Traditionally, help desk software for contact centers was designed to simply provide an incident-tracking system for resolving customer technical issues. Help desk software has evolved far beyond such humble beginnings, however, and now provides a centralized system for customer support, procurement, service level management and higher return on investment (ROI) for information technology (IT) investments.
Setting up and managing such a robust help desk is not necessarily an easy proposition. Choosing or developing software to support all the functions above requires taking a number of factors into consideration.
First, the process of building a modern help desk should start with business needs. It isn’t possible to choose the best solution until the organization determines what its needs actually are. Help desk solutions vary by industry, but even within industries overlap of features and functionality is not universal among companies.
Once business needs have been defined, the next step is to find contact center software that meets those needs. This is when the evaluation process can begin. As different products are considered, the key thing to keep in mind that that technology is a means to an end. If it doesn’t help the organization reach those ends, it’s not a fit.
After a solution is chosen and implementation begins, procedures should be developed for sending requests to the help desk—and those procedures should be clearly communicated to users. A variety of communications channels may be used, including e-mail, Web self-service and phone. Knowledgebases, case management tools, remote assistance and other functions help streamline communications.
Implementation of a help desk should be a milestone-driven process. Defining clear objectives will ensure that everything stays on track and that resources are used in the most efficient way possible. Success also relies on getting buy-in from the executive level of the organization. As the project moves along its pre-defined milestones, progress should be communicated to the entire team.
Buy-in from all staff involved in the help desk, at all levels, must also be achieved. While some people may be excited about the project, others may be skeptical or even hostile. Communicating the benefits is the place to start, using the business goals and objectives already in place.
As with any project, some modifications may need to be made along the road to success. This means enabling everyone involved to provide feedback, and giving them the tools to do so in a productive and useful manner. Standardized questionnaires can help, as can soliciting feedback using non-confrontational communications channels like e-mail.
For most organizations, especially large ones, rolling out the help desk in phases is the best approach. This gives both staff and customers time to adjust to the new system before it is fully implemented as a replacement for previous tools.
Finally, of course, it is necessary to train the help desk staff so they know how to use the contact center software. Training must, however, go beyond mere technical skills. Staff should know how to empathize with customers, listen, stay focused and remain professional.
It’s often said that life is a journey rather than a destination. Running a successful help desk can be viewed the same way. Once everything is technically up and running, the system and its participants should be evaluated on a continual basis. This makes it possible to identify problem areas and successes so that they can be fixed and capitalized on, respectively.
Mae Kowalke is senior editor for TMCnet, covering VoIP, CRM, call center and wireless technologies. To read more of Mae’s articles, please visit her columnist page. She also blogs for TMCnet here.