5 Ways to Turn the Help Desk into a Priority
Many IT managers see the help desk as a nuisance. As the front line of the IT organization, the help desk often becomes a dumping ground of frustration for end users and IT staffers alike. It is usually the first target for cost-cutting measures like outsourcing. In IT satisfaction surveys of end users, the help desk consistently ranks at the bottom of the list, according to Ryan Meyer,director of ITfor Internet Solver Inc., a provider of fully managed computer environments, Internet and voice to small and medium-size businesses.
Meyer believes the importance of the help desk has been forgotten.
"The help desk is the most direct customer-facing role in IT," Meyer said. "It is the human representation of the IT organization. And it is often how the satisfaction of an IT organization is judged — even more so than features, speed or reliability of the technologies themselves. "
Meyer says the help desk should be a top priority of any IT manager.
"The success of the help desk requires a top-down focus on customer service," he said.
Meyer offers five techniques for reshaping your help desk into a problem-solver, rather than just a problem.
Remember, their problems are your problems — A ticket is a problem. And problems are the job of the help desk. IT staff should take ownership of every ticket — until it is truly resolved — even if it isn't something they are directly responsible for. A few follow-up emails go a long way and no one likes to be in the middle of finger-pointing.
Pick up the phone — In spite of the fact that IT types aren't generally considered social butterflies, they should never underestimate the value of a phone call — especially if they have traded a few emails and have not resolved the problem. We’ve all been on the other side — waiting patiently for a follow-up only to receive a list of unrelated questions 12 hours later. Don't hide behind a ticket.
Empathize to get to the root of the problem — I once caught a ticket about not being able to watch Hulu at the office. The help desk had grumbled and closed the ticket — "not business related." A quick follow-up and I found out the manager was watching Hulu before bed — he often slept in his office as he worked late and it was a two-hour drive home. He was easily accommodated. Encourage your help desk to ask more questions, and to put themselves in the shoes of the user.
Appearance rules the world — Imagine standing outside a building during a fire drill? Could you spot the IT staff by their appearance? The shirt-and-jeans attire begs to be underestimated. But a well-dressed help desk staff commands attention. So remind them — dress to impress, brush your teeth, comb your hair, chew a mint after lunch, and, please, don't forget to smile.
De-stress and decompress — The help desk is a high-octane job by nature — users expect the IT staff to share their same sense of urgency during a problem. Reward the help desk for busy periods and avoid night and weekend work whenever possible. IT staff deserve a full personal life, and the users deserve a calm and patient help desk.