5 Characteristics of an Excellent Help Desk

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It’s 4:45 on a Friday. You need to get that report printed for your boss. You hit print. Nothing. You make a frantic call to your help desk. The phone rings... and ring... The last thing you want when your computer is broken is the added hassle from a service desk engineer.

You’re already frustrated and stressed. The last thing you need is some attitude, or excuses why your issue can’t be quickly addressed. It doesn't have to be this way! Excellent Help Desk support does exist, and here are 5 traits of world class service:

1. Focused on Customer Service

It takes a special kind of engineer to work in a fast-paced service desk environment. They need to work quickly, but stop and treat every call like it’s the only one received that day.

  • This type of engineer is likeable and has a personality where you can hear them smile.
  • There’s no “geek speak” – just real words that you can understand. A clear understanding of what to expect – response, resolution, callback, etc. will always be provided.
  • From a Service Desk Operations standpoint, you should expect your calls to be answered by a live human being.
  • Simple requests should be resolved while you’re still on the phone.
  • You should expect to hear the same information delivered in the same manner no matter what engineer works on your issue.
  • When the ticket is closed, expect to receive a request for your feedback, asking about your experience.

It really is your responsibility to answer honestly about the level of service you received – good or bad. You should expect follow up to understand what went wrong as improvement plans are developed from this communication.

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2. Process

A really good help desk has processes in place to handle the nature and style of requests they typically receive. The last thing you want to hear is “I’ll have to check…” or “I’ve never seen that before!”

An excellent triage system helps diagnose and dispatch issues to the right person for the quickest resolution of your issue. An efficient service desk should be able to report how long on average it takes to start working on service request from when they’ve been submitted, and how long it takes to resolve.

Escalated issues that require higher technical abilities should have its own process and group of engineers. When the service desk is closed, do you know how to contact after hours support? It should be clear, and easy to do.

The service desk should run like well-oiled machine, ready to react when you need them, so you can get back to your business.

3. Technical Skills of a Service Desk Engineer

A service desk engineer should know a great deal about the big names (Microsoft, Dell, HP, Cisco, to name a few) and vendors you both rely on to conduct your business and make your technology work.

Training, certifications, and proficiency validation are key components to any service desk engineer’s resume. Just as important is proficiency in the actual tools and software your MSP uses to managed, monitor, and maintain your systems.

The engineer needs to be able to interpret reports, understand logs, maneuver between screens, and take remote control of your system as a matter of routine, without stumbling about while you’re just trying to work.

4. Service Desk Tools

Before you can expect service desk engineers to know how to use tools and software to support your infrastructure, they have to be available in the first place.

The right help desk has invested in a well thought-out suite of tools to do just that.

  • Ticketing system to log service tickets. This is helpful for trending, reporting, analysis, and responsibility.
  • Database to host company information. No client wants to repeat the same basic information every time – what a time waster to give your name, company name, phone number, email address, and model of your computer each and every time you call.
  • A robust and automated system to monitor your servers and infrastructure should be in place, and things like patching and updates should just work.

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These tools are designed to save time so you can get back to working on your business as quickly as possible. They should not slow the process in their use.

5. Best Practices

There’s some basic “rule of thumb” stuff to consider. Defined, improved, and written down to follow again and again. These are your MSP’s Service Desk Best Practices.

  • How to answer the phone, what to say, what you should expect, and how you’re communicated with have best practices.
  • How a service ticket is triaged has a best practice – should it be resolved immediately, escalated, or should an engineer be dispatched onsite?
  • What happens when there’s a disaster? Is there a SWAT Team and what’s the best practice for them to follow?
  • When a new client is onboarded, are there configuration templates to complete so the information is documented and kept in the same location?
  • How consistent is your service desk experience? A good service desk measures and reports on team and individual performance so they can get better. So you can be productive when you need to be.

As an extension of any IT Managed Service Provider, the Service Desk is the bread and butter of the organization. Most end users don’t interact with anyone else at the MSP other than the service desk engineers.

Your organization is only as valuable as a productive employee, and your employees can’t be productive if their equipment doesn’t work. The same holds true for a service desk. If all parts are in place, a service desk that is well-trained, efficient, and genuinely likes their job can treat everyone like they are the only customer.

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