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Help Desk Best Practices
While trying to examine some of the dilemmas a help desk manager can face, it is sometimes helpful to consider hypothetical cases. Consider this first case involving a fictitious company. Productive workers currently staff a companys help desk and the company expects call volume to increase because of a new system implementation that will affect a large chunk of the companys user base but the budget doesn't allow for additional headcount in the help desk area. This means that the help desk may soon become bogged down, queue times will lengthen significantly, and customers will likely become quite dissatisfied.

If you are a manager facing this situation you have some decisions to make. This article will attempt to provide some tips on how to approach the situation. Here are six strategies and best practices that should be able to help:

The first one is to assemble a sample group of the users affected by the change. This team of users should work with help desk technicians to brainstorm and create a sizable list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). The questions and the answers compiled by help desk staff should be posted on the help desk website as part of the product launch. The company should also strongly encourage the use of online knowledge bases and self-service ticket management systems. Many tech-savvy customers will take advantage of this self-help tool because it's a time-saver for them and pevents them from having to call somebody.

Another tactic is to keep things simple. Companies should ensure that their online knowledge base is simple and easy to use by focusing on the 10% of problems that account for most of the customer calls. An online knowledge base that is too complex, too complicated, or too unwieldy to navigate will just bring users back to the telephone hotline. The answers should be clear, concise, and easy to find.

A third practice is to make sure that the company has very clear metrics concerning average handle time and average speed-to-answer a call. The company should train the help desk team to use these metrics effectively. This will result in more calls being handled by the same number of people, even those who were already rated as being productive.

Fourth, it behooves a company to ensure ahead of time that help desk personnel can recognize the difference between a low-priority and high-priority issue, and deal with the former quickly by opening a ticket and getting off the phone. Too often, Help Desk techs do not discriminate the way they should during spikes. This forces truly needy customers to wait in a queue for an excessive amount of time and costs productivity and headaches.

Another technique that the company should employ is strategically training certain business users in an area that will be affected by the system upgrade. These users may be trained alongside help desk personnel or given training to handle some of the more common low level issues. These users can help stop the surge of calls by addressing these issues at the local level before escalating them to the help desk.

Boosting team spirit and help desk morale can make a difference. Making an effort to boost morale can boost Help Desk productivity. Higher level managers should make the effort to spend some quality time in the Help Desk area, to show support for those who work there. Or, the VP from the business area may want to come by and talk about how important the help desk is to overall success.

Most people leave a little in the tank each day, but during Help Desk crunch time, the staff goes home on empty. This is when the support of senior management is crucial to morale, and good morale coupled with smart management decisions boosts performance and productivity.

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