How to Start & Manage a Help Desk – The Ultimate Guide

Cody Cromwell
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What Is a Help Desk?

A help desk is a virtual place where users or clients can exchange and access technical support. It is a place where technicians, or support agents can manage both technical and nontechnical issues. Help desk solutions help the client with the technical issues with the system, network devices, or software, and the help desk staff helps the client with any nontechnical issues related to the technical problems. It is an application that is available either on the users’ workstations or remotely on a network or the Internet.

A help desk can be made up of one or more support agents working on one or more issues at a time. The support agent can respond to issues in real-time, browse the various back logs, or review historical issues. A help desk can also work in a combination of both real-time and historical view modes. The help desk interface can be customized for the needs of each client’s organization. The help desk also provides the users with a self-service application that helps them to manage their own conflicts. It is a feature of the system that allows the users to communicate with the maintenance staff for issues.

Despite being similar in many ways, they do have some distinct differences. Users should be advised that a help desk is not an alternative for customer service. If a large number of customers requires phone support, one of the following should be selected:

How to Set Up Your Help Desk in 5 Steps

It’s a bit ironic that today’s IT workers are expected to be able to handle complex network problems without assistance, while teamwork has become a cornerstone of software design.

Enter the help desk. Set up for complex support, a help desk enables employees from various departments to work together to troubleshoot and solve problems with your IT systems. It’s a process at the center of a company’s IT support strategy – successful help desks create a streamlined and responsive experience for your users. And an office with a good help desk is one that has fewer calls to the help desk, while also decreasing the number of calls made to external vendors for help.

Before you can get to that level of support, though, you have to set up your help desk. Follow these five steps to set up your IT help desk:

Determine what you want to achieve

Decide What Support Your Desk will Deliver

Are you providing support to the users or support to the applications that your desk is running and hosting?

If you are providing support to the applications hosted by your desk, then you are a FSP, there will be a slight difference in the way you go about providing support.

If you have differentiating support in between solaris, linux, IBM, Windows, you are providing support to the users.

You are providing support to the users and application via the users internet access.

You are providing support to the users and application via the users direct access to the desk interface.

Users Using Internet

The users that your desk support also use the internet for email and other web access needs. Missing out on email is more detrimental than missing out on web access.

Users Direct Access

Your desk has direct access to the users machines. It is as if the desk is running on the users computer. In the case a users machine is down, your desk can monitor the users machine (both programs) and ensure it is back to normal and be back to work in no time. Your desk makes sure that if a users machine goes down, it will be back up within an hour ensuring no new work is lost.

Lear More about How to Provide Much Better Support than What the Users Are Expecting…

Benefits of a Practical, Reliable HelpDesk Framework.

Determine Your Help Desk’s Staffing Needs

In addition to the help desk’s location, other factors will need to be taken into account. For example, if the help desk will be set up as either a 24/7 or a 9am to 5pm operation, the number of staff should be determined based on the work load.

For example, if the help desk will be open 24/7 and one of the staff will cover the night shifts, the other staff should be able to cover the early morning and late afternoon shifts. If the help desk will only be open during regular business hours, the day and night staff can be paid accordingly.

Also, if the help desk will be open when the business is closed, then the security staff should be considered. If the clerk’s primary job will be as a reception desk clerk, then the cost of the reception desk should be accounted for.

Manage Your Help Desk Staff

There are a number of reasons why it’s important to manage the help desk staff. First and foremost, to give management the first level of contact for all incoming calls. You will need to understand the staff members and their responsibilities. As a manager, you will want to have at least one trained staff member on hand who can take over if the main clerk goes on vacation, quits, or gets injured.

Define Your Priorities

Start a help desk properly, with a business objective in mind. What customer issues do you have and that you must have resolved? How you track these issues will significantly change the focus of your help desk. Let’s look at a few examples.

You’re a high tech equipment manufacturer and your product is considered a best of breed solution in an industry. Long term failures are generally related to poor quality control or obsolescence of components and are attributable to new products that properly integrate with existing personnel. You should strategize to address these issues with your support staff, who can help resolve the customer’s concerns.

Or maybe your company runs a high volume of e-commerce transactions and online payments. Your help desk receives a significant number of calls from customers who are experiencing slow response or are unable to access their account information. If this is your experience, you need an help desk that is focused on customer service and remedy issues related to online payments.

Whatever you’re doing, your initial issue tracking and prioritization will influence the rest of your help desk. Start with the real problems and find solutions quickly – then get the help desk started.

Create Canned Responses or Knowledge Base

If you’re managing a tip of your own, you may wish to create canned responses or knowledge base content to ease the burden of your support staff. All it entails is creating regular responses to canned questions that you know people will come back for on a regular basis.

With canned responses or knowledge base content, you’ll be able to answer your customers’ questions in a matter of minutes and cut back on support staff time. It can help you to maintain a speedy response time even during busy times.

Following up with your customers to see whether they’re satisfied is also important and no doubt tiresome for the support staff. You can also develop a system for automatically following up with your customers after a certain period of time.

Some tips to consider when managing a tip would be:

Prefer to respond using typed or written communications, instead of using a chat system or direct chat, so that you can maintain a record of your communications.

Use a variety of communication methods, such as tickets, e-mails, and phone calls, to ensure that you’re able to get back in touch with people in the event that there’s a delay in response.

Hold oral conversations with your employees and involve them in adopting techniques to help reduce the number of support calls made.

Track & Improve on Key Metrics

Help desk software not only helps you improve customer experience; it also helps you identify key performance indicators. For instance, you can use help desk software to generate a report that shows agents’ activity levels over the past month.

This data helps you identify which agents are working and which ones aren’t (assuming that you have access to this information with the help desk software in question). You can then use this data to determine whether you need to train agents or reassign them.

Help desk software also helps manage customer service. Tracking historical reports lets you identify trends. This helps you identify the customer service issues that are recurring and what agents are struggling with.

Use these reports to help ensure that you’re prepared when an angry customer calls, or even to determine which agents need training. Software not only monitors activity; it also tracks it.

The Help Desk Software Buying Guide provides 5 main key metrics centered around both the customer and agent – How many tickets have been opened, How many times the ticket has been closed, How many tickets have been answered, how many agents were involved in answering the ticket and how soon did they respond.

With these key metrics can be compared through time. These metrics can tell the sales force how they are doing against the previous quarter, the previous year and even earlier periods.

How to Make a Help Desk More Efficient

The world of help-desk technology has been through a lot of changes since help desks started out as primitive employee answering machines. As a result of these changes, help desks have evolved from siloed, isolated entities into collaborative, more user friendly forms of technology management.

So, in order to stay relevant, help desks are transforming from being command and control centers to community support centers. All too often, help desk managers put a great deal of emphasis on the technicalities of the help-desk software and other tools at their disposal.

A modern help desk is more than just software and hardware. It’s about providing high reliability and ensuring the ease and speed of access to the information your help desk supports. A successful help desk will consider how the entire end-to-end customer need is satisfied.

So, if you’re wondering how to make your help desk more efficient, here are a few ideas that will help you transform your organization’s help desk into a system that’s fast, efficient, and reliable.

Utilize Help Desk Software

Although call centers generally refer to phone-based help desks, there’s a growing number of businesses that are utilizing help desks in more creative ways, including help desk software.

As the number of businesses relying on help desk software increases, more and more companies are turning to help desk software to optimize their help desk operations and improve the customer experience. With increased use comes simpler processes and more convenient reporting, which can help lower help desk costs and improve customer satisfaction.

Unfortunately, the learning curve for help desk software can be steep, so it’s important to understand how it works and how to use it before jumping in. This article will give you a quick overview of help desk software and provide tips for getting started.

Pay Attention to Features & Ticket Assignment Rules

Help Desk Telephony Innovations

Telephony technology has come a long way over the past 15-20 years. The first time I used a telephony system was in the late 1990s while working at a startup software company. We had an early system of fax, modems, and POTS (regular phone lines for the old school). The POTS was configured pretty meticulously but as people began asking for voicemail access we began running into some problems.

Voicemail rules at the time were different and sometimes a long hold meant you waited for someone to pick up the phone. As the company grew, our system eventually got upgraded to a more modern VoIP system, where users would plug in their computer directly into the phone lines using the SIP protocol. This made it much more versatile, but occasionally there were connection issues that needed to be taken care of.

The term Help Desk is pretty familiar to most business owners. The Help Desk, which is often separate from the IT department, deals with all the calls that come in to your business about computer problems. A large percentage of these problems can be resolved remotely, but there will always be some that are more difficult and require human assistance.

The Benefits of Help Desk Management Systems

Managing help desks can be very difficult.

On the one hand, you want to make sure that help desk agents are well managed and resources are efficiently allocated to various customer requests. However, the challenge is not only ensuring that resources are used in the right matter, but also managing vendor capacity to meet the pace of demand.

You also want your help desk staff to have the ability to prioritize customer requests and have end users access their tickets. However, this often means that you need to create processes and tickets that resemble what your users expect. This setup can quickly become confusing for both you and your end users.

This is why help desk management systems are so useful. They allow you to automate much of the on-boarding process and offer you a flexible way to manage customer requests. They also offer you the ability to integrate with your application management product via APIs and provide search, reporting, and scheduling functionalities.

You can also use a help desk management system to easily manage resources, provide the option for users to contact your representatives directly, and keep track of all agent performance. Additionally, you can develop tools to help your help desk agents do more with their time.

Centralize & Consolidate

The MDM believes that the Help Desk Administration team should not be polluting the ITIL process with responsibilities that belong elsewhere. Part of the relief comes in considering where you can centralize ITIL processes and those related to help desk. For example, the ITIL process describes in detail a help desk incident. Yet, organizations can save precious resources by aggregating a subset of the incident calls to one contact point.

One of the responsibilities that should be handled by the Help Desk Administration team revolves around the creation of mail boxes. Due to the lack of assignable single mailboxes, some organizations have several dedicated on-demand mailboxes for each support incident. From a Help Desk Administration perspective, you can think of these mail boxes as workstations.

Each incident can be assigned to one of these workstations. However, you can implement one or more processes to create additional mailboxes depending on the number of people assigned to the incident.

Communicate on your Customer’s Terms

The first thing you have to understand is that a help desk is not the same concept as your traditional help line. The work you need to do is very different: You are not providing technical support, you are asking for it.

Smart Help Desk Managers will either have dedicated A/V staff or create a separate call center. An AV center can handle both technical calls, and remote control software applications.

All VARs (Vendor Assistance Recorders) are going to help you set this up. This is the reason why a Help Desk Manager will require you to accept a software integration agreement that gives a few VARs privileged access to the help desk software.

Besides the software integration agreement, there is going to be some kind of a charge for that privilege. VARs will provide you with a full cost break-down for this privilege, including a per-hour rate for answering FAQs and for remote control software applications.

The other thing to understand is that the corporate help desk will be the first to ask for help related to all the software applications you have on your network.

VARs will need access to your network, network devices, network access, and your application software. The help desk software will need to be able to integrate themselves into this whole network integration process.

Building a Knowledge Base

The knowledge base is a great tool to allow your customers and clients to search for topics easily.

Knowledge base is a place where your customers/clients can ask questions and find their answers more easily.

You can create knowledge base for your company in a very easy way by using an application named BuzzSumo.

When there is a new topic present then you can always just add it in BuzzSumo application.

The BuzzSumo application is a wonderful way to manage your knowledge base for your customers/clients whom you want to serve.

Customers can go to your knowledge base page and just search any topic and can easily find the finding that are needed.

There is no need to be a technician to create a knowledge base.

The basis of the knowledge base is also built with BuzzSumo application.

BuzzSumo has been a famous tool for people to understand what their competitor do and what they have done so you can make the customers feel happy with your quality and services then you can run your business with that.

Resolving Tickets Faster & More Consistently

Knowing how to manage a help desk isn’t easy. Help desk software packages are complicated, and each one has a specific purpose. You have to understand how to customize and configure each of them, and you’re going to need a well-rounded understanding of customer service and computer troubleshooting.

All this takes years of experience and a natural gift for customer service that only comes from long hours in an IT setting. This can lead to frustration for newcomers who want to improve their help desk, but don’t have the time and resources to learn on their own.

That’s why we’ve created a complete guide to help desk software, dedicated to helping you learn about the industry and the software as you work through hands-on examples and practical exercises. You’ll discover why help desk software functionality is so complicated and how to select the app that works for your company. You’ll also learn about what you should expect out of your help desk software, the difference between a help desk and a ticketing system, how to filter and prioritize email, create reports from the ticket history, and manage inbound and outbound calls.

You’ll find a complete list of the features offered by each software package and also tips on how to customize your software to better serve your company.

Adhering to SLAs

(Service Level Agreements)

Nowadays SLAs (Service Level Agreements) are in almost every organisation. Help desks are no exception, especially when they’re outsourced or provided as a service to internal customers. It is important for help desk personnel to understand the importance of SLAs and how they work before they’re sold by the pounds.

SLA stands for Service Level Agreement. It is a document that defines the level of service that an organisation can expect from its IT service provider. It is the contract between the service provider and the organisation where the service provider promises to deliver a certain level of service to the organisation. Service levels include the availability of the service, the response time to service requests, support quality, levels of training provided to technical support staff and telephone service capabilities.

With the advent of outsourcing and Web hosting services, many service providers in many markets have now added SLAs to their offerings. The key here is communication, many service providers offer SLAs that are more focused on availability and service level. The SLAs need to be clear, unambiguous and measurable, and to the point. They must lay out the terms and conditions of the offer and it is essential that customers and users understand them before signifying their agreement to them.

Help Desk Best Practices

Having the right tools to resolve issues fast and efficiently is crucial for success. The right help desk software will provide you this solution, and also help to simplify your daily tasks.

The most common help desk software tools are:

Issue tracking tool

The issue tracking tool is a very important tool that helps you to manage and track your customer support tickets, product defects, and other issues.

Ex: ClearCase, Link, Help Scout

Chat or phone system

The best way to communicate with your customers is to use a live chat system or a standard phone system.

Ex: Intercom, LiveChat, LivePerson, RingCentral

Email platform

The email platform allows you to engage all your customer support pieces… from a website form to an email or phone contact form.

Ex: Intercom, Help Scout,

Knowledge base

The knowledge base helps you manage all your information that can be downloaded by your customers.

Ex: Snagit, Transloadit

Knowledge base and support ticket

The best way to handle your knowledge base and support ticket is by using the same tool. The knowledge base doesn’t scale lightly, so it’s essential to manage both with the same tool.

Ex: SupportBee


Every Help Desk has its own set of FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions). To help you better understand some of the most common questions you’ll be asked, this post contains FAQs on things like:

  • How does a Help Desk work?
  • What can we do to improve the way we respond?
  • How should we encourage stakeholders to provide us with more information in advance?
  • How can we ensure that the issue to be escalated or escalated and escalating process is not repeated?
  • How often should we engage with our issues?
  • How do I create a template email to follow when I am escalating issues?
  • How do I go about escalating user issues to the next level?
  • How do I establish a procedure to check the progress of an issue and ensure that issues are not kept hanging indefinitely?
  • What is the best way to deal with an issue that has been escalated or escalated and escalating?

These are just some of the common questions you may face when working in a Help Desk.

While this post will not walk you through specific answers to these questions, it will help to provide you with some of the questions you should be asking, and will get you started in the right direction.

Can I set up a help desk service on my own?

Sometimes it is necessary to set up a help desk service on your own. If the customer needs not only the service but also the support and excellent service from a support team, you can start a help desk online service for remote support.

The characteristics of a good help desk service mainly include:

  • A fast response.
  • An excellent and attractive service interface.
  • The whole service is supported and managed remotely.
  • The service is seasonal or a recurring service.

Some techniques are very useful for setting up a help desk online service. One of the most important is to come up with a service agreement document to outline the purpose of the help desk.

It must clearly state the purpose of support and the responsibilities of both parties. In this document, both parties, the client and the help desk team will sign it and agree to the terms.

The second important technique is to come up with a service policy, which tells the help desk what the team members can and can not do. This policy is to be posted on the team member’s personal accounts and will give some additional guidelines to users.

If you have gotten all the technical requirements for your help desk, the easiest way to set up a help desk service is to sign up for a help desk service provider.

Can I connect ticket data with other applications that I use?

All-in-all, you should be able to connect the tickets with other applications as well because most of the ticketing applications are compatible with MS SQL Server.

There are some third-party software out in the market that help you to connect ticket data with CRM systems or custom applications, but this depends on the software you are using for the tickets that are coming into your system.

Can I resolve customer tickets from a mobile device?

Yes. Mobile device users can now access the CM (Customer Management) portal or self-service website from their Android and iOS smart phones or tablets. Customers can manage their tickets from their devices anytime they want to. Make sure that you have enough data plan if you decide to use it to manage tickets.

On the other hand, the customer doesn’t need to download and install an application from iTunes or Google Play. Mobile device users can login any time and access the information they need, including agent phone numbers and their start and end dates.

Bottom Line

Up Front:

IT Help Desk personnel spend a lot of time providing customer support. It often seems that no matter what you do, you can’t please everyone. In addition, there is no easy way to manage a help desk.

An easy way to manage IT help desks is to use a help desk ticketing system. There are 2 easy ways to do it; off-the-shelf and custom.

The easiest way is to use an off-the-shelf ticketing system. The best way is to use a help desk ticketing system that integrates with your help desk software.

But sometimes you can’t find one that will integrate with you help desk software. When that happens, you can elect to use a custom written web ticketing system that integrates directly with your help desk software.

Basically, the web ticketing systems system’s job is to partition the customer’s issue and send it to the proper person at the help desk. It does this by providing the ticketing information and making sure that the customer stays on the phone with the right person.