IT Help Desk – 13 Best Practices

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A major challenge for many growing businesses is that their day-to-day IT challenges balloon in tandem with additional hiring, offices, and other expansions. Be it the internet going down unexpectedly, applications crashing, or laptops malfunctioning, your business will need a “go to” resource to receive the complaints, and resolve them. That resource is your IT help desk, which is an asset in keeping each employee up and running by resolving their day-to-day IT issues. In this post, we examine the elements your IT help desk needs for it to effectively service the IT support needs of your business.

13 IT Help Desk Best Practices You Should Implement

1. Use the Right Help Desk Software System

Your IT help desk should use an ITSM (IT Service Management) software — e.g., BMC Helix, ServiceNow, etc. —  to drive its operations. ITSM enables your help desk to receive service or incident tickets, manage assets, and report ticket resolution-rates and other metrics. A well-configured ITSM suite enables IT help desks to manage large volumes of tickets and — via self-service portal and other features — reduce call volumes and control IT support costs. The challenge is having enough resources to properly configure your ITSM suite and sustain the overhead of an actual service desk (e.g., payroll, equipment, etc.).

2. Hire the Right Talent

You need the right people staffing your help desk. One way to ensure this is to get them HDI (Help Desk Institute) certified. Doing so will ensure that your service agents are operating using help desk best practices, especially in terms of customer service and asset management.

Helpdesk Best Practices

3. Build & Implement a Service Level Agreement (SLA)

Your IT help desk should operate according to a Service Level Agreement (SLA). Under the SLA, you can require your help desk team to solve a minimum percentage of tickets, respond to calls and support tickets within a set period of time, and other requirements. SLAs enable you to hold your desk team accountable and, in turn, ensure your help desk works effectively.

4. Maintain Enough Capacity

You must ensure that your service desk has enough capacity to support your needs. Not only does this mean enough people to support your call/ticket volumes, but the ability to respond to users/customers in different time zones or during off-hours and holidays.

5. Use Automated Ticketing Systems

A well-configured ITSM suite will include automated ticketing capabilities. However, the idea behind this is much broader; you should look at automating as many manual, low-value tasks as possible to free up your agents to resolve IT problems.

6. Deploy Specialized Help Desk Groups

In some cases, you might need a dedicated help desk group to specialize or focus on a specific set of applications or IT issues. For example, most of your team might use a certain application for their daily work, or you have a critical IT system for which you want to prioritize support. The idea is to ensure you have the right people responding to tickets, not losing time in escalation.

7. Use Pre-Drafted Responses

Returning to the automation point we made earlier, the goal behind pre-drafted responses is to remove your help desk staff from burning time on menial tasks. When someone requests help, your ITSM suite should generate an automated response where possible. You can go a step further by pairing canned responses with self-help support, e.g., directing the user to a self-help portal or FAQ to see if they can resolve the issue on their own.  

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8. Be Available on Multiple Contact Channels

You should be able to communicate with your help desk through live chat, phone, email, and as many other means as possible. The point is to provide maximum accessibility to IT help.

9. Grow Your Knowledge/Expertise

Your service agents should be able to expand their knowledge base. You don’t want to be in a situation where your desk has to escalate to more senior level reps to solve certain issues. The ideal approach would be to equip the entire desk with the knowledge and tools to solve any issue.

10. Aim for First Contact Resolution

To minimize downtime or disruptions, your service desk should focus on solving tickets on first contact. In some cases, this may require providing a significant amount of training to each of your help desk staff.

This comes at a high upfront cost, but it will pay off in the long-term by reducing the impact of IT problems on your operations. In addition, first contact resolution (FCR) contributes to increasing customer/end-user satisfaction rates.

11. Follow-Up Resolved Cases

Your help desk should follow-up on closed/solved cases with a survey or feedback form. This is an opportunity for your help desk to collect information to assess its staff and improve processes.

Best Practices for IT help Desk

12. Track Your Help Desk’s Performance

Your SLA should require your help desk to track its performance across key metrics, especially:

  • ticket resolution rates;
  • time to solve tickets;
  • average pick-up/ticket response time;
  • percentage of tickets still open/unsolved after a certain period of time;
  • FCR rates;
  • number of escalations to Level 2 and Level 3 support;
  • and others.

By getting visibility into each of these areas, your help desk will identify gaps in its knowledge base and processes. In turn, it can improve through training, ITSM configuration work, or other methods and drive additional cost and time savings.

13. Keep Your Help Desk Employees Happy

You must prevent fatigue and stress from affecting your employees. You can do this by ensuring you always have enough agents to handle capacity. In addition, you can structure bonuses into their performance reviews, incentivizing them to improve their individual and desk output.

Need More Help in Controlling Your IT Support Costs?

Next Steps

When businesses first start out, they don’t have many applications, devices or other IT assets in need of support. However, as they grow, so does the complexity and scope of IT.

In turn, building an IT help desk that can handle those expanded needs takes up a considerable amount of resources and time. At some point, you can’t let IT dictate the direction of your budget and focus of your leadership.

You need a way to acquire IT infrastructure without having to build it yourself — cue working with a managed IT services provider (MSP). If you need a fully equipped IT help desk with a proven track record of success, you can get one from an MSP today. Moreover, you will get each of the best practices we described above out-of-the-box without the payroll or training headaches.

Buchanan Technologies brings over 30 years of experience providing world-class IT help desks to growing and established businesses. We provide faster ticket resolution times, higher resolution rates, and 97%+ user/customer satisfaction rates with our ITIL-compliant processes and HDI certified teams. Contact us to get started.

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