How to Start and Manage a Help desk

First, you need to understand what is the end goal, otherwise, time, effort, and money would be spent unwisely. You could opt to implement a support system built entirely around individual requests from customers. Alternatively, you could choose to prioritize thinking in the long-term (e.g. business expansion) and implementing such things as automated responses, a vast knowledge base, etc.

One more thing to decide is whether the support system would serve customers, employees or both – in other words, you need to decide the audience/the scope. A joint support system for in-house workers and customers would require different authorization levels. Finally, one should decide which communication channel would be used to create inquiries/tickets – the workflow or the forms could be adapted accordingly, depending on this. Obviously, a modern company would offer the client several options to deliver an inquiry.

Decide Whether to Create Groups or Not

        You also need to decide whether your agents will all answer general questions being ready to delve deeper into issues as required or whether you would have collaborating groups specialized in different tasks. This aspect will likely result in the type of your activity – in case the information is very specific and spans several domains of knowledge, you are likely to stick to the second approach, while if questions are generally easy and are all related, you would simplify things by embracing the first approach.

        When deciding on whether to split or not, it will also be useful to estimate the number of operators needed (which depends on the size of your business). It would be more natural to split and specialize in larger pools of operators rather than smaller ones. When making estimations, it is sound to assume that each operator would be busy responding to tickets about 70% of the time (the rest is for other activities). If you are sure you will be expanding, plan this ahead – you wouldn’t be willing to switch from generalist operators to groups during a high season or when profit peaks.

Detail the Workflow and the Rules and Automate

Next, you need to detail the rules of working on each ticket throughout its life cycle. In terms of automation, the following could be achieved:

  • automatic routing;
  • automatic assignments;
  • automatic deadline tracking;
  • automatic prioritization/escalation based on the severity or urgency of the issue or on the status of the customer.

For each of these aspects, rules have to be created.

Build the Knowledge Base

        Building the knowledge base can be done prior to commencing operations and can be subsequently refined as more experience is acquired (learning about the frequency of various issues). The knowledge base would be of great use for clients (enabling self-service) or for employees.

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