Customer Service through an Effective Help-desk

“The best help desks know that customer service that goes above and beyond is what sticks in a customer’s mind and sets a company apart from others”. – From TeamSupport.com

Sometime back we discussed about how some companies still believe that a call centre or an effective help-desk is only a cost centre and do not view it as a revenue generating. This is far from true as an effective help-desk plays an indispensable part in raising customer service standards. An effective help-desk is one that has been put together with a clear vision, a structured set of services and be equipped to help customers to achieve their objectives in doing business with the company. It would require some amount of investment from the company with expenses being incurred on additional staff who would be experts in managing the pressures of and technology used at, the help-desk and also expenditure on the latest technology to ensure that these employees can serve the customers to the optimum level of efficiency.

Before setting up and running an effective help-desk, a company must be able to clearly identify the kind of service the help-desk will perform, the standards of service, technology to enable prioritization of issues and also a clear set of capabilities and clearly defined rules and policies. An effective help-desk will be run by a set of employees who would not only be equipped with managing customers but also who would have a clear understanding of their company’s goals, its business, brands and products. Being able to provide a large amount of information and support should be the hallmark of an effective help-desk, which in turn would be able to generate more business, increase productivity and ensure that customers remain loyal to the company and also bring in more business through their contacts.

Time and again it has been discussed that reducing customer effort and making it simpler for customers to engage in business should be one of the top priorities for a company. An effective help-desk is a leap in this direction as it can prove to be one of the most satisfying and gratifying experiences customers can have with a company. With a great first impression, a customer would be happier to do deal with and conduct business with the company. It is the duty of every company to ensure the satisfaction and happiness of their customers and also a business imperative for the company to remain in business.

An effective help-desk is first and foremost possible only through knowledgeable employees. A company must ensure that the employees have all the relevant material and documents required for in-depth product knowledge. In addition, regular training and coaching must be made available to this set of employees and the expectations and demands of the role must be properly structured and defined. It is also essential that other departments understand the critical role being performed by the help-desk staff such that they are able to prioritize tasks that require information to put together responses and solutions for customers.

An effective help-desk would also be one with updated technology that would assist with capturing customer data, interaction records and make the data pool available to all departments that would require it. The technology should allow the help-desk staff to resolve customer issues through remote troubleshooting as well. In addition, investing in customer feedback software would allow instant updates on what the customers think of the performance of the help-desk.  Whatever kind of software and technology you choose, ensure that it is simple, user-friendly and can be regularly updated without humongous costs – enable an effective help-desk for the benefit of your customers, who will then reward your company in more ways than one. An effective help-desk is a great display of your company’s commitment and dedication towards enhanced levels of customer service.

An effective help-desk will have the top priority of first call resolutions. It is well-known that customers absolutely loathe the task of calling repeatedly for a single issue. With too many repeat calls for the same issue, the effectiveness and productivity of the help-desk takes a beating and customers feel frustrated and unimportant. When customers are dissatisfied, they are quicker to spread their negative experiences via various channels of communication and this can have detrimental consequences for a company. According to the customer service industry standards, first call resolutions must be at least 80-95% of all the calls received – anything less than that would drop the satisfaction level of your customers. An effective help-desk would be one in which the representatives possess all the skills required to sustain a high level of customer service like skills of communication, organization, negotiation, follow-up and closure and many other such skills.

The help-desk staff must understand their responsibility of being the ‘face’ of the company and as such must always make good any promises that they make to the customer on behalf of the company. They must ensure that each interaction is customized and displays empathy and concern for the customer. When a customer calls and places an issue or request, it becomes the responsibility of the help-desk staff to listen actively and follow-through on any promise they make on the issue resolution, if they are unable to resolve it immediately.

An effective help-desk will have monitoring and measuring tools in place. These tools would help them to ascertain the number of queries received, the number of FCNs, any pending issues and whether there is a rise or drop in customer satisfaction levels. With this data, the company can put in place mechanisms to improve or sustain service levels, as the case maybe. All the information received by way of these tools, would prove invaluable to raise the product standards and also customer service levels.

Many queries and issues raised by a number of customers often tend to be similar and hence it would be a smart move to have standardized answers and responses to these oft occurring queries. Streamlining this routine portion would reduce call and response times and could be customized to suit the customer, which eventually would raise customer satisfaction levels and ensure that the company always has an effective help-desk. In addition, there must always be an updated knowledge ‘centre’ – that is an on-line reservoir of materials that the help-desk staff can borrow from and use the knowledge to better help their customers. This must be centralized and kept fresh and updated at all times – it is important that the representatives appear smart and knowledgeable to the customers at all times, else the very purpose of an effective help-desk is negated.

An effective help-desk will have a reporting and prioritizing system that will help them ‘report’ any issues that need immediate attention and prioritize them based on their urgency and also according to the service standards the company has committed. Customers hate to wait – so it should be a strictly followed principle to keep wait times to the minimum. Continuous training to sensitize the staff on this principle and also training to enhance their efficiency will go a long in ensuring that customer issues are dealt with promptly and as efficiently as possible.

Just like any aspect of business, for an effective help-desk to remain so, it is vital that customer feedback is taken at regular intervals. When customers directly tell you how you are performing, it is the best way to tweak your services if they require improvement or should be enhanced. Keeping a check on the number of complaints is a great way to manage customer feedback. A rise in complaints will tell you that the performance of your help-desk is dropping. However, a drop in complaints does not necessarily mean that your customers are happy – the scary part is that when customers get too vexed, they stop complaining and instead just stop doing business with your company. So a drop in complaints must also be matched with the data for the amount of business being received from a particular customer.

For an effective help-desk of a company, the overall attitude and culture of the company should be one of service and customer focus. A well-trained and knowledge set of representatives, adequate feedback and data collection tools, proper and structured processes and a sense of urgency and many more aspects collectively form an effective help-desk that leads to a successful and profitable company.

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