A help desk is a multi-dimensional resource, designated to help in reducing downtime in IT services and functions and making them available for maximum time. It is specially focused on end-user functionality, and, thus, is responsible for the quick resolution of immediate needs, incidents, and technical issues of end-users.
Any basic functioning help desk needs to have the ability to provide technical support to get an end-user back into functioning mode. As a matter of best practice, the help desk usually utilizes special software to record, track and manage issues raised. Additionally, the guidance included in Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) methodology is leveraged for optimal performance.
Some of the features of an effective help desk are:
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- Tracking capability for all incoming incidents
- Functions as Single Point of Contact (SPOC) for IT support
- Offers basic problem management, contains issue escalation procedures, and is supported by outside specialty groups for higher degree incidents
- Concentrates on incidents and issues of end-users
- Collaborative and easy to use
- Maintains database of all reported incidents and actions taken
- Ability to create monthly, half-yearly and annual reports on the number of issues, response time, time taken to fix the issue, and integration of such parameters into a Service Level Agreement (SLA)
Difference between Help Desk and Service Desk
The difference between a ‘help desk’ and ‘service desk’ runs deeper than being based on semantics and terminology. While traditionally both the terms were used interchangeably, in 2007, with the introduction of Information Technology International Library (ITIL) v3, the difference has become more visible and usage stratified. While the service desk looks into the management of the overall process, the help desk is a part of the end process and focuses on end-user needs.
According to ITIL v3 best practices, the help desk is one of the components of the overall service management and supplies information to the service desk through defined processes and software.
The Importance of Help Desk
An efficient help desk is an indispensable part of any IT organization and primarily aims to provide first contact resolution as swiftly and efficiently as possible. The benefits of an optimized help desk are:
A good help desk improves customer satisfaction if it is actively responsive, consistently assists users, and goes the extra mile in service delivery of technical support. This provides support to the company’s objectives and facilitates the growth of its business by increasing the number of returning customers.
Improvement in Product Quality:
The help desk acts as the first place for recording customer complaints, issues, and problems. The help desk should not only try to resolve these issues, but they are also responsible for keeping track of all complaints, their type, and recurrence level; further, they escalate the summary of issues and product shortcomings to the development team. Thus, the help desk acts as the main source of supplying feedback to the development team, which by acting on such reports, can update and improve the product.
Improvement in Productivity:
Besides recording complaints, the help desk also performs tasks of complaint management and resolution. By utilizing various procedures such as complaint ticketing or tagging system, they effectively manage and direct complaints to their desired resolution centers. This provides clarity, prevents confusion at the workplace, and also reduces the time required for the solution of the problem. All these factors increase operational time and efficiency and result in higher productivity.
Any process or procedure is worth implementing only if it results in cost-saving for the company in the long term. Running a help desk requires human resources, software, and hardware resulting in added costs. However, these explicit costs are offset by the higher implicit return through improvement in productivity, increase in quality of product, customer satisfaction, etc. Further, by providing real-time feedback on product or service issues and acting as a general resolution center, it saves the cost of both conducting post-release surveys and wastage of skilled members on lower productivity tasks.
Benefits of Outsourcing Help Desk/Service Desk:
A large business may have more than one help desk to take care of diverse needs. Further, while most companies have an in-house help desk, outsourcing of help desk provides multiple benefits as well:
1. Cost Saving: By offering scalability and expertise, an experienced outsourcing company providing help desk support will be able to provide more cost efficiencies than an in-house set-up.
2. Quality: Outsourcing the help desk requirement to specialists results in improvements in the quality of service accompanied by a reduction in response time and complaint resolution.
3. Resource Optimization: Outsourcing the help desk allows the internal allocation of manpower and other resources towards the core competency of the business. This facilitates higher productivity and focuses on mission-critical activities.
4. Scalability: As the business grows day in and day out, the help desk also needs constant up-gradation. An in-house help desk could consume investment, time, and resources when the demand for this service increases. The problem is considerably diminished when the job is outsourced, as in this case only the types and parameters of service need to be updated.
5. Disaster Recovery: Outsourcing is a suitable strategy for business continuity planning, as the enterprise’s delivery and availability to its users are unhindered, in the face of risks and contingencies.
By enabling IT users of the business to work in a more efficient manner, a help desk has become an essential service for technical support in many leading enterprises. If internal productivity will be compromised by establishing a help desk with existing resources, outsourcing to an expert help desk services company is a viable solution for long-term benefit.