When team members at Montgomery County Memorial Hospital in Red Oak, Iowa began using the overhead paging system to get help with IT issues, administrators knew they needed a help desk software solution.
Unfortunately, it’s not always that obvious.
In the best of times, a help desk is going to be a stressful place for everyone, “It’s understandable that users get upset, frustrated, or even afraid if their systems have malfunctioned, email isn’t working, or their mobile device was stolen,” writes Boston-area Network/Systems Administrator Scott Matteson.
Software can alleviate some of that stress.
Here are some signs it’s time for your organization to upgrade to help desk software.
Walking up to team members is no longer realistic.
“Previously, we could walk up to people and deal with problems,” Aaron Bockelie, a Senior Systems Administrator at Warner Bros Games, said. “Then the company grew and the user-to-technician ratio became overwhelming very quickly and we knew we needed a more structured help desk tool.” Bockelie was also under pressure to document all processes the company used.
When teams are small, it’s easy to ensure your teammate sees a report. But when staff is spread over time zones and geographies, a centralized system for tracking who is dealing with what is essential.
Manual updates also become cumbersome at a certain staff size. A helpdesk system can keep people in the loop with automated email correspondence and assure people
that their issue has been logged and is being dealt with.
You’re still using an antiquated system (like paper).
Them: ‘Could you fax over a copy?’
Me: ‘No, I can’t fax because of where I live’
Them: ‘Where do you live?’
Me: ‘The 21st century’
Don’t be that guy.
Also don’t be the person who asks someone to repeat their problem just because you didn’t have a centralized system to catch it the first time.
“If you want to make callers mad, ask them to do something a previous technician already did or ask them for information they gave on the last call,” writes Justin James at TechRepublic. “The real steamer? Asking them to tell you what the problem is. This kind of aggravation can usually be avoided by reading the ticket notes. If the notes are unclear or incomplete, you need to have a talk with the person who wrote them, and if that does not do the trick, you need to speak with his or her supervisor.”
You can make it rain (with tickets).
At lower volumes manual processing, prioritization, and tracking of issues, though inefficient, is tolerable. But at a certain point, the volume cries out for a better system.
Since implementing help desk software, “Our staff simply accesses the Portal, fills out the request form, and submits it,” said Claudia Durussel Baeriswyl, head of business development at University Hospital Basel. “It’s a very transparent process with all of the information saved in one place, and it gives our management teams a tool for selecting and steering requests.”
Justin James, Lead Architect at Conigent and Wodify, recommends each ticket contain the following information:
- Who you spoke with
- Why they called this time
- What procedures were performed, the results, error codes, etc.
- Any parts that were used, the serial numbers, and so on
- What actions the caller is to take before calling back and why
- What actions the help desk is supposed to take, and why and when
- When the help desk is supposed to contact the caller, and by what means, or whether the caller is supposed to call back
Software helps rank inquiries and classify them by priority. In addition, ticket macros automate filling out fields.
As ticket volumes grow, accountability and measurement becomes harder as well. But a help desk software system stores ticket history. This history enable reports which reveal where holdups and inefficiencies remain, whether they be equipment, training, or individuals.
“Vivantio [help desk software] allows us to generate reports quickly and easily,” said Duncan Malthouse-Hobbs, Head if IT at the Royal Academy of Music. “Data can be outputted to Excel or a PDF very simply and for the first time we have been able to monitor and also meet Service Level Agreements. The system has dramatically improved our resolution times.”
Software can help.
Having issues with your technology is always going to be stressful. But software can greatly cut down on how stressful it has to be.
You know you need to invest when walking up to team members is no longer realistic, you’re still using an antiquated system, and the only way you’re making it rain is with numerous, disorganized tickets.
Montgomery County Memorial Hospital ended up choosing IssueTrak, and were pleased with the choice. “Hands-down, the ease of use of IssueTrak and what it can do for our departments is phenomenal. It’s very flexible and very easy to integrate,” Help Desk Coordinator Ron Drake said. “We can use one solution for all our needs.”
Figure out what you need.
Besides the basic functions, many help desk systems offer advanced features. Some have live chat capabilities, others are brandable, and offer help sections which host videos. While these flashy features are enticing, make sure the system you select handles the basics, first.
- Ensuring issues are correctly logged, assigned, and actioned within a dedicated tracking process system
- Transferring issues to the appropriate department for resolution
- Making it easy to know that the correct support staffer has seen an employee’s report
- Allowing employees to log in and track the progress of their ticket
- Maintaining a central database of client details, helpdesk history and resolution tools
Additionally, you’ve got to decide which system to choose in part based on what reports it can run, and what systems it can integrate with. For example, if your office uses Google Apps, don’t get a software solution which only integrates with Microsoft 365.