A help desk is a person, team, organizational division, or outside service that an IT user contacts for assistance with an issue. The simplest form of a help desk is a physical desk where a support agent answers phone calls. It might also be a multinational organization that requests assistance from all around the world, whether made online or in person. Support professionals frequently contract out the help desk’s duties.
The phrase often refers to centralized user support offered within an organization. A similar phrase is call center, which refers to a location where clients can call to place orders, track shipments, get assistance with items, etc.
Typical names for a support desk include the following:
- center for computer support
- response center for IT
- customer service department
- Center for IT solutions
- source repository
- Informational facility
- technical assistance desk
For the support of their staff and other internal users of computers, software, and networks, most enterprises of any size offer an IT help desk. These internal help desks often offer IT support for the company’s networking, hardware, and software products.
Through customer service help desks, technology vendors also offer help desk support to their clientele. These services play a significant role in the customer satisfaction initiatives of technology suppliers. They frequently incorporate CRM systems, which handle customer relationships.
What is a support desk’s purpose?
A help desk can be as simple as a phone number and a single individual who can address client issues immediately. Since this method does not scale well, more advanced help desks include support teams of customer service specialists who carry out some or all of the following duties:
- Acceptance of a help request. When customers or other authorized users make requests via email, phone, or messaging apps, help desk staff respond in real-time.
- Creation of tickets. To produce help desk tickets that track customer support, staff members use help desk software. Help desk workers use the ticketing system to ensure that customer requests are answered promptly when an initial call cannot be quickly resolved.
- Ticket administration. A human or software directs help tickets to the appropriate help desk. Service requests must be forwarded to the appropriate service teams, and help desk ticketing software ensures this.
- Staff answer customer inquiries in help desk tickets, which also address issues.
- Escalation. The next step is to forward the ticket to another team member or escalate it to the next tier level when the customer service representative cannot resolve the request. A complaint should be escalated only when initially responding service desk personnel have used their internal resources to address a client issue.
- The base of knowledge. To determine whether a client issue has already been recognized and, if so, what the remedy was, help desk staff consults a knowledge base. As employees come across innovative customer demands, they should be able to add and update knowledge base information.
An entire customer service department might make up a help desk in larger businesses. This team of professionals monitors the status of issues using help desk software. They also employ additional specialized software to examine issues and keep tabs on things like the condition of a business’s communications network.
Software for help desks is also used to monitor client happiness and experience.
What makes help desks crucial?
For client satisfaction, help desks from technology vendors are essential. The central point of contact for end users, in the opinion of many vendors, is the help desk. How satisfied a client is can be influenced by the calibre of the customer encounter.
Internal technical support help desks are essential for the performance of an organization. A good help desk can increase productivity by swiftly addressing routine issues while escalating complex and unexpected concerns to the group or person most suited to handle them.
A suitable help desk should have the following capabilities:
- Centralized channels for support. A good help desk offers a conduit for assistance inquiries. They frequently keep help desk workflows transparent for users and provide a centralized route for support via a help desk hotline or website.
- Responsiveness to client complaints is prioritized. Good help desks optimize response times. They accomplish this by keeping an eye on essential indicators, including how quickly support desk agents respond to new issues and how soon they are resolved.
- Identifying product problems. Metrics are used by adequately operating help desks to identify problems frequently, resulting in calls for assistance.
- Customer engagement. Customers may frequently contact a technology vendor through a support desk. The best help desks open a line of contact between the business and users or clients.
Although externally visible customer service help desks can be expensive to set up and maintain, they are frequently a vital component of an organization’s marketing strategy. Internally focused help desks can boost overall employee productivity and the company’s bottom line.
Various help desk types
Even though each help desk is unique, the majority fit into one of the following four categories:
- Help desks over the web or in the cloud run online. This enables businesses to disperse their workforce and computing resources while yet being able to serve customers wherever they are.
- Help desks that are on-site function in a physical space.
- Enterprise help desks are used in large corporations and other industries.
- In contrast, to help desks with paywalls or other access restrictions, open-source help desks either employ open-source software or are intended to be open and available to everyone.
Large firms build out their help desk function in ways that blend these distinct help desk forms to maximize help desk functions, particularly for increased CX. Thanks to this, customers can now access help features through their preferred communication channels.
For instance, several businesses offer global support using cloud-based help desks. They also include on-site support centers at branch offices to give quick access to knowledge and often-needed hardware and software.
Specific help desks use automation to offer free or inexpensive self-service support. This help desk often offers a self-service site for everyday support tasks where internal or external clients can request assistance. The help desk system receives incoming requests and automatically routes them to the relevant party using automated ticket routing. Help desk systems frequently use automation to speed up workflows and asset management and provide answers to frequently asked issues.
Qualities of a quality assistance desk
Regardless of the help desk type, the top software solutions all have the following qualities:
- Support the management of the help desk;
- Provide a structure for entering new tickets at the customer’s first point of contact;
- Provide service management tools to oversee and control the allocation of and fulfilment of client demands;
- Provide the ability to route issues to the group or individual most qualified to handle them.
Help desks ultimately rely on the individuals who assist clients. Although technical expertise in the supported goods is crucial, a lack of knowledge can be quickly remedied with training and a solid product line knowledge base.
The following traits are more crucial for support desk employees:
- Listening intently. The most effective help desk employees are good listeners who can maintain silence while customers are chatting and who can ask the right questions.
- Empathy. Customers typically only contact the help desk when they are under pressure from not being able to complete their tasks; regardless of how simple the issue is, help desk employees with an empathic demeanour are most helpful.
- Curiosity. While it is optional for a help desk representative to be an expert on every supported product, representatives must be curious about how their support products function.
- Patience. This talent may be more crucial than product understanding for good CX.
These soft skills are more crucial than technical expertise and aptitude. Knowledge gaps may be quickly filled, but developing social and soft skills is more complicated.
How to pick a platform for your help desk
It is challenging to imagine how a modern help desk might operate without software. Organizations can apply their IT service management (ITSM) procedures using help desk software. Any help desk should have ITSM, based on the ITIL best practice framework. ITIL was formerly known as the IT Infrastructure Library.
Businesses employ third-party software made to provide essential help desk features, like the following:
- Ticket administration. The support ticket or difficulty ticket is the primary data unit in help desk software. The ticket management function of the help desk software handles the creation, revision, and resolution of these tickets.
- Contact point. While keeping a line of communication open for teams, good help desk software can connect customers with the appropriate person to fix their problems.
- The base of knowledge. Agents at the help desk are urged to record their tickets. A framework for creating and retrieving this information through a knowledge base is provided by good help desk software.
- Automation. Automating the help desk can enhance the use of human resources, particularly in expanding help desks where teamwork is crucial. Basic activities can be built to automate workflows and notifications and accommodate staff availability, using a help desk front end that automates the ticket generation process.
- Escalation. The first point of contact for customers at the majority of help desks is a generalist support staff member who can respond to straightforward inquiries. The escalation of more complicated issues to staff members with specialized knowledge should be supported by help desk software.
- Dashboards. Both managers and help desk agents should have access to dashboards through the help desk software. Dashboards give employees and management a platform for tracking tickets and evaluating individual contributor performance.
However, help desks are only as effective as the staff that work there. A successful help desk can be a competitive edge.