The 5 best practices of a high-performing helpdesk

There seem to be two schools of thought around helpdesks. You either look at them as a cost centre or a profit centre. A necessary evil, or a gold-plated opportunity.

Whichever it is, and whatever your industry sector, everyone agrees that the help desk has got to run like a well-oiled machine. Time is the all-important consideration because no customer can be left waiting unnecessarily. Objectives must be met with maximum efficiency.

Another critical factor is purpose.

In other words, deciding what your helpdesk is for. This is less obvious than it might appear.

And yet it is central to motivating your people, optimising help desk technology and setting the right targets.

At Customer Thermometer, we like to think we’ve become helpdesk experts, working with market leaders across a range of vertical sectors to enable strategies that maximise efficiency and customer satisfaction.

The following five pieces of best practice offer a definitive approach to supporting a high-performance helpdesk.

1. Share knowledge internally and externally

Among your helpdesk staff will be a few topic gurus and process ninjas; agents with the most hard-earned nuggets of wisdom and experience of dealing with gnarly problems. Others will be all-rounders or newbies.

In the past, you’d have been tempted to route incoming enquiries accordingly but today’s smart money is on sharing knowledge better to avoid bottlenecks and key-person dependencies.

You can double ROI by tapping into your knowledge pool for external as well as internal consumption.

With increasing proportions of customers eager to self-serve their way to a solution before contacting a helpdesk, you’d be doing them (and yourself) a favour by making your knowledge base simple and intuitive to explore.

helpdesk best practice

2. Embrace automation to an appropriate level

Machines can do smart things fast and accurately, and you’d be a mug to overlook the transformative impact this could have on your help desk and its performance metrics.

This even extends to elements of the customer communications process, so that pieces of the engagement workflow aren’t slowed down by the need for manual intervention.

But, like any powerful tool wielded in the wrong way, automation can be a self-destructive weapon. Frankly, automation runs the risk of sucking the humanity out of your customer interaction.

So, if you don’t want to inadvertently torpedo your CSAT efforts, be wary of using automation to replace people with an ‘artificial’ substitute.

3. Boost self-respect

If that sounds a little harsh, please understand where this is coming from.

In poor-performing helpdesks, you often find agents who don’t particularly care about their customers, even though managers have a tight grip on productivity and process. The culture is all wrong and people have nothing to buy into. No aspiration, no shared values and no shared goals.

The key is purpose, and this can be built around meaningful metrics and a positive environment of continual improvement. But it starts with self-respect as a group of professionals understanding what they are trying to achieve, and what high-performance success looks like.

As Steve Jobs said, “If you’re working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed.”

4. Conduct regular CSAT surveys

By far the best way to measure – and therefore improve – helpdesk performance is to gauge the satisfaction of each customer at crucial points in their experience, such as directly after their help desk ticket has been closed.

Execute this fast enough, such as via an immediate follow-up email, and customers will accept the invitation to give feedback as a logical part of the help desk process.

The trick is to make it seamless, or you’ll risk missing out on ‘in-the-moment’ reactions. This includes avoiding the temptation to stuff extra questions into the online survey process, or make the questions (and responses) unnecessarily complicated.

This mechanism should produce valuable insights to inform the development and improvement of back-end processes, staff training and how to deal with specific customer groups and types of enquiry.

Zendesk survey example

5. Be prepared to change

The final helpdesk best practice tip is prepare yourself for disruption in all its forms, so that you can react more quickly and positively than your competition.

Change can hurt, and can certainly feel uncomfortable once those familiar, proven and “we’ve-always-done-it-this-way” processes necessitate evolution.

Helpdesk disruption comes in the shape of new technology, compliance requirements and employment laws. Most of all it comes from changing habits and expectations of customers. Keeping track of that is fundamental to sustaining the highest levels of performance and customer satisfaction.

Ready to move ahead with your helpdesk best practice?

Give Customer Thermometer a try today. It’s simple, quick, and you can add it into tickets and emails you’re already sending customers.

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