Why a help desk is important in 2021

Companies frequently search for ways to cut costs and one common method of accomplishing this is through reductions in staff. However, companies should strongly resist the urge to cut costs by removing resources from their help desk. The benefits to a company in the form of secure properly functioning networks and systems and productive employees usually far outweigh any short term cost savings from help desk resource cuts. Here are just some of the ways a fully staffed and productive help desk benefits an organization and why a help desk is important in 2021.

Bridging the Delivery Gap with the Help Desk

A study involving 362 firms and their customers asked if the firms provide superior customer service. 80% of the firms involved in the study answered that they did. However, only 8% of the customer base polled agreed with that assessment. This gap between how a firm rates its customer satisfaction and how the customers themselves rate the firms’ efforts is known as the “delivery gap”. The delivery gap can be as harmful for employee retention as it can be for maintaining a loyal customer base.

Users contact a technical help desk when they perceive a tech issue as a roadblock to completing their assigned tasks. In addition to the loss of time and productivity, such issues can leave a negative impression of the IT asset being used and the company for which they work. Having an organization that can both remedy the problem and satisfy the end-user is vital for maintaining good morale and personnel. Users who are displeased because of working with faulty IT assets may attempt to circumvent security policies or seek employment in a different department or with a different company.

There is more to operating a help desk than reacting to help desk tickets and resolving them. A well-trained, well-staffed, and well-equipped IT help desk acts as a singular point of contact for technical issues, providing a variety of services in addition to resolving help desk tickets. Educating users, calming irate users, providing relevant data to stakeholders, performing routine maintenance, applying critical software updates, and correctly escalating tickets to the proper personnel are all vital duties of the technical help desk. Cutting resources in a department so critical to an organization can cripple the company’s IT infrastructure regardless of its size.

The Help Desk Is the Frontline of Technical Support

A well-trained help desk can resolve a majority of the issues that users report. Problems ranging from forgotten passwords to hardware failures can be analyzed and addressed by help desk technicians. In order to provide superior customer service, help desk technicians regularly provide updates to users regarding the status of their tickets and any potential complications that would delay resolution. When the help desk encounters a technical issue where they lack the permissions or equipment to resolve, they can escalate it to the correct department and follow up with the user to ensure that the issue is fixed. Well-trained help desk technicians will maintain contact with a user even after a ticket is escalated to ensure that the user’s issue is being properly addressed. Help desk teams prioritize tickets as part of their ticket handling, clearly identifying the urgency of technical issues and providing both direct and implied information on when an issue will be addressed. A properly staffed help desk with adequate resources is important to keep technical issues under control.

The IT Help Desk Educates and Empowers End-Users

The help desk can provide users with a variety of means to answer their own questions and resolve their own problems. A self-service portal, updated with information collected from help desk tickets and technical briefings from other departments, allows users to search for the information they seek to treat their technical issues or remain compliant with rules and regulations. 

The information that help desk technicians provide in help desk tickets, emails, and related documents provide information to prevent similar issues in the future as well as keeping users engaged. A properly staffed help desk is required to have the resources to create and maintain these types of knowledge bases and tools to help end users. 

The Data Collected by the Help Desk Can Guide the Organization

As a result of handling help desk tickets, training to keep their technical skills current, and actively listening to users, help desk technicians gather plentiful data which can be distilled into easily-readable reports. Recurring themes in help desk tickets could indicate that IT assets need to be updated or replaced. 

Common help desk ticket topics can also suggest potential training opportunities for the company. Detected network bottlenecks could reveal necessary changes to personnel scheduling or scheduled maintenance. Human resource decisions such as hiring, transferring, or firing employees can be supported by help desk data indicating understaffed departments or employees whose skills do not match their duties.

The Help Desk Keeps IT Assets Secure

Many help desks are responsible for keeping a current inventory of the IT hardware and software that the company uses. One common and vital task is applying patches to software, as patches frequently address security vulnerabilities. We’ve all seen the news. Numerous organizations have been crippled by hackers initiating ransomware and other cyber-attacks. In 2020 at least 140 local governments, police stations and hospitals were held hostage by ransomware attacks. Most recently, the US federal government network was compromised when Russia used SolarWinds’ hacked program to infiltrate at least 18,000 government and private networks. The scariest part is these hacks are possible if just one system or application is not fully patched; leaving the door open for hackers to launch their attacks. The IT help desk usually has the responsibility of making sure all of the company systems are secure. Track-It! client management can scan your network, discover systems that need updating and help apply the appropriate security updates. This is a critical tool for any help desk that is responsible for protecting systems and data. All of the discovered data from IT assets can also assist in making important decisions such as managing costs associated with purchases and when to archive hardware or software. 

The Help Desk Saves Time and Money for the Company

A well-run and well-trained help desk staff can save a company money and resources over time. A help desk that quickly resolves or correctly escalates help desk tickets on the first try reduces the amount of time users lose due to technical issues. The issues that the help desk resolves then do not impact other departments in the company. The savings in time and money can then be redirected to other priorities. 

The Help Desk Can Provide Support During Non-Peak Hours

Most companies have employees that use IT assets during non-business hours or in a work from home environment, especially during these times. A dedicated help desk that operates during non-peak hours can provide support to remote workers or those with non-traditional schedules, preventing employees from losing productivity due to a technical issue. 

Help desks that operate on a 24/7 basis can provide support to users whenever a technical issue arises. In addition, self-service access points such as knowledge bases, online ticket request forms, and user surveys are easy to configure for easy access for after-hours and remote workers.

The Help Desk Can Automate Company Tasks

Help desk staff with the right software can accomplish a variety of tasks, many of which can be automated to ensure proper and quick handling. The help desk can automatically route help desk tickets to responsible agents, reducing the amount of time that tickets await inspection. Deployments of patches and software can be scheduled during optimal times, such as evenings or weekends for non-critical patches. 

Automatically generating reports and sending them to stakeholders keeps involved parties informed of valuable metrics such as workload, call volume, response times, network bottlenecks, and employee efficiency. Help desk software can also automate soliciting data from users by sending forms or surveys to complete after tickets are resolved.

The Help Desk Should Set Realistic Expectations for Resolutions

Through a combination of direct communications and readily-accessible resources like FAQs, the help desk can give users realistic expectations on when and how technical issues will be resolved. A clearly-defined prioritization scheme can explain when and why technical issues are addressed differently. Users who are given accurate information regarding downtime, workarounds, and escalations can make more intelligent decisions on how to remain productive until the technical issues are resolved. 

Diplomatically reinforcing service level agreements and emphasizing the importance of emergency maintenance over less severe issues can reduce misinformation and provide end-user satisfaction even during major issues.

The Help Desk Can Reduce Redundant Efforts

Many users will encounter the same type of technical issue, especially when the issue pertains to a company-standard piece of software or equipment. By providing openly-accessible updates or step-by-step instructions, the help desk can show users how to resolve problems when they happen – or before they happen. The help desk’s ability to detect common support issues can lead to low-cost, low-resource self-service solutions like training courses or knowledge base articles.

The Help Desk Significantly Contributes to Disaster Recovery

When technical disasters strike a company, the help desk is often the first department to respond. The help desk’s actions before and during an outage can dramatically reduce downtime, data loss, physical damage, lost money and other problems associated with major technical outages. A help desk with the right tools and training will be responsible for network security monitoring, data backups, redundant internet connections and other preparations to help eliminate or limit the amount of downtime caused by an issue as well as the amount of time and resources lost recovering from an issue.

Track-It! Can Help Reduce Costs

Track-It! help desk software is a robust feature-rich software system that can dramatically increase the efficiency and productivity of your help desk. Track-It! can automate common tasks including routing help desk tickets, managing change requests, keeping users informed, applying software patches, and generating customized reports. Track-It! can also maintain and track IT assets, providing a place to record costs to replace, hardware specs, installed software versions, patch levels and when IT assets require updates. Available add-ons include barcode scanning which can assist help desk technicians in performing physical inventory of IT assets and Client Management which handles all aspects of IT endpoint management including Remote Management, Asset Discovery, Asset Auditing, Patch Management, Software Deployment, and Compliance monitoring. 

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.