Common IT Help Desk Issues

How to Address Common IT Help Desk Issues

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There are basically two ways you can interpret the title of this article. The first is how to address the sort of issues IT help desks get all the time. The second is how to address the sorts of issues which typically lead to IT help desks underperforming and hence to a reduced level of customer satisfaction. In the real world, however, IT help desks getting the same questions time and again is a sign that they are not being run efficiently. With that in mind, this article will look at common IT help desk management issues and how to address them.

Failure to encourage customers to serve themselves

To be fair, anybody who’s spent any length of time on an IT help desk will know only too well that “if you build it they will come” does not necessarily apply to self-service resources. Frankly, there are always going to be some customers who just phone or email the IT help desk regardless of how many self-service resources you put their way, but self-service resources do still have massive value and here are three reasons why.

Firstly, as long as you make it easy for people to find and use the self-service resources, there is an excellent chance that quite a few of them will do so and will only contact the IT help desk if they are unable to find what they need there. This can cut down on a whole lot of work for your IT help desk team.

Common IT Help Desk Issues

Secondly, resources which are useful for making it possible for customers to self-serve are also often useful for training new staff. If nothing else, they can give new staff a “customer’s-eye” view of a product or service they will have to support. This can be very different from what they see as admins.

Thirdly, having these resources in place means that when people contact the IT help desk with queries which are already answered, the help desk agents can just point them towards the information they need.

Pro-tip, remember that different people have different preferences for absorbing information and these days it’s often very easy to accommodate that. For example, you might present the same information in the form of text with screen prints and also in the form of a video.

Failing to capture key metrics effectively

As an absolute minimum, you want to know what kind of support requests were raised, when, by what channel, how they were resolved and how long it took to resolve them. Ideally, you would also like to know who raised the request, however, this can be a slightly sensitive issue. Customers who genuinely just have quick queries do not necessarily want to hand over their personal details so that your agents can create a contact for them. That being so, you may want to include the option to capture information without assigning it to an individual.

If a query does get assigned to an individual, then agents should be given the tools and time to capture full and detailed notes on each ticket, partly to feed into the development of the IT help desk and partly so that the customer does not have to repeat themselves if they need to call back.

These key metrics can and should play a huge role in the effective running of your business. They should feed into everything from staff rotas to the content you create for your customers (e.g. FAQs) to the software you buy for your help desk.

Failure to train staff on effective questioning techniques

In the old days, there was a joke that the only question IT help desk staff had to know was “Have you rebooted your computer?”. It really did solve a hefty chunk of issues (and if it didn’t you would escalate). Even back then, however, there was a knack to questioning people as IT help desks tended to be contacted by people with widely varying degrees of technical knowledge.

These days, IT help desks can and do get all kinds of queries thrown at them and they still have to deal with people who have widely varying degrees of technical knowledge. This means that the best IT help desk agents are people who can get the information they need in a way which makes the customer feel comfortable.

Failing to have effective escalation processes in place

While it’s perfectly understandable that you will want to resolve IT help desk queries at the first point of contact if at all possible, putting excessive pressure on agents to achieve this can be counterproductive as it can lead to delays which frustrate both agents and customers. Set clear guidelines on what is to be escalated to whom, by what channel and in what circumstances.

IT Helpdesk ticketing system open source