It is an inevitable fact of most I.T. operations that one way or another a client will eventually need help with a particular problem they encountered with a piece of software, hardware or method of operation that will need to be resolved. This is where company helpdesk services come in to resolve the issue through technical troubleshooting and assistance.
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In a way I.T. helpdesks were created in order to insulate the main employees in an I.T. company (managers, developers, programmers etc.) from having to directly answer questions about a product. While many may criticize this practice the fact remains that in terms of product distribution several companies have millions of customers who utilize their products on a daily basis. It would be physically and logistically impossible for a single developer, programmer or manager to effectively deal with all those calls.
As such the process of customer assistance is relegated to a support system where I.T. helpdesk personnel are trained in the necessary technically know how needed in order to resolve most issues. There have been criticisms targeting the efficiency and capability of I.T. helpdesks stating that various helpdesks are only able to provide minimal support, cannot properly coordinate help services and often “pass the buck”, so to speak, when it comes to difficult or irritable customers.
The inherent problem with this assumption is that external I.T. support service companies such as Convergys and Sykes and various other outsourcing companies located in India and the Philippines have been shown to have more than adequate services when it comes to appropriate customer handling. There are usually efficient methods of problem escalation in order to resolve and issue, problem ticket handling and finally ownership of calls in order to prevent callers from thinking that they are not valued by the company.
On the other hand not all I.T. departments in various organizations have the same level of organizational capability as compared to large customer service and I.T. outsourcing firms such as Convergys. This does not mean though that the helpdesk employees are not as good as those found in large outsourcing firms rather the methods and processes utilized by such firms is far better than what is found in the average I.T. organization.
This indicates that there is a definite need to expand the current knowledge processes needed for adequate I.T. support for consumers. To this end this paper will attempt to determine what knowledge processes need to be incorporated into I.T. organizations so as to improve the standard of customer service and create a better reputation for the industry.
Proper Segmentation of Customer Service Representatives into Different Tier Systems
The best and most efficient way of dealing with problems related to consumer related technical difficulties is to setup a tier system where problems can be escalated effectively leaving people at the lower end of the tier being able to take in more calls. This of course calls for a separation of the training process with tier two to tier three support representatives receiving more technical training as compared to tier one agents.
The reasoning behind this is rather simple, not all calls that are relayed to an I.T. helpdesk are overly complication, some can be general inquiries or minor issues that can be dealt with easily while others can be more inherently technical which require more expertise on the part of the technical representative (Hoffman, 1996).
When an issue comes about that requires a greater degree of technical knowledge than what the current representative has as escalation of the call to a tier two or tier three agent with more advanced training will allow the tier one agent to properly resolve the issue through the call transfer and immediately take in the next consumer related call. It must be noted that several I.T. organizations receive on average hundreds if not thousands of inquiries and product technical troubleshooting requirements on an almost daily basis (Hoffman, 1996).
On average though basic troubleshooting and technical skills information is needed for a majority of the call while problems involving incredibly technical troubleshooting compose around 2o to 30 percent of all calls received.
As such by separating the call volume between technical and nontechnical inquiries the helpdesk is able to resolve issues at a much faster and more efficient rate as compared to having all agents take in the same amount of calls. Such information is easily available on line and most I.T. industries should take this into account when deciding to implement changes in their company.
Creation of a client records database to record solutions and problems to well known issues
In most I.T. helpdesk centers there are often clients and issues that enter into a call queue more so than what is considered normal. Such occurrences either stem from and inherent problem with the client being able to work the software/hardware properly or there is an inherent issue with the software or device that the company has yet to properly address.
In such cases it is necessary to keep a records database than can come up in order to assess whether a particular customer has called in the past and for what issue. The reasoning behind this is rather simple, if a helpdesk representative knows what other representatives have advised the client to do then certain steps will not need to be repeated which would enable a faster and more efficient resolution to the current issue a hand (Techrepublic, 2010).
Companies such as AT&T in the U.S. utilize a system aptly called “CARE” to facilitate the handling of customer records in order to properly track and trace issues with a customer’s landline or mobile phone line. It has been estimated that hundreds of man-hours are saved with such systems as representatives are able to resolve issues that much faster than before.
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Implementation of Proper Hiring Practices
Employees are the backbone of any successful business operation and as such hiring the right kind of individuals can make or break a business. In the case of the customer service industry this means not only hiring individuals who have the ability to quickly know how to utilize certain systems but also have the necessary psychological strength to endure repeated abuse at the hands of angry consumers (Techrepublic, 2004).
One of the reasons that helpdesks in the I.T. industry have a high churn rate with plenty of employees leaving and entering is due to the sheer amount of verbal abuse that can sometimes result from a daily shift on a job. As such it is important to assess the psychological strength on an individual before hiring them.
Based on what has been elaborated on this paper it can be seen that improving I.T. helpdesk services is more an investment in process rather than equipment or services. As such in order to develop a more effective I.T. helpdesk department the following recommended processes should be implemented in order to increase efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Hoffman, R. (1996). Help is only a phone call away. Web.
Techrepublic. (2010). Setting up a successful help desk–physical considerations. Web.
Techrepublic, Initials. (2004). Try these efficiency strategies when setting up a successful help desk. Web.