Switching Help Desk

Published by Matt Setchell on

One of the core elements of any support team is the help desk. After 6 years, and now having 16 different support clients, this Easter I took the plunge and switched help desk.

Going from Web Help Desk to FreshDesk was a big deal for us. We had used Web Help Desk since the day I started, I didn’t purchase it, but I remember taking it on, and deciding that nothing would be done, unless it was logged in the help desk. I deleted all the existing tickets, from before I started, and had a blank canvas.

Over the years, WHD did a good job, it coped with our expansion and was a reliable work horse. New team members came in, and eventually got their head around it, because the interface was very complex, and it worked well.

We work exclusively via our help desk, everything has to be logged into it, either by staff or technicians. If it’s not in the help desk, is never happened is something I often tell staff and techies. The ability to have not only detailed logs, but a searchable base of everything we have ever done. We used so many elements of the help desk, but there were some key elements missing, and WHD simply wasn’t being developed anymore.

I had a few main reasons to move:

  • I wanted something cloud base, due to no longer being part of St Bede’s – we are trying to move everything into the cloud to be on it’s own and redundant should St Bede’s go down.
  • The interface was crap, crap for us and for staff when logging issues.
  • Lack of Self Help area (see shift left)
  • Better metrics
  • Better Mobile app

I looked at loads of possibilities. For a longtime, JitBit looked like the one for us. Simple, intuitive and responsive. But FreshDesk took my attention away. It’s a much bigger and diverse product. The intimate nature of development and support is not there as with Jitbit, but, the product is already highly polished. And actually, the main users, the techies had to get on with it the best. Fresh Desk excels in both front facing areas, and the techie area. Even with over 100 tickets a day being logged and completed, our desk is quick and respondent to the needs of individual users.

We started prepping for the move about a month prior, it’s a yearly subscription so we didn’t want to have too long of our subscription wasted. We had Easter in this period, and it landed on April 1st, so we went live at the beginning of the holiday and this gave us a gradual introduction, albeit whilst we were building a brand new network for a brand new school!

A lot of input went into making sure the team were happy with the new help desk, was it simple for them to use – whilst giving us the metrics we needed to move the team forward.

As I said, one of the reasons we wanted to move was reporting. Whilst the reports are a bit limited in FreshDesk, actually, that’s good. There is a lot of data in the reports given, and they cover all the elements I need. We are now using metrics that we never had before, like first contact resolution and a handy happiness rating, with feedback requested in every resolution email.

We are also using the solutions (knowledge base) a lot as well. Allowing our techies to create articles from scratch, or convert responses to tickets straight into articles. I considered for a long time about whether to leave out articles open to the public, or password protected. For now, I want people we support to read and use them, so left them unlocked. We don’t have anything confidential in there – so it’s not a big deal in that respect, but I genuinely think some of our articles are class (like the article we have for the SIMS Census, for example) and so I don’t want stuff we work hard to produce for paying clients, being available for free.

The interface, and the mobile apps are very good, but do take some getting used too. I like the data present, and I especially like the dashboard. It’s displayed on several screens for the team and I. In terms of responding to tickets, and everything else – it’s quick and easy, easy to customise as well. I have changed my mind a few times on how to implement certain procedures, and every time the help desk has dealt with it well.

So has the help desk gone down well with clients? It’s hard to say, because I haven’t asked that question. Lot’s still use email, so don’t really interact with it, but I’d say a large group have moved to using the website, more then previously anyway – as we have pushed them this way due to the self help etc. The feedback I have had has been positive, and nobody has said they hate it.

In terms of how it has gone down with techs? Well, they love it. And they are genuinely more efficient. We have also now made staffing changes in the last week to support the move (and the fact we took three schools on in a month) moving a techie to a help desk analyst role to manage incoming tickets, the live chat functionality but also make sense of the metrics.

The team are motivated by the targets and metrics, and by the feedback from clients that is now provided per job, not once a year, and to individuals. We have implemented internal targets and competitions, and rewards. Not based on volume anymore, but quality: was the client happy? Did you resolve it well (IE in the first response?) how have users rated your knowledge base articles? Are you having lots of tickets reopened?

The metrics, are incredibly useful, and now form a key part of performance management with staff. But, it is difficult to see how we can benchmark our results. I think some of our stats are pretty damn good, and I will do another post about them, but how do I know if they are good compared to industry?

We now have SLAs as well. We had some rough ones before, but our new ones are pretty tough. Especially as in some schools, we make a visit a week. But, it does inspire quick responses and resolutions.

One thing metrics and targets have increased is the distinction and escalation between techie levels – techies quickly move on tickets they cannot do to higher levels – rather then try themselves. This is not always a positive outcome for us as a team, as it stifles development of our team, but for the end user normally results in a better response. This is an area I am looking into, with ways techies can suggest solutions for 2nd/3rd line to confirm before sending – but we are also now looking at increasing our senior capacity. It’s a natural step with a growing client base, but with the new metrics we are able to justify it and see where the need is, first or third line.

Anyone who ever posts a thread or comments to me that they don’t have a help desk, normally follow it up by saying people won’t use it. That’s like saying you are running an airline, but don’t force people to get on the aeroplanes to fly.

Without a help desk that enables you to manage flows and demands – then you cannot be giving good support. A help desk can be a simple email form, or something like Fresh Desk or others – it doesn’t matter – but the one thing I can confirm – is that we are not looking back now we have switched. FreshDesk has simply further transformed our team and our workflow to enable us to be more efficient and provide swifter, better support, especially when we are shifting left. 

Take a look at our Help Desk – https://help.lourdesit.org.uk or visit our website at www.lourdesit.org.uk for more info on our team.