The use of help desk software is becoming increasingly popular in many industries these days. No wonder the market for global help desk automation is expected to reach USD 11 billion by 2023, according to Market Research Future. Both large and small businesses have come to realize the numerous benefits the tool can provide in terms of improved customer service experience, increased customer satisfaction and support agent productivity. The following article is a quick introduction to help desk software, including help desk definition, history and major advantages for businesses.
What is a help desk software and what does it actually do? Help desk software is a computer program that is used by businesses to keep track of customer requests and service issues. It basically catches all incoming communications from customers and stores it in a single place for easier, quicker and more efficient management. This means that multiple inquiries (calls, emails, chats etc.) about the same issue are recorded as ‘tickets’, linked together, and usually assigned to the same support agent or team working on it.
Help desk software is part of a broader category called service desk, that includes IT service management and asset management. The two terms are very often used interchangeably, however help desk specifically refers to the system that addresses customer queries, which is only a portion of what a service desk offers.
The history of help desk systems dates back to the 20th century when businesses started using equipment like typewriters, dictation machines, telephones and dumb terminals with access to a mainframe computer to address customer issues. Mainframe help desk software relied on physical issue submission – issues were submitted either by paper forms or by phone to help desk agents who would then type those issues into a dumb terminal. The tech staff would then provide a resolution and the agents would communicate it to customers via phone or paper.
The actual introduction of the first help desk systems began in the 1990s when the internet became publicly available. Desktop computers, email and live chat brought significant improvements and advancements to help desk software tools. Customers could communicate their issues by email, bypassing paper forms – that allowed both customers and companies to save lots of time that was previously wasted on phone calls.
In the 2000s, companies started to use help desk software widely. The internet and networked systems made help desk software more interactive and participatory for customers enabling them to submit and track their issues more easily. Lotus Notes was one of the first help desk systems that allowed end users to track their own support tickets, add information and search for resolutions on their own.
Today’s consumers typically use a variety of channels to connect with brands and increasingly demand a seamless omnichannel experience across all of these channels. If they start a conversation on email but then decide to switch to live chat, they expect you to connect the conversations and continue interaction without having to repeat themselves over and over again.
Microsoft’s survey revealed that 59% of consumers have used three or more channels to get their questions answered. However, as they tend to jump from channel to channel – very often during a single inquiry – many businesses are still unable to transform those multiple touchpoints into a consistent, frictionless and unified service experience. That is where a help desk software comes in place. Regardless of the resolution path, it helps customers to experience a smooth and effortless transition between support channels and interactions.
With the right help desk software training and proper management, the tool can help you enhance your overall customer service strategy and deliver the level of service your customers expect. Here are some of the major help desk software benefits:
Faster and more personalized responses
As customers use all kinds of channels to reach out to companies, keeping all customer communication in one place helps your support agents understand the issues better and handle tickets faster. With help desk software agents can reply to emails, chats, phone calls and even social media messages from a single interface and don’t have to switch between various tools. Agents can also easily access the history of past interactions with any customer – having the context of previous conversations right at hand enables them to provider not only faster, but also more personalized responses.
Integrated self-service options
Self-service is becoming the preferred support channel for a growing number of consumers. In fact, research shows that 90% of global consumers expect brands and organizations to offer an online portal for self-service. A solid help desk software will offer integrated self-service offerings (knowledge base, FAQs, customer community forum etc.). Using a help desk tool businesses can leverage self-service to empower their customers to find answers and resolve issues on their own without requiring any interaction with a company representative.
Increased customer satisfaction
A study by SuperOffice found that 62% of companies do not respond to customer service emails, while the average response time to handle a service request is over 12 hours. With help desk software all customer issues are ticketed and responded to in a timely manner, with no tickets left unattended, forgotten or lost. The agents can also categorize tickets by priority or escalate them to higher level team members to ensure urgent issues are resolved immediately. That results in shorter wait times for consumers, more accurate answers, better first contact resolution and, ultimately, increased customer satisfaction.
Improved support agent efficiency
Help desk software allows automating many tasks, processes and workflows such as ticket categorization and prioritization, ticket distribution, ticket status management, alerts and notifications, and so on. With well-defined processes and workflows, the help desk tool helps to eliminate redundant tasks and boost the efficiency and productivity of customer support reps. Besides, using the knowledge base as an internal resource, the agents can quickly and easily access a repository of information and resolve issues more effectively. Help desk software also fosters collaboration between the teams empowering them to support customers better together.
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