With so many companies relying on technology to perform daily tasks, the IT helpdesk has become a vital part of virtually all modern organizations. This is doubly true for customer-facing desks, which have to juggle timely resolution of problems with traditional customer service skills.
Running an efficient IT helpdesk can seem like an extremely difficult job at times, especially if your team struggles during busy periods or when fielding complex queries. However, by getting the basics right you can ensure that your desk is well-placed to give the speediest and most effective service possible, and establish your team as a valued business asset.
Make Sure You Have the Right People On Board
Staffing a helpdesk isn’t necessarily a case of employing all the most technically-minded people you can find, especially if your desk deals with end customers as well as internal staff. Even a genius computer technician will rapidly become a liability if he or she has no people skills to draw on, and studies have shown that it’s generally easier to impart technical knowledge to those with good customer services technique than it is to show a techie how to calm down an angry customer.
However, sound departmental knowledge of the products you will be supporting is still a vital part of any helpdesk. As such, consider establishing at least two tiers of support. Staff the top tier with your most technically able people and make it an internal resource only, then have larger user-facing tiers staffed with your most customer-friendly employees underneath.
Use the Right Technology
It’s somewhat ironic that IT helpdesks act as a hub of technical knowledge for a business, yet many are forced to bumble along using outdated technology. The technology requirements of a helpdesk are fairly complex, often requiring a testing and research area as well as a computer for each member of staff and call center-esque phone system.
Ultimately, your desk’s choice of hardware will probably be dictated by budgetary concerns, but try to push for kit that is at least going to be reliable, if not ultra fast. Downtime is a major source of concern for helpdesks, as if your phone system fails then your desk will be largely unable to perform its duties for the duration of the outage.
Software choice is another technological consideration for IT helpdesks. Genuinely effective helpdesks should be able to give users the same level of support no matter which agent is on the phone. To do this, agents need some way of making detailed yet easily accessible case notes on a user’s file.
Helpdesk software can be highly complex, requiring additional servers and licensing agreements to run. One way to get around this is to use an online helpdesk software provider, as these are often pitched at smaller desks or those who don’t have the resource to spend ages setting up their systems. However, be aware that although online providers are convenient, they do require an Internet connection to run. In short: if your building’s Web access goes down, your helpdesk will be forced to stop working.
Embrace Helpdesk Standards
Helpdesk standards such as the ITIL framework help your desk to stay in line with business needs. ITIL provides guidelines and processes for almost every aspect of running a helpdesk, including financial management, service design, and the introduction of changes in processes and workflow.
While ITIL is a useful way for established helpdesks to become more efficient and effective, training is a long procedure that will require a degree of buy-in from those higher up in your organization. By far the easiest way to align your desk with ITIL standards is to use an ITIL training provider. Specialist ITIL trainers such as Sysop are able to put together plans for individual businesses, and use ITIL approved instructors to ensure that your business gets off to a good start with the framework
Ian Appleton is a helpdesk manager and ITIL expert. He firmly believes that with the right people and a specialist trainer like Sysop, any IT helpdesk can be made effective and profitable.