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How to Deliver More Value from Your Help Desk

By | January 10, 2017 in Help Desk

Valuable Help Desk

In my previous blog, What’s Essential for an IT Help Desk?, I discussed the things that every help desk should do. These were:

  • Log and manage calls from IT users
  • Resolve incidents
  • Generate useful reports
  • Continually improve

If you’re not already doing all four of these, then please go and read that blog to help you initiate some of the changes you need to make.

If you’re already doing all the essentials, then you might want to think about ways of using your help desk to create more value for you, and for your customers. A great help desk can do a lot more than just the essentials. Here are some things to think about if you’re ready to take the next step.

Identify and Manage Problems

The trouble with excellent incident management is that incidents keep happening. No matter how good you are at managing incidents, and how grateful users are for the service, they still suffer from the disruption to their work and wish they had not needed to call you in the first place; you are using up valuable resources managing something nobody actually wanted to happen.

This is where problem management comes in. Problem management can help you to:

  • Stop incidents from happening, or at least make them less frequent.
  • Reduce the impact of any incidents that you can’t prevent.

This means that your users get a better service, and your help desk has less work to do. That’s a win-win for you and your customers.

A small help desk could easily be put off by the idea of doing problem management because they may fear it’s too time-consuming or too difficult, but in fact it’s straightforward. If you don’t already do problem management and want to start, just follow these simple steps:

  • Identify some problems. You can do this by looking at your incident records to look for incidents that keep happening, or asking anyone who works on the help desk to log a problem whenever they notice repeat incidents.
  • Pick one or two problems to investigate. You don’t have to investigate every problem that you identify. Start with the ones that happen the most often and the ones that have the biggest impact on the business, because these are the ones that cause the most pain.
  • Fix the problem if you can. The best response to a problem is to identify why it happens and remove the causes.
  • Document a workaround for problems you can’t fix. If you can’t remove the cause of a problem, then think about how you can reduce the impact when it happens again and document this.  Put your plan into action next time the problem occurs, and review what happens, so you can document anything that you need to change, to improve the outcome.
  • Pick some more problems to investigate. You will find that you free up resources each time you fix a problem, and this means that you can start working on some more problems. If you do this consistently, you can create a cycle of continual improvement that is of enormous benefit to you and your customers.

Provide Self-Help

When you provide your users with the information they need to help themselves you can get much faster incident resolution, with less effort and reduced costs.  At a minimum you can simply allow users to log their own incidents via a web interface, and then provide them with status updates via the same channel so they don’t need to keep phoning you. Ideally you should do a lot more than this, by using the same web interface as a channel for providing accurate and accessible information about common issues and how to resolve them.

Self-help and problem management can work well together.  You use problem management to identify the common types of incidents and document how to resolve them. Then you provide this information directly to the users, rather than making them phone you to ask for help each time a common incident occurs.

Proactively Communicate with Users

One of the help-desk essentials I described in my previous blog was managing incidents, and this includes providing users with status updates. Users value regular and timely status updates on their incidents, but a proactive help desk can provide much more user communication than this. Examples of good proactive communication that the help desk can provide include:

  • Telling users about new and changed services, to ensure they are properly prepared for them
  • Making sure people know when the service is going to be unavailable for scheduled maintenance or other activities
  • Letting users know that you are aware of and working to resolve any incident that impacts many users before they all phone to tell you that something’s wrong
  • Encouraging users to adopt practices that help protect your valuable information; you can do this by sending routine security reminders

There are lots of different ways that the help desk can communicate with users. For example:

  • Messages displayed on screens when people log on
  • Messages displayed on a self-service portal or service status page that users can review when they need to know what’s happening
  • Announcements over office loudspeaker systems
  • Posters on walls and office doors

I’m sure you can think of many more ways to communicate with your users, but the important thing is to get the balance right. Too much communication can be as bad as too little, as people will eventually stop paying attention. So, make sure you get feedback from your users on how well your communication is working.


This blog has described some of the ways your help desk can help to create value. You do need to ensure that you start with the essentials first, but if you want a great help desk, you should not you limit yourself to that.

A great help desk will use problem management to help reduce the number and impact of incidents, it will provide self-help so users can resolve their own incidents, and it will proactively communicate with the users to help keep them informed. How many of these things does your help desk do?

I do hope these blogs have given you some ideas of things you could do to provide a better help desk for your customers. Please let me know which things you try, and how well they work out for you.

Sarah Lahav

About Sarah Lahav

As the company’s 1st employee, Sarah has remained the vital link between SysAid Technologies and its customers since 2003. Current CEO, former VP Customer Relations. Always passionate about customer service! Mother of three adorable children – she juggles work, family, and zumba classes with ease.

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