IT Help Desk: 8 signs you’ve left it too long
Every day you answer IT queries from users, but you’re starting to think there has to be a better way.
First of all, you also have other things to take care of, and second, you have the sneaking suspicion that the problem is getting worse by the day: queries keep coming hard and fast, you find yourself re-typing the same answers over and over again, and you’re not sure which queries have been satisfactorily answered and which are still pending.
The obvious, #1 red flag that tells you you should choose an IT help desk asap is: customer queries are not getting answered, or not in a timely fashion. Cue irate customers, lost contracts and lots of stress for yourself.
Can this really be avoided simply with the right IT help desk? Why, yes, yes it can. But choosing an IT help desk can also boost other aspects of your job.
Here are the 8 signs you might have left it too long before selecting an IT help desk:
1. You have no easy, click-of-a-button way of tracking whether somebody has been in touch before and what was said to them.
The problem: emails from customers are redirected to your team’s inboxes. As a result, exchanges with customers are all over the place. Two different team members might answer two different emails from the same customer, even if these customer emails are all related to the same problem.
If the customer can sense Person B has only a very vague idea of how Person A handled a given problem only a few hours ago, that doesn’t look very professional.
The answer: most IT help desks allow customers to send as many emails as they want - to their heart’s content! - but everything pertaining to one customer will be consolidated in one place: their emails, your answers. When a new query arrives from this customer, whoever logs on to answer it will see all the back-and-forth, as well as action logs of any and all steps taken to resolve that query.
2. You know you should write an FAQ page or buyer’s guide, but information is all over the place and you don’t have the time or the inclination to write the FAQ.
Déjà-vu: you find yourself typing a detailed, step-by-step email to a client - and it’s the umpteenth time you’ve answered the exact same query with very similar words. You’re torn: do you cut it short and pick up the phone to guide the client? Or do you continue to painstakingly spell out every little step in your already long-winded email?
On the phone, it’s faster but your words are lost, never to make it into the FAQ you dream of. By email, it’s going to take you a long time - and then you have no repository of canned responses or FAQs anyway, so where would you put it? You’re not sure what’s worse: having to retype the whole thing again every time, or having to conduct an archeological dig into your “Sent” folder to retrieve the answer you wrote to somebody else.
But when was that already? Last week? Last month?
The answer: choose an IT help desk that allows you to transform your email reply into a different kind of document. Extract the text, compile and consolidate slightly different versions into the best one, all in a few clicks. Instead of having to retype or retrieve a previous answer, share the link to the FAQ with your customer. Even better, the link can be included in the automated email that lets a client know their query has been turned into a help desk ticket.
3. Your team works remotely
The beauty of the Internet is that you can work remotely. The nightmare of the Internet is that… You can work remotely. How do you coordinate and sync with team members who might be in a different city or even a different time zone? How do you let them know what is happening, and how do they let you know what they’re up to?
Please don’t say “by email…”
Because without an IT help desk, it means your inbox is becoming a morass of miscellaneous stuff: FYI emails from a coworker as well as customer requests as well as… well, anything really. Unless you’re the über-disciplined ninja of Inbox Zero, your inbox becomes the place where information and requests go to be forgotten and die a sad, neglected death.
The answer: an IT help desk lets you know in real time who’s available to answer queries and who’s already working on what. You can leave socialising for other channels (and by all means keep it!), but you’ll never have to wade through irrelevant chit-chat when you’re looking for a crucial client update (“Hey, how are things, how was your weekend, by the way about that bug…”). Chit-chat is essential for team cohesion, yes, but you don’t need to reference it - as you might a common query or a status update.
4. You realise you’re spending your days in your inbox
The problem: well, you could see this one coming a mile off, couldn’t you? If clients are emailing their requests, and if co-workers email theirs, you’re shackled to your inbox. It’s a hamster wheel of “fire off an answer, answer some other email, go back to the first one because you received a reply”, etc., etc. When do you manage to actually get any work done? Ahem, we won’t force you to answer this one.
You’re not an information router. There is more to your life than shunting around little bits of information, only to end up where you started.
The answer: move things out of your inbox as much as possible. If it’s not in an email, you can do away with niceties and get to work already. When you receive notification that something needs doing, you can just do it and have all the info at your fingertips (remember those client logs from #1?) instead of having to ask for confirmation that the situation is as you remember it, or, again, instead of having to chase down that email from weeks ago.
5. Things fall through the cracks, balls are dropped: info communicated to clients should also be communicated to development team, but you have to remember to do it as it’s not automated.
See: spending your days in your inbox. If you answer email B while waiting for an answer to email A, and then move on to email C, X, and M - at some point you’re bound to forget to let correspondent C know about email D because you’re still waiting on email B before you can confirm Z to correspondent C. Are you still with me? Of course not, because our brains just don’t work that way.
The answer: like your mother used to say (sorry), “A place for everything and everything in its place”. Streamline processes: instead of doing X and then having to remember to tell all and sundry that you just took care of X, just do X already and the automated log will let others know: coworkers as well as customers.
6. Knowledge isn’t consolidated in one place and is scattered all over the place in Google Docs and in people’s inboxes.
The problem: the infamous “What if you were hit by a bus?” And no, this doesn’t only concern the need to wear clean underwear, as your granny used to remind you.
The question is, where is knowledge stored in your organisation?
If it’s in somebody else’s inbox or in their head, it’s not always easy to retrieve. Unfortunately it will take a few years before we can whip out our handy consciousness readers just like we whip out our handy SD card readers. If info is stored in your head, nobody else can access it but you (and perhaps Derren Brown, but that’s a story for another time). Rogue buses notwithstanding, you might be away or asleep or in a meeting when a coworker needs to access a crucial piece of info that only you have.
The answer: IT help desks provide the ideal container for all those bits of IT knowledge. Not just technical knowledge, but “the way we do things here”, and “who usually takes care of what”. Your help desk software becomes the vault where everything is neatly stacked and instantly accessible by everybody (everybody with the appropriate login and password, anyway).
7. Either too many people rush to answer a query, or nobody does, thinking somebody else is taking care of it
The problem: when everybody comes in in the morning, rearing to go, everybody jumps on requests. When people take breaks or go for lunch… requests are left languishing. The emails that accumulated in your inbox while you were out can’t tell you whether somebody else has also received them and whether they’ve been acted on. Do you assume somebody is on it? But what if they aren’t? Do you jump right in? But what if it’s already been taken care of? It’s like London buses: you wait for half an hour, nothing comes, and then three turn up at the same time.
The answer: The right IT help desk can queue and route requests at the right time, because it knows who is logged in and available to answer a query. The system lets you know what is pending, what is being taken care of, what has already been resolved, and takes out the guesswork.
8. You think it’s just a matter of trying harder and being more disciplined, like remembering to forward feature requests to the right team member, or remembering to copy-paste email exchanges into the Google Doc for FAQs.
The problem: “Trying harder”. Yeah. We all need to do that someday, don’t we? Try harder to try harder. One day, we will all have otherworldly self-discipline, we will all stick to that diet and get those abs of steel, and we’ll ride into the sunset.
Until then, we’re normal human beings and proud of it: sometimes we’re overwhelmed, sometimes we’re forgetful, sometimes we’re confused. We need a system that is none of these things.
The answer: if we regularly fail to stick to any regimen - it’s the fault of the regimen. You need a foolproof, failproof system, one that doesn’t rely on you always being in top form and fully rested to function. When you select an IT help desk that does all this, you don’t need to keep remembering (and keep forgetting) a laundry list of to-do’s. You can sit at your computer, log on to the software and ask it “Just tell me what to do already!”.
Do what you do best: solve people’s problems, and you can leave all the rest (compiling information, generating tickets and notifications, keeping everybody up to date, triaging and routing help requests) to your IT help desk.
Sounds good? Why not give Planio a try?