3 Tips for Building a Good Relationship Between Customers and the Help Desk

The IT help desk does not exactly have the best reputation as a customer-friendly entity. Plenty of business users expect to run into frustrations when they contact the help desk, but you can reverse this reputation.

A recent Computerworld report tells the story of an IT worker with a negative help desk experience, and the tale emphasizes the importance of building a positive relationship between the help desk and end users.

The story showed up in Computerworld's Shark Tank feature - a regular entry in the publication that details an IT horror story that a reader sends in. This incident featured a worker who tried to login to a project on SharePoint on a Monday morning only to find that the system was unavailable. After talking to the help desk, the individual found that something went wrong with the configuration and they were expecting to have Sharepoint running again in an hour.

The hour of lost productivity turned out to only be the beginning of the problem. When SharePoint got running again, the employee started getting calls and emails from a project team because they have an initiative that needs be finished urgently, but is showing up as not having been updated in SharePoint since the previous Thursday. The employee did some digging, and the problem was happening throughout SharePoint.

This story highlights how many help desk teams and business users don't have a successful, collaborative relationship. A good help desk will operate to deliver value to the organization, not shy away from potential problems because it may make life a bit easier. Creating this positive relationship can be difficult, but these three tips can help you get there:With a call to the help desk, the individual found that the problem with SharePoint eliminated all updates and the help desk needed to revert back to the last backup, which was on the previous Thursday. The help desk knew about this, but chose not tell anybody about it because they knew they would get a bunch of phone calls about the issue. Instead, the support team chose to leave users with a lingering problem that they were trying to solve on their own. The help desk could have told them about the issue so they could move on to trying to catch up on what they lost.

1. Create a Culture Focused on Business Value
Help desk teams have traditionally been trained to focus on resolving incidents as quickly as possible, with key performance indicators focusing on how your support employees handle tickets. This makes the focus internal. Employees are left thinking, "What's the easiest way for me to get through the most support tickets as quickly as possible?" The result is an environment in which help desk teams are almost incentivized to focus on making their life more convenient, even if that detracts from business value.

Focusing on value creation metrics, not just personal performance, can ensure that your help desk team has a reason to focus on how their efforts impact the business.

2. Provide Robust Ticketing and Communication Tools
Employees who are inundated with tasks that need to get done can struggle to get their head above water and make time to build a good relationship with end users. This issue can escalate even further if you are using a homegrown help desk built around email and phone calls instead formal ticketing processes. Giving your workers ticketing and communications solutions built for the help desk enables them to work so much more efficiently that they will have more time to focus on their relationship with business users.

3. Break Down Operational Silos
For a long time, organizations have kept their technology and business teams in completely different spheres. Support teams have been segregated, to a degree, from both groups as they try to play intermediary, but never really become a part of either team. Eliminating longstanding operational silos and getting employees to work under common goals can play a huge role in improving the relationship between different stakeholders within your organization.

Delivering business value is a growing priority for IT support teams. Organizations that want to improve the relationship between their help desk workers and business users need to be intentional about changing their operational culture.

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