At its core, a Help Desk is a support resource. It is designed for users or clients to be able to source assistance when they are having problems with their services.  In the ICT realm, a Help Desk is often synonymous with some kind of technical support for user issues or assistance.

Help Desks typically institute a multi-tiered troubleshooting approach by having personnel with extensive technical knowledge available at different support levels. Help Desks are usually also responsible for the escalation process, whereby issues requiring more advanced or urgent attention are forwarded to more specialised individuals or groups for attention.

Implementation of this multi-tiered support varies widely within companies.  In a smaller business entity, it may be one person with a wealth of knowledge carrying a cell phone.  Other companies may have a number of people who perform some of the support in-house and additional people from another company that are contracted for additional support.  Finally, in larger organisations, it may be a multitude of people within their own company performing all levels of support.

Irrespective of the size of the Help Desk, it remains a point of first contact and base-level support between a service provider and clients. Given its client-facing role, a Help Desk requires cordial professionalism, fast resolution and the ability to enable positive actions. All these attributes hinge on training. A strong and steady balance of soft skills and technical know-how is essential to keep Help Desk personnel sharp pleasant and able to assist.

Below we mention three basic Help Desk best practices that make the process flow and user experience better

1. Perform Customer Satisfaction Surveys on a Regular Basis

Customers inform us in one or another way about unsatisfactory service. Positive feedback is just as vital, however. Daily customer satisfaction surveys performed by your call tracking software provide valuable information from a broad sampling. A continuous customer satisfaction survey process improvement philosophy will drive customer satisfaction and loyalty to even higher levels, by acknowledging gratitude for good service and sourcing client opinions on areas that require improvement.

2. Implement a Web-Based Knowledge Base Tool

In conjunction with using a web-based Help Desk software system, using a fully integrated web-based knowledge base software tool is a very important best practice. The greatest asset a service organisation has is the knowledge of the staff. When an employee leaves the organisation, they take all that knowledge with them. By encouraging and rewarding employees to document their knowledge, it becomes available for all the staff to leverage. Independent research supports the view that a knowledge base will decrease call handling time, talk time, call escalation percentages, employee turnover and agent training time, while simultaneously increasing first call resolution rates. A knowledge base software application will also increase consistency in answers and overall customer satisfaction. When customers are also able to make use of a knowledge base software self-help tool, it reduces Help Desk calls.

3. Use Real-Time Help Desk Reports, Dashboards, Metrics and Analytics

The concept of improvement has, at its heart, the act of measurement. All business improvement programs rely on metrics definition and monitoring not only to quantify success, but also to drive improvement. The advantages of monitoring, comparing and contrasting such analyses in real-time are twofold. First, they allow for near-instant mitigation and resolution of associated issues. Second, they also enable performance-based trending for individual staff, groups and/or support areas.

The author interviewed Kevin Blount, Client Services Manager, in consultation for this article.