Optimizing Your Help Desk Setup

Mathew Patterson | September 15, 2016

Implementing a help desk is a rare opportunity to organize your support processes and rid your team of the habits and cruft that accumulate like the lint in your phone’s charging port.

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Providing consistent support throughout is your primary goal, but if you stop there, you may miss out on an opportunity to improve your level of service.

If you’ve just chosen a new help desk, or if you’ve decided it’s time to revisit your existing setup, the first step in optimizing your help desk implementation is to set some goals.

How to plan your help desk setup

1. Minimize friction for your customers

Your customers should not need to know the internal workings of your help desk to get support. The closer you can make their experience to a conversation with another person, the better. This might include re-writing default emails and templates to use your own voice, removing ticket numbers and customer IDs if you don’t need them, and simplifying any support forms or entry points to only ask for what will really help solve customer issues.

2. Minimize friction for your support team

Every extra task, additional click, and new process you add to your support team’s role takes time away from actively helping customers. Arrange your help desk so that as much time and energy as possible is preserved for helping customers.

3. Reduce duplicated work

Anything you find yourself or your team doing over and over again is a target for improvement. Can you automate away some ticket handling work? Can you add extra workflows or pre-written response snippets to address common issues?

4. Outline your reporting

You should have a clear idea of what you want to measure, and from that you can work back to what information you need to capture in your support conversations. With those requirements in hand, you can set up your help desk to gather the information as consistently and simply as possible.

5. Clean out the cruft

In a busy support team, help desks accumulate all sorts of electronic grime. Are there workflows or filters that you no longer use? Saved responses that are out of date or inaccurate? Accounts for people no longer on the team?

Cleaning up all of those items reduces the chance of accidentally sending the wrong answer, and it saves time and effort by only showing your team the options and information they should be using.

Help desk setup checklist

Incoming support

Conversation management

Outgoing messages

Document your usage

Now that you’ve completed your clean up (Marie Kondo would be so proud), take a little extra time to document your decisions. Having short reference documents or videos will come in handy when you’re updating your existing team and next time you hire.

Areas to consider documenting:

With the setup complete and your team brought up to speed, run some final tests to make sure everything is working as expected.

Testing your new setup

Set up a free email account and send test questions to your help desk for your team to answer using the new setup.

Begin by testing the following:

Have a colleague read your internal documentation and use it to handle a few incoming conversations to verify that the documentation is accurate and sufficient.

Finally, respond to the incoming emails and review the customer experience. Are the emails correctly rendered, and do they contain the right details?

The job of optimizing your help desk is never truly complete, but a change of help desk tools is a chance to tighten up your processes, clean up your data, and allow your team to spend less time messing with their tools and more time helping your customers.

After you optimize your help desk setup, double down on creating a smoother support experience for your customers by designing better contact pages.

About the author: After running a support team for years, Mat Patterson joined the marketing team at Help Scout, the invisible help desk software. Learn how Help Scout takes the headache out of email support.