Your IT Help Desk – it’s not meant to be a training resource!

There is a great folklore that has built up of the weird and wonderful ‘issues’ that IT users bring to the attention of the help desk / service desk. There are some good examples listed here, and if you need a wry smile today, treat yourself to ten minutes scrolling through them. The hardest part of resolving some of these wonderful issues may have been labeling them to meet the needs of the help desk system’s incident classification and quality control. If the help desk staffer is using modern help desk software, he or she is probably required to complete a few fields that categorize the issue, before being allowed to close it out as another successfully resolved issue. ‘Idiot’ is probably not (and should not be!) on the pick-list of assessments of the end user’s IT awareness.

Help desk staff are not there to give training

It’s generally accepted that effective and efficient technical support requires that the Service Desk not provide ‘on the job’ technology training to an end user. Live one-on-one training by the Help Desk staff is inefficient for both the end user who has had their productivity paralyzed and the technician that could be tackling other more specialized topics. Showing someone that the power button on their monitor does not actually restart their computer is an acceptable exception to that rule, and should be a rare occurrence.
Where this rule becomes more important is in dealing with multiple identical or similar incidents related to a lack of knowledge or experience that constitutes an underlying problem. A set of incidents may appear superficially to be unrelated, but they may all stem from the same underlying lack of knowledge or experience. Identifying areas in which end user IT awareness needs improving, or the end-users’ environment needs improving, is a source of great value to the organization. Careful monitoring of issues submitted can highlight the need for training on a given topic for the benefit of your IT users as a whole.

Selecting a help desk tool: issue analysis capabilities

The help desk software you use should contribute to this source of value for the organization. So when selecting a help desk tool, a manager should choose the best solution that offers detailed reporting on issue nature.

  • It should enable you to create as many approaches to issue classification as you like – by application (e.g. Outlook), by operation (e.g. logging on), – by whatever you like. 
  • Like Vector’s HelpDesk, it should enable you to search all previous issues, including all the email threads involved in issue resolution, for terms which will help identify commonalities. For instance, these two capabilities in Vector HelpDesk quickly allow an organization to spot a pattern with users not knowing how to log into a new interface.
  • The software should allow knowledge base articles to be created to assist support staff in responding quickly and consistently to incidents arising from the same fundamental problem.
  • Email templates can be created so that follow-up advice sent by email is consistent.
  • Where a topic warrants a training session, follow-up guidance notes can be ‘borrowed’ from the trainers and made available in an end-user knowledgebase through a self-service portal.

Does your help desk installation provide all this?

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