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Alexandria Fitzhugh | October 17, 2019

What is Help Desk Software? 10 Steps to Choosing the Right One

As the IT world evolves, more and more organizations are promoting a more customer-centric culture. Even leading global research companies like Gartner are stressing the importance of the customer experience. For this blog when I refer to "customers", this includes external customers and internal employees.

Download the ITSM Capabilities Map and start planning out your ITSM journey.However, simply acknowledging the need to improve customer and support satisfaction is not enough. In order to provide the best support possible, organizations should look into making their support team efficient. That is why businesses should have measures in place to achieve this goal, and one of the key ways of doing this is by having the right help desk software that will support everyone (inside and outside) the enterprise.

What is Help Desk Software and Why is it Important?

The help desk goes by many names—service desk, support desk, ticketing desk, and so forth. No matter what you call it, the main function of the “help desk” is to resolve IT issues with a clear resolution process in place by providing a single point of contact for all services and support to employees or customers. 

Today, IT has the burden of improving efficiency of your internal support in a world focused on the ultimate user experience, but to understand exactly what you need you should start by asking the right questions.

In the next section, we will review 10 considerations when choosing the right help desk software for your organization.

1. What kind of experience do you want to offer your customers and support staff?

Providing the best customer experience is crucial to any business. So that begs the question, how do you want your customers or employees to resolve their problems or issues? Should they call in or send an email? Should they submit a request online or should they have multiple ways to contact support giving them preference?

Enabling a similar positive experience for your support staff is just as crucial. Your support team is the first line of defense for ensuring customer retention. Having the right help desk software in place will help your team be as productive as possible as well as keep them in better morale overall.

2. What are your essential help desk features?

You need to understand what your “must-haves” are. There are a lot of tools out there that can do a lot of cool things; however, none of that matters if it can’t do the essential things you need it to do. The key is to keep your “essential requirements” list as short as possible and leaving more room for non-essential features that can improve the customer experience.

The following are some questions you should consider asking your IT staff to help evaluate what help desk software features should be categorized as essential vs. non-essential:

  • Does this feature have to be a part of the tool’s capabilities or can we integrate another tool that can do it better?
  • Are there any legal requirements associated with this?
  • What tangible value will this feature have on our business? Internally and externally.
  • Will this feature require more time/costs to function properly?
  • Does the software support automated ticket creation, routing and prioritization?
  • Does the software support ticket deflection capabilities?

A good way to get a good visual representation of the critical features needed (short-term and long-term) is through this ITSM Capabilities Map. The map illustrates the potential software capabilities and tech integrations you could be utilizing to create service efficiencies throughout your whole organization. 

3. Create a Help Desk Evaluation Team

Having feedback is vital to choosing an appropriate tool. Depending on the size of your company, having an evaluation team may consist of just you or several individuals.

Assuming you are a larger organization, this team should consist of some “everyday” users of the tool as well as senior level management and department heads of those who would be using the tool (i.e. HR, facilities, contract management, finance, etc.)

By including your support staff, you are empowering them to be more effective because they have say in the tool they use to do their job more effectively. Also, by combining the different backgrounds you can have a better indication as to whether or not the particular help desk software will thrive within your unique environment.

4. Test the software within your environment

Test the help desk software within your environment

It is important that you consider and try to anticipate how your customers will react to the new help desk software. Therefore, when demoing various tools you should provide tangible use cases as specific and unique to your business so you can get a better feel of the tool’s capabilities within your environment.

Read more on how 5 top consumer brands leverage help desk software.

5. Consider Scalability

Let’s face it, IT budgets aren’t getting any bigger. With that being said, you can’t afford to have to implement a new help desk software every year.

Regardless of the size of your company, you need to consider how scalable the software is. For instance, if you are expecting to grow at a certain rate over the next few years, you should consider how well the proposed tool will continue to help you increase efficiencies without compromising.

6. How does it help you improve reporting?

Analyzing various incidents and problems may reveal patterns of behavior, potential security vulnerabilities and areas of opportunity where more training is needed.

If you know what metrics you use and why, you can ask the potential new vendor how they can help you with capturing the data you need. By having the right reporting methods in place you can keep track of your SLAs, prioritize tickets, streamline operations and ultimately stay informed within your business.

7. Consider your reliability and support of the tool

One of the biggest concerns you should address is what level of support will you get with a new help desk solution. After all, you can have the greatest technology ever invented but if it isn’t implemented correctly, you have nothing.

Some questions you should consider is who will support you when you have an outage? Or when you need to rework a process? Not only do you need to be aware of the various support channels available to you, but also how quickly you will receive help and how competent that help will be. Every software experiences issues at one time or another, you just need to make sure that the vendor you are working with can solve those issues in a timely manner.

8. Make a plan for migrating help desks

Make a plan for migrating help desks

Consider the following:

  • Will you need to move over your knowledge base too?
  • Will you need to create new workflows?
  • How will you train your staff on the new tool?
  • Will it require a full-time person to manage? How many?
  • Will the implementation require you to apply different processes in phases instead of all at once?

Long-term success with a help desk implementation starts with planning, but as your team settles into the new tool you should be able to spot opportunities to improve processes and increase efficiencies.

9. Consider whether an on-premise or SaaS solution is best within your organization

Think about this:

  • Who will provide maintenance if you decide for a on-premise solution?
  • How secure is the solution if cloud-based?
  • Does the cost of the solution differ whether on-premise or SaaS?

10. What are your key integrations?

These days, it’s very common to use 3rd party integration platforms to connect to your help desk solution since there isn’t one tool out there that can do it all.

Make sure the tools you use have the capability of integrating with other enterprise systems, such as Microsoft Teams. You can just configure these integration solutions to pass data or kickoff actions from one system to another as needed.

All things considered…

Migrating to any solution is a huge investment for your support team and customers, and ultimately your entire company. This is why it is important to take the time to make an informed decision because whichever tool you go with, is crucial to your company’s success.

See for yourself just how effective EV solutions can be and get a live demo with one of our ITSM experts today!

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Alexandria Fitzhugh

Alexandria Fitzhugh has experience with ITSM, ITOM & ITAM, with a focus on building relationships with mid-market to enterprise-level organizations to help improve their ITIL alignment. Outside of work, she loves spending time with family and her dog, and traveling to new places.