Managers of large enterprises don’t have to have their proverbial arms twisted to know that they need help desk software, but many small business owners are not sure whether it is a worthy investment. They fret over the financial feasibility of the software as an investment, not just in terms of the money but the time and effort necessary to ensuring that their employees learn how to use it.
However, as your small business grows, the increase in the revenue and the volume of customers will also mean an increase in the number of customers who may some day need assistance. The simple email-based support system that worked well enough during the early days of your business likely won’t cut it. This is where help desk software comes to the rescue.
With a help desk solution, customers can easily reach out to your company if they have issues or questions about your products or services. You, in turn, through this software, can streamline your business workflows, organize information, and eliminate manual tasks. These changes will improve the efficiency and productivity of your company and give your customers the service they need and expect from you.
How is all of this possible? Let’s take a look at seven ways small businesses can use help desk software.
1. Improve your brand image and differentiate you from your competitors
When it comes to business, customer is king. With competition relentlessly fierce in the majority of industries, sometimes it can simply boil down to which company provides a better customer experience.
Companies that are most attentive to their customers’ needs, especially when there are problems, are the ones to which people tend to gravitate. Even businesses that offer exceptional products will have a hard time retaining their customers if they have poor customer support to back those products up.
According to Gartner, 96% of customers would switch to a competitor if it takes them considerable effort to resolve an issue with a company. A satisfied customer, meanwhile, is likely to stick around and share their positive experience with others.
Having a help desk software makes your company look more professional and allows your business to resolve customer issues faster and more efficiently. Moreover, it prevents tickets from being lost or forgotten, even during busy times.
Each support request generates a ticket that has a unique ID. This ticket is categorized, assigned a priority, and is routed to an agent. With the ticket ID, the support staff can track a ticket’s progress until it is closed. Customers, meanwhile, have a reference number that they can use if they need to follow-up later.
When a support request is received, the customer care executives are sent a notification. The tickets are sorted by priority, a critical step which is often neglected in the absence of help desk software. Without a help desk software, support staff are generally unable to gauge the severity of the issue, and will process the tickets on a “first come, first served” basis. However, not all issues are of equal importance. A support ticket about upgrade inquiries, for example, is far less urgent than a ticket reporting that your product has suddenly stopped working and halted production in a customer’s supply chain. With help desk software, the latter would be given priority, even if the former ticket had been submitted earlier.
A help desk software also allows an agent to easily inform his coworkers that he is already responding to a particular ticket, preventing duplication of efforts from other agents. Of course, it is still possible for the ticket to be escalated to another coworker or supervisor later. Without a help desk software, two or more support staff members might respond to the same ticket, which can be confusing for the customer, and a waste of time for at least one employee and, more importantly, a bad reflection on the company as disorganized and uncoordinated.
Help desk solutions also enable businesses to provide 24×7 support to their customers. Through help desk apps, support personnel can do most ticket management functions through their mobile phones or tablets, enabling them to help customers even if they are not in the office. Such apps also include features that let support agents view customer profiles or search for specific tickets.
Another way help desk solutions improve employee productivity is by giving the agents the ability to ban spammers and to mark specific tickets as spam.
2. Give you valuable feedback
Through the help desk software’s reporting and analytics functions, a business owner or manager can easily evaluate the performance of the customer care team. He can analyze the past performance of the support staff in terms of concrete numbers, such as number of tickets served and average resolution speed, to gauge whether targets are being met and determine which areas need improvement. These metrics can also be used to gauge the team’s improvement over time, assign the most capable agent to a specific task, and even to demonstrate value to key stakeholders, potential customers, and possible investors.
Furthermore, the customers’ complaints and inquiries can give insights about the products and services that the company offers. These can help identify popular features, product weaknesses, and pain points in using the products.
Help desk software also allow customers to give businesses ratings and reviews. Aside from helping you improve your service, these reviews and ratings will also influence whether or not potential customers will buy from you, while reading customer reviews will help the support team learn more about the customers.
3. Provide agents with the context and history of the issues and the customers
Sometimes, customers have to contact customer support more than once. One of the annoyances that customers face in such a situation is having to repeat themselves. The need to contact the company more than once on a single issue, and repeat information to each agent, gives customers the impression that they need to exert considerable effort just to get a problem resolved. These are two of the biggest factors that push customers to give up on a company and switch to a competitor. However, this can be minimized, or even eliminated, if you use a help desk software, as the customer’s support history and the context of the issues are all listed together.
The support rep will also be better equipped to help the customer if he can see the customer’s previous conversations and messages. He can also get a better idea on what the customer’s preferences and personality are like and can, therefore, adjust his own approach.
Another way that help desk programs benefit businesses is by ensuring that all customer care agents are on the same page. Agents usually work on a staggered schedule to be available to more customers. Because they work different hours, communication gaps between agents sometimes occur, which can result in customer tickets taking longer to be handled. With online help desk solutions, however, employees can communicate with each other directly by adding private messages to tickets or by posting on a community board accessible only to employees. They can also create internal tickets to give each other information or assign tasks. These tickets are not attached to any customer and are only visible to the agents.
4. Create a knowledge base to help both employees and customers
Using a help desk software makes it easier to create a knowledge database where you can store useful information that your team needs to know. Support agents can also edit existing tickets and add them to the database. Documentation of problems and how they were resolved, for example, will help your team quickly and easily resolve the same issue in the future.
Data indicates that, before calling customer service, and to the greatest extent possible, a majority of consumers will first try to resolve an issue on their own. Through a help desk software’s end-user portal, your business can allow your customers to search your knowledge base to find the answers to their questions or to resolve simple issues instead of opening a ticket.
By adding FAQs and how-to articles to your knowledge base, you can empower customers to help themselves while reducing the workload of your customer service team. It also helps customers solve their issues faster and in a more satisfactory manner.
In addition, a knowledge base is not only important for customer support, but can also help you with your marketing efforts. By adding search engine optimization (SEO) focused items to your knowledge base — complete with long-tail keywords — you can increase traffic to your website and gain new customers.
5. Improve efficiency through automation
A good help desk software can help your business operate more smoothly and efficiently by letting you create automated workflows. Repetitive tasks, such as ticket categorization and prioritization, can be automated, enabling employees to do the job faster, easier, and with less room for human error.
The categories and priorities assigned to the tickets also improve employee productivity and provide them with the capability to multitask. Instead of taking care of multiple tasks sequentially, for example, a member of the support team can better sequence the tickets, or handle several server-related issues in a single trip to the server room instead of going back and forth.
Automatic routing of the tickets ensures that the tickets are quickly received by the people best suited to handle a particular concern. You can, for example, automatically assign all hardware-related tickets to Tom, all password-related tickets to Jane, and all upgrade-related tickets to Harry.
Another task that can be automated by help desk software is logging how much time the support team spends on resolving each ticket. Agents can also get automatic notifications if a customer replied or posted feedback, or if a ticket is taking too long to get resolved. Automatic answer suggestions, meanwhile, can provide a customer with answers to a question, or even resolution of a problem, without the need to contact a customer care agent.
In addition, a help desk software boosts efficiency by enabling a single ticket to be split if it is about multiple issues, or for duplicate tickets to be merged.
6. Allow multi-channel requests to be addressed through a single platform
In the current environment, customers can contact a company’s customer service team through several different avenues. Years ago, the choices were limited to a phone call or an in-person visit, but now there is email, SMS, or via any one of a number of social media channels (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.). If the support team has to attend to each of those messages separately by channel, it can become time consuming, not to mention confusing, to switch back and forth. It will also be hard to keep track of open tickets, thus some inquiries and complaints could be lost or erroneously ignored. With a centralized platform, however, you don’t need to visit each account or use bots on each one.
Moreover, due to the power, visibility, and ubiquity of social media, a complaint or question posted on Facebook or Twitter, for example, which is left unanswered for a long time, may result in backlash and negativity from customers and potential customers.
But, with help desk software, all customer inquiries end up in a centralized location, making it easier for support representatives to see which messages have not yet been addressed and to respond to them quickly. This allows your company to provide a consistent and seamless customer care experience, regardless of the origination of the request (e.g., Facebook, live chat or email). It also lets you visually see your statistics; that is, which channel gets most of the requests.
7. Nip problems in the bud by seeing patterns
As tickets come into the help desk software, you may notice a pattern, such as multiple issues about a single category or feature. The staff will be able to investigate further to see if the incidents are related. This can help solve a problem before it gets bigger and alert the rest of the team on what caused the problem and how best to handle it.
Customers expect their issues and inquiries to be acknowledged and resolved faster than ever before. A help desk software can help businesses do just that. It is, in fact, one of the IT solutions that can benefit most companies.
Some options may cause you a bit of money in the beginning, but the increase in productivity will save you money in the long run. After all, if you are able to assure customers that they are a priority to your company by giving them speedy and professional customer care, then you will be well on your way to creating a loyal customer base.