There are probably as many kinds of help desks as there are companies. The typical help desk, is there is such a thing, is a specially designed resource that managers create for the purpose of providing answers and information to customers. All the information pertains to the organization’s services and products. In most cases, these client-facing tools let workers do on the spot trouble shooting or interact with customers and give them basic information about how to assemble, operate, fix, service, return, or somehow deal with the item or service they recently purchased.
More often than not, desks with the highest traffic are related to software, computers, food items, electronic equipment, and sporting or camping accessories. There are lots of ways that business entities offer support, like email, special website pages that let users ask questions, telephone numbers, and even instant messaging. Note that many organizations of all sizes maintain two kinds of desks: customer-facing and internal, which are dedicated to answering queries from employees, not customers.
Regardless of how many or what kinds of assistance an entity offers via this kind of service, managed service provider (MSP) software is the central component of the system. Not only does MSP software have the ability to face clients or in-house audiences, but it can deal with both populations at the same time. The goals are the same, to answer queries and requests as quickly and efficiently as possible. MSP tools are robust, multi-faceted, and adaptable to any size or type of business.
The Key Advantages of MSP Solutions
The core help desk benefits that flow from using an MSP solution package include features like:
- One location from which all questions are answered, sometimes called an SAP, or single-access-point system
- A full-scale tracking system for users and assistive personnel that gives every issue a cyber paper trail for future reference
- Highly consistent solutions to recurring questions and issues, especially in the form of well-written template responses
- The ability to scale up or down in response to traffic or the size of the organization
- Several channels for clients or employees who have questions
- A well-structured, in-depth knowledge base library for recurring questions and issues
- Capability for managers to monitor the give-and-take between support personnel and anyone receiving assistance, whether it’s a customer or an in-house worker
- Self-service functionality for those users who are able to find simple answers for themselves
Note that not all products offer the same features, but most of the better MSP solution packages on the market today include most of the items on the above list. Another key point is that there’s an organic growth to assistance centers. For example, it’s common for micro-sized businesses to offer nothing more than a phone number or email address for customers. Internally, small organizations typically use an IT person as an informal help desk until the entity becomes large enough to justify the use of software for MSP teams.
Key Metrics for Managers to Monitor
It’s easy to get lost in the sea of information and queries, but the most important help desk metrics to keep an eye on include how many tickets have been opened and resolved, initial response time, total resolution time, the number of resolutions that happen on the very first contact, the size of the backlog, performance of the desk personnel, customer ratings for either internal or external users, total ticket distribution, the number of tickets measured by channel, and the overall volume of support tickets.
The Four Pitfalls to Avoid
Many professionals eagerly set out to create the world’s best help desk, as their intentions are good, but they often fall victim to one of the four common pitfalls that tend to plague such efforts. Because planning is so central to virtually every business task, it makes sense that the first two items on the pitfall list pertain to the subject. In no particular order, the four are:
- Not doing enough planning to minimize initial problems with support staff, customers, duplication of effort, and designing a template for assistance conversations
- Not making a thorough checklist for items like managing outgoing messages, dealing with support conversation snags, and managing incoming messages and queries in a timely manner
- Not documenting every level of usage
- Not doing extensive enough testing of the new arrangement
Smart managers realize that there is not end to the evolution of any system that is dedicated to assisting in-house employees as well as the company’s clients and customers. And, of course, there are more than just four ways to go wrong along the route. The overarching goal is to do enough planning to avoid egregious errors. The silver lining to the fact that there are so many potential errors is that you can always make alterations and changes to whatever system you end up with because great help desks are evolutionary by their nature. Nothing related to customer and employee assistance is static because those populations are constantly changing.