Factors to keep in mind before you choose a help desk

By Shivangi Sharma
choose a help desk

A SaaS startup with a team size < 10 has suffered a minor setback - its Head of Marketing is down with flu. The company recently procured a Content Management System (CMS) solution and no one else has a single, solitary piece of idea on how it works.

Now there are priority tasks to be taken care of. So the team decides that the best person to take the mantle is the in-house copywriter, who has no experience in working with CMS solutions either.

Stuck in a wringer on how to use it, he tries to figure out from the user manual and realizes soon enough that it requires prior knowledge to make out the instructions. Fortunately, there is a support contact number that directs her to an oversimplified demo video. Life gets easier after that.

People often need help with learning new things - be it using a Microwave or switching the computers on and off. That’s why customer support exists as a separate industry today.

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For customer support team customer experience and satisfaction have now become two main KPIs, leaving revenue far behind. And, handling customer queries is not just about about giving one time satisfactory responses. It is far more challenging. People ask for solutions to problems that are often unpredictable in nature.

Customer support is easier said than done (and that’s where the need of a help desk software stems from)

Customer support is at the front and center of today’s businesses, more so in a B2B SaaS environment where solving a customer query has a direct impact on the bottomline. Things are quite different in a B2C environment.

Let’s try and understand this difference in the context of the traditional phone-support:

In the mind of a customer, most customer support facilities are associated with the reading-from-a-script syndrome. For a B2C customerlet’s say, someone who bought earphones online and is unhappy with the sound qualityit might be acceptable if the customer support executive is following a script, as long as the complaint is being registered and addressed.

As opposed to this, a B2B customer expects the agent on the other end of the call to be a specialist who knows what they are talking about. A B2B customer is not satisfied just registering a complaint, they want to be educated and informed.

In no way are we saying that ‘customer satisfaction’ is more than enough in B2C support. Competition has made excellence mandatory in every realm.

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Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, devotes 99% of his time looking for ways to step-up his customer service game.

Be it Amazon or Washington Post, Bezos believes in putting the customer first. What he did for Amazon is what he has also been following for Washington Post. On receiving an email from a reader complaining how long it tool for the mobile app to load, he immediately set out to get the problem fixed. You can read the rest of this story on how Bezos took a hands-on role at Washington Post here. It’s a superb learning on customer service.

Poor customer support is one of the chief reasons for the high churn rates among most SaaS businesses. We can back this up with ample proof. Things get even more challenging by the virtue of every single B2B customer contributing to a reasonable chunk of your business revenue. When they raise a ticket and it’s not addressed properly due to n number of reasonsticket not being picked up quickly, confusion over who is handling the ticket, etc.it can hurt business.

That said, people like Jen, are just born with the knack (and the right humor) to handle customer distress like a breeze. From Travel app Skyscanner’s customer service department, Jen, took to addressing the accidental 47-year layover that their app was showing. While Skyscanner could have simply reported a ‘bug in the system’ and posted a regular apology, Jen had something else in mind. She tried light humor, and human touch.

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What followed was a chain of hilarious responses and interaction from people all over the internet!

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There’s too much riding on a customer service executive’s shoulders. A service provider needs to understand the needs of every single customer and use that understanding as a baseline to build relationships. Adding to the difficulty level of the JD is the breakneck speed with which end goals need to be met. To accomplish that, you need a help desk solution that works.

What makes a good help desk solution

There are a number of help desk tools to the rescue of those looking to ease the demanding customer support function in their company. However, picking the right solution is not as easy as it might appear on the surface.

Of course, you might have done your research about the kind of ‘pricing’ plans different help desk solutions offer. But, did you delve any further to know how that help desk software can be a value-add to your business?

Here are eight factors that you must ‘up-tick’ when finalizing a help desk solution.

Makes managing emails easy

A typical issue that arises when using email as a helpdesk tool is multiple agents working on the same email—a reason why you need a help desk tool in the first place. A quality tool can channel efforts and ensure smooth communication between the different team members, especially when the entire team is logged in using a single account.

When a new email arrives, it can be picked up quickly, without a confusion over who is handling it. It can ensure that ownership over a particular email is clear, communicable and does not leave any room for collision.

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Makes reps accountable

Once your help desk solution gives an agent complete ownership of an email or a ticket, taking it to its logical conclusion becomes that agent’s objective for the lifetime of that issue, thus serving as a measure of their output.

If your help desk solution is enabling you to set accountabilities and responsibilities right, half of your job is already done.

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Keeps inboxes from getting cluttered

Habit has us ‘cc-ing’ and ‘bcc-ing’ everyone who might have any remote context about a customer query. One email turns into a long thread of conversion. Chaotic clutter!

Email happens to be the most preferred channel of communication for almost every key organizational function, including support. Nonetheless, email clutter is the number one productivity killer. If a help desk can help you break free from that mess, go for it.

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Provides personalized support

You don’t want to give a generic response to a customer who has painstakingly poured his heart out trying to explain the kind of trouble he’s been facing. Even if you are relying on ‘auto-response’, don’t forget to add the human touch.

Personalized email templates work like a charm. They make the customer feel appreciated and cared for. Also, a B2B customer expects the support agents to be fully tuned to their issues or requirements and provide specific and viable answers to the questions. Your help desk solution should make that possible.

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Enhances speed (Faster resolution time)

Business problems are specific and time-bound. If an issue or glitch remains unanswered over a longer time stretch, the problem might cascade down to that customer’s clients. Find a tool which facilitates picking up and processing customer requests on priority.

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Meets your budget

Investment in a help desk solution is recurrent. Therefore, a high price tag is likely to keep decision makersespecially of small- and medium-sized businessesat a distance, almost to the point of being out of reach.

While deciding the budget for a help desk software, there are these two factors a) your team size b) software compatibility. Different helpdesk solutions price their plans as per the company’s team size. Therefore, depending on whether you are an individual, small team, or an enterprise, the pricing will differ.

Alongside, if a helpdesk tool requires external integrations your budget will automatically need to stretch some more for that.

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Keeps teams on the same page

A help desk solution should be aimed at giving synchronicity to how team members (or teams) operate, which takes us back to the first point - ensuring no two agents are working on the same email. More than one person responding to an email could spell disaster. There is a good chance that two contradictory responses are sent to the client leaving him confused and furious. You don’t want that happening.

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Accurate response

Patience is not a virtue of business customers, considering they have a lot riding on the products they’ve invested in. If your solution fails to facilitate a system where responses are never off the mark, it might lead to some serious credibility issues.

Let’s say, an agent is stuck with a certain query - a help desk software can help her not wondering who could help her out and then walk over to that agent to discuss it in person. It must be able to lift that sort of weight off manual work from her shoulders.

Wouldn’t it be great if team members could exchange notes with each other and send quick replies to their clients? An accurate response can be sent as and when the query arrives, without the agent having to wait for a face-to-face discussion on it with other team members.

Things to keep in mind before you sign up

Simply do this exercise before you pull out your credit card and sign-up for a monthly or annual subscription. Try and answer in detail the following questions that we’ve listed here. This exercise will help you take a final call before you seal the deal.

Is the software easy to implement?

Get a help desk solution that doesn’t need you to be a genius when configuring and customizing the solution to give a sense of structure to how tickets are organized, emails are assigned to respective team members, individual performances are monitored, etc. Performing these tasks should be fuss-free. Besides, all those apps and widgets might be appealing when offered as ‘add-ons’; however, just double check whether they are quick and easy to integrate?

How does the software empower teams to be more efficient?

Does the help desk solution you are considering give full scope to individual strength and flexibility? At the same time, does it lay out a common path for vision and effort, encouraging teamwork and shared goal-setting?

With Gmail’s collaborative inbox, things are all over the place. Because the different agents are working in silos, they find themselves collaborating where collaboration is not needed - like working on the same email and reaching out to the customer with the same message.

And, you thought the collaborative inbox was a game changer. Nope! Here are more reasons why you should think once again. The help desk solution you use should facilitate taking complete ownership of an issue and make collaboration possible in the context of helping a team member out.

Another important point - Empowerment begins when team members have complete know-how about what’s happening. It is accomplished when they understand why its happening and what can be done better.

That gets us to a help desk’s ability to track and report customer activity, response rate, and response satisfaction. Support analytics is an essential feature that must be on your list while shortlisting a help desk software.

Is the help desk software secure?

Smart technology runs on data; tons of it. And, the information involved is a high stake. Your help desk software might be using data such as sensitive passwords, personal addresses, customer names etc. Fraudsters are always hunting for such personal information to carry out malicious scams. Make sure that the help desk software you choose is secure enough to keep your clients’ information scam proof.

Does the software require a lot of training?

If the tool being used requires every first-time user to spend hours/days in learning how to operate it, you are losing out on the productive hours. Invest in a tool with a fast learning curve.

Is the solution geared for scalability?

Some softwares might seem just the right fit for your budget and requirements when the company is still growing. However, will the same solution be able to deliver all the core functionalities of support as your business scales? Will it still be able to help your support team deliver excellence? At present, you might not need a help desk solution that is meant for enterprises; however, you also don’t want to keep switching plans every other year.

Hiver - All that you need from a good help desk software

Hiver has been built keeping in mind all the above factors that you would look for and appreciate in your help desk software. It helps you break free from the cluttered inbox, cumbersome implementation, unjustified costs, long training sessions, and a number of other nuisances.

The Hiver advantage is that it allows you to use Gmail as your help desk. You don’t have to learn anything new, you don’t need to switch elsewhere, you don’t end up wasting time on implementation.

You get to:

  • Manage emails easily. Assign emails as soon as they arrive in your inbox and allocate them to relevant members of your team.
  • Avoid duplicate and conflicting responses. Collison alerts keep you notified about team members responding to a customer’s email.
  • Make collaboration more efficient. Your team can share Notes and ask for advice or help when stuck while replying to customers. Quick help from team members means faster response time for customers.
  • Reduced response time. Email templates add to the speed of response. All you need to do is save the preferred email template and share with your team.

You can do all this and more with Hiver to manage and optimize your team’s customer support function.

Keep track of your team’s performance with Hiver’s analytics that allows you to access key metrics like response time and resolution time for customer emails, and see where you need to pull your socks up.

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Learn more about Hiver

About the author

Shivangi is a content crafter at Hiver. She spends half her day writing about products, and the rest of it pondering about the profound void that life is. Intermittently, she takes up something more meaningful, like snacking.

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