The difference between a neutral customer experience and a positive customer experience can often be the difference between a one-off sale and a repeat customer. We often think of customer experience as happening between the initial contact and the sale, but it’s much broader than that, encompassing any and all interactions, from sending the prospecting letter to the post-sale ones.

One thing that should be taken into account is the role of a help desk, and how you can use one to create a great experience for customers.

What is a help desk?

A help desk is a technology system that helps your customer service team handle queries and complaints. In order to be effective it needs a well-trained team working with it. Even if an issue is resolved quickly, unfriendly customer service can leave a bad taste in your mouth. This team doesn’t necessarily need to be in the same location – hosted VoIP providers allow a remote team to be just as effective as an in-office one.

There should be clear ways of getting through to the help desk on multiple platforms. Live chat, website contact forms, email templates, and social media requests should all be transferred through to the help desk team, and the software needs to reflect that. Encourage collaboration at work to ensure the customer has a true omnichannel experience.

This all feeds into a shared inbox, which is then organized and assigned appropriately. Tickets are assessed for priority, perhaps grouped by type of query, and then handed to the agents best suited to manage them. This can be done manually, but automation is hugely helpful here as it speeds up the process. For example, if your company provides technology for offices, it could automatically tag them with the company it’s coming from and which bit of technology it’s referring to.

Finally, help desks can report back on how things are going. For instance, tracking metrics on how many queries regarding certain issues they get, how long it takes tickets to be resolved, and how satisfied customers are with the results.

Generally speaking, helpdesks are reactive – they respond to incoming queries from customers and resolve them. You may occasionally see help desks referred to as service desks, but these are a slightly different thing.

What is a service desk?

Whilst a help desk is reactive, a service desk is proactive. They perform many of the same functions – managing, organizing and responding to tickets – but they do much more as well. Often, a help desk will function as part of a wider service desk.

The service desk will manage assets, creating guides for customer service reps with product details, responses to common questions, and relevant statistics as needed. It will help with resolutions by providing accurate information to the wider team.

As self-service information points become more important, they’re also responsible for choosing which content to add to the knowledge base.

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This is often done by analyzing what tickets come in, and writing guides for the most common ones. They may also automate certain responses. For instance, if a common ticket is regarding password resetting, they might automate this. This can reduce the amount of incoming tickets and free up agents to work on more difficult ones.

Like help desks, they gather and report on data, but unlike help desks they don’t just use this to track how they’re doing. Instead, they can use this to forecast potential issues. If one aspect of your business is mobile marketing for ecommerce, they might recognize that lots of tickets came in around the date a major update was pushed to Android phones and can prepare accordingly for when the next one happens.

For ease, we’re going to refer to ‘help desks’, but you may find a service desk is more suited to your needs.

Using A Help Desk To Improve Customer Experience

Now we understand what a help desk is, it’s time to figure out how to make the best use of it to boost customer experience.

Encourage quick responses

Customers expect quick responses, especially when they’re contacting you through social media.

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Having an organized customer help desk can improve response times by ensuring your ticketing system is based on priority and agent availability. Rather than agents having to manually check in the shared inbox and find a ticket that isn’t being dealt with, it’ll be clearly conveyed to them to start working on.

You can also provide an instant auto-response to many tickets, detailing the most common answers and estimating how long the response will be. Utilize proper email etiquette and personalization to make customers feel better. A customer who receives an auto-email saying ‘we will get back to you within 24 hours’ is likely to feel better than one who gets a response in 12, but with no estimate upfront.

Resolve recurring problems

By tracking common complaints, you can build up a picture of what customers struggle with the most, and take steps to address them. It’s here that having a connected workforce comes in handy, as these problems may need resolving by a different department that the help desk can swiftly contact.

Create self-service content

We mentioned this earlier, but it’s definitely worth creating self-service content aimed at the most commonly asked questions. Whether it’s written text, visuals made with an infographic maker, or a video guide, self-service content can help customers resolve their problems on their own. This reduces how many incoming tickets your team will get, as well as creating a positive experience for customers.

Invest in helpful technology

Support your helpdesk with project management solutions that help them do their jobs well. Auto dialer software is another fantastic tool for agents. It can predict when the next agent will be free – meaning customers get connected quickly and agents can manage their incoming calls more effectively.

Track and improve your metrics

By tracking how well you’re currently doing, you can see how to improve. There are a lot of possible things to track through a help desk, but these metrics are among the best:

  • First contact resolution rate (how many tickets are solved on their first point of contact)
  • First level resolution rate (how many tickets are solved without transferring to a higher support level)
  • Cost per contact (how much does each contact cost you)
  • Agent utilization (are your agents sitting around waiting for calls, getting burnt out trying to stay on top of it, or do you have a good balance?)
  • Agent satisfaction (stressed agents make for less pleasant customer experiences)
  • Customer satisfaction

By keeping an eye on these metrics, you’ll be able to see how well you’re doing. If customers can have their queries resolved quickly on their first point of contact, by an agent who is polite and friendly, then they’re almost certain to have a positive customer experience.

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