Help desk software provides a means of creating support tickets, routing them to support staff, and enabling those individuals to respond to a variety of issues with built-in tools for troubleshooting. Professional help desk software provides easy-to-use, customer-facing dashboard features. While help desk software is common for IT departments, it can also be useful in other departments like HR or field services.
Ticket management. Customers can send their questions and requests to a centralized ticketing system. Thanks to management features to automatically track and organize tickets, IT help desk tools allow for faster times-to-resolution for a variety of customer-end issues. The app may offer multiple contact points for communicating with customers, typically through online chat.
Automation. Automated capabilities make it easier to assign tickets and move them through to completion. Customers’ requests are automatically sent to the correct technicians, and certain conditions (like overdue tickets) may trigger automatic alerts or escalation to help ensure no issues go overlooked.
Reporting. By running in-depth reports, technician teams can gain useful insights into their overall use of the help desk software. This software makes it easy to understand the overall ticket load, average turnaround times, customer ratings, and other metrics to help the team improve their workflow.
Self-service knowledge base. The easiest tickets to resolve are the ones the customer never sends. IT help desk software can include an FAQ section, forum, or database of technical issues and common user scenarios. Customers can use these resources to resolve common issues like password resetting, siphoning some of the workload away from help desk technicians.
Having effective help desk software can transform and improve many steps in the service request management process, including:
Supporting an efficient technician workflow. If your IT customer service department is just one person, you might be able to get away with only using email. But for a larger team—or, really, a team of any size—a help desk solution provides much-needed support for your ticket management process. The benefits of adopting such a solution include:
Ensure user satisfaction. Whether you have one or dozens of technicians on call, replacing email with proper IT help desk software opens a world of possibilities for how you handle customer support.
IT help desk software can offer an easy-to-use and transparent user-facing portal, supporting a better overall customer experience. Some users will even leverage the self-service library of IT guidance to answer their own questions before they ever reach your desk.
Submitting a request can be confusing, and users appreciate a straightforward ticketing template asking for all necessary information. As a ticket progresses, its status should either be continually visible, or the customer should receive regular updates on its status. Customers also want to be able to communicate with support professionals if needed, typically through web-based chat.
Benefit the business. Investing in help desk software involves upfront costs. However, the software offers significant benefits for technician productivity—for instance, it’s much more effective than shared email inboxes and ad hoc processes—ultimately saving organizations valuable work hours.
Additionally, help desk software provides important security features to ensure your business stays in line with compliance regulations such as HIPAA and GDPR. This is an important consideration, as dealing with data or devices in an improper manner can lead to stiff penalties for both users and technicians. It’s better to know your automated processes are built with enterprise-grade security in mind.
A ticketing system is a crucial part of an effective help desk solution. Having a ticketing tool as part of your help desk software helps improve the overall service process as it provides a way to categorize, prioritize, route, alert, and manage the status of help desk issues.
To understand help desk ticketing systems, it helps to know some of the key terms:
A ticketing system may also offer agent-side dashboard tools to help ensure technicians accurately and efficiently move tickets through to successful resolutions, such as the ability to automate categorization and prioritization, routing, alerts and notifications, and status management.
To support the end-to-end help desk process, your help desk software should include the following features:
Automated ticketing management. Manually managing service requests without help desk ticketing software can be a tedious process and prone to error. Help desk software lets you automate service request management through ticket creation, assignment, routing, and escalation.
Centralize your knowledge management. Don’t waste time responding to repetitive, run-of-the-mill questions. Promote end user self-service for common issues with a built-in help desk knowledge base.
Meet your SLAs. Breaching your SLA could spell disaster for your business. Use IT help desk tools to set up “SLA breach approaching” notifications and date-specific SLA reminder alerts and customize escalation and de-escalation workflows.
Relational ticket association to simplify project and task management. Issues involving multiple tickets should be managed in lockstep to avoid chaos. Link service requests to each other to track and manage IT projects involving multiple tasks, regardless of type.
Native integration with Active Directory and LDAP. Your service management software holds a wealth of information. Don’t let it fall into the wrong hands. Some IT help desk software can help you automatically discover and add client information from AD and LDAP servers.
Measure customer satisfaction. Good end-user support means staying on top of customer satisfaction and how your team performs. IT help desk software should let you configure automated feedback surveys for end users upon completion of service request.
Integrate with third-party tools for IT asset management. The hardware, software, and other IT assets supporting your business are ever-expanding. Look for help desk software offering out-of-the-box integration with JAMF Casper Suite, Absolute Manage, Microsoft SCCM, and SMS.
Automated email-to-ticket conversion. Manually generating tickets takes time away from the real problem at hand: resolving end-user issues. Help desk software lets you use IMAP, POP, and Exchange protocols to automatically convert service request emails to help desk tickets.
FIPS 140-2 compatibility and security. Depending on the industry you serve, the data and systems you interact with can vary in terms of their sensitivity. A help desk solution can help you improve security via FIPS 140-2 compatible cryptography support and FIPS-mode SSL connections.
Maintain your asset inventory. Managing the use, availability, and health of IT assets—and tracking this over time—is a major undertaking, especially as your business’ IT footprint grows. Simplify IT asset management with a help desk solution offering built-in asset discovery, inventory management, and reporting.
Control change management. Checks and balances makes service management feasible. Regulate and manage change requests through automated approval workflows and panel voting options.
Employ robust reporting and monitoring. Tracking the progress and performance of your support team is critical for meeting end-user expectations and other requirements. With robust IT help desk tools, you can use built-in reports and dashboards to track ticket status, technician performance, and customer support needs.
Help desk software is designed to enable a more streamlined and automated IT support process. Help desk software is a better alternative to using shared email inboxes to receive requests, which can lead to accidentally dropping requests, impatient customers, and an overall lack of teamwork due to poor visibility or ability to effectively track tickets from intake to resolution.
A help desk ticketing system works by tracking a ticket from intake to resolution, helping provide insights into the entire ticketing process. The typical help desk ticketing process includes the following seven steps:
When looking for the right solution for your business, you and your team should consider the following factors:
Expectations. What are your team goals and expectations for this software? What do you think your customers are expecting (and have they given you relevant feedback in the past)? Look for a product that meets as many of these goals as possible.
Budget. Consider your company size, technician team size, and the hours currently spent dealing with user requests. If you can, crunch the numbers to see if you can figure out what you should reasonably invest in a solution. Then, look for a high-quality product with a straightforward pricing structure and no hidden costs. Cheap or free options typically have a downside (and may not be enterprise-appropriate), whereas professional tools with a free trial let you test drive your top choice to see if it fits the bill.
Security. Does the tool offer the built-in security features you need to ensure you’re following compliance regulations? Can you assure customers you’re not putting their sensitive data at risk? Make sure you know your company’s security requirements and whether your chosen help desk program is sufficient.
Core features. At the very least, you’re looking for a centralized platform, chat support, customer-facing usability, and features automating the ticketing workflow. It’s also nice to have a knowledge base to offer users. Make a list of your organization’s must-haves to ensure you’re getting what you need.
On-premises or SaaS. Consider whether an on-premises or software-as-a-service cloud service desk tool could be the right option for your organization. There may be important differences in cost, security, mobility, and scalability with these options.
Flexibility. Do you need a tool just for IT-related requests, or would you prefer a program capable of handling service requests for other departments? You should also be cognizant of whether the program will be flexible enough to scale as you grow.
Using ad-hoc processes or confusing software to manage requests can result in frustrated customers and stressed-out IT help desk technicians. The customer communication and workflow struggles help desk agents face can often affect productivity.
SolarWinds® Web Help Desk® (WHD) is designed to offer your business a comprehensive solution for your service request pain points. Our solution lets you simplify service management with unified ticketing, asset, knowledge, and change management.
What makes WHD help desk software different:
Ticketing management: Streamline support from ticket request through resolution.
IT asset management: Discover and manage hardware and software assets.
Knowledge management: Centralize knowledge management with a built-in knowledge base.
Change management: Manage change requests with automated approval workflows.
Not just IT: SolarWinds Web Help Desk software has been applied in IT, facilities management, HR, field services, and other service domains.
If you’re looking for a help desk program, consider SolarWinds Web Help Desk. WHD is built to support all the capabilities you need to streamline your ticketing process and provide enterprise-grade customer service.
Try SolarWinds Service Desk for more functionality in asset and service management.
Full ITIL suite (incident, problem, change, release) paired with customizable automation
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Powerful service catalog workflow engine and a user-friendly service portal