This post also appeared in The Tennessean, where Concept Technology has a bi-weekly feature in the Business section.
Having to make a call to an IT help desk is almost always challenging because something has gone wrong. If you’ve ever spent hours trying to solve an IT problem, it’s most likely the case that you’re not using the right third-party help desk, or you’re not using its services correctly.
The right help desk can save you valuable time and a few gray hairs. Because IT problems are universally frustrating, help desk engineers should be like crisis managers, experts in mitigating hot tempers and computer damage. When looking for the right IT company to hire, it’s important to ask about their office processes, particularly as they relate to hiring, interoffice communication and problem-solving style.
Asking a salesperson about an IT company’s hiring process may not seem intuitive, but it can be very telling of the services they offer. You should be looking for a company with a hiring process that prioritizes diverse engineers with previous help-desk experience, specifically at companies supporting multiple IT environments.
It’s often the case that IT companies hire based almost exclusively on technical skills. But focusing too much on technical skills distracts from the vital communication skills that separate a good IT help desk from a great one. Asking the salesperson about the type of people the company hires, and how much they value communication and people skills, offers an idea of what type of person you’ll be communicating with in the event of a help desk call.
Knowing how frustrating IT problems can be, asking about a company’s problem-solving procedures can give a glimpse into how efficiently a problem will be solved. You should be asking how the engineers resolve problems — specifically about whether or not engineers work collaboratively with clients, or if they work on an individual basis. More collaborative brainpower usually means quicker resolution time.
Wondering how you can make the most out of a third-party help desk if you already have one?
Knowing when to call can greatly expedite problem resolution. The first thing that should always be done before calling to the help desk is some very basic, independent troubleshooting. Unplugging everything and turning equipment back on seems simple, but it sometimes resolves errors.
• Identify the issue.
Sometimes troubleshooting only works for small glitches. If passwords have been forgotten or access to shared files has been lost, a call to the help desk should happen as soon as possible. Help desks should also be called if the computer is running slowly and it doesn’t appear internet-related. And, for issues of data protection, an immediate call to the help desk should be made if there are suspected security breaches. A high-quality help desk won’t just remote into your computer and resolve the issue. It will also offer tips and tricks to make sure the problem doesn’t happen again.
• Keep calm and IT on.
But perhaps the most useful advice for getting the most out of a help desk is learning to stay calm and clearly communicate to the engineer. It’s a natural tendency for people to call in while they’re still in panic mode. An engineer should always respond in a collected manner, regardless of the attitude of the caller, but taking time to cool off before calling is perhaps the best tip for quick problem resolution.
Whether you’re looking for the right help desk service, or trying to get the most out of the one you currently have, it’s most important to prioritize open lines of communication. Communicating a problem to an engineer properly, and knowing that a friendly voice is waiting on the other end of the phone, makes a universally frustrating IT problem seem more bearable.