Ask any customer service representative and they will tell you that customer care doesn’t end after the business delivers the goods or services ordered.
Other than the typical customer service offered before the deal is done, great businesses aim to offer amazing after-sales experiences that lead to customer satisfaction – and more importantly – repeat business.
So, is a help desk only for technical support? Well, the quick answer is – No.
Help desk support is a brilliant investment for any business that wants to offer great customer service. That’s a no-brainer.
It’s a fantastic tool to complete the customer acquisition journey and enhance the customer experience for as long as the buyer deals with the business – even when they don’t need technical support.
As such, it would be incorrect to propose that a help desk is only for technical support whereas it has many roles in any organization big or small.
What is a Help Desk?
A help desk is a person or department that aids IT users. In its most basic form, a help desk has a phone number, and one expert who can solve customer problems in real time.
But don’t get me wrong, a help desk can also be a global organization that offers customer support services to other businesses from across the world. Also, support channels are not confined to the phone nowadays. We have email, online contact forms, and live chat apps.
Typically, a functional help desk has six functions:
- Request acceptance – The help desk team (or person) receives support requests that customers submit in-person or via chat, forms, email, or phone.
- Ticket creation – The help desk support staff use help desk software to create support tickets to track customer support.
- Ticket management – The team uses a help desk system to channel the support tickets to the right customer support representative and/or departments.
- Response and resolution – The customer support staff responds and resolve customer problems in a timely manner.
- Escalation – The ticket is escalated to a next-tier level or another professional if the first person couldn’t resolve the problem.
- Knowledge base – The customer service team uses a knowledge base to find answers to similar requests that have already been resolved in the past. They also add and update the knowledge base as they resolve questions.
What is Technical Support? And is that the same as IT Support?
At first, and there is nothing wrong with it, many users might suppose that technical support and IT support are one and the same thing. While they are close cousins, there is a slight difference.
Technical support is the help that hardware or software companies offer to their customers to provide help and advice about their products. Maybe the end-user can’t seem to get the computer working, or they keep getting an error when they install your software.
IT support, on the other hand, is the support that a business offers its employees and the wider organization for tech-related issues. You run to the IT guy when the printer breaks down, the computer crashes, or the office network is out.
How do the two functions differ in function and where do they overlap?
Seeing as both are essential functions in any tech firm, what are the main differences between IT support and technical support?
As we’ve hinted earlier, IT support is all about installation, configuration, and maintaining computer systems in a company. IT support reps usually work in the background – in the IT department.
Technical support is all about helping customers to solve issues they are having with the company’s tech products. Technical support specialists work mainly in call centers or in the field.
So, where do they overlap? IT support is basically technical support but for employees. Additionally, IT support staff can be called to provide technical support to customers.
Usually, IT support and technical support specialists have nearly the same skills and job requirements. They practically do the same job but for two different user groups.
Why are these two types of support sometimes viewed as the same thing?
Oftentimes, many people use the terms interchangeably and wrongly so. Many users view IT support and technical support as the same thing. How did this come to be? Here’s a brief history of the help desk.
A long time ago, you had to go to the physical store where you bought your product and walk down to the IT department if you needed help. You can imagine it was quite a hassle, labor-intensive, and costly.
But thanks to advances in technology, things have changed dramatically. Nowadays, you can get real-time support from a company that’s halfway across the globe thanks to robust help desk systems.
The help desk was introduced in the 1980s when companies realized they could use customer services tools to not only resolve issues but also teach customers and employees in the process. This was the original purpose of the help desk.
Businesses could use the same help desk system to assist both customers and employees, which is why more and more people started viewing IT support and technical support as the same thing.
Also, IT (short for information technology) is a relatively technical for the average Joe. So, it makes sense that many people think IT support and technical support is the same thing.
But they are not. The former focuses on the tech within the organization, and the latter is all about offering support for the company’s products.
Since then, the help desk has evolved significantly to encompass phone, email, live chat, contact forms, social media, and self-service options.
What are the different types of help desk structures available today?
As help desk systems evolved, it morphed into different structures. Here are the four different types of help desk structures available today:
- Cloud-based help desk – This is software as a service (SaaS) help desk that is hosted on a third-party server. The customer service team accesses the help desk by logging on the vendor’s website or via a desktop or mobile app.
- Self-hosted help desk – Also known as an on-premises help desk, this is licensed proprietary help desk software that a company owns and hosts on its servers. It offers complete control over data and security and is fully customizable.
- Open-source help desk – A popular option, open-source help desk allows developers to access its source code, which means it’s easy to modify as per the needs of your business. Open-source help desks are mainly free, and come with few limitations, if any.
- Enterprise help desk – Perfect for large companies, enterprise help desk comes with advanced features that lower-priced help desks lack. It is a one-stop all-round solution.
The help desk structure you choose ultimately depends on your business needs and budget.
How to find the right help desk software for your small business
With a vast number of options in the market, how do you choose the right help desk software for your small business? It needn’t be challenging, especially with the following quick tips.
Set objectives and determine your needs– First things first, you must understand the problem you want to solve with your help desk. What are looking to achieve? Understanding your business needs will help you to narrow down your focus for the decision-making process. Talk to your customer service team.
Budget and expected ROI – Different help desk software come at different price points so it’s important how much you can splurge on a help desk system without breaking the bank. Also determine the expected return on investment (ROI) and the payback period. For instance, you probably don’t need an enterprise or self-hosted help desk when a cloud-based or open-source help desk is good for your small business.
Integrations – Which other tools do you need to connect with your help desk? A CRM? An analytics tool? Email providers? An eCommerce platform? The more the integrations, the better. Deep integration means a more powerful help desk system.
Your customers – How do you interact with your customers, and how would like to offer them support? Do they appreciate automated support? How about self-service? Best is to spring for a help desk tool that allows you to offer both automated and personal support.
At the end of the day, a help desk is not only for technical support. You can use it to acquire customers, train employees, and offer after-sales services. In other words, a help desk system is a great tool to enhance customer and employee experiences.