HOW TO SET UP A HELP DESK OR CALL CENTER
 

Before you begin taking service calls, you should give some thought to how you would like to organize your help desk. Without well-defined procedures, your organization can become people dependent instead of process dependent. By planning your organization in advance, you will save time in the future. There are courses given by many groups that you can take to learn how to set up an effective support center. Also, Multima Corporation offers courses at various times during the year and there are other organizations that offer courses.

Some Important Questions to Ask
To avoid the excessive stress often associated with operating a Help Desk, you should take the time to plan your requirements for an effective Help Desk. The following is a short list of items that you may need to consider :

  • Do you have the full support from upper management? It is very difficult for a Help Desk to be successful without upper management support.
  • Do you have enough personnel to answer the phones, enter the service calls and actually perform the service?
  • Do you rotate personnel? Consider rotating your personnel so that the same person does not always have to answer the phones, often the most stressful area in the Help Desk.
  • Are the Help Desk computers up to par? Often the Help Desk gets "hand-me-down" computers. In reality, the Help Desk needs fast computers with large screens. Fast computers will result in faster response and large screens allow for many windows to be opened simultaneously.
  • Has proper training been considered? ·
  • Are comfortable, hands free telephone sets provided? ·
  • Are there clear instructions to deal with problems and call escalation?
  • Are there plans to track user satisfaction with the Help Desk services?

PLAN YOUR HELP DESK
By the time you realize that you need a help desk program, most likely you are overwhelmed with work. Your thoughts turn to finding ways to organize your workload, your staff and the users who are requesting service. When you started, you probably answered a few calls and gave a little advice. As your organization has grown and requests have become more complex, the demands for help have also grown. Without an organized help desk using a good help desk or CRM software program such as NetKeeper to track and manage service requests, a significant amount of time is wasted every day. It is time to make a plan of action. Try to determine how you would like to set up your help desk. Your first concern should be inventory of personnel and equipment. If you are doing external support, then you will want to know the product or computer software or hardware installed at each site. By having some idea of the magnitude of your organization, you can choose the size of the help desk.

INVENTORY - Internal
If the help desk will service users on an internal LAN or WAN, you should do a complete inventory of all the equipment and software on the network as well as stand-alone machines. We recommend that you use a LAN Inventory program such as NetKeeper Express because NetKeeper programs integrate seamlessly. A LAN Inventory program will audit all the workstations on the network automatically. NetKeeper will also audit stand-alones. The day you do the audit, have each user fill out a short form with their name, telephone, location, the serial number of their computer and any other pertinent information. You will then have a database of all the inventoried equipment and software as well as user's names and locations. If your organization is small or you do not want to do an automated inventory, you can send a form to all computer users. Users can fill in names, locations, and basic computer information such as serial number, equipment type, make and model and software including versions that the user has installed. You will probably find, however, that even in a small organization, an automated inventory program is a more practical choice. For other items that you want to include in your database, you can use NetKeeper Bar Code Inventory. You simply scan the bar code labels attached to equipment. We can show you how to set up a bar code inventory. You can also use NetKeeper Captain to support any other equipment either for your location or for outside support.

IINVENTORY - External
f you are using the help desk for outside support of software or other items, you can enter user information as you enter service calls or as you receive returned warranty cards to your company. NetKeeper Help Desk and NetKeeper CRM programs include general inventory information as well as purchase information, lease, warranty, state and federal tax information. Once you have inventoried your system and made some reports, you can now determine the size of the help desk that you will need. You will be very surprised at the number of users that you will have to support.

MAKE REPORTS
Install the help desk program and the entire inventory that you have gathered for your database. Before you start logging calls, make a few simple report forms so that you can run reports sorted by number of calls, reporting users or by problem type on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. You will want to look for trends. You want to know where your help desk gives most of their technical support. If you see the same equipment breaking down all the time, you may want to send a report to Accounting. If the same group of users call and have trouble with certain software applications, you may want to consider a training class for them. Your objective should be to reduce the number of calls to the help desk by solving and eliminating recurring problems. Also, effective reports will convince upper management that a corporate help desk is an important asset in the organization.

EDUCATE THE USERS
Make sure that all perspective users understand the service commitments of the help desk. You want to develop a rapport and sense of cooperation between the help desk staff and the reporting users. Train your reporting users so that they know how and where to report the call. Also, explain to them the services that you will be offering. Promote training courses. After all, the better trained your reporting users are, the fewer calls, in particular simple calls, you will receive on the help desk.

TRAIN YOUR STAFF
Train your staff to take all calls. If you do not log all calls, you may not have a clear picture of your support needs. NetKeeper allows you to log simple calls in seconds. Make sure that they find out the nature of the request, first. If the user's request does not pertain to your help desk, refer them to the appropriate person immediately. Efficiency is important. Your support staff may respond to some of the calls over the phone or assign technicians to solve the reporting user's problem. Your staff can assign calls to technicians on the Service Call entry screen. Technicians can view work orders anywhere on the network. Train your technical support staff to pick up work orders on the network and to close the work orders by entering the time and date. You may want to assign an hourly rate so that you can charge departments or clients for service. Have the staff enter a short description of the problem solution in the note area so that your help file of previous solutions continues to grow. The support staff can view the Help file for solutions at any time.

DEFINE YOUR PRIORITIES
Define and set up priorities and teach your staff how to use the priority notation. Be sure to review your final list with the entire staff to confirm that everyone has the same expectations. Define escalation rules. You can assign a priority to each user that will automatically appear on the NetKeeper Service Call screen. Some users, departments or organizations may have higher priorities than others. Set up a list of names of technical support staff to whom you can assign calls. List the required activities for each staff member 's role. Each work order activity has a number of duties associated with it. Define the activities carefully and set expectations so that there are few conflicts and role duplications. Train your staff in the activities that you want each member to control.

KEEP USERS INFORMED
It is important to keep your reporting users informed of the progress and actions taken for each call. Make sure your staff records user satisfaction. In NetKeeper, there are three definable variables for user satisfaction. You can define one as promptness in responding to the call, the next as satisfactory solution to the service call and the third as courteousness of the support staff, for example. It is important to have feed back from the reporting users so that you can maintain the highest level of support on your help desk.

ORGANIZE
Organize your help desk so that you can manage increased call volume. Real time management includes projecting call volume, daily variances and staff requirements. When the call volume picks up, you should have a game plan for moving your staff efficiently to handle all the calls. Reporting users can also enter their own service calls using the User Entry Module. The support staff can view the requests and assign technicians. Of course, it will only work if the workstation is running. There is also an on-line help system that users can access. Solutions to simple problems are listed and easily retrieved. Since ninety percent of the calls for technical support are repetitive and have easy solutions, you should encourage users to look in the help file first before calling the help desk. If you take a little time to organize your help desk and train your staff, you will save a great deal of time in the long run.

 

CASE STUDIES

NetKeeper Help Desk Captain can support internal users (employees), external users (customers) or a mix of both. You can set up and use NetKeeper Captain for different support situations. We will use three hypothetical cases to show you some of the support options available in NetKeeper Captain.

  • Case 1: IT department for a manufacturing concern. Support 4000 employees and 10 techs at the Help Desk.
  • Case 2: MIS for a Marketing Firm with 2000 independent sales persons and 5 techs answering calls at the help desk.
  • Case 3: Support department of a software company. The company sells point-of-sale terminals and has an installed base of 2300 accounts. Each account can have one or more stores.

Case 1: IT department for a manufacturing concern
The IT department supports the employee's PC and the software applications used throughout the company. The IT department is a little short handed and would like to minimize the call volume into the Help Desk and encourage users to self-help. To accomplish the IT's goals, the Help Desk manager will use:

  • NetKeeper Captain to track calls
  • NetKeeper Express to audit the employee's PC and build an employee data base
  • NetKeeper Internet Self Service to allow end-users to use the LAN to look up solutions in the SolutionsKeeper database, enter service requests, check the progress of existing service requests.

The Help Desk manager will publish the Top 10 requests and their solutions on the company's internal intranet. NetKeeper Captain will automatically generate the HTML pages to publish the Top 10 Requests. NetKeeper Help Desk Captain includes all the necessary software. The program will be set so that service requests with priority level 4 or higher are received, the assigned tech will be automatically e-mailed and when the service request is level 2 or higher, the assigned tech will be paged. This automatic notification applies to service calls entered by either the end-users or the help desk techs.

  • Setup: Using the Global Options screen (UTILITIES | SETUP DATA) the administrator will:
  • Set priority names for 5 priority levels. The other priority levels won't be used and are left blank.
  • Set the minimum priority levels to send e-mail and alphanumeric pages. · Set alpha numeric page mode and enable the e-mail and the paging system
  • Define the various types of To-Dos
  • Enable the auto dialer · Define the address field for the service call to include a few extra fields such as a department number and wall plate number
  • Set up the User Entry options to require employee login and passwords to login new service requests
  • Also, enter defaults for the PO system such as Bill To, Ship To, Tax information

The administrator can also use the Option's screen customization features to change some of the screen legends and make some fields required.

Use: The Help Desk receives a call

  • Click on the "Ringing Telephone" (new service request button)
  • Click the lower lookup button next to the address field to display a list of the LAN users. NetKeeper Express automatically collected the data in this list.
  • Highlight an entry and click SELECT to select a user The program will automatically fill important fields in the service call request form. The address field also includes several additional fields that were defined in the program setup screens.
  • Click the request lookup button and select a request · Link the likely solutions into the request. The program will also automatically set the priority to the highest priority selected.
  • Click OK to save the request. Since the request carries a priority level of 2, the assigned tech will be e-mailed and paged. Caller self help A caller who requires assistance can look up the most often requested questions on the company's intranet.

If the problem persists, the caller can click on a shortcut on their desktop and enter a service request directly into the database. In either case, no help desk software is installed at the user's workstation since NetKeeper programs are "thin programs" and all components are installed at the server.

Case 2: MIS for a Marketing Firm with 2000 independent sales persons and 5 techs answering calls at the help desk.
The MIS department supports about 60 employees and 2000 independent sales persons who own their own computers and run a custom sales application as well as sales procedures. The sales' persons roam the entire country and need support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The sales persons use the World Wide Web to communicate with the company. The Help Desk is very short handed because of the high requirements needed to support the very complex custom software. However, the sales persons tend to ask the same questions since there is basically only one application to support. The sales persons are charged when they make more than three calls to the help desk personnel per month. This encourages the sales persons to self-help and to submit their own requests instead of calling the Help Desk. To support the 60 internal employees, the company will set up NetKeeper CRM Enterprise software in a manner similar as in case 1.

  • To support the external sales persons the Help Desk manager will use NetKeeper CRM to track service requests and use the tier 3 (contacts) level to track sales person's data, service requests and to-do items needed to support the sales persons.
  • Place the entire SolutionsKeeper database of Requests and Solutions on the company WEB site in standard HTML for access by the tech and sales staff. These standard HTML pages can be viewed with very little bandwidth requirements and through any browser.
  • The Help Desk manager will use NetKeeper Internet to allow the sales persons to enter service requests, enter business and sales opportunities in the Business Management console and to check on the progress of a service request or SLAs without calling the help desk . The sales persons can also look at customer histories. The Help Desk manager liked this solution very much since no help desk software had to be installed at any of the sales person's PCs since the sales person interfaces through the PC's WEB browser.

The WEB support is available 24 hours a day and seven days a week. The Help Desk manager can set the program to automatically page a designated tech or sales person if a request is received for a very urgent or very high priority level. Super achiever sales person's can be assigned a higher priority and the program will always select the highest priority level specified for the request or the sales person. All the software required is included in NetKeeper Internet.

Setup: Using the Global Options screen (UTILITIES | SETUP DATA) the administrator will:

  • Set Priority names for 9 priority levels.
  • Enter defaults for the PO system
  • Set the minimum priority levels to send e-mail and alphanumeric pages.
  • Set alpha numeric page mode · Enable the e-mail and the paging system
  • Define the various types of To-Dos
  • Enable the auto dialer.
  • Define the address field for the service call to include the sales person ID number and support level.
  • Set up the Internet End-User module to require passwords and login.
  • Set up the Internet End-User module to allow end users to review case notes and to add notes to existing cases in real time.
  • Use the screen customization features to change some of the screen legends and make some fields required.

Use: The Help Desk receives a call

  • Click on the "Ringing Telephone" (new service request button)
  • Enter the sales person's ID number, name telephone or other ID into the address field and double click on the field. The program searches the sales person list and automatically retrieves the sales person's information. The program will automatically fill important fields in the service call request form. The address field also includes the additional fields that were defined in the program setup screens.
  • Click the request lookup button and select a request and link the likely solutions into the request. The program will also automatically set the priority to the highest priority selected.
  • Click OK to save the request. The assigned tech will be e-mailed or paged depending on the request's priority level.

Sales Person self-help
Sales Persons can visit the Company's WEB site and browse through the request and solutions SolutionsKeeper database to locate a solution to a problem or to check a sales tip or sales method. Sales staff can access the help desk from anywhere and at anytime through the browser in their PC. The sales person can enter a service request or check on the progress of a pending request and even add notes to an existing service request or have a tech paged at any time. Sales persons will probably never call the Help Desk directly except when unable to access the WEB.

Case 3: Support department of a software company.
The support department supports over 2000 customer sites that use the point-of-sale. Some sites operate on a 24-hour basis. The support costs have been a significant burden on the company. To lower the support cost while maintaining high level of customer satisfaction upper management has asked the Help Desk department to implement a help desk system that tracks and prioritizes customer service requests and yet enables the company's customer base to self-help on less important issues. At most customer sites, there is high employee turnover so the service requests are not tracked by employee but by store. Still it is desirable to track the name of the person that requested the service. The company also needs to track the support costs to be able to bill some customers with the support costs. The Help Desk administrator will place selected portions of the SolutionsKeeper database of Requests and Solutions on the company WEB site in standard HTML. These standard HTML pages can be viewed with very little bandwidth requirements and through any browser. This Request and Solutions database will help support existing customers as well as offer per-sales support. The Help Desk administrator will use NetKeeper Captain Internet to allow some end-users to enter service requests without calling the help desk and to check on the progress of a service request. These high-end, high-priority end-users will be able to page their assigned tech at any time. The end-users can also look at their call history to review an old solution. End-users will not be able to create their own accounts. The help desk staff will control the creation of new WEB accounts. The end-users will access the WEB Help Desk through an ordinary browser and have access to the Help Desk database without requiring access rights to the Help Desk database. NetKeeper Captain serves in real time a dynamic HTML representation of the database without requiring direct user access to the database. The WEB support is available 24 hours a day and seven days a week. All the software required is included in NetKeeper Captain Internet.

Setup: Using the NetKeeper Global Options screen (UTILITIES | SETUP DATA) the administrator will

  • Set priority names for 9 priority levels.
  • Enter defaults for the PO system
  • Set the minimum priority levels to send e-mail and alphanumeric pages.
  • Set alpha numeric page mode · Enable the e-mail and the paging system
  • Define the various types of To-Dos
  • Enable the auto dialer.
  • Define the address field for the service call to include the account name, store name, location and ID number.
  • Set up the Internet End-User module to require passwords and login but not to create their own accounts.
  • Set up the Internet End-User module to allow end users to review case notes and to add notes to existing cases in real time.
  • Rename tier 1 as "Account" and tier 2 as "Store" to reflect the hierarchy of the customer base.
  • Use the screen customization features to change some of the screen and list legends and make some fields required.
  • Import the existing data into the Account and Store tables and set up the help desk tech e-mail and alphanumeric page information.
  • Next, set up to Internet accounts for the high priority end-users.
  • Set the default lookup to display the Organization list and display all three organizational tiers (Account-Store-Contact). The call history call will display the Store's call history.

Use: The Help Desk receives a call

  • Click on the "Ringing Telephone" (new service request button)
  • Enter the customer's ID number, name, telephone or other ID or field from the account or store records into the address field and double click on the field. The program searches the database and automatically retrieves the correct information. A pick list is displayed if there is more than one match. The program automatically fills important fields in the service call request form. The address field also includes the additional fields that were defined in the program setup screens. The program automatically selects the address field from the contact data, store data or account data depending on which one is available. · Click the request lookup button and select a request
  • Link the likely solutions into the request. The program will also automatically set the priority to the highest priority selected.
  • Click OK to save the request. The assigned tech will be e-mailed or paged depending on the request's priority level. From the service request screen, the help desk tech can check both the call history for the store and the request history for the user's request. The help desk personnel can also use the organizational list to view a call history summary for the account or the store and enter service requests by drilling down from the organizational list. This method is useful when a service request is not requested by the end-user but is entered by company sales person or company executive.

End-user self-service
Prospects and end-users can visit the Company's WEB site and browse through the request and solutions SolutionsKeeper database to locate a solution to a problem or to view operation tips. Only selected entries on the SolutionsKeeper database are available to the end-users. High priority end-user with a valid WEB account can access the help desk from anywhere and at anytime through the browser in their PC. The end-user can enter a service request or check on the progress of a pending request. The end-user can even add notes to an existing service request or have a tech paged at any time. Providing access for high-priority end-users will improve customer satisfaction and lower support costs.