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Understanding the Help Desk: Five Inaccurate Perceptions of Customers

12/12/2011 by: The SunView Team

Some of the most popular topics we cover here on the ITSM Lens relate to the Help Desk. From discussions about the Help Desk's place in an organization, to tips on how to better understand and improve customer interactions.
In many cases the place we've most often seen vast improvement, and even made strides ourselves, is changing the typical perception of the Help Desk. Today, we see this as the management of relationships between customers and service providers. Taking that even a step further, we should view these customers as clients - individuals that have a direct affect on the profitability of our business.
Of course, talking theory and establishing benchmarks for interactions are steps in the process to improving any part of an organization. That said, before we head that direction, let's look at what really shapes the moment-to-moment interactions at any desk - be it Help, Service, and / or Support.
Listed below (after the break) are five, preconceived perceptions technical staff will often have when interacting with their users clients. In most cases these are incorrect, and even when they are correct, it is still the primary function of the Help Desk to understand and resolve the issue. Think about these, as well as some your team tends to have.

50 Questions for Building ITSM Requirements

My Help Desk Client
Hates the Help Desk
While some think this is true (we even wrote an article on it), our feeling is that those that truly hate the help desk are few and far between. I know this because I've seen more happy clients - those genuinely grateful for being helped through an issue - than those just trying to give me a hard time. The small percentage of that, even after solving their problem give no thanks, is few and far between. Remember, ultimately everyone wants the same thing - resolution.
Lacks Technical Ability
I admit that perhaps a couple decades ago, when technology had not invaded every aspect of our lives, there may be a larger portion of clients that found technology cumbersome or ineffective. However, in a time when even your mother has a Facebook account and uses Netflix, clients understand a lot more than what you may think. As part of your process for understanding your client's issue, be sure to include questions that can measure and gauge their technical ability. Plus, don't forget to note that for others to see as well.
Doesn't Feel Like Working
Who does? Given unlimited resources, only the most dedicated of human beings would choose to spend their limited time on the planet working. That's not to say your client's are using the Help Desk as a way to get out of work. Be sure to treat every issue as legitimate, and important. If their wasting your time, it will be very apparent. The reporting component of your Service Desk Software solution will quickly identify those that abuse the service.
Caused the Issue
I have spent a lot of time working in software development, and managing incoming incident requests. While I often wanted to believe the client had done something on purpose, in most cases, the issue was caused by a change we had made. To make matters worse, even when there wasn't a problem, poor communication of a change resulted in unnecessary communication with the Help Desk. While there is potential for sabotage in today's workplace, it's highly unlikely. Besides, if they have made changes - your Change Management solution is tracking them and providing an easy platform to communicate them as well - at least it should be .
Isn't Anything Like Me
Ultimately, that client is a lot more like you than you think. At the very least, they have goals and expectations they must meet. Not being able to utilize essential systems means they can't perform their duties - something that has consequences for them as well. For every moment they spend trying to resolve the issue, necessary functions aren't being performed. It will take some empathy, but you really need to put yourself in your client's shoes. They want the issue resolved quickly and correctly too. Take that a step further, and think about what ways you may be able to automate some common interactions and services they need. Then, make sure they have a front end for getting to these services - ITIL recommends a Service Catalog .
Image: Flickr | Dimitri N.