Every day a huge number of businesses, both large and small, in nearly any industry rely on help desk software to track and solve customer issues. The way help desk is implemented and managed ultimately determines whether an organization is able to effectively handle customer service operations, timely address customer queries and deliver a seamless support experience today’s consumers are looking for. Below are some of the IT help desk best practices to follow to improve your help desk performance and the overall quality of your customer support.
1. Use the right help desk software
Selecting the right help desk software based on your required parameters is the first step to ensuring the tool will bring value to your business. Some critical factors to consider are: help desk type, a feature set and available customizations that meet the unique needs of your organization, automation options, security, ease of implementation and use, channel integrations, self-service capabilities, affordable pricing that fits your budget, software scalability and responsive customer support.
2. Enable a single point of contact
According to the 2018 Customer Service Expectations Survey by Gladly, 87% of consumers feel frustrated when having to repeat themselves several times to different agents about the same issue. Make sure your help desk is the single point of contact (SPOC) – it helps to reduce confusion among end users, bring consistency to the support process and provide quicker response times.
3. Automate help desk processes
With a powerful help desk system you can automate a number of processes and workflows - the key is automating as many manual, low-value tasks as possible to enable support agents to focus on more important issues. Automated ticket distribution, for example, also ensures that tickets are routed to the right agents, which results in faster resolution and increased customer satisfaction.
4. Incorporate Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are essential for managing your help desk tool performance and ensuring customer requests are handled in a timely manner. Resolving tickets based on SLAs allows you to set specific performance targets for your support agents by defining response times for answers of various types, and helps to hold your team accountable.
5. Create dedicated help desk groups
Dedicated help desk groups are segmented teams of support agents that specialize in a specific product or service – they are the reps who are best equipped and skilled to resolve support cases around those products or services quickly and efficiently. Leveraging them ensures customers receive quick and competent support each and every time.
6. Implement a multi-tier architecture
Dividing customer support into multiple tiers (also often referred to as levels) is among the most efficient help desk management best practices for IT support departments. The structure could include 3 tiers of support, with Tier 1 dealing with common issues, while higher level (more complex) issues are escalated to Tier 2, and possibly to Tier 3 support agents, if necessary.
7. Make use of canned responses
Canned responses, or macros, are predetermined answers to common questions that allow support agents to respond quickly to customer issues. Creating an extensive catalogue of canned messages can increase the agents’ efficiency enabling them to speed up their responses, while also saving them the hassle of drafting same responses over and over again.
8. Ensure enough employee capacity
If you run an international business, ensure your help desk has enough capacity to support your global customers. It means having enough help desk agents to effectively support ticket volumes without being overloaded, as well as the ability to timely respond to customers in different time zones around the world or during off-hours and holidays.
9. Offer a customer self-service portal
Microsoft’s survey found that 90% of global consumers expect brands to offer an online portal for self-service. Enabling a customer self-service portal – a feature that is offered by the majority of help desk systems - allows end users to submit their own tickets and empowers them resolve issues on their own. This also helps to reduce agent workload letting them focus on more critical tasks.
10. Build an extensive knowledge base and FAQs
The Gladly’s survey revealed that more than half of consumers who used FAQs (51%) rated their experience at the lowest end of the scale because the answers were too generic and lacked detail, were poorly organized, and couldn’t answer complex questions. When creating knowledge base articles and FAQs, make sure to provide accurate, complete and comprehensive information that is well-structured and organized in a logical manner.
11. Leverage help desk analytics
Constantly track your help desk performance across key metrics such as ticket resolution rates, time to solve tickets, average pick up/ ticket response time, first contact resolution rates, etc. Detailed reports will give you a comprehensive view of your help desk analytics and KPIs enabling you to identify weak points in your processes and measure the efforts of your help desk team to make improvements where needed.
12. Set up third-party integrations
If you are using a help desk software solution that supports integration with third-party plugins and applications, you can expand the capabilities of your help desk tool and scale it up into a bigger and more advanced system. Make sure to maximize the value of your help desk by setting up available integrations offered by your help desk vendor.
13. Provide help desk employee training
The success of your help desk service largely depends on the competence and skills of the agents operating the tool. Provide extensive help desk training for all the support reps to ensure they are able to use the help desk to its maximum efficiency. Learning all the aspects of effective communication and customer service soft skills should also be an integral part of any help desk training.
14. Perform regular customer satisfaction surveys
Collecting end user feedback is critically important to improving your customer support process and increasing customer satisfaction. Regularly follow up on resolved tickets with a survey or a feedback form to collect valuable information to understand your customer support pain points and find out how your help desk is actually performing.
15. Take care of your help desk team
Your help desk agents are the frontline employees and are very often the first and the only point of contact for customers – treating them right is crucial to ensuring they deliver consistently great service and a satisfying help desk experience for your customers. That includes keeping them engaged and motivated, using realistic performance targets, providing a reward system, taking their feedback seriously and adopting measures to prevent burnout.
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