As a help desk employee, it is important to focus on the user, not just the help desk ticket. Being inundated with help desk tickets all day can sometimes make you forget that you are helping actual people — users who are valued employees of the company you work for. It may seem like you’re stuck in a pattern of simply closing as many help desk tickets as you can all day every day. When users are not very technical or are impatient or rude, it further complicates the situation and you sometimes find yourself focusing more on the tasks at hand rather than on the quality of the service to the user. Add to this the growing trend of emails to the help desk auto generating tickets or users themselves submitting tickets through a web portal and the disconnect only grows. Given all these scenarios, it is very easy to simply see all the tickets you have as tasks you need to complete with little regard for customer service.

In order to maintain high levels of service, it helps to remember that there is an actual person on the other side of every help desk ticket. Being aware of this relationship and recognizing your role in helping them resolve their current issues, can be the keys to a positive user satisfaction experience. After all, you are both working toward the same common goals of resolving business issues, restoring productivity and working for the success of your company.

Fortunately, great help desk software like Track-It! can help you increase your help desk productivity and user satisfaction levels. At the end of the day, end-user satisfaction comes down to whether or not they found the IT help needed to resolve their problems quickly. 

To provide the user with a better overall experience and increased satisfaction, help desk staff must focus on the user not just the help desk ticket.

Focus on Listening

Strong communication skills are one of the many key talents that you need for a help desk position, but it isn’t the only important one. The ability to simply listen is also a crucial part of communication. After all, nobody likes to talk with a person who is merely pretending to listen to them. The same goes for your users, which is why listening becomes an integral part of your help desk job.

Taking the time to listen and actually hear what they are saying will not only go a long way to making them feel like you care which could calm an angry user, but can also help you better understand their problem. Fully understanding the problem is of course key to resolving that problem. Listening involves 

  • Listening carefully to what the user is saying
  • Never interrupting
  • Paying attention to the tone of voice and word choice for keys to indicate anger or frustration 
  • Acknowledging that you hear them every few seconds by responding with simple things like, ok or I see 

It requires good listening and communication skills to handle a user’s frustration, aggression, or disappointment and get them to clearly explain the problem they are facing.

Some users may raise their voice at you, some may go on for a long rant, and some may not even explain their problem correctly because they don’t fully understand what is happening. Nevertheless, it is your job to listen and solve their issue. You must have the patience, tolerance, and a positive and friendly tone to withstand all that in order to get to the core problem at hand. Over time, better listening skills will result in a more positive workday for yourself as well as a better user experience for your end users.

One way you can accomplish this is to show some empathy and let the user know that you understand that problem they are facing is frustrating and how it is affecting their work. Reassure them that you are there to help and you see to it that their issue is resolved. By showing empathy towards them and reassuring them you are there to help, no matter how unreasonable or irrational they may be, most times you can calm an anxious user. It’s important to understand that most users are not familiar with the technical aspects of the systems they are using as they simply utilize them to do their work. They have never had the need to master the entire system. When analyzing the issues they are having, be sure to repeat back to them what their issue is to make sure you are both on the same page.

There are multiple ways to assess your communication skills. For instance, you can request feedback from the user immediately after the interaction. You may also utilize surveys to identify you and your team’s progress. This feedback is quite important to assess the listening skills or communication skills of help desk staff to help you identify areas for improvement. These types of metrics may also be something that higher ups in your organization may want you to regularly monitor and report on. These types of metrics can help better identify and solve frequent problems, queries and find out what’s working, what’s not working, and what’s missing. All of it together eventually leads to superior performance by your staff and a superior end user experience.

Setup a Prioritization System

A ticket prioritization system is an essential part of every help desk team. It helps you deal with users which need an immediate resolution to satisfy them and helps to set expectations on lower priority items. However, understandably, many users will insist that their problem should be at the top of the priority list. In a situation like this, it becomes crucial to set up a prioritization system to help swiftly identify the severity and urgency of the problems and prioritize them accordingly.

There are various strategies and plans which companies use to prioritize their tickets and some use a combination of processes. One singular approach is rarely ideal and a combination of these strategies will almost always serve your users the best. Some of the most popular ticket prioritization strategies that companies use include the first-come, first-served, severity and urgency, and user-type basis.

The easiest and simplest of these strategies is the “first-come, first-served system.” This basically means that the tickets will be attended in chronological order, as they arrived. It is easy, simple, and effective… but only when the workload is easily manageable and the tickets are relatively similar in complexity and time required to resolve.

When the flow of tickets rises or the severity and impact of tickets vary widely, other systems often prove to be more effective, such as attending to tickets based on their severity and urgency. Surprisingly, some companies allow their users themselves to decide the severity and urgency of their problem, through a rating system. This may work for some organizations but is not widely used or recommended.  Another way of prioritizing tickets is on a user-type basis. This means ranking and prioritizing tickets on a sort of triage system, based on the role of the user submitting the ticket. 

Using a combination of these strategies will help your team to set up a ticket prioritization system which allows you to focus on the most critical cases first, understand what they are facing, and solve them in a reasonable period of time. It will also help to improve user experience, user satisfaction, and will help build a better relationship with the user. You can readily set up such an arrangement and solve similar IT problems faster with the aid of a help desk software system (such as Track-It!).

Focus on Learning and Adapting

Learning is a lifelong process and the same also goes for a help desk role. In fact, one of the main goals of the help desk department is to identify the most common problems and issues users are facing so the company can fix or improve them. This means the company is also learning and growing as well. That is why gathering knowledge and experience from others and then sharing it with the whole team will improve the entire team’s skills and in turn lead to better service for your end users.

Set-up a Knowledge Base

There are multiple ways of sharing this vital information with your staff. The first way of learning and sharing knowledge is with the help of a knowledge base. A knowledge base in help desk software allows the team to set up pre-written scripts, instructions, commands, or messages for the most common inquiries and complaints.

With the help of a knowledge base, a team can find solutions to common problems more quickly. It also allows users to search for their own solutions before logging a help desk ticket. This reduces ticket volume and allows the help desk staff more time to focus on higher priority or more difficult tickets. Track-It! help desk software provides this functionality allowing you to easily set up a functional knowledge base.

Use analytics and reporting to improve help desk service

Analytics and reporting are also helpful tools that will allow your IT manager to continually monitor and adjust the help desk system to provide better service. There are several types of analytics and metrics you may use. Reporting on the different types of complaints and inquiries received, their frequency, and what solution the help desk is providing to them are helpful metrics to help you determine if there are recurring issues that could be addressed further upstream to stop them from happening. These issues might be addressed by network or other system changes or potentially by offering more training to your users in specific areas.. 

There are also metrics that can be collected through feedback and surveys from the users on their experience working with the help desk. Patterns in these metrics can help you identify opportunities to improve the performance of your help desk. You may be able to identify help desk staff who need additional training. You may even identify people who need to be moved to other roles because working on the help desk isn’t right for them. All of these things can help improve the operation of your help desk and the satisfaction of your users. 

Solve Their Problem with Excellent Service

The ultimate goal of the help desk should be to help the user and provide them a reasonable solution while making sure they are satisfied with the entire experience. Sometimes users are frustrated, angry, worried about getting their job done and without great service may even feel neglected or deceived. Clear communication, transparency, and honesty with users are the best way to deal with their issues while trying to solve them as quickly as possible.

The best way to approach every problem is to listen carefully and acknowledge the issues the user is facing. Once you understand what is happening, repeat it back to the user in your own words to confirm you have understood the problem. Once you have a potential solution, you can explain to the user what the underlying cause is. Then if you feel the user is interested, you can explain why it is happening. Finally, you will then explain the potential solutions and how you plan to go about resolving it. This all needs to be done clearly and with great customer service in mind. Communication skills play a huge role in handling users as some of them will be angry and frustrated and not ready to listen. One should try to avoid explaining it in overly technical terms. Instead, use business terms, ones that the users can easily understand. Once the user better understands what is going on, most of them will better comprehend what they are facing. If a user seems more technical and seems interested in knowing more details about the issue and the solution, you may go into more detail with them to help them understand the issue.  

One crucial mistake that some help desks make is that they do not properly manage the expectations for the user. Sometimes a help desk tech will make promises to satisfy the client at the moment in order to get them off the phone, only for them to be extremely disappointed later when the promise cant be kept. This makes the help desk appear dishonest to the user and causes the situation to become much worse. Instead, try to make sure to clearly state the issue so the user understands. Make sure they understand the possible solutions and give yourself the time needed to try them. It is much better to tell the user the worst case scenario for how long something will take and complete the fix earlier than it is to promise something you cannot do. It is always better to under promise and over deliver when managing user expectations for a fix. 

At the end of the day, no matter how well your help desk performs, not every user will be satisfied. Sometimes things go wrong and there are situations beyond your control. Even in these times, your users will be more satisfied and trust the help desk more if you have been open, honest, friendly and transparent with them during the interaction. 

Remember that person on the other end of the phone line or email message is a person, trying to do their job and having issues completing it because of some sort of technical issue. By focusing on treating the person as an actual person and not just another item to check off your task list, you can help tremendously in the satisfaction of your users, your job satisfaction and the growth and prosperity of your organization. 

Cris Coffey

Cris Coffey

Cris is the Principal Product Manager for Track-It! and BMC Client Management. Track-It! is a help desk software application designed for small to medium sized businesses and Client Management is an End Point Management software application designed for Medium to Large sized businesses.