Help desk professionals manage customer service requests and address support tickets. Often, they also use specific software which, when used properly, can save time, effort, and money. Creating a help desk service consists of assessing your needs, training staff, and giving them tools to help them respond to customer concerns before the competition does.
We recommend Freshdesk for any small business that is looking for a help desk service. Freshdesk makes it easy for agents to organize and manage all customer tickets, and the system comes in different pricing tiers to meet the needs of most companies. Click the button below to get started with Freshdesk for free.
What Is a Help Desk?
In basic terms, a help desk is a central online hub where your customers can talk to customer support staff. It can be a physical desk but is more commonly a virtual space where your customers can reach out to you when they need help. Depending on the size of your company, a help desk can be staffed either by one individual employee or a specialized team dedicated specifically to support.
In some way, all companies have a help desk of sorts as part of their customer or account management system. If a customer has a problem with your product or service, they will probably call your organization to get the issue sorted out. A help desk management software solution is designed to make customer support easier thanks to ticket management, communications, automation, and other features.
How to Set Up Your Help Desk in 5 Steps
When setting up your own help desk operations, it is important to decide how you want to use your help desk. From there, you should identify any gaps between your goals and your current support operations. These five steps will give you the knowledge to map out a process that can adhere to at any level within your management structure so that your help desk can easily scale with your company’s growth.
Here are the five steps to take when setting up your help desk.
1. Decide What Support Your Desk will Deliver
Traditionally help or support desks are a place for receiving basic customer tickets and fixing customer issues as they’re reported. However, they can also serve a more strategic function by acting as a centralized location for managing customer service workflows, centralizing customer data, and building a self-service knowledge base.
Help desks can also be expanded to include company-wide service requests. This means the help desk assists both internal and external customers and can act as a central hub for a customer relationship management (CRM) process.
Regardless of what experience you choose, a help desk system such as Freshdesk will help you accomplish it by acting as a centralized hub that facilitates all contact between you and your customers. That, along with consolidating information and automating administrative processes, frees up your agent’s time so that they can help your customers better, whether it is a work order or a bug fix.
2. Determine Your Help Desk’s Staffing Needs
One of the first questions most businesses will have when building their help desk management is how many people they need to staff their support team. This will largely depend on your customer base and the number of inquiries you typically receive.
In most cases, you will want each of your support agents to spend roughly 70% of their time responding to tickets. This is known as the utilization rate. The other 30% of their time should be used during secondary tasks like meetings, training, breaks, and general work downtime. If the utilization rate is higher than 70%, it drives up customer wait times. If it’s lower, then your agents will be spending a lot of time being idle.
Using this guideline, you can approximate the number of overall hours you will need to staff for. Once your team is built out with the proper number of agents, you can then decide whether you want generalists that respond to all tickets or specialists that only respond to tickets that concern specific topics.
Once you have your team in place, you can take advantage of the metrics and analytics in your help desk software to help optimize your staffing levels and iterate as your needs change. Freshdesk and other services make it easy to track all agent activity and be proactive about solving team problems. We will discuss these metrics in more detail below.
3. Define Your Priorities
When strategizing your support ticket operations, you will want to categorize, prioritize, and assign tickets you receive based on your unique business requirements. For example, most systems offer the ability to automatically route tickets to a team or department that can offer specialized support. An example of this would be billing problems immediately being routed to the accounts receivable department.
On a similar note, ticket automation can also help you keep the promises stated in your service level agreement (SLA) if you have one with your customers. Tickets can be automatically escalated if the customer has an SLA that grants them access to more specialized support. You can also create multiple SLAs that have different response times based on the type of ticket, product, customer group, or any other criteria that you define in your service’s administrative console.
4. Create Canned Responses or Knowledge Base
If you find that customers reach out to you with frequently asked questions (FAQs), taking the time to type out responses to each request manually can put a lot of undue burden on your agents. Creating and deploying canned responses to common queries can save agents and customers alike a lot of time and effort. Similarly, a knowledge base on your customer page can also help customers help themselves.
Customers are becoming more comfortable with helping themselves. Self-service options like knowledge bases save them time and you from the resources involved in helping them. Surveys have consistently reported customers prefer to help themselves over going through the trouble of speaking with a customer service representative. Therefore, self-service channels help drive customer satisfaction.
5. Track & Improve on Key Metrics
If you want your help desk operations to be as effective as possible, then you want to be improving your setup continuously. Using your software’s reporting tools to evaluate key metrics helps you understand the overall effectiveness of your agents and their work.
Freshdesk and other help desk solutions let you track data such as response times, resolution times, and overall customer satisfaction. You can also schedule automated reports on those metrics to distribute to team members in your company.
Help desk management reports can be used to spot problems, but they also provide the benefit of identifying trends in your operations. For example, you may find that many customers are confused about how to return products to your company’s e-commerce store. You can remedy this problem by having a canned response that clarifies your return policy. You can also use this information as a sign that you need to explain this policy better on your store’s checkout page.
Another way to gather helpful information is to follow up on all customer interactions with surveys. This is a great way to gather qualitative feedback from users to gauge how your agents are meeting their needs. It also helps to foster loyalty through positive customer support experiences.
How to Make a Help Desk More Efficient
Deploying a help desk service requires strategy and forethought to provide value. Therefore, businesses should put a great deal of thought into what they want to accomplish with their team. Additionally, this care should be applied to choosing the tools that will be used to help manage help desk service requests service.
Utilize Help Desk Software
When choosing a help desk solution, you want to make sure that the software is easy enough to use for all of your employees, regardless of skill level. They should also come with all of the features your business needs, like easy ticket creation, multichannel communications, and a full set of controls to organize and assign tickets.
Here are some basic help desk features that you should consider:
- Multichannel support: Help desk services should allow customers to reach out via text, webchat, email, and social media channels.
- Telephony integration: Many leading services allow customers to create tickets via phone call.
- Metrics, analytics, and reporting: Reporting modules help inform and optimize your overall customer support operations as well as identify recurring trends.
- Self-service knowledge bases: Knowledge bases can help customers solve their own problems immediately rather than have to speak with your support team.
- Canned & automated responses: Having a quick response for frequently asked questions can save time and drive customer satisfaction.
- Routing options: Services should make it easy for administrators to assign tickets to agents.
- Load balance: Leading services can automatically assign tickets to agents based on their existing workload.
- Customer feedback modules: Post-call surveys can help you gain qualitative feedback about your service operations.
Pay Attention to Features & Ticket Assignment Rules
Regardless of what service you choose, there will likely be a guided setup process to help you create an account, download apps, and use features. When you first get set up with a help desk solution, you will want to become familiar with whatever ticket management modules are available to you. The first thing you want to do is become comfortable with assigning tickets to agents and keeping tabs on all help desk activities.
The Benefits of Help Desk Management Systems
Help desk management systems give companies a means of resolving customer issues quickly and effectively. Dedicated software then makes handling large numbers of customers tickets easy thanks to intuitive interface and organization tools. There are also help desk solutions to match every unique business need and budget.
“Using help desk software has helped us reduce the strain on our customer support. Before, we used to do everything manually and solving the needs of our 10,000-strong customer base was a major burden on our team. Using Freshdesk, we created a knowledge base that we refer our customers to, every time they have an issue or a question. It works flawlessly and keeps us all in the loop about ongoing issues.”
—Dmytro Okunyev, Founder, Chanty.
Help desk solutions provide the following benefits.
Centralize & Consolidate
The most important benefit of a help desk management system is that it puts all of your trouble ticket information into a centralized space to ensure that no ticket ever goes unnoticed. Systems like Freshdesk alert agents when a new ticket is assigned to them or when a certain amount of time has elapsed on them. Managers also can escalate tickets if they haven’t been resolved according to your SLAs.
Communicate on your Customer’s Terms
Every one of your customers has their own preferred method of communication. Some will want to speak with your staff on the phone in the event of a problem while others will want to reach out via social media or email. Freshdesk and other leading systems offer different channels for ticket creation so that customers can get help on their terms. This is convenient for them and will help drive customer satisfaction.
Building a Knowledge Base
Live, human help is one of the biggest benefits of help desk software. However, many leading systems also offer a utility for building knowledge bases. In this scenario, a knowledge base would be helpful. Knowledge bases and other types of customer portals are essentially web pages on your site that have information on your products or services so that customers can research the answer to their own questions.
Resolving Tickets Faster & More Consistently
Many helpdesk services come with helpdesk automation features, such as automatic assignment based on location and existing agent workloads. Many solutions also include reporting tools to help you understand your operations and to identify recurring issues. Spotting trends can also help you create canned responses that your agents can reply with at a single mouse click.
Adhering to SLAs
When a customer buys your goods or services, you might have had an SLA in place that guarantees certain service criteria that you are contractually obligated to meet. Otherwise, you might have to refund customers or even pay them extra breaching the SLA. In most systems, you can configure tickets to be automatically flagged or escalated if the terms of an SLA are involved in the ticket. This can save your company an extraordinary amount of money.
Help Desk Best Practices
Your customer service operations play an important role in establishing your company’s reputation. If one of your clients has a negative experience when reaching out for help, they could be discouraged from ever using your services again. As such, you may want to establish a set of customer service best practices for your staff to ensure that all help desk interactions are positive and productive.
The following practices can help you run a more effective help desk setup:
- Empathy and patience: Customers might not always be thinking rationally when reaching out with a problem and may come across as rude. During these difficult exchanges, your agents should remain calm and empathize with the fact that the customer is frustrated. Being understanding and patient with the customer increases the chances that they will return.
- Confirm with customers that they understand: Your customers are not as familiar with your product or service as you are. When explaining things to them, it can be helpful to take frequent pauses to say things like “does that make sense?” and “do you have any questions or concerns about that?” to make sure that they fully comprehend your help.
- Admit your mistakes: No company is perfect. Even the most established and successful companies will occasionally do the wrong thing when solving a customer ticket. In these cases, it is best to admit to the customer that you did not serve their needs and offer to make it right, either with a discount on a future purchase or a refund on their most recent order.
- Follow up after solving a ticket: When you have closed a customer ticket, be sure to send some sort of follow-up to a customer. A survey helps the customer feel as though their voice matters to you and it also helps you gather valuable qualitative feedback on your effectiveness
- Beware of social media: Some of the biggest companies in the world have been embarrassed by negative interactions on social media. When dealing with social tickets, be aware that Twitter and Facebook are very public channels. Your staff should always maintain a professional demeanor even over these relatively casual channels.
Can I set up a help desk service on my own?
Most small business help desk systems are user-friendly enough to install and deploy by anyone. In other cases, providers offer live guidance on the setup process.
Can I connect ticket data with other applications that I use?
Freshdesk and other providers offer the ability to connect customer data with CRM software, phone systems, and more. Check with your prospective vendor to see what integrations are available.
Can I resolve customer tickets from a mobile device?
Most providers offer a mobile help desk application for remote employees. This way, agents can help customers even when they are not at a desktop computer. These apps are usually included for free.
Help desk software makes managing customer problems much easier than manually answering phone calls or emails. They empower your agents to handle multiple problems at once, understand the nature of each ticket, and offer multiple channels for customers to contact your business.
If you need a help desk software service, you should consider Freshdesk. The solution comes with a powerful feature set, affordable pricing, and the ability to connect data with many popular business applications. Click the button below to start using Freshdesk for free today.