Building an effective IT help desk
Running a successful and efficient help desk can be a matter formulating effective strategies and taking advantage of initiatives elsewhere in the firm. Running such a desk, however, requires forethought, especially in hiring the right people, standardization of procedures, clarifying objectives and measurement systems, understanding clients, and securing the support of a firm’s management (Andreasen, &Kotler, 2008).
Responding to suggestions, such as paying attention to security and trends, an over-reliance on a help desk to provide staff training that should be coming from elsewhere, and better matching of caller sophistication to help desk personnel. A good help desk can increase the productivity of clients, improve overall revenue and profits, and produce more knowledgeable clients, among other benefits.
This paper will discuss the best strategies for a successful help desk within an organization. I will identifya number of practical best practices as well as provide some examples on how and why those strategies are important.Below are some strategies that any help desk manager can implement to facilitate success.
Hiring and Training desk staff: Experts say that firms must determine exactly how many staffers they need on their help desk, considering as well the need for a desk manager, front-line staff to gather information and log calls, and the location of the help desk. He recommended one location – as close as possible to the hardware supported.Help desks are also “high-stress” posts, which usually results in high turnover, sometimes as high as 40 percent annuallyAndreasen, &Kotler, 2008).
Experts recommend shadowing, or on-the-job training in which recruits work side by side with veterans of the desk for a week or two, then veterans shadow recruits as they try to handle their first calls. Staff should also be rotated on and off phone duty, especially during busy seasons.
Management and measurement: Help desk calls should be reviewed to look for patterns of problems, adding that some firms have opted to e-mail a “tip of the week” to staff based on these patterns (Marcella & Middleton, 1996). Management can also use determined trends to set up client and staff training and cross training, and to determine when hardware needs to be updated. Satisfaction surveys should also be conducted yearly and randomly by calls, and include regular interviews with key clients and firm management.
Experts also recommend that help desks prioritize calls, often by simply asking clients and staff where and when they need work done, and track unproductive time using time and billing software. As a measurement, the time needed to resolve each call can also be a “false measurement.”Repeat calls on the same subject or problem should also be tracked.
Define your goals: Every helpdesk has a number of goals that it was intended to achieve. Whether the main objective is to handle more customers, give customer service a personal touch, or provide expert interaction, the main goal or goals have to be defined clearly and communicated to the team. Each goal requires specific ideals for it to be achieved. By defining it, the management has a clear picture of the working environment to provide for their employees. Defining goals also helps employees understand what is expected of them thus increasing their chances of achieving those goals.
With clear goals, the organization can provide proper training to its employees to ensure that they offer their customers the best services possible. The helpdesk manager should come up with ways to assess progress to ensure that the team is working towards the set goals (Marcella & Middleton, 1996). The manager should be able to deduce the areas where his or her team is performing well and capitalize on that. He or she should also be able to identify the area of weakness so as to improve.
Experts emphasize that an effective and successful help desk officeshould be appealing and comfortable so as to help desk workers serve their customers better. Unfortunately, many organizations perceive the help desk as an expense, one that cannot be directly attached to any revenue, and thus it is often given the second priority. Those charged with governance should understand that although there is no revenue directly attached to the help desk, it adds value to the organization and thus it is a department worth investing in (Marcella & Middleton, 1996). Help desk employees have to deal with unsatisfied customers who are usually unhappy, on daily basis and therefore the organization should strive provide them with great working conditions, as well as equip them accordingly. The above-discussed strategies, when implemented effectively, can help improve the productivity of any organization’s help desk significantly.