time while keeping the actions consistent.
Example - Chatbot platforms.
Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are a contract between the service provider and the client. Service Level Objectives (SLOs) are the objectives or goals that are outlined in the SLA. These SLOs show the expected service levels, such as time to first response or time to resolve.
Most help desk softwares permit companies to customize their help desk so that it can carry the company’s colors and logo and other various attributes. Custom integrations can also be built on top of the help desk to extend the software’s functionality and purposes.
The price of help desk software depends on your company size, team size, and most importantly, business objectives and needs. Usually, it’s calculated by how many agents are resolving the tickets. Cost questions are always tough to answer as a specific range can not be measured given its dependency on various factors. Solutions for businesses may range from basic free programs built for small businesses to thousands of dollars per month for an enterprise-level software.
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