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Help Desk Best Practices, Strategies, & Metrics [2022]

Effective strategies to boost service desk performance, and the metrics to determine success.

Jawad Khan
Technical Writer
November 22, 2022
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Have you ever worked at an organization where you couldn't access your work email on your first day on the job? This is an example of a problem a help desk would solve, and hopefully, in your case, it did.

Help desks are the first point of contact for technical support in the customer service function. Depending on the organization's needs, help desks may also provide technical support to company employees or serve external customers.

As part of a customer success team, you may wonder what the best practices, strategies, and crucial metrics are for your help desk. By spending hundreds of hours studying help desk improvement strategies, we have prepared this article to address these exact questions.

In This Article

8 Help Desk Practices to Ensure Efficiency

Follow these help desk best practices to take your IT service desk to the next level.

1. Implement Help Desk Software

First and foremost, we recommend implementing help desk software for your team to supercharge their performance.

According to Hubspot, 60% of high-growth customer service teams use a help desk system to assist internal and external stakeholders.

Usage of customer service tools

Furthermore, the right help desk software can:

  • Streamline your customer service workflows and processes
  • Optimize workload distribution across the team
  • Ensure compliance and maintain standards
  • Provide security to your IT network by keeping track of connected devices
  • Improve the overall customer and employee experience
  • Provide useful and accurate data to the service desk
  • Help you track and maintain service delivery as defined in the SLA

For more information, have a look at our detailed guide on the best help desk ticketing systems. Here you’ll find a thorough analysis of the benefits, common mistakes, pricing, and other aspects of buying help desk software for your company.

2. Hire the Right Talent

Ultimately, a help desk is just as good as those managing it. Your employees are essential to your help desk strategy, so make sure to hire the right ones.

IT help desk jobs are often entry-level roles. Consequently, your hires will likely be inexperienced and would probably need training for the specific tasks they’re expected to perform. However, the best candidates for help desk roles are people with certain personality traits.

People likely to succeed in help desk jobs exhibit customer focus, patience, good listening skills, and kindness. Your best hires can remain calm and empathetic when dealing with angry customers and employees.

You can also check for relevant qualifications to calculate a potential hire’s chances of success. For example, certifications from Help Desk Institute (HDI), Google, and Udemy illustrate candidates' suitability for help desk roles.

3. Maintain Enough Capacity

Having the right people is only half the job done. To run a help desk effectively, you need to ensure there are enough agents to effectively manage the queries and tickets sent their way.

This is even more important when you have remote employees or a customer base that’s located in various international markets and needs assistance around the clock.

Having the right headcount for your team ensures the help desk is responsive 24/7, on weekends and on holidays without overburdening the agents.

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

A Service Level Agreement (SLA) outlines your service delivery parameters for all the stakeholders. It is a mutual understanding between an organization, its employees, and customers about the level of service you’ll provide.

SLAs help companies set customer expectations and help your team understand the KPIs they need to meet. The result is a better-organized help desk that responds to tickets in a timely manner.

SLAs also help managers measure help desk agent performance and set targets for the future. This is an effective performance management system that highlights the stars as well as the poor performers.

5. Use Pre-Drafted Responses

According to Tata Consultancy, over 32% of businesses around the world have adopted some form of automation or customer service technology. Having pre-drafted responses is a small step towards automation every business should take.

Having a library of pre-written responses saves valuable time for your agents so they can focus on solutions. Better yet, have an AI-enabled help desk software answer common queries for you.

Be it via chatbots, texting apps, or email, help desk software can make it easier for your customers and employees to get the right information as soon as they need it.

You can further improve this process by linking your help desk software with your knowledge base. As a result, your help desk system would be able to link users to relevant articles that can speed up resolution time.

6. Be Available on Multiple Contact Channels

One of the best things you can do to improve employee and customer experience is to be more accessible. Find out which platforms they are using and be available on as many of these platforms as possible.

In addition to the help desk portal, these channels typically include email, live chat, phone, and social media. In fact, experts are now debating whether the role of help desks can be extended to the metaverse.

Furthermore, you can centralize all the multi-channel communication into one place using help desk software. This would make it easier for agents to keep track of conversations and respond to tickets faster.

7. Invest in Growing Your Team’s Knowledge

The best help desks have a culture of continuous improvement. As part of this culture, it’s crucial to invest in improving the knowledge and expertise of your help desk employees.

Well-trained employees are in a better position to resolve more problems on their own instead of escalating them to level two.

We recommend getting employees Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) certified. The ITIL framework is a set of integrated best practices that allows businesses to deliver top-quality IT products efficiently.

8. Focus on First Contact Resolution (FCR)

Research suggests 93% of customers expect their problems to be resolved upon their first contact with a help desk This makes First Contact Resolution a critical metric and best practice.

Bringing your help desk employees up to a level where they can achieve FCR in most of their interactions requires a substantial investment of time and money.

Your team would have to be trained on a wide range of organizational issues before they can start resolving most queries on first contact.

However, it is well worth the effort. Solving employee and customer issues at first contact saves your team’s valuable time, cuts operational costs, and allows them to focus on other important tasks.

6 Strategies to Boost Service Desk Performance

The term “service desk” is often used interchangeably with “help desk”. There’s an important link between the two, but they’re not the same. To learn more, have a look at our article comparing service desks with help desks.

Help DeskService Desk
  • Focuses on end-user
  • Reactive approach
  • Incident management
  • Task-oriented
  • Focuses on objectives of business
  • Proactive approach
  • Organizational optimization
  • Process-oriented

Here are some useful strategies you can adopt to improve the performance of your service desk.

1. Train Your Employees

In 2014, Richard Branson famously said, “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough, so they don't want to.”

A study from Axonify revealed that well-planned training programs improved engagement levels for 92% of employees. This translates into reduced turnover and greater employee satisfaction.

Having service desk employees that are well-trained means they’re in a better position to solve organizational problems, reducing resolution times and avoidable escalations.

2. Continuous Improvement Through Employee Feedback

A culture of continuous improvement requires continuous monitoring and employee feedback. Developing such a system can help you figure out what your employees want from the service desk.

Whether it’s faster resolution times, presence on a particular channel, or more self-service options, design your service desk based on the end user’s needs for the best results.

To encourage easy and instant feedback, you can set up automated triggers in your support software to send feedback surveys to employees after their tickets are closed.

3. Build Synergy With Business Goals

On the face of it, IT support desks seem to be mainly concerned with employee and customer support. But aligning them with business goals can help all the stakeholders involved.

For example, when a new product is launched, or a new marketing campaign is executed, the service desk should be kept in the loop, so they’re prepared for a spike in customer queries.

4. Supercharge Your Service Desk With Software

Having the right software empowering your team can boosts their performance by leaps and bounds.

Implementing an IT service desk software, such as Freshservice or Live Agent, may sound daunting, but there are a number of flexible options available today that can easily be installed and adjusted based on the size and needs of your team.

Depending on your needs, a software solution can assist you with Asset Management, SLAs, Knowledge Management, and other aspects of the IT Service Management (ITSM) framework. The ITSM is a set of conventions that define the end-to-end delivery of IT services to customers.

5. Develop an Internal Knowledge Base

A sure-fire strategy to take your service desk to the next level is to build and continuously update an internal knowledge base.

Having a solid knowledge base not only portrays your organization in a positive light professionally but also empowers users to find answers to common questions on their own and reduce resolution times drastically.

This also means your team gets more time to focus on important issues instead of spending time on clerical tasks.

6. Develop Robust Escalation and Handoff Processes

A robust escalation process goes a long way in building an efficient service desk. When escalation processes are clearly defined, every agent knows which tickets to escalate and which ones to resolve on their own.

Similarly, well-defined handoff processes ensure no tickets go unanswered even when certain agents are on leave.

The Top 3 Metrics to Measure Help Desk Success

Implementing help desk best practices and strategies can only take you so far if you don’t continuously measure and optimize for performance.

Help desk metrics are Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that help you understand and compare the performance of your help desk over a defined period of time.

Here are the three help desk metrics you can measure to stay ahead of the curve.

1. Ticket Resolution Rate

Formula to calculate Ticket Resolution Rate

The Ticket Resolution Rate highlights an agent’s ability to resolve issues by taking into account the number of tickets received vs tickets resolved by an agent.

In other words, this metric shows the percentage of issues an agent resolves out of the total they receive.

Formula

The formula for Ticket Resolution Rate is as follows:

(Total number of tickets solved / Total number of tickets assigned) x 100

2. Average Resolution Time

Formula to calculate average resolution time

This is the average amount of time it takes for an agent to resolve a customer’s problem. Average Resolution Time includes the time it takes an agent to open and respond to a reported issue and goes all the way to the closure of the ticket.

Formula:

Total resolution time / Total number of tickets resolved = Average Resolution Time

3. First Response Time

First Response Time is the time it takes for an agent to respond to a ticket after it’s been posted. In other words, this is an indication of the amount of time a customer or and employee has to wait for an agent to answer their query.

TL;DR

When implemented correctly, help desk best practices allow organizations to save thousands of dollars and man-hours annually. The way you treat customers after you sell them your product can often mean the difference between repeat purchases and losing a customer permanently.

Similarly, help desks serve a crucial function for internal stakeholders. From helping new employees settle down, to solving daily technical issues, to providing valuable data to the service desk. Help desks add tactical as well as strategic value to the organization.

Following help desk best practices and tracking the performance of your team using the right help desk metrics are great ways to improve your customer and employee experience. If done right, it can boost employee engagement and win you internal and external brand advocates for life.

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Jawad Khan

Jawad is a marketing major and content creator with over a decade of work experience with B2B, SaaS, and eCommerce companies including HubSpot, Shopify, Loom, and SEMRush. He also shares his thoughts about entrepreneurship and self-employment on his blog and Twitter.

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