5 ways to build a winning help desk

| By:
Mark Sokol

Despite the growing number of services a managed service provider (MSP) can offer their clients, none can replace the help desk. No matter how good your services are, maintaining a superior help desk remains central to the success of your business. Not only is it vital to have one, but to ensure it shines. As the primary way you interact with your clients, it is worth that the hard work required to make sure you leave your clients with the best impression. 

Here are five essentials to remember when building a help desk:
1. Understanding the foundations of an MSP

The help desk and network operating center (NOC), together form the building blocks of your MSP practice. The NOC provides connectivity and physical security to your facility, along with the capability for remote administration and secure customer data. Your help desk is the public face of your business, managing customer interactions and acting as the bridge between technology and people. Combined, these two elements mitigate risk while providing a reliable IT environment to your clients, consistently.

2. Define your client’s needs

There are four basic help desk models based on availability to clients.  Think through how and when your clients will need to contact you.

  • Full-time (24/7): This option is easily managed and offers high resource availability to clients. However, its high cost and lengthy implementation time have led to a recent decrease in its popularity.
  • Third-party full-time (24/7): Outsourcing is less expensive, but brings its own set of challenges. Third party support often cannot relate directly to the client, and localization makes implementation difficult, but your clients get support any time they need it.
  • Part-time: This lower-cost option is still easily managed, but can cause problems on the scheduling end, as concerns with rotating workforce and staff availability arise.
  • Part-time with alert: This model is very popular for smaller MSPs, as this system provides accountability via audit trail. However, companies will need to have effective failsafe procedures in place to prevent response system failure.
3. Checklist for success

To determine your needs, consider the following:

  •  What are your critical response time requirements?
  •  Do you have a resolution plan?
  •  What are the system availability needs of your customer base?
  •  What ongoing service levels of measurement and management will be in place for both customers and engineers?
4. Define your processes

Choosing the right help desk model requires you to first define the specific needs of your organization and its clientele and then determining the best set or workflows and processes to meet both party’s needs.  Think through the chain of events, like how a partner will contact you, how do you track that issue internally?  How to do assign resources?  How do you ensure you’re sticking to a set SLA?  Without set processes, you can’t ensure your desired outcome.  Try drawing a few workflow diagrams to determine the logistics, and then think through the tools and technologies you will employ to ensure compliance.

5. Incorporate PSA aolutions

One way to successfully manage the operations of the help desk is to incorporate a professional services automation (PSA) solution. This will make service workflows automated, which will lead to fully integrated trouble tickets, dispatch scheduling, more efficient use of time and expenses, and much more. In essence, PSA will streamline all existing IT services.

A final word

Regardless of how available technology may evolve, delivering exceptional customer service always has and will be imperative to the success of your business. However, before building out your help desk, take the time to define the needs of your company and its customers. This will ensure that you’re able to meet your service- and operational-level agreements. Your support services don’t necessarily have to run 24 hours a day to be successful, yet they do have to fully meet the needs of your client base. A well-structured and well-implemented desk will build the trust and loyalty among your clients that is necessary for business growth and success. For more help, check out our Free Help Desk Toolkit.