Service & Support Q&A: Welcome to the Help Desk Management Coach
Get service & support guidance and advice with real-world questions and answers to the Help Desk Management Coach. Help Desk agents worldwide have either submitted these questions to HelpDeskCoach.com or asked these questions during customer service training for helpdesk agents presented by Donna Earl (The HelpDeskCoach). Look for tips that can help you in your Help Desk role!
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Q. Dear HelpDesk Coach: *New!*
I’m the lead agent and level 2 lead at my help desk. Consequently my coworkers frequently consult with me to answer questions or for history regarding an account. They come to my cube and interrupt me when I’m busy, lean over the glass of my cube, and even invade the cube next to me to lean over and get my attention. How can I discourage them without coming across as unhelpful? Long Time Lead
(P.S. The guy in the cube next to me is fed up with his cube being invaded by people wanting to talk to me. He wants to know what to do about the invaders too.)
A. Dear Long Time Lead:
Whoa! Sounds like things are out of hand! One wonders how you or your neighbor can get anything done with all these intrusions. Time to put your foot down and address your co-workers directly.
Individually speak with them, addressing the worst offenders first. Let them know you’ll be happy to help, however in order to do your best for users, you need to work uninterrupted.
If you have instant messenger ability (IM), that could be the best way for them to contact you when they have a question. If you’re ‘interruptable’, invite them over. If not and you can’t answer their question by IM, suggest a better time. Try a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign for uninterrupted work time. Same suggestions for your neighbor. He needs to let intruders know his cube is his workspace and he needs to be free from intrusions to best support users. A ‘do not disturb’ sign for the neighbor could help as well!
Q. Dear HelpDesk Coach:
As a supervisor, I’m struggling with one of my helpdesk engineers. He is the smartest agent on the helpdesk, but users don’t understand him and get mad at him. He’s made some enemies in the company and although I try to explain that he’s really smart and I need him on the helpdesk, he’s giving the department a bad reputation. He completed an online customer service class, but it was worthless. How can I make others in the company see he’s really a good guy, and leave him (and me) alone about it?
A. Dear HelpDesk Supervisor:
One of the truisms about customer service is: perception is everything. If your internal users don’t perceive your ‘star’ to be helpful or user-friendly, then he is denting your reputation. You realize his behavior could use tweaking, and since you provided online training for him. You didn’t mention how others on the helpdesk team react to him, but I’ll guess they feel he drags down the group’s reputation. Here are some considerations for you:
1) Online training can be very effective in many areas. However without interaction with other people, it’s hard for the agent to transfer behavior to real world scenarios. If your agent could participate in a coaching or training session and receive feedback, it would be a fairer means of helping him learn people skills.
2) You don’t mention whether or not calls are recorded or monitored. I would strongly recommend you begin recording and monitoring calls, and provide your agent coaching and counseling on effective call handling. (See article on providing coaching for call monitoring: http://helpdeskcoach.com/articles/CallMonitoringFeedbackTips.html). If you and the agent can hear what users hear during calls, it can help him develop a more user friendly communication style.
3) Make improving customer satisfaction a goal for the entire helpdesk, and an individual goal for this agent. Make sure the agent understands customer satisfaction is part of the job. Managing the performance of helpdesk agents includes insistence on standards of customer satisfaction and user friendliness.
4) Not everyone is cut out for constant customer contact, especially in a helpdesk setting. Some talented technical people find dealing with people for 8 hours to be overtaxing. They aren’t cut out for a high people contact job. Often these techies are best at dealing with escalated issues, recreating and researching issues and bugs, and functioning as a ‘coach’ to others on the team. If they can be assigned some non-people contact responsibilities to break up the day, it helps them deal more effectively when they must be ‘on’ for customers.
Q. Dear Help Desk Coach: *New!*
I’m the help desk coordinator of a busy tech support help desk, and the first person the end user talks to when calling in for technical assistance. The user typically blurts out their whole problem to me. When I tell them I can’t help them but have to transfer them to a technical person, they usually get madder and yell at me, even though I’m polite and tell them I can’t help them with their problem but can only transfer them. In addition, I have to ask for their customer account number and sometimes the user doesn’t know what that is, and they yell even more. It is frustrating and I feel like I take the brunt of customer anger all day long.
A. Dear Help Desk Coordinator:
Your job is to ‘triage’ calls to the appropriate tech rep, gather appropriate customer information up front, instill confidence in the customer, and keep your eye on the queue. This is not a job for sissies. You have a big responsibility and even though you aren’t providing technical assistance, a big part of the customer’s perception about the quality of the support your company offers is a result of how you handle incoming calls.
Let me offer the following suggestions: 1) Before the caller gallops through their whole problem, gently interrupt, saying excuse me for interrupting, to help you most effectively, I will transfer you to one of our specialists for help with your specific issue. 2) To gather necessary information from caller, say to help you quickly, I will need your customer account number first, please. 3) Don’t forget the power of an apology. Even though you’re not responsible for their technical issues, say I’m sorry you’ve run into complications today. 4) Thank them for their patience, even if they’re not. Being thanked for model behavior they’re not modeling can be highly sobering. 5) Always communicate all information about the customer (or enter in ticket) before transferring to the technical support desk.
Q. Dear Help Desk Coach: *New!*
I work at a help desk that supports 396 educators in a school system. We provide phone support and on-site support, so we’re really busy all the time. I can’t understand why many of the teachers won’t learn how to solve their own problems. They’re teachers, but they don’t want to learn! I feel really frustrated when I have to go to classrooms multiple times to (re)solve the same problem over and over again. How can I teach teachers?
A. Dear Tech Guru:
Other tech support professionals will confirm that teachers aren’t the only end users who would prefer an on-site guru to resolve every issue. Part of our job is to provide technical assistance, and the other part is to provide technical coaching. Some users will always be dependent on us, however many will learn to help themselves if we coach them properly. Here are some guidelines for coaching users to help themselves: 1) Wait for the teachable moment before you try to educate them.
Most tech support agents try to educate the user while solving the problem. The user is still frustrated, and just wants the problem fixed! 2) After you’ve solved the problem (and the user has calmed down) quickly offer a suggestion: Next time this happens, try ______ first. If I’m busy and can’t get to you right away, it might solve the problem (or provide me with valuable troubleshooting information etc.) 3) Every time you resolve a problem or issue, add a brief suggestion or simple coaching tip. Most users will appreciate the information and will try to be more self-reliant.
Donna Earl (aka the Help Desk Coach) specializes in assisting help desks and tech support deliver world class customer service. To use or reprint this article contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information about training see www.HelpDeskCoach.com
Copyright 2011 HelpDeskCoach
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