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5 Missing Functions That Could Kill Your Help Desk

03/28/2012 by: The SunView Team

When it comes to working on, or managing, a help / service desk, numbers can tell us everything. Even the most basic of systems in place can provide a fair amount of data to make decisions about how your team is fairing in regard to meeting the expectations of the business.

Items that start to stand out, as well as those that tend to draw the attention of leadership within the organization, have a tendency to revolve around ticket (incident, problem, and request) volume, and overall resolution times. Of course, both of these are important criteria, but the focus seems to be on keeping them as low as possible.

Now you are probably thinking that's exactly how it should be. To some degree, you are right. It is completely reasonable thinking, especially if your responsibilities on the help / service desk lean towards, or are completely focused on, management. However, low response times and ticket volume can have a hidden truth; the value of your help / service desk is being destroyed by non-essential requests.

Ultimately, the help desk should be adding value to the business, not simply passing requests through. In order for teams to feel like they are making a difference, they will need to face challenges, and resolve complex issues. They'll need frequent and regular training to understand the constantly changing IT environment. In a sense, they'll need to do a lot more than simply be drowned in password reset requests and training issues. If we don't, the help desk, and the team that staffs it is at risk of a slow, painful death. In the end, to management, this means a vast amount of time, money, and knowledge will be lost by attrition.

So, if our goal is to keep help / service desk teams alive, happy, and challenged, we need to know what may be killing them. Below we've included a list of five of the most common points that tend to leach life, or rather, five missing functions that could kill your help desk. While there are certainly many more, changing, or at least improving items in these areas will have almost immediate impact. The main caveat is that many of these will require a modern IT Service Management solution, with at least a Service Desk and Service Catalog components. If your current ITSM tool does not have these options, check out our latest Getting Started Guide: 25 Requirements for a Service Desk Solution. Click the banner below to grab this free resource.

Customer Communication
In some instances, Outlook is the brains of a Help / Service Desk operation. While this isn't a case against the value of one of Microsoft's flagship communication tool, it really starts to lack in making sure the consistent communication is maintained with those submitting an issue. In fact, the frequency to which tickets and responses can get lost, quickly degrades the perception of the team. You'll want to make sure you have a solution that can track incoming tickets, and outgoing responses. In the end, being able to quickly find and identify key pieces of communication will help everyone involved.

SLA Automation
Meeting the thresholds and established guidelines of an SLA are often the driving force behind any help / service desk. However, it's easy for a team to be working furiously on resolving and issue, and be completely unaware they are starting to approach a point where an escalation is necessary. While the team keeps working, it's easy to be sidelined by an angry manager with SLA in hand. Prevent this by having your system automatically escalate issues to the appropriate channels when necessary.

Form Customization
The needs of the business can change, and sometimes additional, or new, information is needed when a request is submitted. If forms can't be easily customized, or adjusted to meet these changes, the help / service desk team ends up asking for this information every time a request comes through. No one wants to do that, and often because the customer did not know the information was required, they won't have it with them, and are in no way inclined to include it automatically.

Self Service
From password resets, to general service requests, users should have access to the help desk twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Without options that allow customers to perform or request the most routine items, the help desk team ends up answering the same questions over and over. That doesn't add value, just wears everyone out. Taking that a step further, the ability to add access to knowledge base articles, as well as customize the access and visibility of available service will greatly alleviate common pain points for help / service desk teams.

Compiling reports from raw email data is like a death by a thousand tiny cuts. Save everyone on the help /service desk and utilize reporting that is easily and automatically created and distributed. They should also come from a vast amount of historical data which has been captured since the moment the incident or request came through.