Help desk operation
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Help Desk Operation. Introduction. Learning Objectives. Describe a help desk and a typical help desk organization Describe the call management process Explain how hardware and software tools are used to manage calls Describe the concerns of help desk managers Describe help desk trends.

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Help desk operation l.jpg

Help Desk Operation


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Learning Objectives

  • Describe a help desk and a typical help desk organization

  • Describe the call management process

  • Explain how hardware and software tools are used to manage calls

  • Describe the concerns of help desk managers

  • Describe help desk trends

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What Is a Help Desk?

  • A method of supplying user support services that provides a single point of contact for a company’s customers or employees

  • Goal: To provide customer satisfaction by effectively and efficiently resolving problems and questions

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Multi-level Support Model

  • Each level is staffed by a person of different skills

  • Help desks prefer to handle as many calls as they can at the lowest possible level in the support hierarchy

  • Also called frontline/backline model

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Multi-level Support Model

Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4

Support Support Support Support

Customer Call Product Technical Support

Screener Specialists Support Manager

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The Call Management Process

  • A well-defined, formal procedure that help desk staff members to:

    • Handle calls

    • Get information users need or solve their problems

    • Close the calls

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The Call Management Process

User Help Desk

4. Log

5. Screen

6. Prioritize

7. Assign

8. Track

9. Escalate

10. Resolve

11. Close

12. Archive

1. Receive

2. Prescreen

3. Authenticate

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1 Receive the call

2Prescreen the call

3 Authenticate the call

4 Log the call

5 Screen the call

6 Prioritize the call

7 Assign the call

8 Track the call

9 Escalate the call

10 Resolve the call

11 Close the call

12 Archive the call

Steps in the Call Management Process

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1. Receive the Call

  • Common call receiving activities

    • May use a specific script

    • Warning that the call may be monitored

    • Apology for any wait time

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2. Prescreen the Call

  • A filtering process to determine how the help desk staff will handle the call

  • Call screener may be able to handle simple request for information

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3. Authenticate the Call

  • Determines whether help desk staff are authorized to handle a call

  • Usually includes checking product registrations and support service contracts

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4. Log the Call

  • Begins to document the call and its related problem

  • Only basic information is recorded

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5. Screen the Call

  • Categorizes and describes the call

  • Categories

    • Request for information that could not be handled during prescreening

    • Question

    • Problem

    • Complaint

    • Work order

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6. Prioritize the Call

  • Priority code

    • Indicates how serious the problem is for users

    • High priority calls are usually serious problems that affect a large number of users

  • First-in, first-out (FIFO) basis

  • Queue

    • A waiting line into which incoming calls are placed when they cannot be answered immediately

    • May be queues for different products, customers, or levels of support

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7. Assign the Call

  • When help desk staff cannot respond to a call directly, they assign it to another who can most quickly and effectively:

    • Provide the information

    • Respond to the request

    • Solve the problem

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8. Track the Call

  • Updates information about a call as it is processed and as information is added to the call record

  • Provides important input to:

    • Measure the quality of call management

    • Evaluate employee performance

    • Identify staff training needs

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9. Escalate the Call

  • Transfers a call to a higher level of support that has a greater ability or resources to handle more difficult questions

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10. Resolve the Call

  • User’s problem has been solved or information has been provided

  • Sometimes a complaint is referred to product designers as a suggestion for the next product revision cycle

  • Doesn’t necessarily mean the customer is completely satisfied

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11. Close the Call

  • Leads toward termination of a call

  • May include:

    • Review of the solution

    • Mutual agreement that a solution has been reached

    • Invitation to call back

    • Final entries in a call management database

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12. Archive the Call

  • Archive

    • A special database designed to store and retain copies of closed calls

  • Knowledgebase

    • A database that contains instances of problems that have been successfully resolved

    • Can be searched in future problem-solving situations

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Help Desk Technology and Tools

  • Impact of automation on help desk industry

    • Help desk software packages: Manage volume of transactions

    • Computer telephony: Integrates telephone and computer technology

    • Physical layout of help desk work area

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Help Desk Software

  • Log and track calls

    • Manage call queues

    • Set call priorities

    • Escalate calls

  • Contact information

    • Store, edit, and recall contact and location information in a database


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Help Desk Software

  • Product information

    • Product features

    • Product limitations

    • New versions

    • Configuration constraints

    • Known bugs

    • Product availability


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Help Desk Software

  • Information resource links

    • External connections to e-mail and Internet resources

    • Internal connections to online help files, product documentation, and problem archives

  • Configuration information

    • Critical to help desk staff who support internal clients


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Help Desk Software

  • Diagnostic utilities

    • Analyze performance of a remote system and look for potential problem areas

  • Solutions knowledgebase

    • Contains information about common problems and their solutions

    • Search strategies based on artificial intelligence

      • Expert systems (sequences of IF-THEN rules)

      • Neural networks (automated learning systems)

      • Case-based reasoning (pattern-matching strategies)


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Help Desk Software

  • Product order entry

    • Order entry capability

    • Can integrate with other business systems, such as shipping and invoicing

  • Customer feedback

    • Level of satisfaction with specific call, problem resolution, or help desk services

    • Captures user feedback and routes information to product designers/engineers


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Help Desk Software

  • Inventory information

    • Inventory and system installation information

  • Service management

    • Warranty information

    • Service history

    • Reminders of next preventive maintenance

  • Telephone system interface

    • Deals with large number of incoming and outgoing calls


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Help Desk Software

  • Statistical reports

    • Predefined reports

      • Number of unclosed calls

      • Average length of time on hold

      • Average length of calls processed

      • Productivity of staff members

      • Inventory control reports

      • Frequently asked questions

  • Customizable interface and reports

    • Augment built-in reports to address specific needs

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Sample Help Desk Software

Main menu, tool bar, and search screen

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Computer Telephony Systems

  • Seamless interface between computer technology and telephone technology

  • Automated Call Distributors (ACD)

    • Automate first steps in call management (answer calls, greet callers, provide menus, route the call)

    • Can collect information about performance of help desk operation and monitor calls

    • Reduce amount of employee time needed to respond to calls and route them to support staff

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Physical Layout of Help Desk Work Areas

  • Desk in a cubicle with one or more computer systems

  • Reference library

  • Headset (freedom of motion)

  • Importance of ergonomic issues

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Managerial Concerns

  • Help desk mission

  • Staffing

  • Training

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Help Desk Mission and Justification

  • Mission statement

    • List of guiding principles that communicates help desk goals to staff, users, and management

    • Often provides criteria against which help desk services can be evaluated

  • Performance statistics

    • Data gathered about help desk operation

    • Provides feedback on performance related to behavioral objectives and customer satisfaction

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Staffing the Help Desk

  • Mission statement

  • Position descriptions

  • Specific knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs)

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KSA Analysis

  • Technical skills

  • Hardware, operating systems, and software familiarity

  • Network background and skills

  • Troubleshooting skills

  • Communications and listening skills

  • Ability to work in a project team

  • Telephone skills

  • Personal characteristics

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Selection Tools

  • Skills test

    • Paper-and-pencil or verbal test

    • Measures knowledge and problem-solving ability

  • Scenario question

    • A role-playing problem in a hypothetical help desk situation

    • Provides insights into problem-solving skills, communications skills, and ability to perform in simulated stressful work situations

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Help Desk Staff Training

  • Orientation to the company

  • Employee benefits information

  • Specific job skill training

  • Company policies and procedures

  • Performance appraisal procedures

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Trends in Help Desk Operations

  • More reliance on electronic mail, the Internet, and remote diagnosis

  • More proactive

  • Better able to anticipate user needs and changes in user service requirements

  • Higher-quality reports and statistical data