What Is Help Desk Software Anyway? Helpdesk Explained
Wed, 26 Dec 2018, in Help Desk
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When you run a company, you need to talk with customers using something other than an ordinary email account. That’s where the words “help desk” come in. They refer to a place that customers can turn to get assistance from you.
Help desk software emerged as a way to manage online communication, which later encompassed to involve email, phone, self-service (knowledge base, feedback management, community), and even social media. While a mouthful, it’s difficult to visualize the benefits of such a tool. You might be wondering…
What is help desk software used for?
Ultimately, help desk software’s main task is to streamline your communication. What if there’s nothing wrong with the way you communicate? Ah, but there’s so much more to it! The right tool can help you save a mountain of time, money and keep you at the top of your efficiency & productivity curve. It can also help you identify trouble areas and improve on your support process. A helpdesk may be worth looking into if:
- you want to build a relationship with your recipient and ensure they are satisfied.
- you want to bring all requests into one system, or collect additional information with every conversation.
- you want to keep track of specific conversations, file them away, or call them up as quickly as possible.
Who does it help?
A helpdesk software helps everyone, whatever side of the conversation they’re on. Whether it’s your audience, your coworkers, partners or a customer base – at least one of them will expect a speedy and convenient answer to their request.
If you silo information within your team, you are at a particular risk of worsening data retrieval and information sharing. This is another area where a service desk system can can help.
How does it work?
It would be appropriate to think of a helpdesk not as customer service software (which is an ambiguous term), but as an email client on steroids. When a customer, a stakeholder, or team member contacts you, you can minimize the time it takes to answer them, while maximizing the chances your recipient stays satisfied.
Of course, if you run a company that must deal with external support requests as well as internal issues, you can do things like escalate tickets, restrict them to specific teams, or have them routed behind the scenes.
Is a helpdesk right for me?
Individuals or small businesses don’t usually have the resources to optimize, adjust and reflect on how they communicate. They also don’t have a pressing need to monitor all possible channels or examine how they perform over time.
When we talk about communication channels, we mean email, phone calls, feedback and documentation management. Before you decide what channels are right for you, you need to do some investigating, including:
- what your audience wants
- what’s right for the organization
- what your team (including yourself) wants
- what your workflow and support paths are
Get into the habit of periodically asking yourself these questions and reviewing your support process. You may not need a service desk software now, but what about five months from now? If it ain’t broke, you may not need to fix it – but there comes a time where the pains of switching greatly outweigh the creeping costs of not doing anything.
If you’re an individual…
Virtually all of us use email. With Gmail as great as it is, for especially busy individuals, that may not be enough. Some of us simply can’t function without Trello, Evernote or some other personal management tool constantly running on the pone.
That’s why busy, chronic emailers could realize massive benefits from a helpdesk system. For example, they can pull information about their recipient from other tools.
Signs you should switch:
- you can’t keep track of conversation threads easily
- you don’t know what individuals are contacting you
- you want to get a bird’s eye view of conversations or recipients
If you’re a business…
Any organization worth its salt knows it can’t grow if certain tools (like an email client) are causing bottlenecks. This could be caused by ineffective organizational or operational processes, and a regular review can point out these shortcomings.
Signs you should switch:
- you spend too much time searching for a specific ticket
- you start forgetting certain tickets, or what happened to them
- you get complaints from your customers about support
How is help desk software for collaboration?
Maybe the nature of your activity demands working together as one. Maybe there are times when you can’t handle all the requests aimed at your inbox. Maybe you need to bring in some temporary help.
Maybe your requests are not always aimed at a particular person. You need more customization – such as giving team members their own default views, signature manager and notification options.
Maybe your operation relies on multiple people working together, splitting responsibility, and perhaps even ticket visibility. This sort of flexibility allows you to truly design your support system workflows that stand the test of time.
What if I’m a one-man operation?
A ticketing system means something different for everyone, based on the structure and needs of the business, department and team. But what if you’re a one-man show?
In either case, a ticketing system is specifically built for easing up communication loads. Have you ever felt that you can’t keep up with requests? Do you find yourself doing a lot of repetitive actions? Do you feel exhausted after a day of support?If you find yourself answering yes to these questions, you should consider investing in help desk software.
It goes even further than that. For example, you can set multiple customer service mailboxes and automate things like tag adding and behind the scenes ticket routing.
Can I use a it as personal email?
You most certainly can!
If you’re used to using Gmail, Outlook or a similar software, you may find it strange to switch to something else. Aside from looking and feeling just like your favorite email client, there are other reasons that may drive you to switch:
- It makes it easier to stay accountable, manage your time, and assess the importance of every message.
- Finally take control of your messages. Customize how your messages look and feel to your recipient.
- Keep track of what person, what organization is contacting you and divide your recipients into groups.
What are the different types of help desk out there?
The term “help desk” is an umbrella category encompassing many other systems. It’s a term that can be used interchangeably to refer to service management, IT request management or issue tracking. Customer service software all come in different shapes and sizes, usually designed to work in a particular industry or be part of a specific problem process.
For example, there are remotely hosted systems:
Web Help Desk
A web help desk is hosted online, usually used by a company on a subscription basis. Its advantages are ease of scaling up, with maintenance and upgrades not borne by the customer.
Cloud Help Desk
A cloud help desk is a web help desk that is built for scale. That means no limitations when it comes to space, users, number of tickets or bandwidth loads. Most SaaS software are cloud-based.
Systems part of IT departments or deliver IT services:
A good way of thinking of a help desk being for customers and service desks for internal teams. These sometimes overlap, since a help desk can accommodate both internal staff and end users.
IT Help Desk
IT Teams must typically rely on a ticketing system which is able to manage the ticket’s stages, establishing and assigning SLA (service agreements) for a specified level of service.
Systems with higher level features and specific capabilities:
Small Business Help Desk
A small business support desk at first glance doesn’t stray too far from your email client. Yet, they can contain multiple inboxes or be multi-channel, helping you manage conversations from various sources.
Enterprise Help Desk
An enterprise helpdesk has even more flexibility than a small business helpdesk. It’s more feature-packed and customizable than a basic service desk and is able to integrate with your existing systems and processes.
Systems requiring programming knowledge and more control:
Open Source Help Desk
Usually free, this type of software offers open access to its code. This is preferred by organizations that have programming know-how and desire to customize their system by modifying its code.
On Premise Help Desk
An on premise ticketing system or service desk gets hosted and maintained locally on the customer’s servers. It may require the customer to pay a vendor a one-time fee or a recurring support fee.
What about free help desk software?
At first glance, it may seem like free support software will give you the best of both worlds: A more beefed-up email client with no cost to boot. Whether that’s the right path to take depends on your customers, your team, your product, and your organization.
As you’re narrowing down your choices during a free trial, you’ll likely come across a totally free help desk. Consider why it may be free. Companies that establish free tools often combine a complex strategy to ensure that non-paying customers are convinced to upgrade. This could mean a prohibitively limiting feature set, advertisements, and crippling restrictions that could grow like a thorn in the side.
Take for example copy-pasting workflows or guides from an Excel sheet. Winging it yourself, it could be a small inconvenience. With a larger team, this could affect everything, from productivity, to team morale, and end up costing the company a lot more than just a few dollars a month in paid plans.
As your team and customer base grows, you’ll be invariably faced with the issue of scale. Consider a free tool’s limits in support, maintenance and customization options. Such limits can impact your customer service and customer satisfaction rather quickly. If you don’t examine all your support software properly, you’ll find that selecting the wrong one will lead to more headaches and (maybe even) going through the selection process all over again.
What should look for when picking help desk software?
Prioritize the right overall fit between your organization and software. Make a list of your must-haves. Visit the vendor’s website or contact them with a list of your requirements to see how they stack up.
How is data managed? Make a list of what matters to you and what you want to measure:
- User Management
- Ticket management
- Organization management
- Knowledge Management
- Ticket & article tag management
- Activity, history, spam tools
- Integration with website
Look for a good interface. What do great ones have in common? A great UI is easy on the eyes. It’s also easy to get a hang of and start using immediately. When trialing the UI, consider the following:
- All the commands are exactly where they’re needed
- A command’s perceived function corresponds to its actual function
- When a function is performed, it can quickly be reverted or cancelled
What are the metrics you want to keep track of? Consider what you can measure and report on in your service desk as time goes on.
- Metrics by date range and support quantity
- Frequent workflows, tags and commands
- Support staff productivity and loads
- Customer satisfaction measurement
Researching software comparisons and reviews
As you’re evaluating, remember to do your own research, such as checking message boards, talking to your coworkers, competitors and even clients about support software they may be using. Last but, don’t dismiss review sites. Wading through reviews may seem like an uphill battle, yet they usually give an honest first-person account of using and living with a helpdesk solution.
Here are some tips:
- What do the positive reviews say? What types of customers leave them? Are they tech startups, or businesses in a certain field of work?
- How did reviewers deal with scale? Are they happy with how their help desk performed? Consider things like speed, downtime and the frequency of updates, fixes and the like.
- Don’t get fixated on negative reviews too much. Try to understand why someone left a certain review and what problem they were trying to solve with their system.
Making the most of your decision
Before you actually settle down on your software, make sure you go through your requirement checklist with your support teams, department leads and even customers.
To help you out, we created a short 15-step guide complete with questions you could ask yourself to kick start your support software selection process.
Psst…Check out Helprace!
We wouldn’t want to conclude without recommending the system we’ve painstakingly built ourselves! Helprace is used by tens of thousands of businesses and individuals to offer better customer service. It’s made for scale, dependability and most importantly, ease of use.
But don’t take our word for it. Simply sign up for a free trial and see for yourself (We know it takes a long time to get a large team or customers on board, so feel free to ask us for an extension anytime).
Tags: help desk