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BLOG: 10 tips for tidying up your IT help desk

Doug Hibberd | Oct. 1, 2012
The two most important goals of any IT department are improving end-user satisfaction and lowering costs.

Doug Hibberd, Solarwinds
Photo: Doug Hibberd, EVP Engineering and General Manager (Asia Pacific), SolarWinds

An IT help desk is a critical interface between a company's users and the organisation itself, and keeping it proficient, organised and up-to-date is a dream for most companies. A lot of organisations struggle with making it a business priority usually because of budget and time constraints. However, turning a blind eye and letting the help desk spiral into chaos can be potentially harmful, resulting in a poor reputation for IT and a potentially ineffective company.

A quick Internet search for help desk best practices will yield literally hundreds of results all touting more or less the same points. Instead of regurgitating these same pointers, I want to discuss the most regularly promoted best practices in the context of what should be the two most important goals of any IT department: improving end-user satisfaction and lowering costs.

Some argue that these two goals are mutually exclusive and that one can only be attained at the expense of the other. In truth, they are complementary and even necessary to one another. The fastest way to both improve end-user satisfaction and lower costs is to reduce trouble ticket resolution times.

The following 10 tips provide a strategy outline to achieving these goals:

1. Hire the right people
This point might seem too obvious to even mention, but time and again, IT and help desk managers use the wrong strategy when hiring help desk analysts. When hiring, managers should look for candidates who are empathetic, patient, and articulate. Notice that having great tech skills wasn't mentioned. Having tech skills is certainly important, but those can be taught. In contrast, managers simply cannot teach someone how to be empathetic. Hiring techs with these qualities is the key to end-user satisfaction and end-user satisfaction is one of the keys to reducing trouble ticket resolution times.

2. Provide training and constant feedback
If managers employ the hiring strategy from the first point, they will necessarily need to provide training to their staffs. It is important to keep help desk staff up to date on new releases of software and hardware they support. Certification programs like MCITP and support frameworks like ITIL are also great ways to improve skillsets and they enhance employee satisfaction by bolstering their credentials. It is also important to provide constant feedback to help desk analysts. Don't wait until their annual reviews to tell them they are doing things right or wrong. Feedback and training help techs become more proficient at their jobs, and proficient techs help lower costs while providing great end-user support.

 

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