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How can IT create the most efficient help desk possible?

When users run into issues that make them turn to the IT help desk, they expect quick, efficient service that gets them back to work. That starts with easy access to IT resources.

To run the most efficient help desk possible, IT must set the help desk staff up to resolve end-user issues as quickly and efficiently as possible.

An important strategy for creating a more efficient help desk is to provide users with a single point of entry, such as an online portal, for accessing all help desk resources, including information, tools and contacts. The portal should make it as easy as possible for users to request support and follow up on those requests without jumping through too many hoops.

Set users up for self-help

One of the most valuable resources the portal can offer is an extensive knowledge base that includes information for helping users resolve issues on their own. The knowledge base might include FAQs, usage tips, training sessions, how-to instructions, troubleshooting steps, best practices, checklists and more. IT should monitor incoming help desk requests and create content as appropriate. IT might also encourage users to submit documents to the knowledge base that describe how they addressed particular issues.

In addition, the portal should provide users with access to tools such as self-service forms, advanced search features and whatever else they need to resolve issues on their own. The portal might also offer internal chat or social networking capabilities, depending on an organization's needs and available resources.

The goal is to learn exactly what users are thinking so the help desk staff can respond accordingly.

An efficient help desk should also have an automated process in place for tracking and routing support tickets. It should integrate the ticketing system into the portal so users have a self-service mechanism for opening support tickets. Users should also be able to check the status of their tickets at any time. In addition, help desk personnel should be able to view a user's previous support tickets for information that might be relevant to a current support issue.

Put the help desk staff in position to succeed

IT should put processes in place to categorize, prioritize and assign various types of support tickets. These processes should be based on business requirements and prevent help desk workers from cherry-picking tickets or disregarding tickets. Doing so should ensure that tickets do not fall through the cracks or remain open longer than they should. The help desk should also have a system for escalating tickets to appropriate personnel and performing other types of incident management, including logging and tracking issues.

To deliver these services effectively, an efficient help desk must have enough workers on staff to properly meet user expectations. Long wait times and lengthy resolution processes only frustrate users and hurt their productivity. IT should also provide help desk staff with the authority and access they need to make decisions and resolve issues quickly, without having to constantly wait on management approval.

It's also important that IT provide the help desk staff with the training they require to deliver the best services possible. Not only should the training include basic information, such as how to use systems and resolve problems, but it should also touch upon issues such as prioritizing tasks and effectively communicating with users.

IT teams should have one or more service-level agreements (SLAs) in place that clearly describe the help desk services they provide, how they prioritize tickets, how long it takes for users to hear back on their support requests and any other information necessary to help everyone in the organization know exactly what to expect.

To this end, IT should also have a way of gathering and measuring performance metrics to ensure that it meets the terms set out in the SLAs and to learn how it can improve its services. In addition, IT should put a system in place for gathering feedback from users about their help desk experiences. The goal is to learn exactly what users are thinking so the help desk staff can respond accordingly.

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