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What Is Help Desk Software?

In today’s competitive marketplace, companies need to provide more than just quality products and services to attract and retain customers. In order to differentiate themselves, they need to deliver world-class service and support, going the extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction. For many businesses, the help desk is the “front line”, serving as the initial contact point for customer questions and problems. Yet many help desks rely on inefficient, error-prone, paper-based processes, such as email trails, to address customer issues.

Additionally, many companies are consolidating internal and external support operations, providing centralized handling of both employee and customer problems. While this can increase efficiency, optimize resources, and reduce costs, it can also present multiple challenges – such as cross-training support teams, integrating disparate procedures, and properly prioritizing issues.

Help desk automation gives companies the ability to quickly and effectively address issues by:

  • Providing self-service support capabilities, such as online help or frequently asked questions (FAQs), so customers and employees can quickly resolve common, routine problems on their own.
  • Centralizing, streamlining, and automating the activities associated with issue-handling, and tracking issues from the moment they are reported, until they are resolved.
  • Providing a knowledgebase that contains the comprehensive information support staff needs to rapidly and accurately respond to inquiries and solve problems.

With help desk automation, companies can increase collaboration and information-sharing among the various departments that play a role in customer satisfaction, including customer service, product development, and quality assurance, as well as field consultants and support staff. Additionally, help desk automation can tightly integrate both internal and external support processes.

Help desk automation is an effective component of a company-wide customer relationship management (CRM) strategy. When coupled with other CRM components, such as sales force automation and customer service systems, it can provide a unified view of customer activities, so support staff can better understand needs and preferences, and choose the best, most effective approach to addressing each issue.

Key Benefits for Your Company
With help desk automation, you dramatically improve customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention by ensuring that every issue is handled as efficiently as possible. First-call resolution rates will increase, staff productivity will be optimized, and your service professionals will be more informed and responsive.

Additionally, studies show that companies who are equipped to quickly resolve technical and non-technical employee problems are likely to experience higher morale, improved productivity, and lower turnover rates.

Help desk automation also eliminates the communication bottlenecks that cause issues to be mismanaged or “dropped”. And, it can significantly reduce the costs associated with service and support operations.

Does My Company Need Help desk Automation?
Any company can benefit from help desk automation. Customers are increasingly demanding and extremely prone to “churn”. Even the slightest inefficiency in support procedures can result in reduced market share and declining profits. With help desk automation, you can build stronger, more collaborative relationships. You can deliver the immediate around-the-clock service your customers require, and provide them with a wide range of convenient support channels to choose from.

Additionally, help desk automation enables your support department to meet corporate mandates to do more with less. It increases productivity and output, while reducing operating expenses, by helping to resolve customer and employee problems in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible.

Common Help desk Automation Features
The help desk automation solutions available today are primarily Web-based, and provide a wide array of functions to enhance support-related processes, including:

  • 24 x 7 self-service, such as online problem reporting or job ticket opening, as well as FAQs and other documentation.
  • Support for multi-channel communications, including email and live chat.
  • End-to-end activity tracking and status monitoring.
  • Reporting and analytics to help identify important trends. Do certain products have higher than average defect rates? Are assembly instructions or user manuals difficult to understand? What new features are customers requesting?
  • Dynamic resource allocation that automatically assigns staff members to issues based on workload, as well as skills and experience.
  • Real-time alerts that “flag” potential support breakdowns, and instantly notify management when unusual or highly-complex problems are reported, or when issues go unresolved for an extended period of time.

What to Look for When Choosing a Solution
Not all help desk automation solutions are the same. While most provide similar functionality, only a few provide the customization capabilities needed to deliver truly superior support.

The ability to customize your help desk solution is vital for two reasons. First, customer needs, common issues, and support procedures vary greatly from industry to industry. Additionally, each company has unique support-related workflow processes. The solution you choose must be flexible enough to conform to – or even improve upon – your existing processes, and should not force you to re-vamp or tailor those processes to fit the way the solution works.